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Old June 26th, 2010, 08:17 AM   #421
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Old July 15th, 2010, 05:58 PM   #422
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Preserving bridge to a fascinating past
23 June 2010
The Standard

Development work in the city has, on several occasions, uncovered secrets from the past.

Just over two years ago, archaeologists doing environmental impact assessment at the Kai Tak redevelopment found something amazing right under the old airport's passenger terminal building - the remains of a 19th-century stone bridge.

It was part of the Lung Tsun stone bridge, first built in 1873 as a landing pier on the coast near Kowloon Walled City.

It was used by imperial Chinese officials to reach the Walled City, which remained under their jurisdiction even after Kowloon became part of Hong Kong. Two years after it was built, a gateway with a pavilion was built to receive these visiting officials.

Photographs of these places do survive.

However, after the structures were buried by reclamation in the 1920s and airport work during World War II, it would not have seemed likely that anyone would actually see any traces of them again.

But we now have several segments, including part of the bridge deck and some support pillars.

What should we do with these remains?

The government has classified the site as highly significant, so the remains will be preserved, on-site, in some way. But how exactly?

The government is keen to get the public involved, and a two-stage engagement program is taking place.

The first stage is about sharing information and views. District councils have already taken part, with community workshops scheduled for this Saturday and the next. The second stage later in the year will help decide how best to preserve and display these fascinating relics. Bernard Charnwut Chan, chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, sees culture from all perspectives.
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Old July 21st, 2010, 04:52 PM   #423
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Old July 28th, 2010, 01:47 PM   #424
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Bridge at Kai Tak site too big, advisers say
22 July 2010
South China Morning Post

Harbour advisers have suggested the government review the designs of a bridge and a helipad planned at the tip of the Kai Tak development to give the public more access to the harbourfront.

The proposed bridge, which would connect the runway of the former airport and Kwun Tong, could become an eyesore taking space away from a future park on the runway, said Vincent Ng Wing-shun, a member of the government's Harbourfront Commission.

The architect said the bridge's anchor points must stand on the two sides of the channel and not on the seabed, given reclamation in the harbour was not allowed anymore.

"The bridge must be built high enough to allow barges to pass underneath. This means the ramps on both sides would have to be several storeys high, swirling like spaghetti before reaching the ground," Ng said.

Paul Zimmerman, of the Society for Protection of the Harbour, agreed that the bridge would take up some beautiful open space at the runway. The society is member organisation of the Harbourfront Commission. Both men were expressing their individual views.

The Kai Tak development into a cruise terminal, and residential, commercial and community facilities covers more than 320 hectares and will be completed in three phases in 2013, 2016 and 2021.

Concern over the layout was also expressed at a meeting of professionals from a committee that advises on bridge designs earlier this week. An engineer said the bridge, carrying vehicles and pedestrians, would be too bulky for the 400-metre wide channel.

One way to slim down the design would be to build it solely for pedestrians, said structural engineer Dr Greg Wong Chak-yan. Another option was to have a bridge that could be raised up for specified times for barges, which would allow facilities such as a hospital or waste treatment works, to use the channel, Wong said.

Residents from Kwun Tong have strongly demanded a bridge so they can easily get to the future centre of Kowloon. The district would also be linked to Kai Tak by monorail, although the journey would take a few minutes longer than by using the bridge.

Kwun Tong District Council chairman Bunny Chan Chung-bun said the council was open to discussions if the bridge had drawbacks. A footbridge would be acceptable as long as it had an iconic design, he said.

Commission members, however, are split about the location of a helipad, also planned at the tip of the runway. Ng said the site should be accessible to the public and not fenced off for the cross-border facility. Government planners are studying the possibility of relocating the helipad to the rooftop of a 100-metre observation tower nearby, but this would confine the use of the helipad to the more costly double-engine helicopters.
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Old August 1st, 2010, 07:19 PM   #425
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Runway tip :

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Old August 3rd, 2010, 05:34 PM   #426
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Kai Tak rail line may link to other districts
31 July 2010
South China Morning Post

The Kai Tak development will be served by an elevated rail line that will offer an internal transport system as well as connect to future MTR stations and possibly to nearby neighbourhoods.

