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Old February 10th, 2009, 10:42 AM   #541
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Wednesday September 21 2005

Culture hub site 'will be sliced up for developers'

Chloe Lai

One will get arts project, others can bid for rest of site: sources

The government is considering a new scheme for the West Kowloon reclamation that would award the planned arts hub to one of the three short-listed developers, and put the rest of the 40-hectare site up for tender, sources say.

The development plan would be based on the proposal submitted by the winning developer, which would act as main co-ordinator for the whole site as well as developer of the arts hub.

The change in approach is understood to follow a clear message delivered during the six-month public consultation that people want the arts hub and the core cultural facilities that have been the centrepiece of the government's plan from the outset.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has also said it is the single-developer approach - under which one of the three bidders would build the development and run it for 30 years - that needs to be solved and that the public does not want to see the whole project 'go back to square one'.

Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan is expected to give an outline of the government's policy direction on the plan next month.

The sources said a detailed plan would come later because the government wanted to wait for a final report on the Legislative Council's study of the project.

'We need to wait for the Legco report; it won't be ready until the end of the year. We don't want to be accused of not respecting Legco although we never disrespect Legco and have never attempted to bypass it,' a government source said.

The starting date for work on the massive project remains in limbo, but the sources say it is likely to be delayed well beyond the original target of 2007.

They say the arts hub is likely to be reduced in size and the plot ratio governing its development density limited to 1.8, as in the government's original plan.

Tenders for the rest will be open to all, including the main developer, the sources say. This will allow smaller developers, who have complained of being shut out while the government 'colluded with big business', a chance to participate.

'The process will be open to all,' a government source said. 'Otherwise the government will be accused of collusion again, with people asking why one developer is included and not the other.'

Another source close to the project said: 'The public wants the arts hub, what they dislike is the single tender approach. By carving the land up, the government opens up the once exclusive game to the smaller developers.'

But the core features set out in the original invitation for proposals - including the vast canopy, and the core arts and cultural facilities, will remain, the sources say. It is understood the government wants to avoid being sued by unsuccessful bidders if it removes features on which the bids were based.

Meanwhile, the government is understood to be drawing up a bill to set up a West Kowloon authority to be responsible for the management of the arts hub.

A preparation committee may also be set up, with representatives from the main political parties, the arts and cultural sector, professionals and the business community.

Legco called for an authority to be set up in its July report that accused the government of bypassing it and the Executive Council.

A source close to the project said that by tendering the carved up sites, the developer awarded the arts hub project would be free to focus on constructing the canopy, public spaces, arts facilities and some profit-making residential and commercial buildings.

He was confident the public would accept the tendering idea as tender documents would be public information and could therefore dispel any worries about collusion.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 10:43 AM   #542
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Friday September 23 2005

Infrastructure obstacles slow integration

Two of three key transport projects in the delta are still on the drawing board, writes Denise Tsang

HONG KONG'S economic integration with the Pearl River Delta will be shaped in part by progress on three key infrastructure projects - two of which are still on the drawing board.

These are the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor, or fourth cross-border road link between Hong Kong and Shenzhen; the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express rail link; and the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge.

Of the three, the 5.5km dual three-lane Western Corridor is the nearest to completion, and is expected to be in commission by the end of next year, just a few months behind schedule.

However, the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express rail link and the much-touted bridge project remain up in the air.

The significance of the infrastructure projects in increasing the cross-border flow of people and goods has prompted Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen to call for more rapid progress.

He made the appeal while attending the Pan-Pearl River Delta Co-operation and Development Forum in Sichuan in July.

Academic Zheng Tianxiang, of Zhongshan University, Guangzhou, who is an adviser to the Guangdong government, said the sooner the corridor was completed, the better for the delta's economic and environmental prospects.

'The corridor plays a vital role in boosting cargo flow between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, as trucks can bypass the crowded and polluted Shenzhen city centre to the Huanggang checkpoint,' he said.

Designed to ease heavy traffic at the checkpoints of Lok Ma Chau, Sha Tau Kok and Man Kam To, the corridor will also help spur cross-border development of financial services, logistics and tourism in the delta.

Linking Shekou in western Shenzhen and Deep Bay in the New Territories, the Western Corridor has been under construction since 2003 in a joint development between the Shenzhen and Hong Kong governments, with the Hong Kong section costing about $3.6 billion.

A Hong Kong government spokeswoman said the construction of the bridge section of the corridor was expected to be completed on time at the end of the year, but conceded there were some delays to the piling work on land reclaimed for a passenger terminal.

'The corridor will be available for traffic as soon as the terminal is ready, which is expected to be at the end of next year,' she said.

Hong Kong's Security Bureau last month awarded the $320 million construction contract for the terminal, which will be in Hong Kong waters and will house customs and immigration services for the mainland and Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, concerns about delays and soaring costs loom large over the 49km bridge project planned to link Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau.

The three governments have yet to reach consensus on the design of the bridge and tunnel, and neither Macau nor Zhuhai are reportedly willing to invest in the project.

The undertaking still awaits a green light from the State Council.

Professor Zheng said the bridge was now likely to cost between 60 billion yuan and 65 billion yuan - almost double the original estimate of 30 billion yuan.

He said most of the extra costs would be in the construction of three artificial islands that will link a 29km tunnel with the 20km bridge.

This has prompted questions about the financial viability of the bridge.

'The higher the construction cost, the higher the toll fees and the higher the risk of its financial viability,' he said. 'I fear the project may become a white elephant.'

The consensus alignment means the bridge will start from the east bank of San Shek Wan on north-western Lantau, cross the Pearl River estuary via a combination of bridge and tunnel, connecting with an artificial island near Macau's A Perola and Gongbei in Zhuhai.

The financing of the bridge was expected to be shared between the three city governments, as the bridge would pass through all three cities. But there has been no final decision on the financial arrangement.

However, private investors have expressed keen interest in taking a slice of the project, with Sir Gordon Wu Ying-sheung, chairman of Hopewell Highway Infrastructure, its most enthusiastic backer.

Sir Gordon, who has promoted the bridge project for almost 20 years, is in talks with Hopewell's mainland partner, Guangdong Provincial Highway Construction, and developers Sun Hung Kai Properties and Shun Tak Holdings, to form an alliance to vie for the project.

