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Old June 5th, 2006, 11:06 PM   #201
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HK people sure know how to complain now, just take a look at the eternal empty grassy land in western Kowloon and Kai Tak.
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Old June 6th, 2006, 05:52 PM   #202
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Top cultural critic voices discontent over Tamar
Doug Crets
5 June 2006
Hong Kong Standard

A leading thinker on Chinese cultural heritage has added her voice to growing dissatisfaction with the chief executive's efforts to make the Tamar site a monument to government, by calling for the removal of the PLA headquarters in Central.

"Can you imagine the French putting the military right next to the Louvre," said Lung Ying-tai, Taiwan's first cultural minister, a day after a forum at Hong Kong University where she had broached the issue to an audience of academics, citizens and students. "Donald Tsang should try very hard to move the PLA away from the center of Hong Kong," Lung said in an interview.

Lung criticized the government for not carrying out deeper studies about how best to utilize Tamar and for not giving the public enough say in their preferences to designing the site, the last undeveloped waterfront site in the city.

"The government does not know what modesty means," Lung said, aware that her comments might be seen as impolite. But she said the issue calls for great public scrutiny.

Lung is not alien to bringing pressure to governments.

She was sharply critical of President Hu Jintao, for whom she wrote an open letter the day after news supplement Freezing Point, which appeared in the Beijing Youth Daily, was shut down for "reorganization" earlier this year.

That open letter at least partly led to the reopening of the supplement.

Freezing Point, a popular and critical four-page news supplement for the Beijing Youth Daily, was suspended in January by the Central Propaganda Department for publishing an article that government officials felt portrayed the Chinese Communist Party in bad light.

Editor Li Datong was sacked, but a series of open letters from dissidents, academics and even party members led to the reopening of the weekly magazine. Li now works in the news research department of the weekly.

Lung is known in intellectual circles for pursuing greater cultural understanding among the Chinese and for securing human rights in the mainland. She has called for Chinese culture to adopt universal values like respect for the environment, individualism and the development of civil society.

She has conducted a series of forums at Hong Kong University, where she spent 2004 and part of 2005 as a visiting lecturer. Lung began her tenure as chair professor of arts and humanities at Taiwan's National Tsing Hua University last year.

Lung said her purpose in holding lectures on civil society, arts and culture, as well as urban planning, is a way of encouraging Hong Kong people to speak out and have a more direct role in forming their civil society.

Hong Kong has a world image as a "shiny, polished" metropolis, she said. But she is concerned that what lies beneath the surface is "fragile, insecure and confused."

More attention to what happens at home in the Tamar development and the way the SAR treats its cultural history would make more Hong Kong people global citizens, said Lung, who also raised the specter of the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen massacre.

She said it was a paradox Hong Kong people used freedom of expression to voice their views on some human rights issues, but seemingly were powerless to prevent abuses to their cultural inheritance. "If you have the right to say you shouldn't fire on your own people in Beijing, why would you have the right to destroy the cultural heritage at home?" she said.
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Old June 7th, 2006, 07:25 PM   #203
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RTHK news:
Tamar foes plan mass protest 2006-06-07 HKT 18:21

Legislator Kwok Ka-ki

A coalition of harbor activists says it's planning mass protests against funding for the more than five-billion-dollar plan to move the government heaquarters to Tamar. The grouping of N-G-O's, environmental groups and legislators -- including the Civic Party -- says the project is a massive white elephant that needs to be stopped. One of the organizers, legislator Kwok Ka-ki, says they're trying to rally pressure for a three-month public consultation, even though the government already has a majority for the Finance Committee vote on the project later this month.
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Old June 7th, 2006, 09:43 PM   #204
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just kick the PLA out, and massage the plan to include that prime-waterfront too, yes??

why so many hang-ups? seems like it's all being done in retrofit these days in HK....
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Old June 8th, 2006, 06:07 PM   #205
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From news.gov.hk:
Tamar site contamination claim rejected
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Old June 8th, 2006, 06:11 PM   #206
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Just a question... will the area east of the Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Centre be reclaimed as well? That includes the Causeway Bay shoreline...
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Old June 8th, 2006, 06:21 PM   #207
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raymond_tung88
Just a question... will the area east of the Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Centre be reclaimed as well? That includes the Causeway Bay shoreline...
They tried to do that to extend the convention centre, but the opposition won in a legal battle.
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Old June 9th, 2006, 05:19 PM   #208
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Claims of deadly dioxin in Tamar site soil dismissed
9 June 2006
South China Morning Post

The government yesterday denied that soil at Tamar contained the highly toxic element dioxin, saying there was no evidence to substantiate the claim.

