Speech – Promoting the economic development of Lok Ma Chau and Lantau Island (Lo Wai-kwok)

Deputy President, first of all I would like to thank Mr WONG Ting-kwong for proposing the motion on “Promoting the economic development of Lok Ma Chau (LMC) and Lantau Island” today. The original motion urges the Government to expeditiously study the setting up of a business and shopping centre in LMC, not only to capitalize on the geographical advantages and flow of people at the border, but also help to alleviate the pressure of popular shopping spots in Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories, which are already crowded to capacity. As we are aware, although Renminbi has appreciated, many Hong Kong people still like to go to the Mainland for shopping. As soon as they cross the Lo Wu Control Point, they can go shopping or engaging in all kinds of consumer activities at Luohu Commercial City, which is indeed very convenient.

At present, many Mainland tourists come to Hong Kong to spend money every day, which puts a heavy strain on various complimentary facilities in Hong Kong. If we set up a business and shopping centre in LMC, Mainland tourists can go shopping immediately after they have crossed the border, they even do not need to take the train to the urban areas. This will not only boost the appeal of the local retail industry, but will also help to divert the tourists to shop in other places, separating them from local residents, so as to reduce unnecessary conflicts between them at certain shopping hot spots in the urban areas.

For example, if a business and shopping centre is to be set up at the boundary control point in Hong Kong, we can set up designated shops to sell infant powdered formula to Mainland tourists, the effect of sales diversion can then be achieved. In this way, the situation of local mothers and Mainland tourists scrambling for powdered formula in the same place can be avoided. Of course, the LMC Loop has other development potentials. The key is whether the SAR Government has the insight and resolution to develop the area.

Another main point of the original motion is the development of Lantau Island. Members may recall that there was a motion debate on “Developing a new North Lantau” in this Council on 6 February last year. It is obvious that various sectors in society and Members have attached great importance to this subject. The aim of my amendment today is mainly to appropriately extend the scope of study to cover the overall development plan of Lantau Island and also the development of diversified industries, so as to capitalize on the geographical advantage of Lantau Island and promote the sustainable development of Hong Kong.

As a matter a fact, the discussion on the development plan of Lantau Island did not begin one or two years ago, but the plan has been studied and revised time and again over the years. After the establishment of the SAR Government, former Chief Executive Mr TUNG Chee-hwa set up the Lantau Development Task Force in 2004 and drew up the Concept Plan for Lantau. Following the public consultation, the Government published the revised concept plan in 2007 and proposed to construct the Lantau Logistics Park, holiday facilities in Lantau South, and so on.

When Donald TSANG was the Chief Executive, he put forward in his 2007 Policy Address 10 major infrastructure projects, including the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB), the Tuen Mun Western Bypass and the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link, which were all centred around Lantau Island. In the 2009 Policy Address, it was proposed to set up a recycling centre in Siu Ho Wan on Lantau Island to recycle food waste generated by the commercial and industrial sectors.

In paragraph 80 of the 2013 Policy Address, the incumbent Chief Executive mentioned about Lantau Island again, indicating that the authorities were “conducting the Tung Chung New Town Extension Study … to explore in earnest the development potential of Lantau Island and areas along the trunk routes in New Territories West.”

However, regrettably, the subject still remains at the conceptual stage and the authorities have yet to come up with a comprehensive plan to the satisfaction of various social sectors. This indicates that the authorities lack a holistic concept, clear positioning and comprehensive planning of the development.

Given the vast expanse of Lantau Island, there are plenty of sites that have development potential. More importantly, with the successive completion of cross-boundary infrastructure projects in the vicinity, for example, the HZMB to be completed in 2016 and the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link to be commissioned in 2018, the “one-hour living circle” among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao is gradually becoming a reality. Besides, with the third runway of the airport under planning, the cross-boundary flow of people and goods will certainly further increase and Lantau Island has infinite potentials for development.

Deputy President, how should we plan the development of Lantau Island? What is our focal point? I think we must take full advantage of the favourable conditions of Lantau Island while making sure that keen demands arising from the development of the economy and industries in Hong Kong will be met.

On the one hand, housing is the foremost livelihood problem troubling the public. According to findings of the public consultation on the Consultation Paper on the Long Term Housing Strategy completed early last month, it is estimated that in order to satisfy the demand of society, the total number of housing units to be produced in the next decade will have to be between 440 000 and 500 000. However, given the acute shortage of land reserve, the planned Lantau development will at least provide some new sites for housing and commercial development.

Stage 2 Public Engagement for Tung Chung New Town Extension Study was only completed in July last year and the findings have yet to be published. But according to the existing proposal, it is estimated that 120 hectares of land can be reclaimed in Tung Chung East, which can provide 33 000 to 38 000 housing units. While the reclamation in Tung Chung West is to be reduced to 14 hectares, it will still be able to provide 15 000 units. The development of a new town in Tung Chung will no doubt relieve Hong Kong’s housing demand.

On the other hand, the cross-boundary traffic network and infrastructures on Lantau, including the HZMB, port and airport, will bring in endless streams of people and goods. With proper planning, they can be turned into economic benefits, providing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities at various levels for residents of Lantau, as well as other people over the territory. Regarding the types of industries to be developed, I think the authorities should actively consider any industries that have high added value and diversity. Apart from capitalizing on the opportunity to develop tourism and convention and exhibition industries, the authorities should also satisfy the needs for the development of logistics and green industries.

Take for example the logistics industry. The logistics services straddle the areas of sea, land and air transport. With the first class transportation facilities and traffic networks on Lantau Island, coupled with the high productivity in the neighbouring Pearl River Delta Region, Hong Kong can develop into a logistics hub and a supply-chain base to link the Mainland with the world market.

Since 2003, the Hong Kong Government had started to study the need for the development of a Logistics Park to provide designated facilities for integrated logistics services and an feasibility study of the Lantau Logistics Park Development plan was embarked in early 2005. However, when answering Members’ relevant questions, government officials only reiterate that they “would continue to watch closely the development of the Lantau Logistics Park”. Is this another example of the Government’s practice of “discussing without making decisions and making decisions without taken actions”? I think the Government must give us a clear account of the progress of planning and the timetable for setting up the Lantau Logistics Park.

Let us take the green industry as an example. It was pointed out in the 2013 Policy Address that food waste posed a serious problem as it accounted for about 40% of total waste disposed of in landfills and the Government would build modern facilities in phases for recovery of organic waste, so that it could be converted into energy, compost and other products. Concerning this, the Government has not given any further details. Owing to environmental constraints to the sites of the Organic Waste Treatment Facilities at Siu Ho Wan on Lantau and Sandy Ridge in the Northern District, the possibility of expansion is restricted. Hence, in the Hong Kong Blueprint for Sustainable Use of  Resources 2013-2022 published in May 2013, it was stated that there was a need to identify sites for the third and more Organic Waste Treatment Facilities.  Should this be included as one of the important factors for consideration in the future development of Lantau which is yet to be planned?

Deputy President, for the early formulation and implementation of the long-term overall development plan of Lantau Island, I think the authorities must set up a high-level inter-departmental Lantau Development Committee which may be chaired by the Financial Secretary. To ensure cross-sectoral representation of the committee, apart from Directors of various Policy Bureaux such as the Development Bureau, Transport and Housing Bureau, Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, the Environment Bureau and Home Affairs
Bureau; the membership should also include representatives of professional sectors such as planning, construction and engineering; representatives of the tourism, logistics and green industries; as well as residents of Lantau Island and the neighbouring areas, so as to pool the wisdom of the masses and formulate practical proposals.

I implore colleagues to support my amendment.

Deputy President, I so submit.