Hopewell has even built up its reserves for the project, with cash on hand of $2.44 billion, and earlier this month it boosted its cash resources by arranging more than $3.5 billion in syndication loans.

However, the governments involved have yet to publish a time frame for the tendering process.

'We are waiting to throw in bids, and hope the tendering will be available as soon as possible,' said Hopewell Highway Infrastructure managing director Thomas Jefferson Wu, Sir Gordon's son.

The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express rail link, a rail shortcut between Guangzhou and Hong Kong, also languishes on the drawing board.

Despite several rounds of meetings last month between the Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong governments, only the mainland section of the rail route has been finalised.

With two stops at Shibi town, Guangzhou and Longhua town, Shenzhen, the Hong Kong section is pending a decision from the Hong Kong government. A spokeswoman said a proposal by the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corp was under review.

The proposal was based on using the corporation's underused West Rail line (running between Tuen Mun via Tin Shui Wai and Nam Cheong) and ending the express rail link at the proposed West Kowloon cultural hub.

There is no urgency, but the rail project would be a speedy alternative between Guangzhou and Hong Kong. The express rail link will cut travel time to 60 minutes from 100 minutes.

'The express rail line can be positioned as a mass carrier for passengers, whereas the KCRC's existing through-train services can focus on cargo and logistics transport,' Professor Zheng said.

For effective Pearl River Delta integration to become a reality, the governments concerned will have to overcome the roadblocks in the region's transport infrastructure.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 10:46 AM   #543
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Wednesday September 28 2005

kevin sinclair's hong kong

Kevin Sinclair

Returning from San Francisco, I am deeply irritated; I have strolled for miles along the waterfront from downtown to the Golden Gate Bridge. Coming home from Singapore, I brood angrily about landscaped walks along the once-scummy Singapore River. Well-tended paths wind under sprawling trees, past fascinating purpose-crafted sculptures and through former slums that are now global beacons for food lovers.

Last week I came home from Sydney, consumed with fury. I had spent three days walking the harbourfront delighting in architecture, lazing in waterfront parks and dining in restaurants on the water's edge.

How is it that these Pacific port cities and others from Wellington to Vancouver have managed to transform the harbours on which they built their prosperity into wonderlands of recreation, culture and education for residents and visitors? More significantly, how come we in Hong Kong have failed totally to open city foreshores to the people?

Why have so many other cities triumphed where we have so dismally botched the opportunity of maximising use of the most spectacular harbour in the world?

An answer can be found very easily and very visibly in Sydney.

As with Hongkongers, Sydneysiders have had a long and passionate love affair with their spectacular harbour. A few years ago, alarmed at the way in which their harbourside was being misused, voters demanded action.

Unlike us, they got it.

Instead of defensively arguing against the obvious and waging a constant war to defy the will of the people, politicians took positive action. They established the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and gave this body money, land, resources and full responsibility for waterfront locations of historical and cultural significance.

The move was inevitable; voters were furious and totally determined to save their precious heritage. We share similar emotions. We are desperate to glorify our harbour and open it to public use. The valiant Winston Chu Ka-sun and the Society for the Protection of the Harbour has fought in the courts. Christine Loh Kung-wai and her Civic Exchange have argued passionately for conservation. Save our Shorelines, Friends of the Earth, WWF Hong Kong and Green Power; the call for action is unanimous.

But where Australian politicians listened with alarm to rising public rage and took action, Hong Kong's administration has made soothing remarks and pressed ahead in its blind determination to have things its own selfish way.

Observe the Inner Harbour. At one end stands the 40 hectares of West Kowloon, embroiled in a mire of indecision. At the other is the neglected treasure of Kai Tak, a wasteland still, seven years after the last aircraft lifted from the runway.

Mid-harbour, there is Tamar, a block of unused land worth billions. Here, at least, the government has made a decision, although about nine out of 10 Hongkongers are opposed to the ludicrous notion of erecting a high-rise palace for bureaucrats that will dominate our Fragrant Harbour.

What Hong Kong needs is a version of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority. It should be a body with sweeping authority. It needs a charter that gives it power. The Sydney authority has ample funds and political muscle. It is charged with restoring, preserving, managing and promoting large areas of the harbour, 19km long and covering 55 square kilometres.

In our context, a Hong Kong Harbour Authority should sensibly rule the waves from Lamma to Discovery Bay to Tsuen Wan and down through the harbour to Junk Bay. This would embrace the entire Inner Harbour and its approaches.

The Sydney authority has control over the magnificent Darling Harbour precinct of restaurants, hotels, museums, a convention centre and tourism attractions. This is exactly the concept we need for West Kowloon; the idea of a Star Ferry moored as a living maritime transport museum is a delightful notion.

All it needs is the will.

A Hong Kong Harbour Authority must include many stakeholders. Primary among them would be the shipping, tourism, retail, transport, hotel and construction industries. Many government departments would out of necessity play vital roles.

Apart from billions of dollars in seed money - much of which would come from development rights of Kai Tak and West Kowloon - the most vital ingredients are vision, integrity, commitment and guts. All those traits are available in the persona of Ms Loh. In addition, her credentials as a hard-headed businesswoman are undisputed.

She would make an ideal chairwoman for a highly empowered Hong Kong Harbour Authority. We need her.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 10:48 AM   #544
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Thursday September 29 2005

Not more boxes, but thinking outside the box

The shape of the city for generations to come is unfolding. Landmark developments are in the pipeline, beginning with the proposed West Kowloon Cultural District. The fate of two other prime harbourside sites - Kai Tak and Tamar - is in the balance. Together they can be monuments to vision, or come to represent a lost opportunity to make Hong Kong a truly great city.

Plans for West Kowloon are already well advanced. The public has been consulted and the results are to be released by the government soon. A Legislative Council subcommittee looking into the project has already expressed its views. The government should carefully weigh the responses from lawmakers and the wider community. It is an opportunity for Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen to fulfil his promise of a more inclusive style of government. Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan will outline the government's preferred way forward to the Legislative Council next week.

