Transcript of SDEV's remarks

Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, at a media session after attending a radio programme today (January 18):

Reporter: Many people expressed concerns about the Government's development on Lantau on the environment side and Heung Yee Kuk's villagers have expressed that they will fight against the Government if it tries to develop their village land...

Secretary for Development: On the Lantau development, the area that we have initially chosen for exploring the possibility of reclaiming from the sea to build a new town is to the east of the Lantau Island. As you may know, the sensitive conservation area is mostly on the west and south of Lantau. Relatively speaking, the east side of the Lantau Island is less challenging, and that's why we have chosen this particular area. Also considering the proximity of east Lantau to the Hong Kong Island, if we were to build a new town there, the infrastructure connection would be easier, and the investment on the new infrastructure would be more cost-effective. As to the opinion expressed by a New Territories villager about the working relationship with the Government, he was speaking in the context of the country park. In this respect, I think the community is fully aware of their views and position. We have also explained the position of the Government. As mentioned by the Secretary for the Environment yesterday, the Environment Bureau now has a liaison mechanism with the Heung Yee Kuk. With this mechanism in place, the dialogue would certainly be further improved. For the Development Bureau, we will continue with our work in the new development areas and other projects. So long as our projects are in the best interest of Hong Kong, we would push ahead. In the process, we would communicate with the relevant stakeholders and try to find out their concern and see if there is any practicable solution to address it.

Reporter: (On the issue of tight hotel supply...) given that developers may or may not have the interest to build hotels, they may actually control the supply in the market. How would you going to prevent room prices from going up sharply?

Secretary for Development: In the past few years, we have put up sites for hotel-only development for sale to facilitate the development of hotel rooms. And as I have mentioned before, implementing the revitalisation measures for industrial buildings would provide incentives for developers to convert industrial buildings or redevelop industrial buildings into hotel rooms. And for the new development areas, for example the NENT NDAs (North East New Territories New Development Areas), and Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area which are currently under planning, we have reserved sites for commercial development, including hotels. Depending on the situation, if there is strong policy support for hotel-only development, we would try to identify possible sites to address the need. In terms of competing interests for land, from the Government's standpoint, we have to rationalise our resources and set priority at a particular point of time. And hotel development would be considered in that context alongside with other needs, for example, for residential housing.

Reporter: Regarding the Lantau development, you mentioned that it would be very modern.  Would it be like the Central Business District (CBD)?

Secretary for Development: The mission for developing the Lantau East is to build it into a new town with a substantial population, and possibly to build the third commercial district in Hong Kong. Because of its proximity to the Hong Kong Island, it will be a natural expansion of our CBD. For us to plan for a new town nowadays, we won't just concentrate on residential development. We have to give due consideration to job opportunities and employment, so that people living there could find work nearby. That would also relieve the pressure on our infrastructure, so that in terms of employment opportunities, it would be more balanced.

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

Ends/Saturday, January 18, 2014
Issued at HKT 18:52