The Legislative Council’s Panel on Development has passed a non-binding motion to urge the government to take back two funding requests totalling HK$122 million for the controversial Wang Chau public housing development.
Lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick proposed the motion for the government to pull funds for the development, including the HK$83.98 million cost for resumption of land for development, and HK$38.20 million cost for site formation and infrastructure works for development for the 2017/18 year.
Chu has been following the project and emphasised it as one of his highlights since his election campaign. Ahead of the meeting, Chu and six other pro-democracy lawmakers wrote to the chairman of the panel, the Liberal Party’s Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, stating that the two projects should be discussed later, separately, owing to the controversy. They also demanded the panel first discuss the government’s new consultation on land use after 2030, as it would be a land strategy plan affecting the whole city.
The representative for the Transport and Housing Bureau said at the meeting that if the projects’ funds were pulled, the first phase of the development will be delayed.
The government’s plans to build 13,000 units on a Wang Chau brownfield site occupied by a rural strongman’s car park were postponed after rural leaders opposed the plans in unrecorded informal consultations, whilst a proposal to build 4,000 flats on a nearby greenbelt site occupied by non-indigenous villages – the phase one – was approved.
Recently, Ove Arup & Partners, a subsidiary of British engineering firm Arup Group which was a consultant for the Wang Chau project, was caught using restricted government data without authorisation in a private developer project next to the Wang Chau one, for which it was also the consultant.
Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said the incident was a “scandal” and that the government bowed to rural leaders after the informal consultations, therefore funding for the project should not be voted on together with other projects. The Labour Party’s Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said he was concerned as to whether there would be a mechanism to avoid consultants using restricted government data.
The non-binding motion was passed with 22 “yes” votes and 20 “no” votes.
Meanwhile, the panel also passed another non-binding motion to pull funds from a project to improve the tourist facilities at Lam Tsuen Wishing Square in Tai Po. It stated that five phases of public consultation should be conducted, owing to controversy.
The square was dubbed a replica of Tiananmen Square for its design.
It was proposed by lawmaker Lau Siu-lai and passed by 22 “yes” votes and 21 “no” votes.
However, a non-binding motion to pull the funding for the construction of musical fountains at Kwun Tong Promenade was rejected.