This brings Hong Kong to the crossroads. It is time to break with the traditional approach to town planning, which has left our city devoid of public spaces and blocked access to the harbour. Instead, the opportunity should be grasped to adopt a coherent strategy and achieve the ultimate vision - returning this magnificent stretch of water to the people.

It is a make-or-break moment which calls for fresh, creative thinking.

The vacant Tamar site at Admiralty is a good example. There are indications that Mr Tsang intends to revive a plan to build a huge complex, including a new government headquarters, on the site. But that would mean another prime harbourfront space being filled with offices and choking traffic. The site is the only 'breathing space' in the concrete jungle that has devoured Central, Admiralty and Wan Chai.

As we report today, this prospect has galvanised the Action Group for Protection of the Harbour to seek to have the Tamar site rezoned as open space - and perhaps turned into a park. Its spokesman, legislator Kwok Ka-ki, rightly points out that in other countries there would be no hesitation in converting such land for recreational use.

Hong Kong is starved of public spaces and the public has lost access to all but 15 per cent of its harbour coastline. It makes little sense to buck the trend of the great cities with which we like to compare ourselves.

Maria Tam Wai-chu, vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, in an article which appears on the facing page, rightly sees the Tamar site as central to the rebirth of the city.

If recent controversies over harbour reclamation are anything to go by, the public preference would be for parkland - including access to the harbour.

Ms Tam suggests moving the government administrative complex out of Central-Admiralty-Wan Chai altogether. That could free up space for landmark redevelopments and greening. It is an example of thinking outside the box.

Where to put government offices if not at Tamar raises the question of what is to be done with the former airport site at Kai Tak. This has not been resolved. The perception that it is a long way away for a government centre is just that - perception. It really is quite close to the major commercial and office districts and can be made very accessible with the right kind of transport planning. Location is no reason to reject the suggestion of putting government offices there. It should be given careful consideration. Other countries have moved government offices out of the central city without any loss of efficiency or a revolt by civil servants.

The Tamar site presents another opportunity for rethinking and redesigning the city and giving Hong Kong the balanced environment that it is lacking.

It should not be wasted. The way in which the three harbourside developments are handled will change the face of Hong Kong. Fresh thinking is needed to ensure the changes are for the better.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 10:48 AM   #545
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Thursday September 29 2005

All bidders backing the government on arts hub

Chloe Lai

All bidders for the West Kowloon Cultural District yesterday gave unreserved support to the government's plan for the arts hub's future.

Henderson Land vice-chairman Colin Lam Ko-yin said his company would respect and support the administration's decision.

He said Henderson, one of the three bidders for the project through its subsidiary, World City Cultural Park, had the lowest plot ratio of the contenders and was prepared to reduce it further.

Plot ratio defines the total floor area of buildings allowed to be built on a site and is calculated by dividing the net floor area of all buildings by the net site area.

Mr Lam said his company's proposal followed the government's requirements the closest and it was prepared to make changes according to the government's decision. He said it would be better if the administration retained the controversial giant canopy in the design.

Fellow contenders Dynamic Star International and Sunny Development spoke of their support for the government after it emerged that Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan will unveil the administration's plans for the project on October 7.

The South China Morning Post reported last week that Mr Hui would announce the government's plan next month and that it would allow more property developers to have a slice of the waterfront site.

It is understood the announcement will be made when the Legislative Council's House Committee resumes on October 7. It will include the long-awaited results of a six-month public consultation.

The Post has also learned that the government still prefers that the arts facilities be operated by the private sector although many critics remain sceptical about leaving museums and arts services in private hands.

A government source said earlier: 'If we fund the arts and cultural facilities with public money, we are simply duplicating what the Leisure and Cultural Services Department is doing; that is not what we want to see.'

In a written statement, Dynamic Star International - a Cheung Kong Holdings and Sun Hung Kai Properties joint venture - said: 'We are committed to the success of the West Kowloon Cultural District project and in this connection will await and co-operate with the government regarding its plans.'

The last time the joint venture spoke openly on the project was in the summer, when Cheung Kong executive director Grace Woo Chia-ching said a co-ordinator was needed.

Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, vice-chairman and managing director of Sun Hung Kai Properties, later said the proposals were of high quality and could form the foundation for the next phase.

At a Sino Land function yesterday, the company's executive director, Yu Wai-wai, made a statement similar to that of Dynamic Star International's. Sino Land formed the Sunny Development consortium with Wharf (Holdings) and Chinese Estates Holdings to bid for the project.

'We respect and commit to the government's decision regarding the West Kowloon Cultural District project. We will try our best; the most important thing is Hong Kong has excellent cultural facilities,' yesterday's statement said.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 10:50 AM   #546
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Saturday October 1 2005

New bamboo to build on Tai O's traditions

May Chan

Architects believe using indigenous cultures for inspiration attracts visitors more than tailor-made facilities

Salted fish and squid dangle from a bamboo canopy that stretches hundreds of metres over the old market at Tai O, while underneath, locals demonstrate the skills of fish skinning and making shrimp paste.

This is the vision of a group of young architects who want to revamp the Lantau fishing village to preserve its unique traditions and geography.

The group, Re-Architecture, is discussing the project with the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Team member Henry Leung Ki-cheong says indigenous cultures are far more attractive to tourists than specially built tourist facilities.

'Handcraft-making, salt farming, seafood drying and salted marine products have been the dominant domestic activities in Tai O, and stilt houses the unique architectural features of the place,' says Mr Leung, 28, an architectural designer.

'The use of bamboo is involved in almost every area of the livelihood of Tai O people. As such, we chose to use bamboo as the material of the project to create an intimate relationship between our architectural structure and Tai O.'

The bamboo canopy would act as a bridge connecting the real Tai O with outsiders.

To the locals, it would be a place to sun-dry their sea food, a new focal point for chatting with their neighbours, and a shaded market to sell their homemade snacks and handcraft products.

The group has also proposed building bamboo canopies in five other zones - a museum zone, memorial zone, bridge zone, heritage zone and a conservation zone - to protect the ecological and cultural heritage of Tai O.

The memorial zone, next to the town's remaining stilt houses - a third of which were destroyed by fire in 2000 - would include a display to explain the history of the houses.

The museum zone, on land adjacent to the disused Tai O salt pans, would explain the history of salt production in Tai O. A major industry in the village before the 1970s, it gave rise to the production of salted marine products for which the village is renowned.

