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TO RELEASE more land for housing development, the government is thinking of ditching the Kai Tak sports city

plan, which has been developed over a long time. A member of the Long-term Housing Strategy Steering Committee said the 20 hectares of land reserved for the sports city, if used for residential purposes, could provide some 25,000 public rental housing and Home Ownership Scheme flats.

But sports bodies had campaigned for the construction of a large stadium complex for more than a decade before their demand was incorporated into the Kai Tak development plan. Now, for the mere 20 hectares of land already allocated to the stadium, the government is risking the wrath of the sporting circles. This serves to show all the more clearly how unreasonable it is for the government to have large portions of land reserved for the building of small houses for the indigenous population in the New Territories (NT small houses). There are at present about 1,300 hectares of vacant government land for residential development, of which 932 hectares are allocated for building NT small houses and only about 391 hectares are to be developed to meet the housing needs of the general public. In other words, indigenous people are to have more than 70 percent of the land, while other Hong Kong residents, less than 30 percent. As the indigenous population accounts for less than 10 percent of the entire population, such an arrangement is totally unfair to nonindigenous people, who constitute 90 percent of the entire population. When the NT Small House Policy was first implemented 40 years ago, it was laid down that the area to be allocated for the erection of NT small houses by qualified indigenous people should be limited to the recognised villages and the land earmarked for "Village Type Development" within 300 feet around each of the villages. Last year, when Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was Secretary for Development, she said the total area still available for building NT small houses was estimated to be about 1,640 hectares. Therefore, in theory, when the 1,640 hectares are fully developed, there will be no more land for NT small houses. However, the government has bent the rules, allowing indigenous people to build NT small houses in areas not earmarked for "Village Type Development" if they apply, under Section 16 of the Town Planning Ordinance, to the Town Planning Board, and if their applications are considered acceptable and approved by the Board.

We would like to stress that the government must put a stop to the continued expansion of the area for NT small houses. The rule laid down 40 years ago must be observed, which means that no more land should be allocated to indigenous people when the 1,640 hectares still available are used up. This is what is prescribed by the law, and this is a way to solve the NT small house problem. In addition to imposing a limit on the area for NT small houses, there should also be a limit on the small house right. At present, all male indigenous people in the New Territories aged 18 or above can apply for permission to build a small house. If an end is not put to the small house right, the natural multiplication of indigenous people means that, theoretically at least, the entire 1,100 square kilometres of land that make up Hong Kong will one day fail to meet their housing requirements. It has recently been proposed that, to achieve better use of land resources, indigenous people should be allowed to build high-rise buildings instead of small houses. There can be no objection to such a proposal, but the problems created by the NT Small House Policy cannot be solved unless the small house right is frozen and the area for small houses is not allowed to expand. Leung Chun-ying should not refrain from doing what is right, but should in his coming Policy Address propose a review of the NT Small House Policy, thereby paving the way for a reasonable and fair solution to a problem bequeathed by history. 2012.10.23 20 2.5 10 20 1300 932 391

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