The government released 16 research reports totalling over 3,000 pages on Wang Chau on Tuesday, with multiple redactions related to finances, sensitive information about land, third party information, personal information, as well as information on graves. It released the reports at the request of lawmakers Edward Yiu Chung-yim and Eddie Chu Hoi-dick last month.
Apple Daily cited a source, reporting that Arup Group did not want related information to be revealed. However, the Hong Kong Science Park and the MTR corporation agreed to have information displayed.
Chan Kim-ching, a researcher of the Liber Research Community, a group of independent researchers studying local planning, infrastructure development, land use and more, told HK01 that the redactions “made the whole thing more mysterious, more like there is an inside story.”
The report said that the first phase of the Wang Chau development project will begin in 2018, and is expected to finish in 2024. The second and third phases will begin in 2019 and be finished by 2026. However, the government subsequently said that the reports were only “aimed to explore feasibility and therefore may not have fully considered time factor and actual circumstances.”
It said that the development project has to take into account other factors, including actual circumstances and that the reports had only looked into the technical feasibility of the project.
Chan told HK01 that the government “did not have a rough schedule [on phase two and three], which means they can do it or not do it, and it can’t be assumed that they will definitely do it.”
Yiu, the lawmaker representative of the Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape functional constituency, said that as the report showed that there were no technical problems regarding phase 2 and 3, it makes people wonder why the government had to indefinitely push back the development of the two phases.
The scale of the project may be scaled back further, as rural leaders object to the project hurting the area’s feng shui – a Chinese philosophical system relating to harmony with the environment. The phase of 4,000 units will be close to hillside graves.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is also directly involved as he was the chairman of a task force on the project. Leung said that he made the decision to conduct the project in separate phases in January 2014, after the housing bureau suggested it to him. The housing bureau made the suggestion after two informal meetings with rural leaders in July and September 2013. There were no records of minutes of the third informal meeting in March 2014.
The rural leaders informally consulted were former Yuen Long District Council chairman and lawmaker Leung Che-cheung, district councillor Tang Hing-ip, Ping Shan Rural Committee chairman Tsang Shu-wo, vice-chairman Tang Tat-sin and Heung Yee Kuk councillor Tang Chi-keung. Villagers living on the greenbelt site were not consulted.
Henry Cheng Kar-Shun, chief of New World, is a supporter of Leung Chun-ying. The government did not take back a nearby greenbelt site owned by developer New World for the public housing project. New World instead applied for a change of land zoning to build private housing after the public housing proposal was approved by the district council. The private housing project may share driveways and a roundabout with the public housing project, according to plans.
Incoming lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick has claimed that there was collusion between the government, businesses, rural groups and triads.
The incident could harm Leung’s chance of running for re-election.