Every October a Cantonese opera festival is held at the village in a temporary bamboo shelter, which is demolished once the festival is over. The bamboo sticks left over are traditionally taken home by villagers for their own use. The group proposes to recycle the bamboo sticks and erect a canopy on the site as a heritage zone.

In these zones, the bamboo canopy would serve as a community centre for interactive workshops including salted fish production, bamboo furniture making and story-telling, all involving local people.

Kin Leung Ka-kin, another team member, hopes the bamboo canopies will help Tai O evolve, and grow together with its history and culture in a sustainable manner.

'Tai O is old, and that is what makes it unique. The old stilt houses, old salted fish-making traditions, old bamboo structures, and old people in the village, they all carry the unique traditions and creativity of Tanka people,' Mr Kin says. 'Sadly, in this city, anything deemed 'old' is considered useless and worthless.'

He said the government seemed to have a list of building requirements for developing an area, without considering the unique characteristics of the area involved.

'Promenades, outdoor plazas and cafes, are all essential items for the government in developing seaside areas, like West Kowloon, Tsing Yi, Sai Kung and, eventually, Tai O.'

Wong Wai-king, founder of the Tai O Cultural Workshop who has lived in the village for more than 40 years, could not agree more.

She says the government advocates eco-tourism but does not practice it. The essence of eco-tourism, and heritage tourism, is not leisure activities, but community cultures and the natural scenery in the village.

'The government is turning Tai O into something it is not, rather than sustaining the place,' Ms Wong says. 'If the government keeps going in this direction, Tai O will die.'
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Old February 10th, 2009, 10:50 AM   #547
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Monday October 3 2005

A tale of two cultural districts

Interview by Quinton Chan

I found out what good governance really meant only when I saw with my own eyes how an old, industrialised city was transformed into a new cultural metropolis.

We went to Bilbao, Spain, to have a look at the cultural district there, because of the similarities with Hong Kong's. The size of the site there is 38.5 hectares, which is pretty much the same as the cultural site proposed in West Kowloon, with 40 hectares. The district for the Abandoibarra project is located along a river, while our cultural district is by the waterfront. But it is a completely different story when it comes to how the two governments are planning and implementing their projects.

When the five of us from the Legislative Council subcommittee on the West Kowloon Cultural District Development first arrived in Bilbao for a visit two weeks ago, my first impression was that the city was clean, lively and prosperous. We took a guided tour, and could see that people were generally quite happy.

Then we met the city's first deputy mayor, Ibon Areso, who told us how Abandoibarra was born. The leaders decided to transform the city into a service- and culture-led economy after Bilbao, once a centre of steel production, fell on hard times and became run-down.

The Abandoibarra project is operated by a publicly listed, private company called Bilbao Rio 2000. It has all the real power, plus the 38.5 hectares of land. The government of Bilbao has shown a lot of commitment to the project by building infrastructure there, including a green belt, tramway and core buildings.

There is also a consultative body, made up of all sectors of the community, to follow through and discuss how the project should proceed. It has been used by the government as a lobbying tool, and serves as a forum where non-governmental organisations and officials can persuade each other of their own proposals. It also serves as a platform for the exchange of ideas, and acts as a think-tank.

The deputy mayor told me that if the city government and the project operators ignored ideas put forward by this body, they would have to do a lot of explaining to the public.

Officials told us how they planned the project and how they used it to revitalise a nearby run-down area. All these are reasons why the project is now a success, and these are things that Hong Kong should learn.

Clearly, officials in Bilbao have creative planning, firm leadership and a good mechanism to execute the plan. But we do not seem to have all these in Hong Kong.

With the experience of this visit, I am shocked by the difference compared to how our government is handling the West Kowloon Cultural District project. The cultural sector, legislators and other related parties here do not have a real platform to discuss how the project should proceed. We do not have a real open dialogue with officials - who conduct their feasibility studies behind closed doors. The government does not even show any commitment to the scheme, intending simply to pass the site to a developer to take care of everything. We will not know the government's next move until Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan makes an announcement later this week.

So far, press reports have suggested that the government will not proceed with the project the way we would like it to. It seems that officials will try to avoid making any drastic changes to the original plan. But we can still hope for the best.

Alan Leong Kah-kit is a legislator and chairman of the Legislative Council subcommittee on the West Kowloon Cultural District Development
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Old February 10th, 2009, 10:51 AM   #548
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Monday October 3 2005

Developer questions consultation on hub

Patsy Moy

One of the bidders for the West Kowloon Cultural District has questioned the credibility of the government consultation on the project, the result of which is due to be announced this week.

A spokeswoman for developer Henderson Land said it was 'optional' for participants in the consultation to declare whether they were connected to bidders for the project.

'Also, we are aware that some corporations used buses to send some 'related' people to the West Kowloon Cultural District project exhibition halls and those visitors had also filled out the consultation forms,' the spokeswoman said.

'So, we really question the neutrality of the public consultation.'

The government conducted a six-month public consultation on the cultural district project. It also held exhibitions on the three shortlisted bids to enable the public to comment on them.

More than 215,000 visits were recorded at the exhibitions at City Hall, the Science Museum and the Heritage Museum since December last year. Visitors were asked to give their opinions by filling in a questionnaire.

The results of the six-month public consultation are expected to be announced on Friday at a meeting of the Legislative Council's House Committee.

The South China Morning Post reported last month that Henderson Land - one of the three bidders for the project through its subsidiary, World City Cultural Park - had the lowest plot ratio of the contenders and was prepared to reduce it further.

Plot ratio defines the total floor area of buildings allowed to be built on a site and is calculated by dividing the net floor area of all buildings by the net site area.

But the spokeswoman said that the developer did not have plans to take further action despite its discontent with the way the consultation was carried out.

'We just want to express our view,' she added.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 10:55 AM   #549
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Wednesday October 5 2005

Kowloon shows eastern promise

Ernest Kong and Peggy Sito

Recent land sales have raised hopes for the urban renewal of the district, but analysts remain doubtful

East Kowloon is emerging as a potential cash cow after a leading developer stunned the market by paying a premium price for two relatively run-down residential lots in the district.