Environmentalist Wan Shek-luen revealed on Wednesday that a study of seabed sediment at Tamar conducted in 1994 found a high concentration of dioxin - 30 micrograms in every kilogram of sediment.

Reports of Mr Wan's findings have renewed calls for a rethink of the project by some lawmakers.

Mr Wan yesterday attributed the dioxin contamination to the site's previous role as a British military dockyard.

The Frontier legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing, who chairs the Legislative Council's Finance Committee, said: "The government shouldn't rush the project through, especially now there are suggestions that soil at Tamar is toxic."

She said the controversial development should be further discussed by relevant panels.

Independent legislator Kwok Ka-ki wrote to the planning, lands and works panel to demand an urgent meeting to discuss the issue.

A government spokesman said the administration had carried out a ground investigation for the Tamar project in 2003. Later, a separate environmental impact assessment for the Central reclamation and the Tamar site was conducted.

"Results of the assessment revealed a small amount of contaminant with traces of heavy metal, but these could be completely disposed of according to ordinary and established land-filling procedures," the spokesman said.

He said only incineration of waste containing certain types of plastics or similar materials with incomplete combustion would lead to chances of producing a large amount of dioxins.

Although Tamar Bay had previously been used for mooring, the present site occupied only a small corner of a maintenance depot.

"There is no reason to believe that such incineration has even taken place at Tamar," he said.

The Finance Committee will examine the $5.1 billion funding request to build a new government headquarters at Tamar on June 23. The government can expect a landslide victory, as the Democratic Party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the Liberal Party and The Alliance have pledged to back the project.

Legislators opposing the project have urged the government to postpone the funding discussion for three months to allow the public to comment on the proposal.
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Old June 9th, 2006, 07:47 PM   #209
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline
They tried to do that to extend the convention centre, but the opposition won in a legal battle.
So Causeway Bay is not going to be reclaimed? I would normally say this is good, but I figure if they're reclaiming Central, they should do the same for the rest of the shoreline so the waterfront promenade can go from Central to Causeway Bay. Its a shame but w/e...

Now, about that gap between the Central reclamation and the Convention Centre, plz tell me that's getting filled!
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Old June 10th, 2006, 09:46 PM   #210
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raymond_tung88
Now, about that gap between the Central reclamation and the Convention Centre, plz tell me that's getting filled!
Legal battle in the way once again.
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Old June 10th, 2006, 09:48 PM   #211
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Public wants a green, open harbour: banker
Government and business urged to listen to public

9 June 2006
South China Morning Post

The government and the business community should take account of public aspirations over Victoria Harbour when they plan developments along the waterfront, a top banker said yesterday.

Speaking at a prize-giving ceremony on a Victoria Harbour design competition, Vincent Cheng Hoi-chuen said: "How we plan the harbour today will have a long-lasting impact. The general public told us [of] their ideal harbour through their drawings and designs. They said they want more green and open space along the waterfront; they don't want it to be high-rises only.

"We hope their ideas can be a reference for the government and the business community."

Mr Cheng, the chairman of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp, is the spokesman for the Harbour Business Forum, a coalition of more than 120 corporate and business organisations. He said the forum hoped the waterfront would be accessible for the public.

"We believe the harbour should not be monopolised by skyscrapers. There shouldn't be buildings that will create a wall effect, affecting ventilation."

More than 600 entries were submitted for the forum's design competition.

The grand prize went to three Year Two students at the Institute of Vocational Education's campus in Kwun Tong for their multimedia production, called No Substitute. Wan Sin-ying, one of the winners explained: "We believe there is no substitute for Victoria Harbour."

Their story tells of three fish that happen to see a spectacular fireworks show at Victoria Harbour and decide to build another harbour underwater. After all the hassle, they realise it is impossible to produce a harbour that could rival Victoria Harbour.

The winning entries will be exhibited at Pacific Place until Monday. They will move to Sha Tin's New Town Plaza for display between June 22-26 and Ocean Terminal between June 29 and July 2.
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Old June 10th, 2006, 09:49 PM   #212
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Bypass project hits roadblock of criticism
Jonathan Cheng
10 June 2006
Hong Kong Standard

Legislators looking at the construction of a new harborfront bypass have raised questions about the impartiality of a government-hired consultant, since it is required to both assess the need for a new bypass as well as to oversee its design and construction.

