Colonial visionary thinking makes a comeback

Back in colonial times, according at least to the nostalgic and politically incorrect, Hong Kong’s civil servants were capable visionaries who put the city first in a spirit of effortless, can-do, stiff-upper-lip aplomb. Unlike – you are invited to infer – certain incompetent Beijing-worshiping weasels currently in office, whose names we won’t mention. (And seriously: can you imagine a Leon Lai concert being botched to hell under the Brits? Unthinkable.)


As a reminder, former one-time long-retired ex-Chief Secretary Sir David Akers-Jones pens an op-ed piece in today’s South China Morning Post proposing a tunnel linking Tung Chung to the southern part of Lantau.

Cynics will immediately smell a rat. The concrete-laying, mall-building, landlord psychopath-parasites of the Tourism Sector are agitating for the whole of south Lantau to be turned into a Spa-Resort-themed Luxury Shop Mega-Attraction Concept Zone Hub with 63 exciting branches of Burberry’s. This sounds like one of their frantic taxpayer-abusing, environment-wrecking little scams.

But let’s give Sir David the benefit of the doubt. He has a (discreet) record of not being hugely impressed by the excesses of Hong Kong’s property cartel. And in his SCMP letter LantauMapAJhe actually criticizes previous infrastructure development around Tung Chung for serving the sacred Tourism Sector rather than local residents. He seems genuinely concerned that Tung Chung is a dump.

Most of us are vaguely aware that Tung Chung is, perhaps, less than scintillating. It’s that New Town/suburb that flashes past just before the Airport Express reaches the terminal. It’s where delinquent teenagers from Discovery Bay go for a wild time. It allegedly suffers from air pollution (by the standards of Central, it seems fine). It has a shortage of eating and shopping choices, yet devotes one entire mall to Mainlanders bussed in to buy outdated luxury Designer-Label rejects.

Even so, it’s unclear why Sir David feels a twang of sympathy for Tung Chung in particular. It’s no worse than Tin Shui Wai, Tuen Mun and other far-flung, best-forgotten New Towns – though of course these earlier centres were planned and delivered by his colonial-era colleagues.

Anyway, the proposal… A tunnel to the beach at Cheung Sha. Apparently, this can be so big that people in Cheung Chau will be able to see the sun set through it. More to the point, it will be able to take all the polluted air from Tung Chung down to the aforementioned sandy shoreline.

It is a genius idea. Tung Chung residents who miss the old days of polluted air will be able to hop on the underground high-speed maglev monorail to the southern coast, where they can relive their town’s former smoggy past.

Or they can stay at home, away from the beach, but with clean air.

If that’s not a ‘win-win’, I don’t know what is.

But wait! There’s more! I declare the long weekend open with a flash of inspiration. If it works in Tung Chung, surely we can have our own tunnel from Central to, say, Australia or somewhere.


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14 Responses to Colonial visionary thinking makes a comeback

  1. Jason90 says:

    I think Hemlock is being a little disingenuous – or even slightly sarcastic – in accepting Sir David’s assertion that a tunnel to South Lantau will improve Tung Chung’s air quality, but Sir David is correct to point out that Hong Kong people deserve far better access to the country parks in South Lantau.
    Interesting that he mentions it was ‘the Financial Secretary of the day’ who appears to have had the power to make the decision to ‘smother Lantau with country parks’.
    Land use decisions firmly in the hands of the money men then as now, delivering an extraordinary built and natural environment…

  2. Dem bones, dem bones
    Dem Aching-Bones.

    Hong Kong is finished, in a Mainland-induced coma. Noble rot they call it in viniculture. A bit like the ruminations of silly old over-pensioned civil servants.

  3. Officer Dribble says:

    Presumably Mr Achy Breaky Fart is now in the nappy-wearing stage of life, Part II. His argument is truly bonkers. Also, he seems unaware that a massive waste-disposal incinerator is soon to be built off southern Lantau, close to the other end of his proposed tunnel. A fair few days each week would see the air-borne muck it will throw out being double-barreled through to Tung Chung. I am not sure if the town’s residents will really want that.

  4. Big Al says:

    Another capital idea from Sir David, created without coming close to reality. It this what dementia does to people? But he forgot to mention that we’d need a really, really big fan at the Tung Chung end to blow the pollution through, which might tend to liquidise anyone attempting to use the tunnel, such as mainland shoppers … oh!

  5. Sojourner says:

    All these wondrous megaprojects, some blossoming into fruition, others as yet the numinous imaginings of the Great and the Good. And the Croseus-like expenditure, the out-flowing of rivers of gold! It blinds the eyes, ’tis beyond the comprehension of lesser mortals.

    All these billions could. of course, have been spent on our schools, our hospitals, removing lead pipes that poison drinking water, funding renovations to the delapidated fabric of public housing estates and squalid New Territories villages and towns, creating new green spaces around where people live, providing start-up funds for enterprising small businesses, granting living pensions to the low-income elderly who have struggled hard and worked hard all their lives … but, hey, what lack of vision!

