Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying should have a “convincing narrative” against separatism, lawmaker-elect and former security secretary Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee has said. She was speaking to the press after meeting with Leung on Monday as he consults with political parties over his upcoming 2017 policy address.

“I said to [Leung] that there are many who are advocating for self-determination, true self-determination, have no idea how to define full self-determination, self rule and cannot explain how it differs from the high-degree of autonomy we have now,” said Ip.

Regina Ip.

She said that the government should not only use the law to stop secession, but should explain to young people that Hong Kong already enjoys a high degree of autonomy. If the central government is so worried about Hong Kong independence, she said, then the Chief Executive should explain its view in the policy address and how to deal with such ideas.

This upcoming legislative term saw the election of several advocates of self-determination and localism, including Demosistō’s Nathan Law and Youngspiration’s Baggio Leung.

Wang Chau land controversy

The lawmaker-elect also said that it was “unsatisfactory that the Chief Executive has to deal with [land supply and development] himself on an ad-hoc basis,” pointing to the example of the Wang Chau controversy, where she said a decision was taken after one meeting chaired by Leung.

The Wang Chau project involved a plan to build 17,000 public housing flats, but the construction of 13,000 units on a Wang Chau brownfield site occupied by a rural strongman’s car park was postponed, whilst a plan to build 4,000 flats on a green-belt site occupied by non-indigenous villages was given the go-ahead. As evidence of off-the-record lobbying with rural leaders emerged, a blame game ensued as the government stood accused of bowing to pressure at the expense of villagers.

Brownfield site in Wang Chau. Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

The controversy was also the centrepiece of incoming lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick’s election campaignLeung led a press conference in September explaining the decision to build 17,000 public housing flats in phases.

“Land is extremely controversial. Whether you take away land from brownfield or greenbelt or country park, agricultural land, you are bound to tread on people’s toes,” Ip said. She said that she told Leung that he should set up a statutory lands development authority “with greater powers to plan, study Hong Kong’s long term land demand, to plan for our needs, and to buy, aggregate, or resume land on a need basis.”

“But this authority must incorporate elected representatives of the legislature…and the other relevant stakeholders in order to enhance its credibility,” she said.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.