Kwok Ka-ki, the legislature's most outspoken critic of the government's harborfront and Central district plans, made much of what he described as a "conflict of interests" at Maunsell, the global engineering consulting firm the government has contracted to scrutinize its designs for the harborfront district.

"To avoid a conflict of interests, the consultant should refrain from bidding on the building of the bypass," Kwok said Friday after a special meeting of the Legislative Council's panel on planning, lands and works to discuss the proposed project.

He said consultancy fees were usually tied to the size of the projects they recommended, and had a financial interest in increasing the area of the reclamation. Besides, he added, Maunsell had little choice but to go along with the government's clear intentions for the district.

"Maunsell is receiving millions of dollars in contracts from the government, and they know what the government wants to do," Kwok said. "What would you do if you were in their shoes and you know the government wants to justify the reclamation? You have no choice."

The government described Kwok's claim as a "misunderstanding."

Wilson Pang Wai-shing, a senior engineer at the civil engineering department said two contracts were awarded by different departments seven years apart. "Coincidentally, they were awarded to the same consulting firm," he said. "Each agreement has its own scope. There are very detailed speficifications for them to follow. There won't be any conflict of interest."

Earlier, Ma Lee-tak, the project manager for Hong Kong Island in the Civil Engineering and Development Department, told legislators Friday that Maunsell had two government contracts _ one from the civil engineering department and one from the Highways Department.

It was unclear exactly what these contracts were, and Kwok asked for further documentation. But he lambasted the government for only seeking one opinion on the matter.

"If you want to keep reclamation to a minimum, you've obviously made a mistake hiring one consultant," Kwok told officials. "We are at the mercy of Maunsell."

Ma promised that when it came out with the results of its research, the government would then consult the public before pushing forward.

Harbor activists like Kwok have, in recent years, been fervent in their opposition to any development plan that hints of reclamation.

They were heartened by a 2004 decision in the Court of Final Appeal that, under the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance, there must be an "overriding public need" before any land can be reclaimed in Victoria Harbour.

The bypass proposal will require 15 hectares of land to be reclaimed, which Kwok and other legislators called unacceptable. Government officials said everything was being done to avoid reclamation but that even Maunsell's least disruptive proposal _ a tunnel from Central to Wan Chai under the Convention and Exhibition Centre _ would require some reclamation.

"If there's a need for reclamation, Maunsell will have to provide the evidence to prove it," Ma said.

Kwok cried foul at that statement, arguing the government was obliged to reclaim "zero hectares" of land.

Throughout discussions on the bypass, Maunsell's analysis has tended to favor a tunnel option that would include the land reclamation.

Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat warned the government that it could face another judicial defeat if it attempted to proceed with the reclamation plans.

"If the administration really believes it has a strong legal foundation for this project, I suggest you seek a court ruling," Lee said.

Thomas Chow Tat-ming, deputy secretary for the environment, transport and works, agreed that the bypass would not cure all ills, and said the government had "a basket of options" to address the issue. But he described the bypass as the best solution to Hong Kong's traffic congestion.

Kwok and Civic Party legislator Alan Leong Ka-kit also tried to tease the government out on rumors that it will sell off prime real estate on Government Hill _ site of the government headquarters _ to property developers.

Officials rejected the insinuations.

Nothing, however, got Kwok quite as upset as the two contracts held by Maunsell. "How can the government come up with a contract to allow a consultancy to gain money for a project whose funding has not been approved?" Kwok said. "The government doesn't even have endorsement from Legco to build the bypass, and now says they've already given out the contract to build the bypass."

He said: "This is illegal."
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Old June 11th, 2006, 10:10 AM   #213
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RTHK news:
Public urged to voice opposition to CGO HQ on Tamar site 2006-06-11 HKT 11:47

Harbour front activists are urging people to voice their opposition to a government proposal to build the five billion-dollar Central Government headquarters at Tamar. They also say the government has not conducted any study to see whether or not the site contains any toxic pollutants such as dioxins.
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Old June 12th, 2006, 08:10 AM   #214
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Deep divisions surface on Tamar
New findings come two weeks before funding vote and challenge chief executive's 70pc support claim

12 June 2006
South China Morning Post

The community is deeply divided over the best use of land at the Tamar site, a survey commissioned by the South China Morning Post has found.

The findings come less than two weeks before the Legislative Council's Finance Committee is expected to approve the $5.1 billion proposal.

The survey found only 28 per cent of the public would want Tamar turned into a government complex if they were given a choice on the land use.

Support for a green park and cultural venues scored 26 and 28 per cent, respectively, according to the survey carried out by the Public Opinion Programme of the University of Hong Kong.

