The latest Policy Address released by Chief Executive Carrie Lam has demonstrated her proactive and pragmatic style. The proposed Lantau Tomorrow Vision is a bold, innovative and forward-looking initiative that serves as an investment in our future and a sound strategy to help resolve many of Hong Kong's deep-rooted problems.
I hope the Government will now take immediate action. The next step is to consider a public-private partnership (PPP) and respond positively to the heated discussions in the community to maximize the benefits of the plan as soon as possible.
Lantau Tomorrow will involve the launch of a number of major infrastructure projects in the next few decades, including reclamation of about 1,700 hectares in the central waters and building 260,000 to 400,000 residential units.
The initiative will not only help build up a land reserve to meet our long-term needs and create a better living environment, but it will also achieve synergy with various economic infrastructures on Lantau Island and achieve larger economies of scale. Meanwhile, the Government can develop new tourist attractions under the plan to enhance the city's competitiveness.
The Government can consider adopting a PPP approach to expedite the implementation of the vision. Talking of PPP, some in Hong Kong have come to regard such partnerships as "collusion between business and the Government" – thus making such proposals very much a taboo subject.
However, this concern can be addressed as long as there is an open and transparent mechanism under which developers are required to pay land premium, and to compensate and relocate those affected in accordance with rigorous statutory procedures. The Government could also introduce additional provisions requiring developers to provide community facilities such as schools, parks and hospitals.
As for the extensive debate among the public about the construction cost of Lantau Tomorrow, I hope that consideration will be given to the long-term returns of the initiative, such as the income generated through the sale of land and property.
The Government has also suggested financing the project by issuing bonds, where appropriate. Any conclusion can only be reached upon scientific, precise calculations of the financial arrangements and cost-effectiveness of the relevant investment.
As the saying goes, we need to "sow the seeds of our future success." I hope the different sectors of the community can look further ahead and take into account the reality that Hong Kong needs to reclaim land for both economic and social development. The focus should be on the effective implementation of the initiative to promote sustainable economic and social growth in the long run.