Sun Hung Kai Properties last month bought a 155,637 sq ft site in Ngau Chi Wan, a traditional old public housing estate area, at a government auction with a $4.23 billion bid, 20 per cent to 30 per cent higher than the market expected.

The site is the second prominent East Kowloon site that SHKP has bought at a government auction since last year.

In October, the developer paid $4.7 billion for a 136,714 sqft site in San Po Kong, again 30 per cent higher than expected.

Analysts said investors might decide to follow SHKP's lead in investing in the long-term potential of the district.

They said the district could see a dramatic revival with impetus from the proposed redevelopment of the old Kai Tak airport.

Recent focus had been on West Kowloon, the growth potential of which has been stimulated by the government's proposed West Kowloon Cultural District.

SHKP's aggressive bids have raised eyebrows among investors and property consultants, who say that, in the short term at least, the area is unlikely to receive any positive stimulus such as infrastructure or property developments that might boost prices.

However, SHKP disagrees. 'Some people said the Ngau Chi Wan site was far too expensive, but we merely think the price does not fit in to the district's current market price,' said Eric Chow-kwok yin, an executive director at Sun Hung Kai Real Estate.

He said the company had established a successful track record by adding value to old districts, referring to some of the firm's recent projects such as Chelsea Court, near the Tsuen Wan industrial area, which was sold at a significant premium over the district's market price, and APM, a shopping mall that has spurred the gentrification of Kwun Tong.

Mr Chow expected the redevelopment of the Kai Tak site to give San Po Kong a completely new atmosphere.

The Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation's proposed Sha Tin to Central link would further rejuvenate the district, he said.

'The redevelopment of the Kai Tak site will play a pivotal role in the future development of East Kowloon,' said a government planner.

The government plans to develop southeast Kowloon into a tourism, sports and recreation hub, with a variety of housing projects, a cruise terminal, a multipurpose stadium and the Metropolitan Park.

According to a planning department feasibility study, the zoning plan for the redevelopment of southeast Kowloon is expected to be approved in early 2008.

Gazetted in 2001, the redevelopment will have a total reclaimed area of about 133 hectares, on which it was planned to house 260,000 people in 78,000 flats.

But this capacity is subject to change after public consultation and a government review.

Lack of new housing supply could help enhance the area's attractiveness, Jones Lang LaSalle regional director Lau Chun-kong said.

The old Kai Tak airport redevelopment was unlikely to take place soon, and the proposed residential redevelopment in Yau Tong Bay was still not scheduled to start, he said.

A group of developers, including Henderson Land Development, had planned to transform Yau Tong Bay into a 22-hectare residential-cum-commercial development, with 38 residential blocks over a gross floor area of 9.7 million sq ft, but the project has been put on hold due to protests against harbour reclamation plans.

Ricacorp Properties managing director Ivan Ho said East Kowloon had definite growth potential but it would not be realised in the short term.

'Sun Hung Kai is a big corporation and is strong financially, and it has the ability to take a few years to reshape the entire old district,' Mr Ho said, adding that for an individual investor, 'it's easier to make quick profits in West Kowloon'.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 10:55 AM   #550
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Wednesday October 5 2005

Exco backs revised model for arts hub

Dennis Eng and Benjamin Wong

Winning bidder will build canopy and cultural facilities and get half of the rest

The fate of the West Kowloon Cultural District was sealed yesterday when the Executive Council approved a revised government plan that drops the single developer model.

The plan gives one developer the cultural hub - a minimum of 30 per cent of total project area - and half of the land set aside for residential and commercial development. The rest will be put out to open tender, a move apparently in response to business and public pressure.

The government is sticking to its plot ratio of 1.81, meaning the three consortiums will have to drastically reduce their proposed development plans, which have plot ratios ranging between 2.5 and 4.33.

The revised plan - due to be put to the Legislative Council on Friday - raised immediate concerns that it looked too much like a traditional Hong Kong property development.

Alan Leong Kah-kit, chairman of the Legco subcommittee on the West Kowloon development, said the government's approach showed it regarded the project as a property development.

'The focus is on how to let more than one developer put their fingers on this piece of precious land. Does this not prove that this is a property development project?' he asked. According to the government's original brief, about 30 per cent of the project must be core arts facilities, with the rest given over to commercial, retail and residential development. This would equal 213,950 square metres of gross floor area for the core arts facilities.

Lord Foster's plan, from which the huge canopy originates, gives the arts hub about 40 per cent of the developed area. The canopy covers 55 per cent of the site.

Under the government's revised plan, one of the three shortlisted bidders would be responsible for building the canopy and developing the area below it, including the cultural facilities.

But the developer would be freed from the original 30-year obligation to operate the cultural facilities. The developer would also not be required to maintain the canopy, which is expected to cost millions of dollars a year.

A statutory body would be set up to oversee the running of the cultural activities and maintenance of the controversial glass canopy.

Commenting on the role of the statutory body, Mr Leong said he wanted to see more long-term plans on how it would achieve the goal of cultural development.

He also objected to the stipulation that the site be developed with the canopy, saying he did not understand why the government continued to insist on having it.

The government has also made no change to the original requirement that a minimum of 20 hectares, or half the developed area, be open space for public use, whether on or above ground level.

The three shortlisted developers - Sunny Development, a joint venture with Sino Land, Wharf (Holdings) and Chinese Estates Holdings; World City Culture Park, a subsidiary of Henderson Land Development; and Dynamic Star International, a Sun Hung Kai Properties and Cheung Kong (Holdings) consortium - will be given until February to consider the requirements of the revised plan.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 10:56 AM   #551
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Thursday October 6 2005

Backup plan lacking for cultural hub

Quinton Chan and Chloe Lai

If developers reject tender proposal, the government will have to go through the whole process again, source says

The government has no backup or exit plan for the West Kowloon Cultural District if the shortlisted developers decide to pull out of the revised project, sources close to the project say.

A source also disclosed that as public opinion on the giant canopy included in the original plan was inconclusive, the government would go ahead with construction of the controversial structure over the arts hub.

Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan will ask the three shortlisted developers to submit a new proposal if they want to stay in the race.

