Auditors warn: ‘Must try harder, probably’

Albert Lai of Professional Commons poses a simple question on the radio this morning: do we still have a government in the New Territories? This follows the Audit Commission’s finding that a commercial petting farm has been operating illegally on part of Tai Lam Country Park for a mere 18 years, and the Lands Department has done nothing – other than send out less-than-terrifying warning letters. In what must rank as one of the least surprising discoveries of the week, the Standard reports that one of the owners is a leading member of indigenous villagers’ lobby/mafia, the Heung Yee Kuk.

Some might wonder if the district land officials are on the take; maybe their kids get to feed goats and ride horses for free. Lai guesses that the bureaucrats have essentially chosen to avoid a tough life. While this says something about the civil servants, it also tells us much about the Kuk. These are the same people who threaten violence and bloodshed if they are forced to remove illegal extensions to their homes. Successive governments – and especially the outgoing administration – have ignored or tolerated all manner of illicit land-related activity by New Territories residents for so long that the villagers can hardly be blamed for believing the law does not apply to them. Lai’s question on the radio wasn’t facetious.

Remember the Fairview Park private road affair? New Territories interests running some sort of truck park demanded the right for heavy vehicles to use a children-friendly residential development’s private road. Rather than enforce the law and protect the neighbourhood, officials encouraged local families to give in to the Heung Yee Kuk’s self-styled ‘intermediation’ and let the trucks roll through.

To answer Lai’s question: yes we do still have a government in the New Territories – it’s called the Heung Yee Kuk. Next Chief Executive CY Leung might be able to cut the property tycoons down to size, but the aborigines are a different matter.

From the depressing to the ludicrous: the auditors have also been looking at Youth Square. Although it sounds like something in Pyongyang, it is in fact the solar system’s most expensive young folk’s centre – a monument to the time when Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa began his long, tragic descent into insane, panic-stricken fiscal profligacy. Maybe flinging HK$771 million at a ‘focal point for youth development activities’ was worth a shot. It’s hard to say, but just maybe some kid hanging around in the place might have suddenly thought up a cure for cancer or something.

Instead, we ended up with an ugly curved glass building with a square patch of some mystery green stuff in a courtyard. What it does is something of a mystery – it seems to comprise some shops with a theatre and a hostel, but not necessarily in that order. The Audit Commission, being a bunch of wimps, recommends that Youth Square perform its role, whatever it is, better, set targets and at least use the facilities. The correct recommendation would be ‘knock it down and replace it with something people actually want’. A petting farm, say.

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16 Responses to Auditors warn: ‘Must try harder, probably’

  1. Che Guevara says:

    Details, details…and the Big Picture may escape you.

    Even before CY takes power he has:

    Arrested two tycoons in Hong Kong
    Arrested two tycoons in Macau
    Arrested a former Chief Secretary
    Issued a populist decree regarding immigration
    Moved against reactionary landlordism in the New Territories

    “The Leninist policy of social extermination of political opponents, ideological rivals and stigmatised social classes became a sacral obligation to be fulfilled by the new ideological orthodoxy. ”

    Marxism-Leninism As A Political Religion
    Klaus-George Riegel (2005)

    Let’s wait for the fulfillment!

  2. Chopped Onions says:

    Che, I’m beginning to understand why you were hunted down and executed in the mountains of Bolivia, only trouble was they cut your fecking hands off. What are you typing with? A pencil? Your toes? The single brain cell that remains? Seriously fella, we all love a comment or three but there are limits….

  3. Ham Shanker says:

    “Commercial Petting Farm” – could also be another way of saying “brothel”. Aye love, I just had a cupla hours down’t local commercial pettin’ farm – I had a reet grand time.

  4. R lloyd says:

    Lychee Valley is an odd place but its the sort of place HK is all the better for having to be honest, i cant belive it makes any money it gives children a place where they will get their hands and feet dirty and is a bit of an antidote to the whole urban thing.

    i can see why the lands department left it alone to be honest its not hurting anyone.

    No doubt it will now be closed down

    and be replaced by an illegal container park

  5. Roger Maxims says:

    Chopped Onions, you sound like Regina when she said, standing upright, that it is not necessary for her to discuss Art 23 with taxi drivers and McDonald’s staff. They just won’t comprehend Chinese or English. Non?

    Che may have risen from his grave seeing that the bourgeois are once again taking over power from the proletariat. But his words, however mindless, should be noted by all.

  6. Adrian says:

    The rooms in the Y-Loft “Hostel” look much nicer than most of the boutique hotels I’ve stayed in, not all of which have 32″ LCD screens. I hardly find the $1200/night rate (non-concession, assuming they lower it for students, which the price seems to be hidden) suitable for youth or student groups, when local ‘quality’ hotels can put them up for a third of that price. I’m wondering how much they lose per year on their hotel/hostel?

