【明報專訊】THE government has set up a Task Force on Land Supply to review Hong Kong's future land supply. All sides of society are deeply concerned about the composition of the Task Force, how it will advance social debate and how it will achieve consensus.
ENG audio 1
The Task Force will convene its first meeting next week. It will first review Hong Kong's land supply at the moment and define its terms of reference, after which it will gradually discuss each specific proposal in detail. It remains to be seen how the Task Force will advance a great social debate on the issue. But the members of the Task Force themselves have become a topic of public discussion before anything else. Some people have listed the backgrounds of the Task Force and said that five of them previously expressed support for the development of land on the periphery of country parks. Arguing that there are too few environmentalists on the Task Force, these people are worried that it will not be able to find a balance between development and conservation. Some people have even gone so far as to say that the Task Force is "a club of an elite group of pro-establishment people", that it is "not representative enough" and that it will not be able to address opposition in society.
ENG audio 2
There is no need to politicise the issue when the work of the Task Force has not even started. And it seems to be unfair to accuse the Task Force definitely of solely made up of "an elite group of pro-establishment people" whose aim is to "defend the government" and "further the hegemony of property developers". If the Task Force had to be "representative", it should, theoretically speaking, be represented by political parties. The fact that it is mainly made up of people from professional sectors and scholars shows exactly that its role should be to initiate discussion and help achieve consensus rather than make a decision on behalf of society. Some members of the Task Force might have their own opinions about land development or even have put forward some controversial proposals before. But this is acceptable as long as their own opinions do not override public opinion in a way that hampers social discussion. Instead of being negative in the very beginning about whether the Task Force can initiate in-depth and comprehensive discussion in society, it is better to listen and watch what the Task Force say and do and engage in discussion actively.
ENG audio 3
No doubt debates are only the means. The end is to achieve consensus. The Task Force needs to come up with a blueprint and let people know how it is going to help society reach a consensus. As the Task Force is tasked with encouraging society to think about how to develop land, it is not incomprehensible that the environmentalists are worried that the Task Force will tend to emphasise development at the expense of conservation. What the Task Force needs to do first is to lay down the major principles so as to set a tone for sustainable development and stress the need to find a balance between social, economical and conservational needs. That should be the basis for future discussion.
ENG audio 4
Disagreements over the issue of land have been going on for years. The issue involves not only the interests of some people but also many ideological elements. Some people have such strong views that it is impossible for them to compromise. It is an impossible mission to come up with a set of principles for land development that is embraced by all members of society and that no one is opposed to. What the Task Force can do at best is to achieve a consensus of the majority of society. The Task Force must study seriously how to achieve the biggest possible outcome and illustrate its specific proposal to the public in order to prevent citizens from feeling that the public consultation is merely a cosmetic exercise and that the final land development principle does not represent the will of the majority of society.