The source said: 'There is no backup or exit plan. If all say no to the new plan, the whole thing will start all over again. If one drops out, the game will probably continue. If two pull out, it may need to start all over again.'

He also said public consultation results showed slightly more people in favour of the Lord Foster-designed canopy than against it, which the government considered 'inconclusive'.

The Post reported earlier that the government would scale back the arts hub and put development of the rest of the reclaimed area out for tender, allowing smaller developers opportunities for a slice of the prime waterfront site. Mr Hui announced shortly after he took up the chief secretary's post that he would reveal the fate of the arts hub, with results of the public consultation, to Legco. He also disclosed his preference for setting up an authority to oversee the development and operation of the cultural district.

The source said the consultation, which ended in June, gave the government a strong mandate to carry on with the project.

He said the public disliked leaving the 40-hectare waterfront site in the hands of one developer, as the government had planned.

Although the public was asked to rate the three proposed bids during the consultation, the government will not reveal the public's rating of each bid. It will, however, disclose what the public thinks of various aspects of bidders' plans.

The source also said the much anticipated West Kowloon authority would be given the task of monitoring the project and operating the cultural facilities.

But it remained unclear whether the land outside the core cultural headland would be given to the authority to dispose of, or whether it would be put to tender directly by the government.

The shortlisted developers for the core project are Sunny Development, a joint venture with Sino Land, Wharf (Holdings) and Chinese Estates Holdings; World City Culture Park, a subsidiary of Henderson Land Development; and Dynamic Star International, a Sun Hung Kai Properties and Cheung Kong (Holdings) consortium.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 10:57 AM   #552
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Friday October 7 2005

Challenge looming on arts hub decision

Dennis Eng

A court challenge is expected to be launched today if the government insists on proceeding with its controversial West Kowloon Cultural District project using planning procedures that Democratic lawmakers believe are unlawful.

Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan will brief the Legislative Council today on the project and seek to address lawmakers' concerns.

The individual behind the judicial review is a local arts figure and is receiving legal advice from the Democratic Party. Democrats' vice-chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan declined to identify the person but warned that a 'tailor-made' two-stage vetting process adopted by the Town Planning Board may violate existing legislation.

'The West Kowloon project will turn into another Link Reit fiasco and, this time, the government may not emerge the winner,' he said.

The government was embarrassed in court after an elderly woman, Lo Sui-lan, foiled its plan to list public housing assets as the Link Reit in December. Hong Kong's highest court ruled in July in favour of the government.

The first stage of the cultural project's approval process involves the government selecting its preferred proposal and seeking board approval before a provisional agreement is signed with the successful bidder, according to the Town Planning Board.

Public views and objections will only be heard in the second stage when zoning amendments to the site, based on the preferred proposal, are published. A final agreement will only become effective once both stages are completed.

The board said earlier it had sought an independent legal opinion from a London Queen's Counsel affirming the two-stage planning approach was legally sound.

Mr Ho stressed that present practice only included the second part and the board may be violating the Town Planning Ordinance by adopting this two-stage process. He also questioned the validity of making the controversial canopy a prerequisite in any proposal.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 10:58 AM   #553
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Saturday October 8 2005

For many, it is still a property development in disguise

Chris Yeung

On the face of it, the government has moved to address concerns over the West Kowloon Cultural District development. The single- developer model has been ditched. An independent body will be set up to oversee the project. The verdict on the controversial canopy plan has been left open.

But lingering doubts over the financing and management of the mega-project remain, and fresh questions have arisen. Despite claims the much-criticised single-developer idea has been dropped, its substance remains. The winning consortium will have a big say in tendering out the rest of the area.

How far an independent body will be able to supervise the tendering process is still unclear.

The core cultural facilities in the project remain intact - a point emphasised by Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan, who maintained that removing them would mean no one would visit the district.

It appears, though, that there is a subtle shift of emphasis from a culture-oriented development towards a mixed cluster of commercial, tourism and cultural facilities.

Not surprisingly, there remains doubt over whether this is a property development in disguise.

Giving the power to shape and oversee the development of the West Kowloon district to an independent body will open up a new battlefield for the government and various stakeholders.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has valid reasons to stick with the single-developer model.

He has not contested criticism that bureaucrats know little about arts and culture and might mess up such a massive project.

Granting property rights to a developer in exchange for it funding the hub's operation could also avoid a strain on the public finances.

The scene of the West Kowloon reclaimed land remains hazy as a new round of power play begins in earnest.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 10:59 AM   #554
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Saturday October 8 2005

Statutory body to run arts hub

Chloe Lai

$30b trust fund will pay for managing the cultural district

A statutory body and independent trust fund will be set up to operate the arts and cultural facilities at West Kowloon.

The winning developer would need to pay at least $30 billion to set up the trust fund, Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan told legislators yesterday.

He also promised that land revenue from the West Kowloon waterfront site would go to the trust fund.

Under the government's new plan for the cultural district, the fund will also pay for the maintenance of the canopy, the train linking various parts of West Kowloon, the open space and the operating costs of the statutory body.

The winning bidder would have to hand over the money for the trust fund as soon as the contract was signed with the government, Mr Hui said.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen will appoint the statutory body's governing board.

It will be made up of representatives of the arts community, tourism industry, developers and the management sector, and the financial services, town planning, architectural, surveying and engineering fields.

Mr Hui said the public would be consulted on the statutory body. He also promised the new body would be 'independent from government and vested interests, it will be open, transparent and accountable'.

He hoped a draft bill to set up the body could be tabled in the Legislative Council by the middle of next year and passed by the end of the year so that the organisation could be formed in early 2007.

While legislator Lau Kong-wah, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, doubted whether the $30 billion trust fund could sufficiently finance the cultural hub, Mr Hui said the sum was the minimum amount for the fund.

The chief secretary said he was confident the trust fund would be sufficient to support the West Kowloon Cultural District and no government subsidy would be needed.

'It is a trust fund; it will invest, have profit and interest. Its recurrent revenue should be enough to support the recurrent expenditure of the arts hub,' Mr Hui said.

