Following is a speech by the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, Mr Gordon Siu, in moving the second reading of the Protection of the Harbour (Amendment) Bill 1999 in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):
I move the Second Reading of the Protection of the Harbour (Amendment) Bill 1999.
Victoria Harbour is Hong Kong's precious natural heritage. The Government and the community share a common wish to well-protect and treasure our harbour, our natural gift. In his policy address this year, the Chief Executive has announced the Government's policy objective of protecting the harbour and enhancing the scenic views on both sides of the harbour. The Town Planning Board has also recognised the importance of preserving and protecting the harbour, and has finalised the statement of "Vision and Goals for the Victoria Harbour" after public consultation.
The "presumption against reclamation" under the existing Protection of the Harbour Ordinance is only applicable to the "harbour" surrounded roughly by Western Harbour Crossing and Hung Hom - North Point. Having noticed the inadequacy of the Ordinance, the Hon Christine Loh proposed in June 1999 to this Council a Member's Bill to extend the geographical scope of the Ordinance to Lei Yue Mun at the east and to Tsing Yi at the west. The proposed boundary of Harbour complies entirely with that defined under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap. 1). The Administration fully agrees with the objectives of the Member's Bill and, after discussions with the Hon Loh, decided to submit the proposed amendment to the Council as a Government's Bill. I wish to thank the Hon Loh for her proposal.
Now I would like to introduce the "Protection of the Harbour (Amendment) Bill 1999" to this Council. The proposed Bill seeks to extend the geographical scope under the existing Ordinance so that the whole "Harbour" will be protected by the Ordinance. The enactment of the Bill will provide better legal footing for protecting the Harbour. The LegCo's Panel on Environmental Affairs has already rendered support to the Bill. To enhance the protection of the Victoria Harbour, I look forward to the full support from all of the Members to the speedy enactment of the Bill.
End/Wednesday, November 3, 1999