The findings in favour of a new government headquarters are short of the 70 per cent support claimed by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.

Two weeks ago, Mr Tsang quoted unidentified sources saying the "community project" had won 70 per cent support.

He has said that 70 per cent support for any public project was already very high and therefore the government should push such projects ahead despite opposition.

With the opposition votes in the legislature on the Tamar project down to about 10, the controversial plan to relocate the headquarters from Lower Albert Road looks set to be passed by the Finance Committee on June 23.

If given a choice, the option of a government complex scored 28.1 per cent, against 26.4 per cent for a green park and 28 per cent for a venue for recreation and cultural events. Commercial uses received 12.2 per cent support, while 1.1 per cent saw no problem in leaving the site vacant.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 per cent and a 95 per cent confidence level.

Pollster Robert Chung Ting-yiu said the findings were far from the 70 per cent support cited by the chief executive.

"Only one quarter of the respondents considered it ideal to build the new government headquarters in Tamar. However, out of practical consideration and possibly out of their respect for the government, about half of the population is prepared to endorse the proposal," he said.

The spokesman said the combined support of 54 per cent for a green park as well as a recreational and cultural events venue also confirmed that the government's intention to earmark half of the site for "open space" was a fitting response to community wishes.

"Taken together, the survey outcome is consistent with the government's internal assessment of public feedback," the spokesman said.

Civic Party legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah said the findings did not support Mr Tsang's claim of having 70 per cent support. The party remains opposed to funding.

He said the diversified views showed the public lacked sufficient information to decide on land use.

Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat said the party had no plan to withdraw its support in light of the findings.

He said a party survey asking whether people would support the Tamar project two months ago also showed that support and opposition stood at around 50 per cent and 40 per cent respectively. But the survey did not ask people to choose other options. "I think 50 per cent support is still acceptable."
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Old June 12th, 2006, 08:11 AM   #215
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Parties will ensure soccer fever won't mar Tamar vote
12 June 2006
South China Morning Post

Major political parties will make sure the distraction of the World Cup will not stop their legislators from turning up to vote on funding for the Tamar project, despite the likelihood of overwhelming support for the proposal.

The $5.1 billion plan to relocate government headquarters to the Central waterfront site is almost certain to be endorsed by the Finance Committee on June 23 after it won a landslide victory of 16 to 2 votes in the public works subcommittee two weeks ago.

Of the 50 legislators contacted by the South China Morning Post, 39 members will vote in favour of the project, with 10 opposing it and one abstaining.

Funding for the project will be secured if a majority of those attending the meeting support the project.

But the government is concerned that the last four matches of the World Cup group stage on June 23 will distract the legislators. Some lawmakers said they had been asked if they would be out of town by officials.

Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun said his party would try to make sure all of its 10 legislators attended the meeting, while Tam Yiu-chung, vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said his party would do the same.

"Officials can rest assured because, really, the government will certainly have enough support to get the funding passed because all three major parties are supporting the government on Tamar," Mr Tam said.

Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat also reaffirmed his party's support for the proposal.

The nine Democratic Party legislators have said they are ready to support the project after the government said it would incorporate Government Hill into a Central heritage trail.

The three Federation of Trade Unions legislators and the five-member Alliance have also indicated they would vote for the multi-billion-dollar project.

Independent legislator Albert Cheng King-hon, who supports the proposal, said: "Tamar is already a reality. Just look at how many people are still opposing it in Legco. Just a handful."

Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, who opposes the proposal but cannot vote because she is the chairwoman of the Finance Committee, said there was little she could do to delay the vote.

"In terms of tactics, there is little I can do because we are greatly outnumbered," she said.

The six members of the Civic Party have vowed to vote against the project, saying the administration should provide a detailed plan for the project before asking for the $5.1 billion in funding. The party also calls for more public discussions on the project.

Health services legislator Joseph Lee Kok-long said he was still undecided as he had yet to receive the government's updated environmental assessment of the project.
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Old June 12th, 2006, 03:36 PM   #216
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline
Legal battle in the way once again.
As usual...

Wow... hopefully something changes so it can be done. It looks kind of incomplete leaving the gap as well as Causeway Bay not being reclaimed.
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Old June 12th, 2006, 11:46 PM   #217
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Basis for Tamar claim not clear
70pc support cited by Donald Tsang arrived at by various channels, official says

13 June 2006
South China Morning Post

A senior official yesterday refused to be drawn on the basis for Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's claim that there was 70 per cent support for the Tamar project.

Speaking on a radio phone-in programme, Director of Administration Elizabeth Tse Man-yee said the figure was the sum of different opinions collected through various channels.

