Speech at Council Meeting-Members’ Motions “Optimizing the use of land resources by expediting the development of outlying islands”


Deputy President, occupying the largest area of land, the Islands District is the most extensive among the 18 administrative districts across Hong Kong.  The Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan has stated support for Hong Kong to enhance its status as an international aviation hub, and established Hong Kong as an international maritime centre.  Being home to the Hong Kong International Airport and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (“HZMB”), Lantau Island is Hong Kong’s international and regional gateway connecting to the world and the Bay Area.  This would bring benefits to the regional economy and social development, as well as consolidate and enhance Hong Kong’s status as an international maritime and trade centre, etc.

I am grateful to Mrs Regina IP for proposing the motion on “Optimizing the use of land resources by expediting the development of outlying islands”, as well as the four Honourable colleagues for proposing their amendments, which seek to urge the Government to optimize the use of outlying islands, particularly the advantage of abundant land resources on Lantau Island, thereby providing more room for development for Hong Kong’s major industries and strategies.  I will support the original motion and all the amendments.

Deputy President, the Sustainable Lantau Blueprint promulgated by the Government in 2017 has established four strategic positionings for the development of Lantau Island, including an international transport, logistics and trade hub in the Greater Pearl River Delta (“PRD”) Region, a service hub of the Greater PRD Region and Asia, a strategic growth area with a new metropolis, and a treasure of natural and cultural assets.  In the same year, the Government also promulgated “Hong Kong 2030+”, a planning vision setting out several strategic development projects such as the North Commercial District on the Airport Island, the topside development at the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities Island of HZMB, as well as the commercial and trading centre in the Tung Chung New Town Extension.  Some of the aforesaid plans have been completed or are under construction, but an interim review has not been conducted to examine the progress of these plans.

At present, there is only one sizable new town on Lantau Island, i.e. Tung Chung, which has gradually transformed from an area that provides residential housing for people working at the airport to dovetail with airport development into a high-density new town nowadays.  The Government should expeditiously review and update the positioning of Tung Chung in the light of its unique geographical location, and develop it into part of an “Airport City”, so as to create employment opportunities for the future new community to tie in with the further development of Lantau Island.

Apart from Tung Chung, Discovery Bay is also a well-developed community.  Although it is a residential area, its development pattern is more organized, and it is cost-effective in terms of land use, infrastructure and the services provided, etc.  For villages such as Mui Wo, Tai O and Pui O focusing mainly on conservation and low-density development, the planning and development model of Discovery Bay is of reference value to a certain extent.  Coupled with the fact that a lot of land at the periphery of these villages is underutilized, it is possible to develop these villages in a well-planned and coordinated manner.

Other islands such as Tai O, Cheung Chau and Lamma Island offer a wide range of traditional festive activities with distinct characteristics, as well as vacation experience of island resorts that is different from the travel experiences of Hong Kong in other aspects.  This is particularly attractive to foreign tourists.  Yet, the overall supporting traffic arrangements are far from perfect, and some of the islands are also lacking in sufficient public facilities, resulting in their inadequate capacity to receive tourists.  Fewer foreign tourists would visit there except during festivals and holidays.  I suggest that the Government should formulate a long-term tourism development plan, develop tourism resources with humanistic value, and make good use of vacant venues to provide space for local artists to create works and showcase their products, thereby developing a cultural and creative park with island characteristics.

In respect of district development, in the past, the Government used to adopt a satellite town model for the development of districts such as Tsuen Wan, Sha Tin, Tuen Mun and Kwun Tong, with the intention of attracting a large population to take up jobs in labour-intensive manufacturing industries in these districts.  Nevertheless, with the relocation of manufacturing industries to the north, as well as improvement in the transport system, this satellite town model has become outdated.  After all, the old development model still regards new development areas as less important than the two city centres of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.  Despite the fact that these new development areas have become densely populated later on, the functions and services of the communities have remained incomprehensive.

Shenzhen, which is located just a river apart, used to adopt the planning pattern of a single city centre as well.  However, through continuous improvement of its urban layout, a new pattern of “multi centres” has gradually been formed in recent years, which has not only accomplished the restructuring of industries, but also relieved the pressure of commuting on the working class and the heavy burden on the transport system.  The Government should make good use of the land on outlying islands with a new mindset and draw reference from the development experience of Shenzhen in planning for the future development of Lantau Island, so as to transform Lantau Island into a community ideal for living, working and travelling with comprehensive functionalities, strong development dynamics and beautiful environment.

Deputy President, I so submit.