Motion on “Reforming the Housing Policy to Resolve the Housing Problem” (2021.07.15)

MR CHAN KIN-POR (in Cantonese): President, I am very grateful to Mr Tony TSE for proposing today’s motion, which allows us to continue to discuss such an important issue as housing. I agree with all the profound views shared by Mr Tony TSE.

As the epidemic situation in Hong Kong has subsided to “zero infection” and the economy is also picking up, the housing market has naturally rebounded. With pent-up demand being accumulated over the past two years, buyers have gradually entered the housing market lately, resulting in an increasingly buoyant housing market. Property prices have been hovering near historic highs, and the market expects the rise has the possibility to hit 15% this year.

President, I am very worried about the current situation as the housing market is the core deep-seated problem and a source of public grievances in Hong Kong. Therefore, after “black-clad violence” has been stopped in Hong Kong, I urge the Government on multiple occasions to address various deep-seated problems as soon as possible to regain the people’s support. If public grievances intensify rather than abate, members of the public will be easily incited and may commit all sorts of acts which are harmful to society. Nowadays, property prices are like unbridled horses running wild. If property prices are really going to increase by 15% a year, it will be absolutely detrimental to social stability.

The Government is now tackling the problem at root by increasing land supply. We can see that the Government has been working hard and delivered results, including having identified land required for providing public housing units to meet the demand in the coming decade, gradually proceeding with the “Lantau Tomorrow” project, constructing 15 000 transitional housing units, formulating tenancy control of subdivided units. However, the Government still should consider exploring ways to increase housing supply.

Recently, Our Hong Kong Foundation (“OHKF”) published a research report, proposing nine new potential development areas, which can provide over 3 000 hectares of land in total. Although the proposed areas will not be readily available to satisfy the imminent need, they can facilitate Hong Kong’s development in the long term. The report contains great details and is worthy of serious examination by the Government. To be honest, if members of the public can see that the Government has a well-planned development programme, they will be more confident.

Besides, in its report, OHKF made an analysis, which illustrates with concrete examples that the Government has taken more than double the time to develop new areas after the handover. The six new towns developed before 2000 saw their first population intake within six to 10 years, with an average of only 7.5 years, including 6 years for Tsueng Kwan O and 7 years for Tung Chung. However, the six new development areas developed after 2000 saw their first population intake within 12 to 23 years, with an average of 17 years, including 16 years for Kwu Tung North and 17 years for Hung Shui Kiu. I think all of us would like to know why the development time can suddenly increase from 7.5 years to 17 years. There are certainly many practical reasons, but I believe that the political environment over the past decade or so is one of the major reasons. Now that the general situation has been settled, it is hoped that many obstacles to land development can be removed, and we are now in a position to significantly shorten the lead time between commencement of development and population intake.

OHKF opines that the absence of a single government department responsible for new town development and a lack of coordination among departments may lead to a significant increase of development time. Mr Tony TSE has proposed today a reorganization of the government structure to enhance the efficiency in identifying sites for housing construction and in vetting and approving development project. I absolutely support this and hope that the Government will do so immediately.

Thank you, President.

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