"Over the past few months, we have done internal analysis," she said. "We also paid attention to newspaper editorials, letters from the public, and people who made calls to radio phone-in programmes. We gathered and organised all this information.

"We have scientific grounds to do our analysis. We understand the public has different views about Tamar. We've also refined our project according to the feedback.

"We've reduced development density and maximised opportunities for public enjoyment of Victoria Harbour. We've responded to public worries."

Ms Tse's comment came a day after a poll of 1,033 people, commissioned by the South China Morning Post, found only 28.1 per cent wanted a government complex to be built at Tamar.

Ms Tse said the poll result reflected the government's findings, as 28 per cent indicated the site should be a venue for recreation and cultural events while 26.4 per cent wanted a green park.

"When we look at the reality, over half of the Tamar development project is for recreational land use," she said, referring to the government's plan that over half of the space at Tamar will be open.

In a phone-in programme on Commercial Radio, a caller surnamed Lau opposed the government proposal.

She said: "The Tamar site should be developed as a multi-purpose venue for cultural and exhibition events, parks or church.

"The lives of Hong Kong people are too dry. They need some place to purify themselves. I used to support the Democratic Party, but I'm disappointed with its decision this time," she said.

Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat said that, despite the Post's survey findings, the party's nine legislators would still vote in favour of the government plan on June 23 when it is tabled to the Legislative Council's Finance Committee for funding approval.

"We had raised five conditions and the government responded to four of them, so we feel we should support the proposal," he said.

"We are concerned with public opinions, but we won't change our stance just because one of our voters opposes it."

See the SCMP poll results online at: http://events.scmp.com/promotion/goodeating/HKUPOP.html
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Old June 13th, 2006, 12:11 AM   #218
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HQ protesters want promise to preserve Government Hill
12 June 2006
South China Morning Post

A new frontline has emerged in the battle over the $5.1 billion Tamar project, with harbour activists demanding the government disclose its plans for Government Hill after it relocates its headquarters.

The Civic Party has pressed for the preservation of the Government Hill, home to the city's government since the early colonial days, as a heritage site. Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said yesterday: "Not only is Government Hill an important part of our past, but also it is almost the last remaining green belt in the central business district."

Government Hill refers to the tree-lined hillside along Lower Albert Road that includes the Central Government Offices, St John's Cathedral and the Court of Final Appeal.

Ms Eu said her party remained unconvinced by officials' promises that there were plans to include Government Hill in a heritage trail. "We don't need empty promises by officials, but something in black and white with legal effect," she said. Fellow party member Alan Leong Kah-kit added: "The government would then say there is no reason to keep the empty old buildings. Chances are high that the site would be cleared for towering office developments."

Ms Eu admitted the government's funding request for Tamar would likely be passed on June 23, as the project's opponents were in the minority in the legislature. But she remained defiant: "That might be the political reality. But that does not mean that we should give up fighting for the interests of the public."

The party is expected to launch a signature campaign today against what it calls a "white elephant development" at Tamar.

Former High Court judge Simon Li Fook-sean, a rare participant in public protests, yesterday showed up at a bus parade to demonstrate against the Tamar project. The parade's organisers - the Society for Protection of the Harbour and Action Group on Protection of the Harbour - are demanding more public consultation on the project.

Meanwhile, government architect Peter Yuen Ka-tat said the project would make Tamar a "people's place".

In a media release yesterday, Mr Yuen wrote how much he looked forward to seeing the project's completion. "Office workers in the vicinity will be able to come here by making use of the connecting footbridges ... friends will chat in harbourfront cafés while tourists will take photos with the harbour as the backdrop," Mr Yuen wrote.
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Old June 14th, 2006, 10:28 AM   #219
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RTHK news:
Official dismisses Tamar pollution concerns 2006-06-14 HKT 15:12

The Secretary for the Environment, Sarah Liao

The Secretary for the Environment, Sarah Liao, has dismissed reports that the Tamar site is contaminated with dioxin saying there's no scientific basis for even suspecting its presence there. Some Legislative Councillors had expressed concern about the suspected presence of dioxins at the site. The Legislative Council's Finance Committee will next week vote on the government's plan to build its new headquarters at Tamar. Dr Liao said even though a government study had found some heavy metals on the ocean floor, this was not a concern. She told Candy Kan pollution levels at Tamar were comparable with other parts of the harbour.
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Old June 16th, 2006, 06:32 PM   #220
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From news.gov.hk:
Tamar dioxin levels within int'l limits
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