All Hong Kong people wanted in the first place, so far as anyone could tell, was a park. Instead, the West Kowloon Mega-Culture Arts Hub Zone Complex is to lose much of its greenery, as 5,000 planned trees get the chop in favour of bare lawns and something called a ‘black box theatre’. (I thought the revamped Central Police Station on Hollywood Road was going to have a ‘black box theatre’ or three. Maybe I dreamt it.) To our great relief, the Mega-Culture Arts Hub Zone will retain its massive – and massively expensive – underground car park and Xiqu Centre; I don’t know how I could live without them.
As part of a much bigger pattern, this is barely remarkable. People wanted affordable homes; instead, one of the biggest vacant lots of their land was handed over to the American Disney corporation to house an attraction for people from outside the city, and HK$7 billion was chucked down the toilet on a vast cruise terminal that sees maybe one ship every two weeks. People wanted cleaner air; instead, they are getting a HK$80 billion road bridge to Zhuhai no-one can think of a use for. People wanted better and faster transport connections linking the downtown and suburban districts; instead, they are getting a HK$70 billion hole in the ground to Shenzhen as part of a high-speed rail line to a town near Guangzhou they’ve never heard of. People want decent-quality education, healthcare and economic opportunities; instead, they get Harrow, Cyberport, a Science Park, multi-billion-dollar border crossings, an influx of Mainland shoppers and, before long, a third runway.
Meanwhile, genius Chinese government officials come down from Beijing and can’t work out what Hong Kong people’s problem is.
And, to cap it all, someone has just given me some work to do. ‘Sorely vexed’ doesn’t even start to describe it.