Celebrating Lunar New Year with “old pals”
Today is the second day of the Lunar New Year. First of all, let me and colleagues of the Development Bureau (DEVB) wish you a very happy and prosperous year ahead! On 22 January, guided by the Drainage Services Department Volunteer Team (DSDVT) and senior volunteers of the Sheng Kung Hui, I visited a neighbourhood elderly centre with Mr Liu Chun-san, the Under Secretary, and Mr Allen Fung, the Political Assistant, to chat with the elderly and celebrating the Lunar New Year together.
The elderly having fun
The DSDVT launched the activity “Lovely Trip with the Elderly” in 2017 to partner with retired elderly to perform volunteer work and visit elders living alone in the vicinity of Kwun Lung Lau in Kennedy Town to send them love and care. This time, we paid a visit to the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui St. Luke's Settlement Neighbourhood Elderly Centre. On the day of the visit, we played various types of board games with the elderly and we had a lot of fun. We distributed spring couplets of the Year of the Rat and exchanged Lunar New Year wishes with them. We also toured the facilities of the centre, watched a cooking class in action, and played darts with the elders to learn how they train hand-eye coordination through exercise.
Tailor-made games to show care
Many government departments have set up volunteer teams and this visit can show our support for colleagues who participated in volunteer work. According to the coordinator of the DSDVT, Ms Ginny Tsui, the team was established in 2002 and has more than 30 members now. They care for and provide assistance to elders through activities, which in turn helps them deepen understanding of the elderly’s physical and mental conditions and know more about their daily needs.
She said that some of the board games we played on the day of the visit were tailor-made by colleagues according to the needs of the elderly, such as the Washer Toss Game and old photo puzzles. The Washer Toss Game can help train the elderly’s minds and hand-eye coordination. The puzzles, made with old photos of Sai Wan by the volunteers, not only allow the old pals to use their brains, but also serve to open up a conversation with the elderly by talking about how Sai Wan has changed, making it easier to engage them in the activities of the centre.
Achieving goals in the new year
A new year comes with new hopes. To welcome the Year of the Rat, the DEVB will continue to work hard to achieve its goals, among which, increasing land supply still tops our agenda. We will continue to adopt a multi-pronged approach to implement the various recommendations tendered by the Task Force on Land Supply (TFLS) in its report, with a view to finding and creating land on all fronts. Meanwhile, we will continue to promote infrastructure development, aiming to create a quality living environment and promote sustainable development in Hong Kong together with the community through town planning, enhancing building safety, greening as well as nature and heritage conservation.
Proactively creating land supply
Regarding the development of land resources, progress has been made over the past year. The first phase development of the Kwu Tung North/ Fanling North New Development Areas (NDAs) has officially commenced after funding was approved in May last year. The funding application for the first phase infrastructure development of the Hung Shui Kiu NDA, on which the Legislative Council (LegCo)’s Panel on Development was consulted last December, will be submitted to the Public Works Subcommittee for scrutiny. These two NDAs will provide homes for 130 000 families in total. The reclamation works of the Tung Chung New Town Extension commenced at the end of December 2017. The first batch of land will be available for handover to the Housing Department within this year, which will be ready for “piling and construction” for public housing development to provide homes for 50 000 families.
The Government has also made good progress in expediting brownfield development. The Planning Department (PlanD) earlier announced its Study on Existing Profile and Operations of Brownfield Sites and is now giving priority to reviewing 160 hectares of brownfield sites to assess their suitability for public housing development. The related work is close to completion and the findings will be announced shortly. The PlanD will continue to review the remaining 290 hectares of brownfield sites, targeting to complete the work within this year. Besides, we will also explore the feasibility of accommodating some brownfield operations into multi-storey buildings. We hope to brief the Panel on Development by mid-2020 on the findings of the study and the way forward.
Proactively promoting people’s livelihood
To improve people’s livelihood, we have put forward proposals to inject funds into Operation Building Bright 2.0, the Lift Modernisation Subsidy Scheme and the Building Maintenance Grant Scheme for Elderly Owners. If the funding proposals are endorsed by LegCo, we can start accepting applications or process existing applications in the second half of this year. Regarding public works projects, we will continue to proactively drive infrastructure development, advocate Construction 2.0, and encourage the construction industry to incorporate the elements of “Innovation”, “Professionalisation” and “Revitalisation”, such as promoting the application of innovative technology and piloting the modular integration construction technique.
Over the past year, Hong Kong faced with many difficulties and challenges. In the coming year, I hope Hong Kong people can overcome the numerous difficulties, resolve disputes, foster mutual respect and rebuild mutual trust. Like the DSD volunteers, who learn how to get along and communicate with each other by engaging in exchanges and partnering with elderly volunteers, we can cultivate empathy and learn mutual appreciation and inclusiveness. With love and care, we can add more positive energy to the community. Last but not least, I would like to once again wish everybody good health and prosperity!
26 January, 2020