8 Reasons Why the Northeast New Territories (NENT) Development Plan is Wrong for Hong Kong

Question: What’s the deal with the Northeast New Territories (#NENT) Development Plan? I heard that some companies (or few people) are going to get a lot of money from the land? And something was passed a few days ago in 立法㑹 under questionable circumstances? What happened?

Answer:   The North East New Territories (NENT) Development Project would allow Mainland Chinese to enter Hong Kong without a visa, which effectively removes the border between Hong Kong SAR and China.

However, this is against the Basic Law (HK’s mini-constitution), which stresses “one country, two systems”, where Hong Kong enjoys autonomy despite being part of China.

June 27th, 2014 – Members of the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee voted 29-2 to move forward with the NENT Development Project, despite irregularities with rushed voting procedures.

 

8 Reasons Why the Northeast New Territories (NENT) Development Plan is Wrong for Hong Kong

1. Doesn’t resolve Hong Kong’s Housing Issues

North-East New Territories Development Plan (NENT Plan) involves 614 hectares of land. Of this, 400 hectares of the plan requires the government to buy from landowners.

Residential development accounts for 96 hectares of the project, which is estimated to provide 60700 residential units: 40% public housing and 60% private housing.

Majority of private housing part for project is “low density luxury housing” (54 hectares), and only 36 hectares of the entire project is used for pubic housing – just 6% of the project!

 

2. Destroys Traditional Communities

Despite preserving some traditional villages, over 10,000 people are still affected by the plan.  Homes inhabited by over 3 generations of families will be destroyed in the name of development.

NENT Plan also destroys quality of life for inhabitants in the affected area. Landowning villagers are being forced to leave, but unable to afford replacement homes despite government compensation.

Most of all, all inhabitants will lose their homes and traditions, under the NENT Plan.

 

3. Many Elderly Will Be Made Homeless

HK SAR government’s latest NENT Plan is to demolish the existing elderly home in Shek Tsai Leng in 2 phrases and replace it with a public estate for the elderly in 2023.

It sounds great on paper, but not all the elderly would qualify to live in the replacement estate, which means there will be those made homeless by the development plan.

Even if they qualify to move into the replacement estate, the first phrase of demolition will badly affect the environment and quality of life for elderly who are living in the area.

 

4. Major Conflicts of Interest

The Town Planning Board (TPB) has not approved the NENT Development Plan but HK SAR Government bypassed it to apply for public funding, which is against procedure.

Also, details and size of land acquisitions has not been finalised for proper review.   The Financial Committee of the Legislative Council (LegCo) that approved the plan is composed of legislators with direct conflicts of interests.

Legislators with such conflicts of interest include Ng Leung-sing (Chairman of the Committee who is tied to Sun Hung Kai), James Tien Pei-chun (New World Development), Lau Wong-fat and Abraham Razack.

 

5. Destroys Local Farming and Agriculture

The NENT Plan will destroy 25% of active farmlands in Hong Kong SAR and what remains of locally produced vegetables and livestock along with harming the environment. The HK SAR Government has no plans for real sustainable development in Hong Kong’s rural areas.

NENT Plan will turn remaining farmlands into “to-be-developed” land, which allows developers to continue accumulating land for development into private luxury housing, shopping centres, and other commercial development catering to Mainland Chinese.

 

6. Doesn’t Create Jobs

The NENT Plan claims that it will “..maximise the increasingly frequent economic interactions” similar to ZAPE in Macau and the Shenzhen SEZ as in the past.  Plan also claims the NENT development will provide around 37700 new job opportunities, including research and development, retail and community services.

However, other relevant necessary services including education are not specified.  There is also concern whether citizens who move into the NENT development area will have the necessary skills and qualifications needed to fulfill the demand in these industries or not.

 

7. Ignores Public Concerns

Villagers affected by NENT Plan and activists supporting the villagers have exhausted all methods to urge the government to withdraw the plan.

They have spoken to  relevant government officials, protested outside the Lands Department, collected 50,000 signatures opposing the Plan, and some elderly affected by the plan have knelt at the LegCo begging them to withdraw the Plan.

However, the government and those in power refused to change their minds.

 

8. An Expensive White Elephant

The HK SAR Government plans to spend USD15.5 billion to build a “new Northeast New Territories”. Around USD5.3 billion will be spent on infrastructure, and USD3.9 billion is used for land compensation.

