Around 30 protesters demanded the government call off the Lantau development project on Sunday as Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po announced the launch of a public consultation on the issue in Mui Wo.
The Lantau Development Advisory Committee submitted a work report to the government early last month and began a three-month consultation on Sunday. The plan aims to transform Lantau into an international transport and service hub for the Greater Pearl River Delta Region and Asia.
Under the proposal, several areas of Lantau will be developed for different purposes, such as green tourism, economic and housing development, and leisure and entertainment. Key projects include developing new towns at Siu Ho Wan and reclamation at Sunny Bay.
On Sunday, Chan attended the opening ceremony of a children’s playground in Mui Wo, during which he also announced the official launch of the public consultation, Apple Daily reported. Chan said he hoped to talk to different sectors of society in the coming three months. With protesters concerned that the project will destroy natural habitats and cultural heritage, Chan said that most of the development will take place around Northern Lantau. He said the rest will be conserved, calling their concerns “unnecessary”.
He also said that two public forums have been organised, and residents can express their opinions on those occasions. He emphasised that the government also welcomed views from the public and that “everything is up for negotiation… the door is always open”, Ming Pao reported.
Meanwhile, demonstrators from the Save Lantau Alliance marched from the Mui Wo ferry pier to the playground, wearing crowns woven from leaves, chanting slogans and holding placards that said “Give the children a way out, save Lantau”. They urged the government to call off the project and to consider the interests of the next generation.
At one point, the protesters blocked the entrance of the playground. Chan visited the demonstration area following the event to accept their petition letter, then left the venue from the back of the venue. As he was leaving, protesters became agitated and clashed with the security guards and staff on the site.
Save Lantau Alliance convener Eddie Tse Sai-kit said that many residents thought that it was merely a playground opening and were unaware of the real nature of the event. He also said that he believed developing Lantau will destroy the natural habitat and betray Hong Kong’s valuable resources.