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Divisive HK$50m ‘white elephant’ musical fountain approved by the Hong Kong legislature

A controversial HK$50 million musical fountain project in Kwun Tong has passed the final hurdle at the Legislative Council, after the government proposed it on three separate occasions.

Described as a “white elephant” project by some Kwun Tong residents and district council members, the proposal has been debated at various legislative council subcommittees since last year.

The proposal was first introduced in 2014 as part of the Signature Project Scheme, which allocated HK$100 million to each of Hong Kong’s 18 districts to carry out what then-chief executive Leung Chun-ying called “signature projects.” There has been contradictory polling data concerning whether the idea has public support.

The project failed to pass the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee in July 2016. The government proposed it again at the Public Works Subcommittee this June, but it was rejected due to the unforeseen absence of some pro-establishment lawmakers.

Kwun Tong promenade music fountain

Artist rendering of the proposed music fountain. Photo: LegCo.

The government then proposed it for the third time in July at the Public Works Subcommittee, where it was passed. It reached the final hurdle at the Finance Committee last Friday and was approved with 36 “yes” votes from the pro-Beijing camp, and 24 “no” votes from the democrats.

The structure was to be built on the lawn of the Kwun Tong Promenade, a one-kilometre-long waterfront walkway popular among residents.

At the meeting last Friday, Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung asked the government if it knew what the problem had been with the project.

“It has come back again and again… delaying discussion on other projects,” he said.

Kwun Tong Promenade

Kwun Tong Promenade. Photo: inmediahk.net.

Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah said he understood that there were a lot of different opinions on the project, but that the Kwun Tong District Council did not oppose it.

“What were the reasons for the objection – I may have to ask,” Lau said to Yeung.

Meanwhile, the Finance Committee also passed another controversial project, a HK$130 million activity centre at Moreton Terrace in Causeway Bay.

Moreton Terrace Causeway Bay

Proposed activity centre at Moreton Terrace in Causeway Bay. Photo: inmediahk.net.

The centre will be built to the size of two small, existing volleyball courts. The centre will only contain a hall for 250 people and a room for 130 people – its annual cost will be around HK$5 million.

Democrats have criticised the project as being too small and too costly.

Rebecca Chan, who just became a lawmaker after taking her oath last Wednesday, voted “yes” to both projects.

Divisive HK$50m 'white elephant' musical fountain approved by the Hong Kong legislature