Hard to believe they are still really going to do this Lantau reclamation – but in Hong Kong these days, unbelievable is normal. The plan is to spend HK$580 billion on something we already have: land.
Research group Liber estimates that there are 2,000 hectares (that’s 20 sq km/7.6 sq miles) of underused land in the New Territories. But officials insist that there is a ‘shortage of land’.
The truth is that there is a ‘shortage’ of space for housing because ultra-high land-use taxes prevent landowners from developing. If landowners didn’t have to pay massive up-front premiums, they would be delighted to build housing on their property.
What’s really perverse is that the HK$580 billion represents years of accumulated land premiums. We will now blow it on reclaiming land unnecessarily, which the government can gradually auction off at the highest prices it can – all to maintain ‘scarcity’ and artificially high valuation of space.
And, of course, to channel vast amounts of public wealth into the pockets of engineering companies.
(The ‘Northern Metropolis’ plan will unlock some underused parts of the New Territories. And Hong Kong’s population is falling. Even more reasons not to reclaim off Lantau.)
The government continues its fight with Google – apparently believing that the search engine provides content. But wait! There’s more! Ukraine is also in the doghouse for using the black version of the Hong Kong flag in a video. (Something tells me this wasn’t an accident.)
A court rules on the massage place where a NatSec cop was found last March…
“Of about 10 random visits during the relevant period of time, sexual services were being offered on about half of the occasions,” [Magistrate Jason Wan] said. “One can hardly say it is mainly used for vice.”
So that’s OK then!