Chief Executive contender Regina Ip has said there was “nothing really wrong” about how the government handled the controversial Wang Chau housing project.
Speaking on a Commercial Radio programme on Thursday, Ip said the government must conduct informal consultations to find out how many people actually oppose the project, and evaluate whether it is possible to overcome their opposition.
She added that she believes others would find it hard to accuse her of colluding with businesses, because she “had a clean record while she was a civil servant” and has had no ties with business people over the past ten years.
The government’s proposal to build 13,000 units on a Wang Chau brownfield site occupied by a rural strongman’s car park was postponed after rural leaders opposed the plans in unrecorded informal consultations. However, a proposal to build 4,000 flats on a nearby greenbelt site occupied by non-indigenous villages was approved.
Ip also said that the government’s top priority is to solve land and housing problems. Land reclamation should be carried out outside Victoria Harbour in the long run, she said.
Her comments came two days after the Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said the government may not hit its target of building 280,000 public housing units in the next decade, as the government has not yet found enough suitable land.
When asked about whether country parks should be developed, Ip said the government should consider developing parts of country parks. However, she added that even if no one was against such development, it is not possible to simply set aside parts of the land for housing without planning, otherwise the area will “turn into another Tin Shui Wai.”
Ip, who has announced her candidacy for Hong Kong’s leadership contest, said the next Chief Executive has to communicate with developers because they own the most land in the New Territories. “In fact, some developers told me that they are not against providing more land to build public housing units,” she said