Monday, November 30, 2015   

Legislation to block flats demolition ruled out

Colum Murphy and Sylvia Hui

Friday, December 03, 2004

Legislating to prevent the demolition of the Hung Hom

Peninsula project was ruled out by Sarah Liao, Secretary for

Environment, Transport and Works on Thursday.

"As a minister, I don't believe we can legislate on morality," said

Liao. "But as an individual I have my values. I have been brought up

with the principle of `waste not, want not', and I have to say

something [about the demolition], even though it may not be


A total of 2,470 flats were built by New World Development and Sun

Hung Kai Properties but have never been occupied. Developers plan to


tear down the seven-block project and replace it with luxury

apartments, generating an estimated HK$6.7 billion profit in the


The current development was built under the ill-fated government

Private Sector Participation Scheme, whereby private developers were

invited to tender for housing sites on which they were required to

build flats conforming to certain government-set specifications.

The planned demolition has generated a public outcry.

"I have given a lot of thought to legislate on this issue. It's not

right that we give up the rule of law in Hong Kong to legislate after

one project retrospectively, or [through] a back door legislation,"

said Liao.

Speaking at a lunch organised by the Foreign Correspondents' Club, she

said that the government would have to think about how to deal with

waste and demolition under existing ordinances, but that it could not

create new laws specifically to deal with the Hung Hom project.

"Even with the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance we would not

be able to state whether we should demolish or should not demolish,"

explained Liao, adding that the only actions open to the government

were to look at the scope of work, defining the size and the extent of

the demolition, and to ask the developers to minimise the degree of

waste generated.

Green groups have called on the secretary to use her powers under the

ordinance to veto the redevelopment at the Hung Hom Peninsula.

"In the Waste Management Plan as well as the Environmental Control

Plan that the developer is going to produce which I have yet to see

_ they have to list how they can mitigate noise pollution and air

pollution in the process of the demolition." Noise Control Ordinance

and Air Pollution Control Ordinance governed these issues. "But on

the contemplation of legislation, we really need to be very careful

and not get on to another very important issue of whether we should

legislate for morality or whether we should legislate for [the sake

of] expediency," she concluded.

Meanwhile, the Hung Hom Peninsula controversy has attracted yet more

outraged voices from the community and political parties.

There was a protest staged by the Democratic Alliance for the

Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) on Thursday at New World Development's


Led by DAB legislator Choy So-yuk, protesters said the demolition was

a waste of resources and demanded an explanation from the government

for the administrative blunder.

Also on Thursday, an environmental concern group, the Power of

Environmental Protection, complained to the Ombudsman, demanding

punishment for Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen

as well as Permanent Secretary for Housing Leung Chin-man.

They said the ministers were responsible for the government blunder

and that as a result of their mistake Hong Kong's taxpayers have to

pay waste management fees of about HK$25 million.

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