Greens turn on Lam for stirring the pot

Local | Sophie Hui 26 Mar 2018

Twenty green groups berated Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor for turning them into enemies of grassroots people for defending country parks from housing development.

Lam said on Saturday that green groups also opposed reclamation.

Speaking out for children who live in partitioned flats, Lam framed the groups as enemies of ordinary people. These green groups at the same time ignored other widely supported options for increasing land supply, such as developing the land occupied by recreational clubs and brownfield sites.

Yesterday, in a forum held by the environmental groups, the senior campaign manager of the Conservancy Association, Peter Li Siu-man, said the housing problem is not due to insufficient land supply and suspension of reclamation.

"The chief executive pits environmental groups against the grassroots community, creating conflicts - this is a very irresponsible act," Li said.

"Insufficient land supply is not the main cause of people not having flats to live in."

He said in the past 10 years, the supply of permanent flats had increased 11 percent, higher than the population growth in Hong Kong of seven percent, which means there is no demand-supply imbalance.

Meanwhile, even though there were more flats, citizens still can't afford to buy them as their salary levels cannot catch up with the rise of housing price and rent.

Li believes that after the government develops the periphery of country parks, it will develop the central part of country parks next.

Chan Kim-ching from urban planning concern group Liber Research said the government should solve the housing problem with its policies rather than to keep looking for new land.

He said the government should use land occupied by recreational clubs, village-type development sites and brownfield sites before considering reclamation and developing the peripheries of country parks.

Meanwhile, subdivided flat residents disagreed with the development of country parks.

A member of Kwai Chung Subdivided Flat Residents Alliance, Yau Tsz-wei, criticized the government for creating conflicts between them and the green groups.

Yau said subdivided flats residents have to stay in a small room all the time and they don't have money for entertainment. "Country parks are free recreation space for all citizens, which is very valuable for subdivided flat residents."

She said the government should take back the golf course in Fan Ling in 2020 and use the land to build public housing.

The green groups urged the public to understand the real problem and to express their opinion in a public consultation by the Task Force on Land Supply next month, to save the country parks.

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