The government is making a last-minute bit to win approval for the contentious Lantau Tomorrow Vision reclamation ahead of the Legco election.
Its funding request has been squeezed into the Legco finance committee agenda this Friday – the last sitting day ahead of the September 6 poll.
The government is seeking HK$550.4 million for a consultancy study into site evaluation around Kau Yi Chau and to examine transport infrastructure needs for stage one of the project.
It is the initial funding for a scheme forecast to cost HK$624 billion for the first stage alone — the city’s biggest ever construction project.
But the project is widely unpopular because of its cost and scale, the weak case for it and the presence around the city of many other white elephant public works such as the HK-Macau bridge.
The request, initially filed last year, was not voted on as a result of the democrat filibuster. It was foreshadowed by Development Secretary Michael Wong in his blog two weeks ago and then reappeared on the finance committee agenda early this week, surprising legislators and and media.
But approval seems a long way from being assured. Finance committee chair Chan Kinpor admitted to Oriental Daily yesterday it was unlikely to be passed.
Liberal Party legislator Felix Chung told HK01 last week that in the current political environment the Lantau Tomorrow plan may not be implemented at all.
The government fears it may lost control of Legco in the coming election. Pro-democracy groups overwhelmed government parties in last year’s district council election, and a primary among pro-democracy candidates on the weekend attracted more than 600,000 voters – equivalent to a fifth of total participation in the 2016 election.
Pro-Beijing parties have started to push an alternative, smaller scale reclamation on Guishan Island off southern Lantau.
Stage one of Lantau Tomorrow involves creating a 1200 ha artificial island around Kau Yi Chau, with freeway and rail links connecting to Lantau and Hong Kong islands.
A second stage, which is not part of this feasibility study, envisages creating another 500ha artificial island around Hei Ling Chau and Sunshine Island off Mui Wo.