THE Lantau Tomorrow Vision (明日大嶼願景) scheme became the eye of the storm when lawmakers discussed a motion of thanks for the Chief Executive’s Policy Address (行政長官年度施政報告).
The entire Legislative Council (立法會) meeting, which started on 7 November, was devoted to the motion, which has been used by different camps to express their approval or contempt for the Policy Address since the handover.
The government’s proposed construction of a 1,700-hectare artificial island east of Lantau (大嶼山) is undoubtedly the most controversial measure in this year’s address, with pro-establishment legislators using it to lambaste doubters and critics.
Lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king (李慧琼), who moved the motion of thanks, lamented that there would not have been that much social resentment “if we didn’t abandon the ‘85,000’ housing policy and land plot creation during a financial crisis”.
“We need to react to doubts, but people with hidden agendas have demonised the Lantau Tomorrow Vision, exaggerated the costs to say it would exhaust our fiscal reserves and made a mountain out of a molehill by linking the plan with Sino-Hong Kong conflicts,” Lee said.
The chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (民主建港協進聯盟) slammed people who claimed that such an island would be reserved for mainland migrants, for creating social rifts by manipulating people’s concerns.
Martin Liao Cheung-kong (廖長江), convener of the pro-establishment camp, called on the public to look at the big picture instead of “dancing with set slogans”.
Liao said, “Opposition to the island will strangle the hopes of people living in subdivided apartments, of children who do their homework on tiny desks and of middleclass people who dream of having their own flats.”
He added that the artificial island would be located strategically, and will help Hong Kong connect to the Greater Bay Area (大灣區).
Pan-democrats counter-attacked, with Civic Party’s (公民黨) Kwok Ka-ki (郭家麒) decrying the Lantau artificial island as being planned for the Greater Bay Area project.
“Does the government listen to public opinion? No, they don’t need to, because they’ve got support from Beijing,” Kwok said. “You know what’s behind it when even the People’s Daily (人民日報) endorses the plan.”
The Neo Democrats’ (新民主同盟) Gary Fan Kwok-wai (范國威) called the Lantau Tomorrow plan a ‘population exchange programme’ with the mainland. He said this was evident from how the government is urging Hongkongers to move to the mainland, while the projected 1.1 million population will occupy the new land.
(This article is published on the Student Standard on 16 November 2018)