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Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 11:47

Housing: CE refuses to bow to rural leaders

By Luis Liu

HONG KONG - Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying vowed on Tuesday to build up a platform for all stakeholders to discuss the Wang Chau development controversy. He reiterated that there is no plan to scale down the development.

He will hold a press conference today (Wednesday) afternoon with all major officials involved. They will then discuss details of the project, which Leung argues is "vital" to the city’s efforts to combat the housing crisis.

He told reporters that the 17,000 public housing units intended for development are essential in order to ease the city’s housing shortage.

The first phase of the housing project comprises 4,000 flats. The remaining13,000 are to be developed on a brownfield site. This phase however has been put on hold, while the government finds a place to relocate those who currently occupy the brownfield site.

Leung’s remarks came as advocates argued that the government had halted the development under pressure from rural leaders who saw their interests threatened by the housing development. The CE dismissed the charges, saying the government is determined to build 17,000 public housing flats in Wang Chau.

The government will establish a platform, inviting all stakeholders, including people in the vicinity, along with concern groups, community leaders, activists and brownfield users. They can meet and discuss the issue.

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, who chairs the city's Steering Committee on Land Supply, acting secretary for development Eric Ma Siu-cheung and Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung will attend today’s media briefing.

Yuen Long District Council Chairman Shum Ho-kit said he is willing to join the platform although it might trigger a re-consultation on the development. However, he foresees difficulties if the "platform" decides to revise the current status of the land - which has already been passed by the council.

Chairman of Heung Yee Kuk, the statutory advisory body representing indigenous inhabitants of the New Territories, Kenneth Lau Ip-keung said  Hong Kong people had "misunderstandings" about indigenous villagers in the district. He criticized "some" people who had used such misconceptions to encourage urban-rural conflicts. Indigenous people will stand firm to defend their rights, Lau added.

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