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,"
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
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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