About 95% of land qualified for  government compensation is owned by major developers and indigenous villagers.

Instead of destroying local agriculture and livelihood of people living in the area, the government could have used the money on projects that are more acceptable to Hongkongers.

 

Conclusion

This NENT Plan highlights the collusion between government and big business, and the pro-Beijing camp’s domination of the LegCo.

Chief Executive CY Leung has gone on record saying he wanted the NENT as a special area where Mainland Chinese can enter visa-free.  This would erase the border between China and HK.

The NENT development area also matches the land holdings of major property developers, suggesting collusion between government and big business.

The Plan fails to resolve ongoing housing and job creation issues in Hong Kong. It would also result in loss of locally farmed crops that contribute to a sustainable Hong Kong.

This USD15.5 billion White Elephant project is also a potential waste of taxpayers’ money.

Are you comfortable to bear this cost?  

What is Going On In Hong Kong Right Now?

Question: I’ve read political forums and debates on CNN and I just can’t understand what the debates and discussions in Hong Kong, China are about. Can you please explain to me the political issues that Hong Kong is now tackling and current events?

Answer:

Hong Kong was formally a British colony. On July 1st, 1997, Hong Kong entered a 50 year transition period (it will end in 2047) to Chinese rule. The Hong Kong people do not like the Chinese government (except those involved in government or business) and are terrified of becoming part of China. The idea of the transition period is that Hong Kong will still have its own government and not be fully integrated into China right away. This kind of gradual change would diffuse the anger and outrage of the Hong Kong people over time.

In the meantime, China is socially, politically, culturally, linguistically, economically and physically enveloping Hong Kong. Currently, huge numbers of mainland tourists who spend money very well are critical for Hong Kong’s economy. In the mind of these tourists, Hong Kong is a part of China. As a result, they do not change their culture, try to speak Cantonese or even English when they visit. They spit, shit in the streets, and are offensive to the local people. But because they spend so much money, locals have to speak there language. As a result, Cantonese is on the decline even in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is part of the pearl delta region. The mainland is currently rapidly developing that entire pearl delta region to create a mega city that is roughly the size of Denmark. Hong Kong will inevitably be swallowed by this city.

In a nutshell, the outrage in Hong Kong now is their response to being gradually consumed by the mainland in almost every aspect of life. This is a misunderstanding of the 50 year transition period. Locals want it to be a 50 year extension of autonomous rule, but really it is the period of gradual takeover by the mainland.

Also, as the New Territories (the northern part of Hong Kong which borders Mainland China) are developed, the Hong Kong government (which is really just a puppet of the mainland) is planning to bring in many mainlanders as permanent residents of Hong Kong. As Hong Kongers become more and more diluted, they lose their voice. That voice is already so weak because they don’t even have suffrage and can’t vote for their political leader (who already needs to be approved by the central government anyway).

The loudest Hong Kong people, especially youngsters, want to select their own leader in the 2017 election, but Beijing wants to keep some control of Hong Kong by limiting whom Hong Kong voters can vote for.

As part of an “Occupy Central” campaign, a non-binding referendum is staged to get public endorsement for the demand of nomination by the public, as opposed to just a small group of Beijing loyalists representatives called the “nominating committee,” which is stipulated in the Basic Law (some sort of mini constitution for Hong Kong). The result of the referendum doesn’t matter that much really. It represents over 750,000 voters’ wish to have a say in who can be voted in the 2017 election.

What’s next is that, before the end of the year, Hong Kong government will have to release to the public a proposed method of selecting Hong Kong’s Chief Executive in 2017. Occupy Central threatens to blockade traffic in Central, the business district, if the proposal doesn’t fit their demand of a “universal suffrage in accordance with international standards.” Hong Kong government and Beijing officials have deplored the disruptive protest, which its organizers call “civil disobedience”. More political chaos will ensue. It might agitate Hong Kong activists and make them do more radical things, such as storming government or legislative buildings.

Another key thing to realize about the environment now is that June-July is a very sensitive time for Hong Kongers politically. The anniversary of Tienanmen Square, even though it did not take place in Hong Kong, is very important to Hong Kongers. July 1st is the anniversary of the beginning of the transition period.