PLA sites ‘must be an option’ in land search

Labour Party chairman says ratio of four army personnel to a hectare of land unacceptable

The barracks of the People’s Liberation Army garrison in the city must be considered as an option for land needs in space-starved Hong Kong, the Labour Partysaid yesterday, adding that the premises were underused.

The party cited official figures showing about four PLA members shared one hectare of military land, compared with the overall population density of 67 people per hectare.

“This is unacceptable,” Labour Party chairman Steven Kwok Wing-kin said during a rally in Kowloon Tong outside one of the PLA’s 19 barracks. “It’s such a waste of resources.”

The call by the party came ahead of a public consultation – expected to kick off on Thursday – in which Hongkongers would be invited to choose from a list of 18 options to source more land.

Authorities have predicted a shortage of at least 1,200 hectares of land to meet housing needs and economic development in the next three decades. The consultation will be conducted by the Task Force on Land Supply.

The task force originally planned to include the suggestion of using the city’s 2,700 hectares of military land, but that was eventually dropped from the list of options drawn up for public consultation. The government had made clear that all military sites were for defence purposes.

Kwok challenged this, citing a 2011 study by the Legislative Council Secretariat. He said there were about 10,000 PLA personnel in the city, meaning four members shared one hectare.

He said citizens living near the barracks, especially those in areas such as Kowloon Tong and Tsim Sha Tsui, had often told the party they saw minimum activity and few people in the barracks.

Kwok said authorities refused to disclose more details about the usage of barracks, making it hard for the public to judge whether its claim that no military site was being left idle was true. He said the party would continue to push for more details, and would also start a petition soon for the cause.

Some of the 18 options in the consultation include reclamation, developing country parks, making more efficient use of degraded farmland, tapping private developers’ land banks in the New Territories and building residential blocks above the Kwai Tsing Container Terminal.

南華早報 | 2018-04-22 報章 | EDT4 | EDT | By Shirley [email protected] PLA sites ‘must be an option’ in land search

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