Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the government will not give up on the controversial Lantau Tomorrow Vision housing project, and relevant studies for the HK$624 billion development should begin as soon as possible.
In her fourth policy address on Wednesday, Lam said the artificial islands project – 70 per cent of which promises to be public housing – would be more effective in alleviating medium-term and long-term housing needs than changing land use zoning in existing urban areas.
She said the project aimed to develop a liveable and carbon-neutral community, and has already been discussed in society: “Lantau Tomorrow originates from the East Lantau reclamation project that was proposed in 2011. Discussions have been brewing in Hong Kong society for almost ten years. We should not waste any more time,” she said.
Roads and railways in northern Lantau would be linked up to those on Hong Kong Island. Tuen Mun’s coastal areas would also be connected to relieve pressure on the public transport system, according to the policy address.
“The government of this term will not give up on the Lantau Tomorrow Vision project,” the leader said.
HK01 cited a source as saying that the government planned to discuss funding for Lantau Tomorrow studies this Friday at the legislative finance committee. After democrats quit the legislature in protest of lawmaker disqualifications, it is now more likely to pass into law.
Lam announced during the policy address that that all government staffing proposals awaiting discussion would be withdrawn in order to make way for the bill.
Demo ahead of policy address
League of Social Democrats (LSD) activist Leung Kwok-hung slammed Lam’s plan to push Lantau Tomorrow Vision amid high unemployment due to the Covid-19 pandemic: “It costs HK$100,000 for each of the seven million Hongkongers to build the most expensive artificial island in the world, so that Carrie Lam can please her master and Chinese tycoons can profit from it,” he said.
He and his LSD colleague Raphael Wong protested outside the Legislative Council ahead of the policy address on Wednesday. They criticised the government’s three rounds of anti-epidemic spending for benefitting private corporations more than the working class, adding a suggestion that HK$30 billion should be earmarked to fund unemployment benefits.
Lam’s fourth policy address – which totalled over 24,000 words – was the first delivered to a LegCo without the presence of an effective opposition.
The chief executive previously said she expects rationality to be restored in the chamber after all democrats resigned en masse. Leung – an ex-lawmaker – said the lawmakers left LegCo due to oppression and said Lam’s definition of rationality was barbarity.
“Hong Kong has entered the age of silence. Silence is not rational. Rationality is achieved through debates. The legislature is popularly elected by the people to monitor the government,” he said. “Carrie Lam’s definition of rationality is in fact barbarity.”
The policy address was expected in mid-October but the city’s leader postponed it for over a month to insert a trip to mainland China to meet top Beijing ministers. She then said the delayed policy address would have input from those meetings.
Other housing policies
Lam said the government expected to provide some 316,000 housing units in the coming ten years, and 330 hectares of land had been indentified for this purpose.
Land development projects will target Tung Chung, Kai Tak, the Anderson Road Quarry Site, parts of the Fanling golf course, and brownfield lands. Tai Hang Sai Estate in Sham Shui Po and interim housing in Shek Lei will also be redeveloped.
Land currentlyi covered by squatter areas in Cha Kwo Ling, Ngau Chi Wan and Chuk Yuen would be used to provide 6,300 public housing units.