Chief executive contender John Tsang has proposed a mixed model for developing New Territories land into village houses for indigenous people, and Home Ownership Scheme flats for others.

The Small House Policy states that certain male descendants of villages have the right to build village houses of three storeys, whilst the Home Ownership Scheme is open to the public to apply for and resell properties. Tsang said this proposal may meet the needs of both indigenous people and the public.

He made the comment after meeting with the Heung Yee Kuk, which represents the interests of the powerful rural leaders of the New Territories. He was the last contender to meet them, after the Kuk met with rivals Woo Kwok-hing previously, and on Wednesday with Carrie Lam and Regina Ip.

John Tsang
John Tsang. File Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

“We hope that we would have an opportunity to discuss this proposal further with the Heung Yee Kuk,” he said.

Many villages have built illegal extra structures on top of their three storey buildings. Tsang said the most important part of the issue was that the structures were safe, before a flexible solution is found.

Brownfield sites

He also commented on the issue of brownfield sites – land which was formerly farmland that has been developed for industrial or commercial use. He said that the efficiency of the use of such sites was low.

“We hope that we will be able to collect the different functions and put them in multi-storey buildings – leaving more land for purposes such as housing or commercial,” he said.

The Kuk previously said it will vote to nominate the same contender together as a block after a decision is made. The group is likely to nominate Carrie Lam.

Tsang said he hoped to obtain the nominations from the Kuk: “But more importantly we hope to obtain an appropriate level of support from each part of the political spectrum, only then it will represent support from the Hong Kong public,” he said.

Kenneth Lau Ip-keung, chairman of the Kuk, said Tsang’s proposal of mixed development is a “very new idea” and Kuk members who attended the meeting agreed they could consider it.

Lau said Tsang loves the country, Hong Kong and the rural areas, that he is standing in the middle of the political spectrum and is suitable for all sides. But he did not reveal who the Kuk will nominate.

sheung shui parallel traders
Parallel traders packing their goods on the streets of Sheung Shui. File Photo: Facebook/North District Parallel Imports Concern Group.

Smuggling issue

After the meeting, Tsang accepted the invitation of Gary Hau Chi-keung, chairman of the Sheung Shui Rural Committee, to visit Sheung Shui to look at the cross-border goods smuggling issue.

Tsang said he believed a balance could be found between economic activity and the problems caused.

But Lam Cheuk-ting, a Democratic Party lawmaker and a Sheung Shui district councillor, said many shops involved in the smuggling issue have yet to open for business as it was currently still Lunar New Year holidays for them. He said Tsang would not be able to truly understand the seriousness of the problem by visiting at the moment.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.