  7. Big Al says:

    Just back after three weeks R&R in Blighty and one of its former dominions in the Caribbean. Finished checking in with the Big Lychee and the comments, which are just as good as the blog thanks to yourselves. Happy to see that CY is getting stuck in. One question: In my absence, what’s happened to ‘enry? Has his basement been filled in yet?

  8. So, So Thirsty says:

    The lease on the New Territories ran out in 1997. Can’t we just give it back?

  9. Chopped Onions says:

    Silence is argument carried out by other

  10. Chopped Onions says:

    Woops! Fat thumbs,
    “Silence is argument carried out by other means.”

  11. Real Tax Payer says:

    I get the feeling that the HYK has come to behave like the tycoons do.

    They have become so greedy and they have been that way for so long that they now think it’s their right to be greedy and take whatever they want at the expense of the rest of HK ( just like the tycoons do)

    But then, as happens to all greedy people, they take one gobble too many and then the victims say “that’s enough”.

    I’m not sure whose face is the most obnoxious : J. Lau ( now of Macau bribes notoriety – surprise surprise) of fat Lau

    I hope that CY and his new team will stand up to them and cut off not just just their hands but also their cocks so that they can’t procreate their awful kind.

  12. isomoliu says:

    RTP:

    Yes, neuter them. No male heirs means no further ding houses. If CY can’t do it, no one can.

  13. Real Tax Payer says:

    I tried a couple of times to copy Alex Lo’s “My Take” from today’s SCMP but it seems that from where I am here in Beijing the copy/ paste function does not work

    But if you can access SCMP on-line I do recommend what Alex wrote today

    To my mind, democracy is only a system which prevents dictators staying in power , and also well-meaning-but-beyond their use-by-date leaders like Maggie

    After that, it all depends on the quality of the elected leader. Sometimes it comes up trumps ( as per Maggie in her prime). Other times it comes up dumps as per G W Bush

    If CY, no matter how CE-elected has the balls to confront the real issues facing HK today ( BTW : that’s HONG KONG where we do happen to live !) then I say go for it and impale all who stand in his way

    Even with 30 years in HK and my pretty advanced management experience in HK and China, I cannot imagine how hard it must be to grasp all the current issues in HK, still less to make the right judgements and decisions.

    So I say GO FOR IT CY ! You were never democratically elected, but I really think you are our best chance

  14. Real Tax Payer says:

    Leung Chun-ying has, at the very least, shown himself to have understood the most pressing issues confronting Hong Kong today.
    Whether the chief executive-elect has the ability, luck and will to resolve these issues during his coming tenure, we will have to wait and see. However, people of goodwill who have no affiliation to any vested interests or any ideological points to score should, for now at least, give him the benefit of the doubt. He deserves a honeymoon period.

    Take a look at some top news headlines this week. Leung has proposed a zero quota in private hospitals for mainland mothers giving birth in the city from next year, an administrative measure least vulnerable to court challenges.

    A key Leung supporter, Nicholas Brooke, speaking in his personal capacity, has suggested setting up a powerful harbour authority to oversee the transformation of the waterfront. Coming from Brooke, the current head of the Harbour Commission, a proposal once dismissed by the Tsang government now carries weight.

    The arts hub project has dragged on for more than a decade but construction work may finally start under Leung’s administration. The project has had the property developers dreaming big, hoping to cash in on the portions that involve residential development.

    But the big boys have been cut down to size lately and are unlikely to receive any preferential treatment. They will still be rich but they have learned they are expendable as far as Beijing is concerned.

    Meanwhile, the government is proceeding with its crackdown against illegal structures in the New Territories. The authorities may still back down in the end or, under Leung, they can choose to fight the powerful Heung Yee Kuk, the rural representative body, and cut it down to size.

    In the end, it’s about the economy, affordable housing and breathable air.

    That’s a tall order, and no one will ever meet all the challenges. But if Leung can get even a few key things right, he may become Hong Kong’s first directly elected mayor in 2017.

    [email protected]

  15. Real Tax Payer says:

    Apologies to all readers

    I finally managed to get today’s Alex Lo onto the column from here in BJ ( not easy / don’t know why)

    If it bores you, please forgive me.

    But I do think that Alex ( as very often) makes a valid point very succinctly

  16. anon says:

    Thank you RTP, for focussing on real issues of the day: the economy, reasonable housing & breathable air. And what is being done about them. It would be nice if you had a website for us to visit.

    No time wasted on wading through ego trips, lamenting lost colonies, empires, etc. 🙂

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