Can Lam convince young people about the land issue?

May 15, 2018 17:32
Amid a debate over land supply options, Carrie Lam needs to convince the younger citizens that she won’t be afraid to take on greedy developers and other vested interests. Photo: HKEJ

The Task Force on Land Supply released a consultation paper recently on the way forward for Hong Kong’s land policy. In the document, the panel laid down 18 options for public consideration as to how the government can boost land supply.

Meanwhile, the findings of a recent survey conducted by a think-tank, Our Hong Kong Foundation, as well as the views gathered by members of the task force during public forums, both point to one fact: the percentage of those who are against creating new land through reclamation is the highest among young people than in other age groups.

For example, according to the Our Hong Kong Foundation survey, 46 percent of the respondents aged between 18 and 29 were against reclaiming land, as compared to over 30 percent across all the age groups overall, suggesting that the post-90s generation and millennials in our city are highly skeptical of reclamation.

It is not difficult to understand why young people in Hong Kong, who are bearing the brunt of the skyrocketing property prices and housing shortage, are, to the surprise of some commentators, against creating new land by reclamation.

It is because many of them simply have serious doubts as to who is going to truly benefit from the newly created land: they themselves or big real-estate developers?

Apparently, some of our politicians quickly seized on the sentiment shortly after the survey findings were announced.

For example, Andrew Wan Siu-kin of the Democratic Party raised the issue with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor during a recent Legislative Council Question and Answer Session, and asked if she would dare to demonstrate courage as well as conscience and say "no" to the real-estate developers and those with vested interests once the public have reached a mainstream consensus over the future of our land policy.

It appears that while the so-called "great debate on land use" is already underway in full swing in society, one important task lying right before the chief executive is to convince our young people that she always has the best public interests at heart and that she is not afraid to take a swing at the hornet's nest and declare war on the rich and the powerful if need be!

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 4

Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.