Thousands took to the streets on Sunday to oppose a government plan to build artificial islands in Lantau waters through large-scale reclamation as part of efforts to boost land supply for housing.
Police estimated the crowd at about 5,800 at its peak. Eddie Tse Sai-kit, convenor of the Save Lantau Alliance, which organized the march, said many of the marchers were not members of his group but joined the protest to show their opposition to the reclamation plan, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Under the plan called “Lantau Tomorrow Vision”, which Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor unveiled during her policy address last Wednesday, the artificial islands will rise near Kau Yi Chau and Hei Ling Chau and provide up to 1,700 hectares of land, which can be used for the construction of about 400,000 residential units.
Many criticized the mega project, which is estimated to cost several hundred billion Hong Kong dollars, as a huge waste of public money, noting that the government has failed to do a detailed cost-benefit analysis. They also feared its huge impact on the environment.
Tse said the massive turnout in Sunday’s march shows that there is widespread opposition to the reclamation plan. He called on lawmakers to ask the administration to withdraw the proposal when they debate on the “Motion of Thanks” over her policy address later.
The march started at East Point Road in Causeway Bay at 3 p.m. and ended at the Civic Square at the east wing forecourt of the government headquarters in Admiralty.
Marchers shouted slogans to express their objections, with some raising banners and placards that called the plan a costly “white elephant” project which will drain Hong Kong’s fiscal reserves and damage the environment.
An incident happened at about 7 p.m., as Edward Yiu Chung-yim, a former lawmaker from the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape functional constituency, was giving a speech at Civic Square.
About a dozen young men wearing face masks suddenly jumped on the podium and tried to grab the microphone away from Yiu, resulting in a scuffle. Police officers soon arrived and took one of the masked men off the scene.
The Save Lantau Alliance issued an open letter addressed to the chief executive, asking her to withdraw the plan.
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