The government is assessing several routes for the rail system to be built on the 320-hectare site, which will contain a cruise terminal, residential, commercial and community facilities.

John Chai Sung-veng, director of the Civil Engineering and Development Department, said yesterday it would connect to the Kai Tak and To Kwa Wan stations of the MTR's Sha Tin-Central link. "We are also studying whether it is possible to extend it to the surrounding old districts, including San Po Kong, Wong Tai Sin and Kwun Tong," he said.

Patrick Kwong Hing-ip, project manager of the department's Kowloon development office, said it would be a challenge, because the areas were packed with buildings and streets were narrow.

The government has studied projects in Sydney, Singapore, Tokyo, Vancouver and Miami.

It found that while such systems cost billions to build, they also stimulate redevelopment and increase tourist appeal. Private vehicles will be discouraged in the Kai Tak development, which will be completed in three phases in 2013, 2016 and 2021.

Meanwhile, Chai said the department would complete landslide prevention works at some 4,600 high-risk man-made slopes by the end of this year.
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Old August 11th, 2010, 01:14 PM   #427
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Old August 16th, 2010, 05:38 PM   #428
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Old August 25th, 2010, 03:37 PM   #429
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A fading reminder of the Kai Tak landing
The Standard
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

As chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, I receive suggestions from people who think particular places should be graded and possibly preserved as historic monuments.

Usually, they want to conserve old buildings, but I recently received a proposal to protect something different. It is a large sloped concrete slab on a hillside in Kowloon. Wild plants are growing over it, and the weather has taken its toll on the old paintwork it used to display. But you can still clearly see the large panel of faded and peeling red and white squares set out in a checked pattern.

Unless you are too young to remember the aircraft making a sharp right turn over Kowloon City when you flew into Hong Kong, you will know what I am talking about.

It is the famous Kai Tak checkerboard, which warned pilots that a mountain was straight ahead. (In fact, there are two: another faced the runway to warn pilots taking off.)

Hong Kong learned a new phrase in recent years: collective memory. It is about past shared experiences that made the community what it is; our memories of them bind us together.

For many of us, coming home to that turning at Kai Tak was a part of our growing up. And for many residents of the area, the checkerboard - like Lion Rock above it - must remind them of good and bad times, not to mention aircraft noise.

Maybe the checkerboard will join Hong Kong's growing list of protected monuments.

Bernard Charnwut Chan, chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, sees culture from all perspectives.
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Old August 27th, 2010, 07:03 PM   #430
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Disney cruises remain over the horizon
25 August 2010
The Standard

Despite the planned opening of the Kai Tak cruise terminal in 2013, US-based Disney Cruise Line has yet to set any timetable to make Hong Kong calls.

The disclosure came from the line's senior vice president and chief financial officer, James Heaney, appointed to the Hong Kong Advisory Committee on Cruise Industry from August 1. His term runs to January 27, 2012.

``Hong Kong is an area of interest to our company,'' said Heaney, although a timetable for calls here is not a priority.

The company plans itineraries about three years in advance, and Hong Kong is not yet in sight, but the line is learning more about the territory and mainland markets.

``The cruise market hangs on having the right infrastructure,'' Heaney said. That includes port terminals being close enough to airports and the potential for attracting passengers on to ships.

``I think Hong Kong is progressing down that path,'' he said. ``It has a world-class airport. It has a world-class port terminal, and now it has to grow the market. When the market is there, cruises will come.''

Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui is the only terminal in Hong Kong but, with funding of HK$8.156 billion cleared by the Legislative Council's finance panel, construction of the Kai Tak cruise terminal has started.

The first berth is expected to be ready in mid-2013 with the capacity to take the world's largest liners. A second berth should be ready a year later.

Top officials have said the administration is committed to making Hong Kong a cruise hub.

Disney, with the cruise liners Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, mainly sails the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, northern Europe and Alaska.

``Some cruise lines have 20 ships,'' Heaney said. ``Most have at least 10. We're still very small in this business, although we're growing very quickly.''

Disney Cruise Line, set up in 1998, will have two more ships by 2012.

It currently carries about 500,000 passengers a year.

On the potential in Asia, Heaney said China has the most in terms of numbers _ ``southern China in particular. Hong Kong is an interesting market. Maybe it can become a gateway for cruising out of China.''
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Old September 9th, 2010, 06:43 PM   #431
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Kai Tak urged for affordable housing
18 August 2010
China Daily - Hong Kong Edition

DAB also seeks to raise stakes in mainland capital investors scheme

The issue of affordable housing confronted Chief Executive Donald Tsang again Tuesday, as the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) urged that lands on the old Kai Tak Airport site, as well as other sites, be reserved for construction of small and medium sized flats.

During the meeting with the DAB, Tsang heard another call for resumption of the Home Ownership scheme, as the DAB lawmaker Chan Kam-lam hammered home the message that escalating housing prices make life very difficult for prospective home buyers. He noted housing prices have escalated by over 50 percent and have created bubbles over the past two years.

At the same time, Chan said, the DAB supports the government's measures to tackle speculative property transactions.

The party also suggested reviewing the Cpital Investor Scheme under which a mainlander can obtain permanent residency here by investing HK$6.5 million in Hong Kong.

The DAB held that the Capital Investor Scheme has contributed to the property market bubbles, given that the property and stock markets are the usual investment channels for people from the mainland. The government should raise the entry amount, said Chan, or devise measures to facilitate capital intake into Hong Kong's six new premier industries other than real estate and finance.

The DAB proposed a total of 145 suggestions under 10 broad policy categories to improve livelihood and tackle the wealth gap.

Among the other proposals: an Elderly Living Allowance, alongside the existing Old Age Allowance for those who wish to take their retirement on the mainland. The proposal reflects an innovative mindset and a more targeted measure to help the elderly, said party chairman Tam Yiu-chung. The new allowance should be higher than the Old Age Allowance. It should be means-tested, Tam said, adding the party will follow up with a detailed proposal to the government.

Regarding "nasty facilities" such as columbaria and incinerators, the party reckoned such facilities should not be built in every district because they are very costly. For districts that are selected, the government should provide additional recreation amenities or power tariff allowance as compensation.

The chief executive is consulting a broad spectrum of society in preparation for his Policy Address to be delivered in October.

The employees' component of the Labor Advisory Board, at a separate meeting, urged Chief Secretary for Administration Henry Tang to help solve the city's housing problem. The group suggested the government set up a work site for assembly of pre-fabricated materials for infrastructure projects to ease unemployment of construction workers.

Though the minimum wage law is passed, board representatives proposed a Low Income Allowance activated when workers' wages fall below what a four-member social security family receives. The submission argued that the allowance would encourage people to find work. Board representatives also called for a new act to regulate working hours.
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Old September 14th, 2010, 06:05 PM   #432
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By Star Alliance from HKADB :

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Old October 10th, 2010, 07:09 PM   #433
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By ming10120 from a Hong Kong photography forum :



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Old November 2nd, 2010, 05:52 PM   #434
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New proposal for residents displaced by urban renewal
15 October 2010
China Daily - Hong Kong Edition

The Development Bureau released additional information Thursday about the new urban redevelopment strategy that would give residents displaced by urban renewal the choice to purchase new flats of comparable value, rather than taking a cash payout.

Under the new strategy announced by the Chief Executive during Wednesday's Policy Address, residents displaced by urban renewal will have a choice of a flat in the immediate vicinity of their previous homes, or in land set aside for residential development on 1.1 hectares in the Kai Tak Development Area, according to the Development Bureau. The Kai Tak Development would comprise a thousand flats of 400 to 600 square feet, said Carrie Lam, secretary for Development.

"The new 'flat to flat' scheme offers an alternative choice for owner-occupiers of domestic units," Lam said. She stressed that cash value under the "flat to flat" option will be equivalent to the amount otherwise payable in cash compensation. The amount of cash compensation is based on the market value of a seven-year-old replacement flat in the same locality.

Asked why Kai Tak was chosen for development of the alternative flats, Lam explained that Kai Tak was very close to Kowloon City, which holds the largest number of old buildings (over 1,000) and the largest number of dilapidated ones (320).

Another consideration is that people in Kowloon City can continue to live in familiar environments and keep their old social networks if they choose to move into the proposed Kai Tak buildings, Lam added.

Director of Society for Community Organization Ho Hei-wah believes most Kowloon City residents will welcome the new strategy as long as the new residences were of a decent size and affordable. Most of the owner occupiers affected are working poor and elderly.

"The key point of the renewal work is meeting the demands of the original residents rather than making profits by selling them new flats," said Lim Wan-fung, president of the Hong Kong Institution of Urban Design. Lim said that the outcry had already been heard about sky-high prices of previous properties built by the Urban Renewal Authority (URA).

Lim, also a professor at the School of Architecture of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, stressed that renewing a district means more than "demolishing old buildings and building new ones". The most important thing is to preserve the "local characters and cultures".

Chairman of the Kowloon City District Council Wong Kwok-keung welcomed the Kai Tak initiative. He thinks the old district would benefit from the new development that promises facilities like open space office buildings and so on.

The proposal went into public consultation Wednesday. The first pilot District Urban Renewal Forums will be set up in Kowloon City. The URA will earmark HK$500 million to set up an Urban Renewal Trust Fund to support studies and activities at the forums.

The new urban renewal strategy will remain under public until December 13.
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Old November 3rd, 2010, 09:00 PM   #435
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By kingkong_hk from a Hong Kong discussion forum :



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Old December 27th, 2010, 04:21 PM   #436
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Legislators want greens on body to vet transport trials
21 December 2010
SCMP

Green activists should have seats on a committee to be created to screen applications to a proposed HK$300 million fund to encourage the use of low-carbon transport technology, lawmakers say.

The call was made at a meeting of the Legislative Council's environmental affairs panel yesterday when members met to discuss the establishment of a pilot green transport fund foreshadowed by Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah in his budget earlier this year.

Some members questioned whether the proposed steering committee, to which the government only wants to appoint academics and members of the transport trade, would be representative enough.

The undersecretary for the environment, Dr Kitty Poon Kit, said the administration wanted technocrats and experts in related fields to consider the applications.

However, Civic Party legislator Tanya Chan said: "There are also different kinds of experts in green groups. Their views should also be considered."

The HK$300 million fund, open to transport sector operators, will subsidise the capital cost of innovative green products proposed for trial.

For trials of vehicles running on alternative fuels, each vehicle can be subsidised up to HK$3 million, with an upper limit of HK$9 million for each application.

The subsidy for emission-reduction devices will be set at 75 per cent of their cost, with caps of HK$1.5 million per device and HK$9 million per application.

In the case of ferries, the maximum subsidy is HK$3 million for each device, with a limit of HK$12 million for each applicant.

The steering committee will be set up to screen applications and determine the level of subsidy.

Poon said the government aimed to launch the fund in March.

Legislator Chan Kin-por said the subsidy caps were too low, and panel chairman Gary Chan Hak-kan called for the application criteria to be eased to allow people outside the transport trade to apply, such as educational research institutes.

Legislators were told that because of rising prices, the cost of a cooling system planned for shopping malls and estates at the future Kai Tak redevelopment had more than doubled to HK$3.65 billion, from the original estimate of HK$1.67 million in June last year.

They called on the government to control costs better.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong-Guangdong Joint Working Group on Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection held its 11th annual meeting in Hong Kong yesterday.

Environment Secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah said both sides were pleased to see emissions in the region were down, saying that during 2006-09 levels of the key pollutants - sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and respirable suspended particles - fell an average of 38 per cent, 9 per cent, and 7 per cent respectively.

