Secretary for Development speaks about developments in Tin Shui Wai

Following is the transcript of the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, speaking to the media after attending the Building Safety Carnival 2008 in Victoria Park today (October 5):

Reporter: What is this project in Tin Shui Wai is going to do for the people living there and for the temporary project there, if it is successful, is there any chance that the development could be turned into a permanent thing?

Secretary for Development: The collaboration with the Hong Kong Housing Society is not a temporary project. It is a permanent project to develop the first of its kind an integrated elderly community project in Tin Shui Wai. Of course you ask me why we choose Tin Shui Wai, one is because we do have land available in this Area 115, which is big enough to accommodate this sort of project and secondly, it is because a few months ago, the Chief Executive has expressed a lot of concern about residents in Tin Shui Wai and suggested that Development Bureau should try to use land more flexibly in order to address some of the concerns in Tin Shui Wai, namely the provision of jobs, also to inject some economic activities into Tin Shui Wai and if at all possible, also meet some of the needs of the residents there. So we see this project of the Housing Society being able to fulfil all those requirements. First, during the construction stage, as well as the operation stage, the project will be able to create additional jobs. We now estimate that during the construction, it will be able to create between 250 to 400 construction jobs, and then once it is in operation, it will create 700 jobs, and all these are only confined to phase 1. Of course more jobs will be created in phase 2. We estimated that most of the jobs required for the operation of this kind of facility will be suitable for residents in Tin Shui Wai. That is the ultimate objective of working with the Hong Kong Housing Society.

As for other initiatives in Tin Shui Wai, in the land adjacent to Area 115, we have Area 112, which we are now doing land formation work and to put into essential utilities like toilets and so on. The land will be available for use by January next year. Earlier on there have been a lot of suggestions to create shopping malls, factory outlets. But we are not too sure whether a permanent land grant for that sort of commercial investment will be viable, because at the moment, Tin Shui Wai has not got that critical mass. So we have consulted some of the Chambers and felt that perhaps an ensured tenancy of about five years may be able to attract a start-up of some sort of factory or brands outlet, or more activities or recreational activities. Once we have started on that ground, and if we feel that the time has come, the critical mass is there and people always think of Tin Shui Wai whenever they want to do that sort of activities, then we would concurrently consider more permanent land grant to retain that sort of economic vibrancy in Tin Shui Wai.

Reporter: What will this five year temporary project will do for Tin Shui Wai?

Secretary for Development: It is for the same purpose of creating jobs, and bringing economic activities into Tin Shui Wai, by bringing people flow into Tin Shui Wai. For example, Tin Shui Wai is actually very close to the boundary control point. Our statistics show that a lot of Shenzhen residents coming over to Hong Kong and more and more they are doing one day visit, shopping, a bit of sight seeing, and they go back, and they will come another time. So whether we could seize this opportunity to create some shopping outlets in that part of the New Territories is something we need to try. I cannot say that it will definitely succeed, and that’s why we don’t go for a land grant because once doing a land grant, the land is being allocated permanently and if the business fails, we will end up with quite a lot of problems. So we want to try it out through an expression of interest first. If people feel that five years is a bit too short and whether we could do up to seven years, then we could consider that. But anything beyond seven years will have planning problems, because anything above seven years will be more or less permanent and it will have to go through a lot planning process, which means the whole thing will be delayed.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript)

Ends/Sunday, October 5, 2008
Issued at HKT 16:39