Earlier this month, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor vowed that she would include in her upcoming Policy Address more policies in relation to boosting land supply.
Then shortly afterwards, while the public consultation campaign spearheaded by the Task Force on Land Supply was still underway in full swing, Lam suddenly, and “boldly”, said in public that she was actually in favor of seeking new land through reclamation.
She also told the media that she hopes the Task Force can complete and submit its report, which would discuss various options to enhance land supply, as soon as possible so that she can announce them in her annual Policy Address scheduled for October.
As a matter of fact, according to insider sources, members of the Executive Council had already, during their initial discussion, questioned the feasibility of the idea of trying to facilitate public consensus on land use through a massive consultation campaign.
In fact as some Exco members privately told us, many of the issues that the Task Force is facing right now were actually said to have been foreseen and raised by some Exco members during the discussion, such as potential public concerns about whether the government would be truly listening to their views, and public doubts as to whether it is possible for society to find common ground on land use through a single consultation exercise.
However, despite the skepticism among Exco members about the feasibility and efficacy of conducting such a consultation, the government insisted on pressing ahead with it regardless.
As far as the Task Force is concerned, both its vice-chairman Dr. Greg Wong Chak-yan and member Francis Lui Ting-ming said they didn’t know until they read some media reports that the chief executive is actually leaning towards land reclamation and that she wants the consultation report to be submitted before the announcement of the Policy Address in October.
As to whether the Task Force would be able to deliver the report by October, Wong candidly said they will do their best to meet the deadline, but raised the possibility that they may fail to do so.
Meanwhile, Lui said he believes the Task Force would probably be able to at least have a “ballpark” estimate about the general direction of public opinion on the issue by September, and then it would arrange the public views it has gathered and submit them to the administration for reference.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 12
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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