Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po has said that he will not consider developing the land in country parks during his term. It came after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said on Tuesday that country parks should be turned into land for housing for young people.

“There are a lot of different voices in the society”,  Chan said, “and every time the issue is brought up there is a lot of controversy. [The Development Bureau] is not worried about controversy… we just want to do our job well for the remaining one and a half years in the areas we have already been working on. For other issues, we’ll listen to the opinions of the public,”

Chan then confirmed that this meant the Bureau will not consider developing land in designated country parks.

paul chan
Paul Chan Mo-po. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Earlier on Tuesday, Leung compared the relationship between country parks and land for housing to that of a “fish and bear’s paw”, a Chinese idiom similar to “having one’s cake and eating it too”, meaning that one cannot have it all. He also said that places in country parks with “lower ecological value” can be used for developing housing, and sold to young people with the land premium waived.

When asked to identify which places had lower ecological value, Chan said it was not appropriate to comment. He said that some palces receive a lot of visitors and some do not, and that the discussion should be left to the public.

Country parks in Hong Kong. Photo: Wikicommons.
Country parks in Hong Kong. Photo: Wikicommons.

Leung also said that plans to build around 14,400 apartment units have been hindered because of judicial review. He said that members of the public should have empathy for those who live in subdivided flats and not challenge the government’s rezoning of land use for housing development purposes.

Leung’s comments came following a report released by the Our Hong Kong Foundation on Monday, which had also called for the changing of land use in country parks for residential purposes. The think tank is headed by former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.