Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said Hong Kong cannot waste time when it comes to the Lantau land reclamation plan.

Ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lam was asked about recent polls showing that 40 per cent of people opposed her “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” plan. The proposal involves the creation of 1,700 hectares of land off the eastern side of Lantau Island, at a possible cost of up to HK$500 billion.

“Hong Kong is a very diverse society. It is difficult to build a complete consensus. There is no perfect solution,” she said. “But if we have discussed it for a while, and we decided we have to do this, then we can’t waste time.”

Carrie Lam showing her plan for reclamation off East Lantau. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Lam said that she had seen some surveys with results supporting her. She said it was a “well-known fact” that Hong Kong lacked land, and the average waiting time for public housing had risen to 5.5 years.

“As a responsible government, we have to respond to these people waiting for public housing,” she said.

National security 

Lam was also asked whether Chinese President Xi Jinping’s remarks about having “self-awareness to defend national security” would affect government policy. She said the comments were in line with what she had said in her policy address last month.

Carrie Lam and Xi Jinping. Photo: GovHK.

“Although previously I have said that we will have to treat [national security law] very prudently because of previous controversies, that doesn’t mean we would take no actions when we have some local existing legislation that could address any acts undermining national security or advocating independence of Hong Kong,” she said.

“The action taken by Secretary for Security is a good indication of that determination and self-awareness.”

Convener of the pro-democracy camp Claudia Mo said on Tuesday that Lam unfairly dismissed the democrats’ polling.

Claudia Mo. Photo:

“She cannot say, I do not accept the poll that shows 49 per cent opposing [Lantau reclamation], but I accept the poll that shows 49 per cent support,” Mo said. “This is not the governance principle Lam ought to have.”

Mo also defended the way the survey was conducted, in response to Lam’s earlier doubts about the poll’s methodology.

“Our question was, ‘Do you believe that Hong Kong should first develop its 1,300 hectares of brownfield land before building artificial islands?’” Mo said. “What’s wrong with that question? Is she questioning the professional technique of Robert Chung at HKU?”

Kris Cheng

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.