OPINION ON RECENT ISSUES
The New Territories Concern Group was established on the 4th May 2013, with the aim of monitoring the Government’s various policies in relation to the New Territories. The N.T. Concern Group aims to provide a voice for the people of Hong Kong in relation to issues both big and small – be it Unauthorized Building Works, New Territories Exempt Houses, land reclamation, traffic and transportation and building management. The N.T. Concern Group hopes to assist the Government in developing a more effective and balanced policy direction, so as to relieve the pressure and tensions of the different parties and factions of society. (Annex 1)
This paper will briefly introduce the views and opinions of the NT Concern Group on some of the more recent issues:
1. Unauthorized Building Works (UBW) in New Territories Exempt Houses (NTEH)
Options available when served with a removal order
(Annex 2, 3)
After the deadline of the voluntary reporting scheme for UBWs in NTEHs passed, the Government had received to close to 18,000 declaration forms. It has not yet been revealed how many of these applications were declared acceptable. Yet, the Government continues to disregard the situations faced by the villagers, and insist on rigidly dealing out removal orders to property owners. The N.T. Concern Group is currently liaising with various political groups with the hope of obtaining community support; whilst simultaneously providing free legal advice for those villagers who are affected under the scheme.
2. “Our Future Railway”
The N.T. Concern Group feels that the Government should extend the final station of the Tuen Mun Line to Tuen Mun Pier. The Government should also construct a railway line from Tsuen Wan to Tuen Mun; consider the development of the Northern Link and Kwu Tung Station; as well as the building of a Hong Kong to Shenzhen Western Corridor, which would go from Tung Chung, through Tuen Mun, towards Pak Nai and Qianhai and onto Shenzhen Airport, in order to develop Tuen Mun into a transportation hub.
3. Land Reclamation in Tuen Mun Lung Kwu Tang
The N.T. Concern Group feels that land reclamation is not the optimal solution to the problem of land supply. Instead, it is important to maximize the utilization of existing land, and also to redevelop abandoned areas such as neglected agricultural fields. Another potential for development is the south of Lantau Island, where even the development of half the island would supply Hong Kong with close to 7,000 hectares of land – more than sufficient to support developments of the next few decades.
4. Expanding the Landfills in the New Territories
The N.T. Concern Group opposes the Government’s policy in continually expanding existing landfills. Instead, the Government should build a waste management plant in Tuen Mun for recycling and harnessing the energy created by the process. Hong Kong should learn from other cities, especially those in Northern Europe, and properly invest in the industry of waste management and recycling.
5. The Inclusion of Tai Long Sai Wan into Sai Kung East Country Park
In October of 2012, the Government Gazette included Sai Wan into the area of the Sai Kung East Country Park, which ‘froze’ the ancestral lands of the indigenous inhabitants of Sai Kung and deprived them of their traditional lawful rights. The Government should strike a balance between public interest and private rights, and cannot deprive individuals of their right to private property in the name of public interest and ecological preservation. The N.T. Concern Group suggests that the Government rectify this decision and exclude private lands from the public park, and implement an appropriate compensation scheme with reference to Article 105 of the Basic Law.
6. The Development of a 3rd Runway in Hong Kong International Airport
Whilst the N.T. Concern Group understands that the Hong Kong International Airport plans to construct a third runway to relieve the heavy aviation traffic and to increase the maximum runway capacity, the Group is concerned about the decline in air quality and the additional noise pollution that a third runway would create.
7. Increasing the Village Representative Subsidy
A Village Representative is a position recognized by law, with substantial duties and responsibilities. Yet the position is only entitled to a seasonal allowance of $2,000HKD, which translates to a daily subsidy of around $22HKD – a salary that falls below even the minimal wage. In order to elevate the standard of village representatives, the N.T. Concern Group advocates that the Government implements a monthly subsidy of $10,000HKD.
In addition, the N.T. Concern Group is currently conducting research on the following three issues – reports of which will be released at a later date. However, this paper will supply a superficial overview of the Group’s opinion at this point in time:
8. Development of Northeast New Territories
The Government recently announced its final plan for the development of the Northeast New Territories. Of the 333 hectares of land available for development, 144 hectares of private land was expropriated, with another 47 hectares re-plotted. Whilst many of the community questioned this approach by the government, the N.T. Concern Group is supportive of the Government in this matter, as it avoids any contravention with the Land Resumption Ordinance.
9. Link between Tuen Mun and Chek Lap Kok
The N.T. Concern Group is of the view that the Government should begin construction of a road that links Tuen Mun to Chek Lap Kok, in order to improve the infrastructure and the transport network in the New Territories West, which will have a positive effect on property prices.
10. Community Representative Election
Currently, the Cheung Chau and Peng Chau residents’ elections are not regulated by law. The N.T. Concern Group proposes that the Government should incorporate these elections into the Village Representative Election Regulations, and also increase the subsidy for the representatives, in order to better serve the public.
For further information on the above issues, please refer to: