Saturday, 10 November 2012

Hardly a Sporting Chance

There are possible plans to turn this space into office buildings
The director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Wang Guangya has called on Hong Kong people to give Chief Executive Leung-Chun-ying a chance to work for the city.

"Personally, I feel that in recent months Leung Chun-ying has really been making an effort to improve the economy and livelihoods in Hong Kong," he said. "But, of course, when there are new policies, there is a need for different people to communicate to gain understanding and support from different walks of life."

But perhaps it's Leung and his administration who are not communicating with us?

We are horrified to hear that the Wan Chai Sports Ground (灣仔運動場), near the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre will be demolished in 2019.

The announcement was made by Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing yesterday.

He told lawmakers at a home affairs panel meeting that people could use Hong Kong Stadium in So Kon Po when the Kai Tak complex was ready.

"By then, the one in So Kon Po will become the major sport venue for residents of Hong Kong Island," he said. "As to what will be built on the Wan Chai site, it will be a decision to be determined by the government."

Uh excuse me -- so the Leung administration hasn't figured out what it wants to do with the Wan Sports Ground, but has definitely decided to get rid of it.

Schools can't afford to rent Hong Kong Stadium for events
How does that make any sense?

Perhaps the government is greedy and wants to make an estimated HK$36 billion from the land to build -- more office space?

Currently the sports ground complete with an all-weather synthetic track and natural turf infield is usually rented out by schools for sports events. Tsang urged schools to move their sports days and other athletic events to Hong Kong Stadium, but many can't afford the high rent there, hence the necessity for the Wan Chai Sports Ground.

Originally the government wanted to dismantle the sports ground to build the third phase of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, but there was a lot of public opposition, claiming there would be worsening traffic in the area.

Wan Chai district councillors are opposed to the demolition of the Wan Chai Sports Ground as well as one lawmaker, Stephen Ng Kam-chun.

We are probably going to see some protests over this announcement in the coming weeks.

Hong Kong does not have enough public spaces as it is. Most of them are owned by developers who impose their own rules, which basically translate as: you're not allowed to hang out here.

And what about the city's pledge to get people more active? Wouldn't demolishing the sports ground create even fewer places for people to exercise?

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, can we have more public consultation before making such rash announcements?

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