He said the amount required was based on the Leisure and Culture Services Department's experience in managing cultural facilities.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 11:00 AM   #555
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Saturday October 8 2005

1 in 8 comment cards on hub the same

Felix Chan and Chloe Lai

Even discounting suspicious votes, one - anonymous - design was clear winner

More than 4,000 of the 33,000-plus comment cards members of the public posted to show which of the shortlisted West Kowloon Cultural Project designs they preferred were in identical envelopes and contained similar answers.

The revelation appears to lend substance to shortlisted bidder Henderson Land's questioning of the credibility of public polling on the plans.

The government-commissioned consultation, conducted by Polytechnic University's Public Policy Research Institute, had three components: comment cards from the exhibition of the shortlisted proposals; written submissions and views expressed at forums/meetings; and three telephone polls.

A total of 33,416 comment cards, with answers to 13 questions, were received. Of these, 4,176 were posted using an identical envelope or mailing label and contained similar answers.

The institute's Peter Yuen Pok-man said over 90 per cent of the suspect cards favoured the plans of one of the three bidders - the one which received the strongest public support. The plans' authors were not identified in the consultation, and the government would not say which plan was involved.

Deputy Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Au King-chi said even after discarding the suspicious comment cards, the plan they overwhelmingly favoured still came out top. She said there were no rules for public consultation exercises barring individuals or organisations from submitting multiple copies of formatted responses.

'One has to understand that it is not like voting in an election, where you need to show your identity cards at the poll stations to collect your ballot papers,' she said.

A spokeswoman for developer Henderson Land said on Sunday that it was aware that some corporations used buses to send some 'related' people to the West Kowloon Cultural District project exhibition halls and that those visitors had also filled out the consultation forms.

Another bidder, Dynamic Star, last night said it would not comment on the suspicious comment cards, calling it a matter between the government and those filling out the cards.

As for the telephone polling, in which 4,553 people were polled, 61 per cent supported building a cultural district on the West Kowloon waterfront, with only 10 per cent against it. More than 75 per cent of the respondents believed the project could enhance Hong Kong's culture and arts development and tourism industry, and 72 per cent felt it could improve employment. However, half were against the now-abandoned single-developer approach.

On the sensitive issue of the canopy, 51 per cent of those polled favoured its construction, with 18 per cent against. Public support for the canopy was in contrast to the fierce opposition to its construction contained in the majority of the 623 written submissions received on the project.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 11:00 AM   #556
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Saturday October 8 2005

Developer that wins project is in line for $40b in sales

Peggy Sito and Andy Cheng

The developer that wins the West Kowloon project will rack up nearly $40 billion in property sales under the revised plan unveiled yesterday, according to surveyors.

While they believed the profit margin for the winning bidder would be reduced under the revised plan, the surveyors said the project remained attractive because of its scale.

Property agent Centaline said that under the amended proposal there would be 1.95 million sq ft of commercial and office space and 780,000 sq ft of residential space. With an estimated selling price of $13,000 per sq ft for office space and $18,000 per sq ft for flats, sales would generate revenue of $39.4 billion assuming all find buyers.

The property consultant said it was difficult to estimate the profits the winning consortium would earn.

'This is because we do not know the cost of building a canopy and other construction costs,' it said.

Jones Lang LaSalle regional director Lau Chun-kong said the profit margin was bound to drop under the amended plan. But he also believed the West Kowloon Cultural District remains attractive taking into account its scale.

'The government must make the project financially viable. If not, no developer will be interested in it,' he said.

Christine Loh Kung-wai, chief executive of the think-tank Civic Exchange, said the successful bidder could achieve a profit margin of 50 per cent on revenue of $70 billion from the project. She said the calculation was based on the fact that property in West Kowloon was fetching $20,000 per sq ft and construction costs would be relatively low.

Land prices in West Kowloon have been increasing on the back of better-than-expected results in the government's recently resumed land auctions.

A Sino Land-led consortium last month beat out at least six other parties to buy a site at Hoi Ting Road near Olympic Station in Tai Kok Tsui for $3.19 billion, and splashed $2.73 billion on an adjacent site.

The prices were both well above top-end market estimates of $2.8 billion and $2.4 billion respectively.

Sino Land, a bidder for the West Kowloon Cultural District project, owns 50 per cent of the venture, with the rest shared equally by Chinese Estates Holdings and Nan Fung Development.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 11:11 AM   #557
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Saturday October 8 2005

Long-term vision on a grand scale

Early 1998 Hong Kong Tourism Association commissions a study on a new performance venue

September 1998 It tells the Legislative Council's home affairs panel that venues are urgently needed

October 1998 In his policy address, chief executive Tung Chee-hwa announces plans to build a giant venue on the West Kowloon reclamation area

February 1999 A tourism association study reiterates the need and pinpoints 5.5 hectares at West Kowloon

October 1999 Mr Tung reaffirms his plans and announces a competition to revitalise Victoria Harbour

November 16, 1999 The Executive Council orders a review of the use of a southern part of the West Kowloon reclamation

April 2001 Government launches the West Kowloon reclamation concept plan competition

February 2002 Lord Foster's canopy concept declared the winner

September 2002 A steering committee for the scheme is set up, chaired by then chief secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen

June 2003 Exco is consulted about a planned invitation for proposals for the project

September 2003 Government invites tenders for the project, including developing and managing cultural facilities and the sale and leasing of residential and commercial land

November 2003 Legco calls for a comprehensive review of the scheme

Early November 2004 Exco approves shortlisting of three of five tenders

November 10, 2004 Government publishes the shortlist and announces a public consultation

January 5, 2005 Legco passes a motion asking for the scrapping of a single-developer approach and setting up of a statutory body to develop and run cultural facilities

September, 2005 Legco members visit Bilbao, Spain, to see the impact of the Guggenheim Museum

October 7, 2005 Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan announces the new plan for West Kowloon

End of January 2006 The three shortlisted bidders must inform the government if they still want to participate in the project

April-June 2006 Public consultation on creating a statutory body to run project's cultural facilities

June-July 2006 Government will submit bill to set up a statutory body

Early 2007 Statutory body to begin work
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Old February 10th, 2009, 11:12 AM   #558
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Saturday October 8 2005

Compromise culture hub plan a step forward

The storm kicked up by the West Kowloon Cultural District project has been unprecedented in terms of its scale and scope in Hong Kong's history. As initially conceived, a single developer would have to build and operate a cluster of arts and entertainment facilities for 30 years before returning them to the government. They would be rewarded with development rights for a prime waterfront site valued at tens of billions of dollars.

