Praise, insults hurled over artificial island

Local | Phoenix Un 8 Nov 2018

The Lantau Tomorrow Vision scheme became the eye of the storm yesterday when lawmakers discussed a motion of thanks for the Chief Executive's Policy Address.

The entire Legislative Council meeting this week, starting yesterday, is devoted to the motion, which has been used by different camps to express their approval or contempt for the Policy Address since the handover.

The government's proposed construction of a 1,700-hectare artificial island east of Lantau is undoubtedly the most controversial measure in this year's address, with pro-establishment legislators using it to lambaste doubters and critics.

Lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king, who moved the motion of thanks, lamented there would not be that much social resentment "if we didn't abandon the '85,000' housing policy and land plot creation during a financial crisis."

"We need to react to doubts, but people with hidden agenda have demonized the Lantau Tomorrow Vision, and even exaggerated the costs to say it would exhaust our fiscal reserves, and making a mountain out of a molehill by linking the plan with Sino-Hong Kong conflicts," Lee said.

The chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong slammed people who claimed that such an island would be reserved for mainland migrants in order to create social rifts by manipulating people's concerns.

Martin Liao Cheung-kong, convener of the pro-establishment camp, called on the public to look at the big picture instead of "dancing with set slogans."

Said Liao: "Opposition to the island will strangle the hopes of people living in subdivided apartments, of children who do their homework on tiny desks, and of middle-class people who dream of having their own flats."

He added the artificial island would be located strategically, and help Hong Kong connect to the Greater Bay Area.

Pan-democrats counter-attacked, with Civic Party's Kwok Ka-ki decrying the Lantau artificial island as planned for the Greater Bay Area project.

"Does the government listen to public opinion? No, they don't need to, because they've got support from Beijing," Kwok said. "You know what's behind it when even the People's Daily endorses the plan."

The Neo Democrats' Gary Fan Kwok-wai called the Lantau Tomorrow plan a population exchange program with the mainland. He said this was evident from the government urging Hongkongers to move to the mainland, while the projected 1.1 million population will occupy the new land.

"The population of Hong Kong will peak in 2043 at 8.43 million, and it will drop to 7.72 million in 2066, so where will the 1.1 million residents on the artificial island come from?" Fan said.

Andrew Wan Siu-kin, of the Democratic Party, claimed that four of the Task Force members were pressured by officials when they drafted the final report.

"The members told me that they felt unhappy, as they were pressurized to avoid emphasizing several controversial items in the report," Wan said, disclosing that they included the Fan Ling Golf Course and farmland owned by developers.

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