    All these people, whether former British civil servants who arrived here from Eton and Oxbridge and immediately entered hermetically-sealed crystalline bubbles divorced from the lives of the unwashed, or the scions of merchant houses who have never travelled the MTR once in their lives, all these who determine the quality of our lives …

    they … make … me … angry.

  6. Cassowary says:

    Uh, I’m pretty sure that’s not how air works. What next, a series of giant fans built along Lion Rock?

  7. LRE says:

    It’s time for your medicine, Sir Dafty Shakey-Grip-on-Reality…

  8. Joe Blow says:

    It’s not easy coming to terms with the fact that you are an irrelevant has-been with no real friends.

    Just ask Vagina.

  9. Red Dragon says:

    As far as I recall, Vadge is a good chum of Dave, who is, himself, a good pal of Vadge.

    It is said that they share a taste for that heady array of fetishes which so delighted many of those who comprised the senior echelons of the colonial “civil service” – arrogance, secrecy, humbug, monumental self-importance, rigidity of mind, mediocrity, and deviousness, to name but a few.

    Don’t for a moment believe that the shower that run this place today have picked up the tricks of their trade since the British sailed away.

    Having said that, Akers-Jones remains the primus inter pares of his ilk. Unlike other former Colonial Secretaries, however, he has gone much further, not only by turning his coat in those fraught pre-handover days, but also by subjecting Hong Kong’s long-suffering populace to his baleful maunderings ever since. The worst thing of all is that he’s still HERE!

    I’m sure I speak for millions when I say that it’s high bloody time that the daft old bugger put a sock in it. If he can’t manage it himself, he need only pick up the blower and ask his favourite dominatrix to help him out. I’m sure that Vadge would be only too willing to oblige.

  10. reductio says:


    Excellent. This should be cut and pasted to every civil servant and politician in HK, and every overseas news agency as a quick answer to “why are HK people pissed off”.

    And news just in. Christine Loh has been spotted in the SCMP. Very impressive performance Christine. And you get paid how much?

  11. Knownot says:

    “Tung Chung … no worse than Tin Shui Wai, Tuen Mun and other far-flung, best-forgotten New Towns”

    There’s an ill wind blowing, in Yuen Long blowing,
    Coming from a piggery, drifting in the air.
    Blow that horrid smell away. We don’t care where.

    There’s an ill wind blowing, in Tin Shui Wai blowing,
    Coming from illegal dumps, drifting in the air.
    Blow that horrid smell away. We don’t care where.

    There’s an ill wind blowing, in Tuen Mun blowing,
    Coming from the nullah, drifting in the air.
    Blow that horrid smell away. We don’t care where.

    There’s an ill wind blowing, in Tung Chung blowing,
    Coming from the airport, drifting in the air.
    Blow that horrid smell away. We don’t care where.

    There’s an ill wind blowing, in South Lantau blowing,
    Coming from dead dolphins, drifting in the air.
    Blow that horrid smell away. We don’t care where.

    There’s an ill wind blowing, in Central blowing,
    From the dirty money, drifting in the air.
    Blow that horrid smell away. We don’t care where.

    There’s an ill wind blowing, round the Peak blowing,
    Coming from a piggery, illegal dumps, the nullah, the airport, dead dolphins, and the dirty money, drifting in the air.
    Blow the horrid smell around. We don’t care.
    Let the air turn black as pitch
    – And blow away the rich.

  12. Mary Melville says:

    Wikipedia indicates that Akers-Jones interest in opening up Lantau is anything but benign: Hong Kong Resorts has currently two applications with Town Planning Board to build on the few undeveloped pockets of that enclave. Cheung Sha next.

    Discovery Bay controversy
    In 2005, Akers-Jones briefly emerged from retirement to defend, before Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, his role in zoning the Discovery Bay resort project on Lantau in the 1970s. Developers were allowed to build there with the stipulation that it would become a resort, but most of the units were later converted into luxury housing. Akers-Jones was involved in the original zoning decision as the then Secretary for the New Territories. With the new Hong Kong Disneyland having opened nearby and property prices having skyrocketed as a result, suspicions about the fact that the original zoning plan was never enforced have again come to the fore. He criticised the decision to call on an elderly man to testify on the matter, which happened some 30 years earlier. However, he revealed that colonial officials had abruptly changed the zoning of the Discovery Bay project, and gave it to new developers because they feared it would fall into the hands of the former Soviet Union.

  13. Jason says:

    @ Sojourner: excellent post!

    @ reductio: difficult to believe this Christine Loh is the same Christine Loh as the bright lady who chaired FOE and founded Civic Exchange. The “mystery” continues…….

  14. Another great idea from the man who reputedly brought you the Small House Policy – and look how well that worked out.

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