Good morning ladies and gentlemen,
Today’s motion is that country parks should be turned into sites for housing in Hong Kong. That is, to use the land of country parks for residential purposes; in other words, to remove country parks in order to build residential areas. We are against the motion as we absolutely believe that country parks are not the correct place for building flats.
Our opponents mentioned that we must act quickly to develop the wasted land of the country parks due to the intense population growth in Hong Kong. We are sorry to tell them they’ve made a few mistakes regarding this issue. Firstly, even if all country parks are developed into housing estates, the problem of land shortage for residential uses will not be solved as the population will still be growing. Secondly, the land used to build country parks is not wasted land. Today we will prove it to you and also point out the importance of preserving country parks which should not be removed.
First of all, 11 parks out of 24 in Hong Kong, a total of 69 per cent of the total area form a network of catchments for collecting rainwater into the reservoirs. These parks are designed with an important purpose of protecting the catchments from contamination. Redeveloping these parks for residential purpose is just reinventing the wheel, only with a square shape this time. There is absolutely no reason to ruin the reservoirs which supply about 11 to 27 per cent of Hong Kong’s consumption. Also in the long run, we must increase our water self-reliance. It is totally a bad idea for removing country parks for building houses.
For further elaboration of that, removing country parks itself is already a bad idea. According to the Lonely Planet, the Hong Kong Trail, which crosses five country parks on the island have been confirmed as the top 10 city hikes in the world; in other words, it is a world-class treasure. It would be silly to remove a world-class treasure of an internationally well-known city for building some housing estates for the benefits of a few money-minded property developers. Additionally, the parks are part of Hongkongers’ collective memory. They grew up in them, played in them, hiked in them and their next generation does the same. The parks are paradise to some people who enjoy the pressure-free environment, the fresh air, the beautiful scenery and so on. Though one may argue that the population density ofthe parks are less than that in urban areas, but they do benefit people more than the crowded and bustling urban areas do.
Our opponent just stated that only low-rise buildings will be built in the border line of the country parks and the natural environment will be not affected. However, if this is true, how can the low density and low-rise residential buildings solve the housing problem of Hong Kong, which has been emphasized by our dear opponents? The promise of developing more residential areas is to satisfy the fierce housing demand due to the population growth. Developing low–rise housing estates cannot serve many people; and their price would be high, which means the majority of people who are in dire need of a living place cannot afford them. How can anyone say that ruining the country parks can solve the housing problem of the city?
Our opponents also said that the country parks which are not involved in the catchment area for the reservoirs and world-class treasure can be used for development. But it is disappointing that the affirmative side cannot grasp the fundamental values embedded in the country-park concept. As the proverb says, “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.” Once one piece of land is surrendered, there may well be no end to the attribution.
If today’s motion is to stand, our opponents must prove to all of usthat the need for housing estates is so severe that they need to be built on the parks and that our world-class treasure is not precious enough compared to other sites that could be developed or redeveloped for the so-called “even more important” housing problem. So far our opponents have failed to prove this. Therefore, today’s motion must fall. Thank you.