Psychopath planners 1, public opinion 1

A tie: that’s the outcome judging from page 5 of today’s Standard. Protesters look set to fail in their attempt to preserve Lung Mei, a rocky, no doubt foul-smelling and slimy patch of shoreline crawling with loathsome invertebrate life-forms. This follows a government announcement that it would press ahead with its ‘win-win solution to promote community development’ thing, otherwise known as an artificial beach.

The Standard’s report ends with a quote from an Executive Council member who also a vice-chairman of the New Territories lobby/mafia the Heung Yee Kuk, saying that his ownership of nearby land has ‘little’ to do with his support for the project. Equally convincingly, the government’s statement stresses extensive public consultation involving interminable ‘various sectors’, which apparently took place some time back in the last decade.

The opponents’ main concern has been for the local wildlife, but much of this was removed over the weekend by curious members of the public, who took it home, where, the South China Morning Post says, it died. So the only remaining argument against the artificial beach is the one about heavy metals and sewage, which is surely a matter for individual swimmers in the Tai Po neighbourhood to worry about.

There is one other argument, namely ‘just leave it alone’: stop knocking stuff down and changing everything just for the hell of it. And this is where public opinion might have scored a victory by rescuing the West Wing of the old government headquarters in Central. Officials could, the Standard’s anonymous source says, be swayed by popular opposition to the plan to redevelop.

Campaigners to protect what they labeled Ye Olde Authentick Government Hill emphasized the architectural wonders of the block. Those of us less gifted with the insight to see Venice or the Forbidden City in a 1960s concrete cube worried more about the sheer pain in the ass of more mindless construction in our crowded downtown. (The word ‘mindless’ is, if anything, an understatement: bureaucrats’ original vision was for a huge tower full of shopping malls and car parks.)

Assuming that the newspaper wouldn’t print the story unless the ‘source’ were Chief Secretary Carrie Lam or some other responsible adult of similar standing, this raises a tantalizing possibility. With the old complex destined to remain intact, the civil servants will now be able to evacuate the grotesque Government Palace at Tamar and go back to their suitably modest and low-profile old home. The upheaval can be presented as part of the unraveling of ex-Chief Executive Donald Tsang’s sins and disastrous errors while in office – proof of his successor CY Leung’s people-first credentials. Tamar can then be rented out to those companies forever whining about the shortage of office space in Central, or blown up in one of those really fun controlled explosions.

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10 Responses to Psychopath planners 1, public opinion 1

  1. Bela Lugosi says:

    I always reject entreaties to teach in Tai Po. The lure of the Carlsberg brewery quickly palls. Tai Po (Po means arse in German so I call the town Big Arse) is now probably an obnoxious concrete slumarama, edged by a fetid chemical swamp.

    As for Central, it grows more inhuman every day. I can’t bear the dog piss stains on the streets and the designer stubble and the chrome domes of expat-infested Soho any more and the absence of anything like spontaneous culture in the rest of the morass reminds one of Japan.

    The West Wing would raise guffaws in Hartlepool if anyone wanted to preserve it.

    Otherwise, things are just fine.

    Cheers!

  2. Joe Blow says:

    The West Wing building is as ugly as they come although, by Central architectural standards, it isn’t particularly offensive. However, that stretch of Ice House street -which is basically dead- is a terrible waste of space. And don’t get me started on that public toilet.
    So, I am disappointed that we cannot look forward to something ‘new and vibrant’. Yes.

    And what can they possibly do with that old pile of concrete ?

  3. Spud says:

    Of course the beach plan must go ahead, it was probably part of the deal with the hotels to be built next door. I’m just waiting for the standard excuse that they cannot cancel the plan now without risking legal action from the other parties, namely Wheelock’s hotel and the scumbag NT mafia who are expecting a nice windfall.

  4. Maugrim says:

    I just wonder that as we’ve ripped down and changed so much (I’m looking at you Star Ferry) that we, as a defense mechanism, now protest even when a stinky mudflat or Stalinesque Civil Servant domicile is slated for improvement. I think the issue lies more in the fact hat we have lost so much that even a badly designed Government building is worthy of a fight given the usual ‘solution’ will be to turn it into a shopping mall of some sort. Maybe if they had better ideas than that people wouldn’t be so upset perhaps.

  5. Vile says:

    The “just leave it alone” approach makes sense in the case of the West Wing, too. It doesn’t matter whether the thing is worth preserving (it isn’t), but whether what will replace it will be an improvement (it certainly won’t). The fact that there is very little in Hong Kong worth preserving for its own sake is a red herring.

  6. Revolution says:

    Exactly Maugrim. In the case of the West Wing, it’s not about protecting what’s there, it’s about preventing the construction of an awful alternative.

    If it were up to me, I’d tear the thing down and stick a park there, which would mesh nicely with the Cathedral and French Mission building and provide another much needed green lung, but I know that such things are wasteful and unprofitable…

  7. mumphLT says:

    The West Wing is gash – it’s the sort of cubic waste that could & should be replaced. But another fecking shopping mall, daft named condo…?

  8. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Since Lo Tsz Tin got built over, Lung Mei is at present the only pleasant village left in Taipo (with Sam Mun Tsai), with some very fine open-air restaurants, the bright light from the sea and enlightened village “elected” officials.

    The beach itself, at high tide, has natural beauty, with clean yellow sand on a natural, sheltered shoreline without road access, access paths following an uncemented-over stream and very few houses — until the new hotel/spas are built…

    The planned mutistorey builiding on the beach is ridiclulous, but I suppose the huddled masses have to have somewhere to go.

  9. Real Sooth Sayer says:

    @ Maugrim, Vile : I agree – it’s not that the West wing is anything beautiful, just that the alternative would be 10 x worse ( not to mention 3 x taller) , and there will be 3 years of building hell in between.

    @ Revolution – I could not agree more . Make a nice park

    I have recently re-discovered the delights of Central Park ( the one behind the Conrad , where the Cotton Tree marriage registry is ).

    It’s really quite big and nice to stroll around. Lovely goldfish…

    Come to think of it . couldn’t the marine fauna from Taipo be moved to an artificial lake in the middle of a park where the West block is now.

    But that’s win – win, and the govt never goes for win-win. It would sooner go for lose-lose than lose-win or win-win

  10. Walter De Havilland says:

    @Bela. No wonder the attraction of the Carlsberg factory palls because its no longer there, having being demolished some 10 years ago. You should get out more.

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