Yau said next year the two sides would work out another set of emission targets for the next 10 years.
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Old January 16th, 2011, 07:23 PM   #437
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River recycled
Christopher Dewolf
14 January 2011
China Daily - Hong Kong Edition

Wallace Chang still remembers how disgusting the Kai Tak River was when he was a child living near its banks in the 1970s. "The water was in between grey and black and it flowed very slowly, almost stagnant," he recalls.

That didn't stop him and his friends from going near. "We didn't have a playground nearby so we played on the pipes that ran across the river and tried not to fall in. It was a challenge."

It wasn't always that way. Originally, the Kai Tak River, which runs from the Kowloon Hills to Victoria Harbour, by way of the old Kai Tak Airport, was a country stream known as the Long Jin River. During World War II, however, the Japanese Army converted it into a 2.4-kilometer drainage canal. As fields gave way to factories and squatter villages in the 1960s and 70s, the river became an open-air sewer as waste was illegally dumped into its water.

By the 1980s, the river was so polluted that passengers arriving at the airport often remarked on the foul smell. According to an old story, comedian Bob Hope once arrived, stepped off the plane and asked what the horrible stench was. A friend informed him it was sewage. "Yes I know, but what have they done to it?" Hope replied.

Chang never did fall in the river's foul water. He grew up to become an associate professor of architecture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The river changed, too. After the factories along its banks closed in the 1990s and the government cracked down on illegal dumping, the water became significantly cleaner. Fish returned and so did the birds that eat them.

But complaints about the river's smell in the 1980s had already kick-started the machinery of Hong Kong's government bureaucracy. In the late 1990s, plans were made to cover the river. Conservationists lobbied the government to save the river, drawing support from neighborhood residents. They eventually convinced the government to keep most of it uncovered.

Now the question is: what next?

"The Kai Tak River is a rare heritage," says Peter Li, policy director of the Conservancy Association, which fought to keep the river uncovered. Not only is it one of the few pieces of Japanese-built infrastructure in Hong Kong, it links the old airport - now the site of a vast redevelopment project - with historic villages, temples, parks and neighborhoods further inland.

Using the river to knit them together is key to successfully restoring the river, says Chang. "People still think of it as the backside of the neighborhood. We need to get them to face the river."

The government seems to be on the same page. "Our vision is to build the Kai Tak River as an attractive green river corridor through urban areas, which will provide space for leisure and public activities serving the community while meeting the need for flood protection," says a spokesman for the Civil Engineering and Drainage Department, which manages the river.

But how exactly that will be done has yet to be determined. In the meantime, artists, architects and neighborhood groups are using the river as a conduit for new ideas on urban heritage, community and redevelopment.

"The river was nothing for the community, just a muddy sewer that was very polluted," says Alessandro Carboni, an Italian artist who came to Hong Kong to study the river. "Now it has started this whole process of change, a change in mentality in this area of Kowloon. You change something and people react to it. People have started to fish again."

With that in mind, Carboni staged a performance last year, in collaboration with the arts group 1a space, in which he spread sea salt from Nga Tsin Wai, an 800-year-old walled village on the banks of the river, to various spots around the river. For centuries, salt panning was the main industry in Nga Tsin Wai, which is now slated for redevelopment.

"What's very important is to keep things visible, to keep things alive," he says. "The city is a place where we can rebuild and discuss how our actions can change the quality of a space. Changing the space means improving quality of life and the possibility to interact."

Carboni's performance was just one of a series of artistic interventions that have taken place over the past few years. For another project, people living near the river were invited to create windmills made with recycled material, which were then strung between the river's concrete banks. Secondary school students also participated in Chinese painting workshops along the river, creating gritty, urban images using a medium normally dedicated to bucolic natural scenes.

"When we threw this idea of green arts to the public, the reaction was surprisingly positive," says Chang. "It stimulated a lot of imagination. Contemporary art is so abstract, so elitist, but this opened another door for people to participate in the future of the river."

Chang sees the river as a way to blend nature with the human landscape of Hong Kong's streets, seamlessly. Last year, he published a book with one of his master's students, Marta Bohlmark, that called for the river's banks to be transformed into a boardwalk-cum-marketplace, where the surrounding area's many hawkers, including street barbers, calligraphers and cobblers, could be given a unique space in which to work.