Instead of winning praise for its ingenuity, the land-for-arts deal sparked allegations of improper transfer of benefits to a likely winner. The financially free-standing arrangement was regarded as a means to circumvent legislative scrutiny. Architects and builders complained they would be at the mercy of the winning bidder. The arts community was upset that a property developer would get to determine the project's cultural content.

In deciding to drop the single-developer approach and set up a statutory authority to manage the cultural facilities, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has made the right moves to resolve an issue that has stirred emotions for too long. It is a sensible step to address public suspicion of collusion between government and big business. For Mr Tsang, the new arrangements amount to a huge climbdown. As chief secretary before assuming his current post, he steered the project and personified the government's dogged insistence to stick with the single-developer approach.

It is apparent that the new development conditions try to ensure that the cultural district will still be designed and built as an integrated project. To give more players a share of the pie, the successful bidder will be required to 'parcel out' parts of the site to other developers.

The new arrangements will not satisfy those who feel that the whole project should be built and managed by a public authority. But that would have meant starting all over again and further delays for a project that has clear public support. The new rules have addressed concerns that one player would have been allowed to monopolise the project and reap all the profits. It is now important that officials draw up fair and transparent rules to ensure the winning developer does not abuse its position in parcelling the sites.

To allay concerns that the property components in the three tentative bids are far too big, the residential and commercial components will be capped at no more than 20 and 30 per cent of total floor area respectively, while cultural facilities will take up at least 30 per cent. Changes to the project's specifications will also be subject to approval by the Town Planning Board and the Legislative Council. These are welcome moves.

For being absolved of the responsibility to manage the cultural district for 30 years, the winning developer will have to pay up front at least $30 billion into a trust fund. Officials say their calculations suggest the income will be sufficient to cover the recurrent costs of cleaning the giant canopy, maintaining the cluster of performing and exhibition venues, and putting on quality performances and displays.

As a concept, the trust fund idea is commendable. But what needs to be demonstrated is that it can really be sustainable. Critics fear that the cost of building and maintaining a giant canopy will be crippling. But we do not have to jump to any conclusion at this stage. Under the new arrangements, the bidding consortiums will have to compete not just on their designs, but also on the size of their contribution to the trust fund. Presumably, that should encourage the bidders to try to build the facilities, including the canopy, at the lowest possible cost and to pay as much as possible to the trust fund.

As a framework for taking the project forward, the new arrangements seem broadly acceptable. But to win a decisive yes from the community, officials will have to ensure that the missing details are formulated fairly for all the stakeholders concerned.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 11:12 AM   #559
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Saturday October 8 2005

Winner will have too much power: parties

Gary Cheung and Dikky Sinn

Three political groups yesterday criticised the revised West Kowloon project proposal for giving the winning developer enormous leverage in carving up the rest of the site for open tender.

Pro-democracy lawmakers said the revised proposal, in which the government claims to have dropped the single-developer approach, still did not address the public's concerns.

Under the new plan, the winning consortium will be allowed to develop up to 50 per cent of the commercial and residential site in the 40-hectare plot. The winner gets to carve up the rest of the commercial and residential sites for open tender.

Democratic Party legislator James To Kun-sun said he was worried that the winner could keep the best plots of land for itself, particularly those on the waterfront, and put the less attractive sites up for open bidding.

'The developer may even decide the timing for carving up the rest of the West Kowloon site for open tender,' he said.

Mr To, vice-chairman of the Legco subcommittee on West Kowloon Cultural District development, warned that the whole arts hub could end up as a property developers' colony.

Subcommittee chairman Alan Leong Kah-kit agreed that the winning developer would retain the best plots for its own development and hand out the leftovers to other developers. He added that unlike under the original proposal, the winning developer would not have to take charge of the operation of the arts hub project.

'The revised proposal apparently abolishes the single-developer approach but it's even worse than the original package,' said Mr Leong, a lawmaker for the Article 45 Concern Group.

Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun said it would be inappropriate for the government to give the winning developer a free hand in putting the rest of the site up for public tender.

'The government should take the responsibility of auctioning the plots,' he said.

But Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan said the government would not allow the winner of the bid to dominate the process of tendering for the rest of the 40-hectare site.

Lau Kong-wah, the vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said his party welcomed the government's decision to abandon the single-bidder approach.

But he was worried that the maintenance cost of the giant canopy would be very high. He urged the government to give more details about the project, especially on financial arrangements.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 11:13 AM   #560
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Saturday October 8 2005

Like every good salesman, the smile rarely left Mr Hui's face

Gary Cheung

Rafael Hui Si-yan wore a broad smile throughout yesterday's briefing for lawmakers on the government's revised proposal for developing the West Kowloon Cultural District.

In his first appearance at a Legislative Council House Committee meeting since he became chief secretary, the soft-spoken Mr Hui was relaxed as he fielded legislators' questions.

The grin never left his face even when pro-democracy lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip accused the government of 'transferring benefits to consortiums' and of staging a 'black-box operation'.

Responding to the accusation of secrecy, Mr Hui said: 'Quite to the contrary, our proposal will ensure the process of developing the project is more transparent.'

At times, the chief secretary sought common ground with his audience in the chamber, saying at one point: 'We appreciate your concern.'

The smile only left his face when independent lawmaker Chim Pui-chung said the West Kowloon site had a market value of $400 billion and the winner of the bid was set to reap huge profits.

'Mr Chim, I have to tell you that the cultural facilities would be money-losing,' the chief secretary said.

His suave style was in stark contrast to that of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who is sometimes stony-faced in his verbal exchanges with legislators. He certainly was that during heated debate over the arts hub project when he was chief secretary.

Mr Tsang repeatedly told the legislators that scrapping the single-developer model or the canopy would mean starting all over again, and delaying the project for years.

Mr Hui said last year: 'A leader is like a salesman. He fully understands the strengths and weaknesses of his product and knows how to sell it tactfully.' He appears to have passed his first test in handling the contentious project.

He may not, like Mr Tsang, be a former salesman who made good, but he knows the value of a good sales pitch as much as his boss.
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