Move HK's prisons to mainland to release land for homes: Ho

Top News | Phoenix Un 19 Mar 2018

Hong Kong's prisons should be moved to the mainland and the land that is freed up used for housing, argues Charles Ho Tsu-kwok, a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Ho, who is chairman of Sing Tao News Corp, also said Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor should strive for Hong Kong youngsters to be given equal treatment when they are looking to advance on the mainland.

Speaking in a pre-recorded TVB interview aired yesterday, Ho said Beijing officials are very concerned about the high housing prices in Hong Kong.

He believes the Task Force on Land Supply should not focus its attention on the Fan Ling golf course but instead widen its views to take in land occupied by prisons to build homes and other facilities.

"There are so many foreign corporations in Hong Kong and they need spaces for sports, amusement and exchanges," he said. "If there should be a choice move prisons to the mainland."

He added: "If prisons are moved to the mainland we won't need to worry about jail breaks."

Additionally, some farmland, green belt and wetland should be developed for housing.

Ho also feels that Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po should be doing more to tackle the housing issue, which would require solid support from the chief executive.

He was apparently referring to points mentioned by Premier Li Keqiang when he delivered his State Council work report on March 5 during the National People's Congress.

Ho also called for a significant increase in stamp duty for non-residents buying flats in Hong Kong. "People should only enjoy a tax favor if they are permanent residents living in Hong Kong for 18 years or more," he said. "For the others, the stamp duty should be 100 or 200 percent [of a flat price] ... I would even hike the stamp duty to 500 percent, and it would be done for the sake of Hong Kong youngsters."

He also called for imposing taxes on idle flats to force developers to sell instead of hoarding them with an eye for profit later.

Ho believes too that youngsters should seek opportunities in the mainland. But for that, he said, Carrie Lam and CPPCC vice-chairmen and former SAR chief executives Leung Chun-ying and Tung Chee-hwa should strive for Hongkongers to be treated equally in the mainland.

"If Jack Ma Yun [executive chairman of Alibaba Group] and Pony Ma Huateng [chairman of Tencent Holdings] were Hongkongers they wouldn't be so successful if they limited themselves to a seven-million-person market. They succeed only because they enjoy the market of 1.3 billion people."

He also said Hong Kong has wasted much time in the 20 years since 1997, slamming some legislators for filibustering to oppose policies of the mainland.

"The success of China came from socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the whole world saw that," he said, adding that it was clear "the socialism of China is different from the West and the United States" and "the socialism of China is even more successful than the US."

Ho also said youngsters can voice opinions if they see things that need to be improved. However, their suggestions will only be taken seriously if they are developing successful careers.

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