Their plan also envisions a seamless green link between a Qing Dynasty pier discovered at the site of the old Kai Tak Airport, Nga Tsin Wai Village, the Wong Tai Sin Temple, the Chu Lin Nunnery and the site of a large squatters' village, Tai Hom, that was cleared in 2001 but still contains several historic buildings. Public amphitheatres and art spaces would dot the green space, taking advantage of the growing community of performing artists, visual artists and musicians that have opened studios in San Po Kong, an industrial area next to the river.

For the time being, though, the plan is just a dream. Even the green spaces that already exist next to the river, like Morse Park, are separated from it by fences. And though the river has done a remarkable job of cleaning itself - E. coli levels have declined by 80 percent since the 1980s - its water is still highly polluted.

In the long term, says Chang, the river's success will hinge on how it is treated by the government. He says he is optimistic. "The government always says no in the beginning, but you can convince them with good examples. It's a long process, but now they're less stubborn."

While the government initially resisted any change in its plan to cover the river, it began to soften its stance around 2007, which is also around the time it stopped referring to the waterway as a nullah - a word commonly used to describe drainage canals - and started calling it a river.

It can also be seen in the plans for redeveloping the old Kai Tak Airport, through which the river runs. Whereas it once was excluded from the plans entirely, the river is now the focal point of the future development's town center - "a unique urban and landscape axis linking and integrating the old urban districts with the new development areas," in the words of a Development Bureau spokesman.

Eventually, Chang hopes the river will serve as a lesson: "You can abandon nature, but it will always come back to us."
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Old January 18th, 2011, 06:49 PM   #438
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Kai Tak cruises into tender mode
18 January 2011
The Standard

Tendering for the new Kai Tak cruise terminal will begin in the next few months, with the winning bid to be announced by the end of the year, Commerce and Economic Development chief Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan said.

The terminal, with its first berth due to start operation in 2013, will be run by the winning bidder for 10 years.

Under the leasing terms to be proposed to the Legislative Council's economic development panel next week, the operator will not be required to ensure a minimum patronage to keep the contract valid.

The operator will pay both a fixed rent as well as a variable one, based on profits, but will be free to determine berthing fees.

A mid-term review will be conducted five years after the terminal opens to ensure quality of service.

Commissioner for Tourism Philip Yung Wai-hung said a committee of government and industry officials will be set up to supervise the operation.

The government can terminate the rights of the winning operator if it performs badly, Yung said.

But the authorities can also extend the operator's 10-year rights by five years, according to the leasing terms.

Mechanisms are in place to ensure that the operator will have the experience and the ability to operate the terminal, he added.

The 10-year lease is expected to provide a reasonable degree of certainty for the operator to work out a longer-term business strategy and secure bookings from cruise lines.

Legislator Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, who chairs the Legco economic development panel, said the leasing arrangement is reasonable.

He said the clause establishing the authorities' power to revoke operating rights will ensure quality of service.

Yung is confident the tender will attract bids from internationally renowned cruise terminal operators.
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Old January 27th, 2011, 05:41 PM   #439
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Cruise terminal operator to face sinking profit
25 January 2011
The Standard

The operator of the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal will have to share its gross income with the government each year.

With construction costs for the terminal at HK$8.2 billion, ``taxpayers expect to get the biggest return,'' said Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Rita Lau Ng Wai- lan.

``Such a mechanism will allow the authorities to capture the upside of the business and avoid unreasonable business risks to the operator,'' Lau told the Legislative Council's economic development panel.

Sharing the gross receipt, instead of net revenue, also has the advantage of encouraging the successful tenderer to control operating costs in a prudent manner, Lau said.

But wholesale and retail sector lawmaker Vincent Fang Kang thinks the terms are too harsh.

``The lease terms should allow the operator to generate a handsome profit as the Kai Tak terminal is being positioned as a world-class cruise terminal. Otherwise, it may not attract bidders from around the world,'' he said.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 08:42 PM   #440
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