Long-term ben­e­fits of co-lo­ca­tion stressed Govt vows to re­flect public opin­ion in full be­fore sign­ing agree­ments

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By LUIS LIU in Hong Kong luis­liu@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

The spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion gov­ern­ment hopes the public will con­sider “long-term over­all so­cial ben­e­fits” when dis­cussing the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment for the high­speed rail ter­mi­nus but vowed to re­flect public opin­ion in full be­fore sign­ing agree­ments with main­land au­thor­i­ties.

It made the ob­ser­va­tion in a two-hour spe­cial meet­ing on Thurs­day dur­ing the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil’s sum­mer re­cess. It fea­tured all three key se­nior of­fi­cials re­spon­si­ble — Sec­re­tary for Jus­tice Rim­sky Yuen Kwok-ke­ung, Sec­re­tary for Trans­port and Hous­ing Frank Chan Fan and Sec­re­tary for Se­cu­rity John Lee Ka-chiu.

Chan ap­pealed to Hong Kong peo­ple to eval­u­ate the long-term ben­e­fits of a joint check­point and take a broader view.

“The ben­e­fits that the high­speed rail will bring to Hong Kong should not be looked at merely by its short-term eco­nomic re­turns but the longterm over­all so­cial ben­e­fits,” Chan said, “and a co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment is the best op­tion to max­i­mize its power.”

The im­proved in­fra­struc­ture will boost eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, strengthen Hong Kong’s in­ter­na­tional avi­a­tion-hub sta­tus. It will re­lease the po­ten­tial of the Guang­dong-Hong KongMa­cao Greater Bay Area, Chan said.

He cited statis­tics from Euro­pean cities with or with­out high-speed rail sta­tions — those with high-speed rail achieved eco­nomic growth rates 2 to 3 per­cent higher.

Many in­fra­struc­ture projects show their full value years af­ter com­ple­tion, Chan stressed. The MTR’s West Rail Line and the Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Air­port were both crit­i­cized as “white ele­phant” projects. How­ever, they are now pil­lars of Hong Kong’s trans­porta­tion and re­quire ex­pan­sion.

Thus he hoped the peo­ple of Hong Kong could be well aware of the value of the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment at the high-speed rail sta­tion.

Yuen pledged to con­tinue col­lect­ing public opin­ions and raise them with de­ci­sion-mak­ers be­fore sign­ing any agree­ment with main­land au­thor­i­ties.

He said the gov­ern­ment will not rule out fur­ther com­muni- cation mea­sures with LegCo and the peo­ple of Hong Kong.

Yuen again stressed that the ar­range­ment will strictly com­ply with the “one coun­try, two sys­tems” pol­icy and Ba­sic Law.

Yuen told law­mak­ers the gov­ern­ment has “no po­lit­i­cal agenda” in invit­ing main­land law-en­force­ment of­fi­cers to the West Kowloon Sta­tion for rel­e­vant border-check op­er­a­tions. He re­it­er­ated that the ar­range­ments are only to en­sure the checks will be “con­ve­nient and ef­fi­cient”.

The co-lo­ca­tion plan was wel­comed by a ma­jor­ity of the law­mak­ers but faced op­po­si­tion from the “pan-democrats” who claim it might breach the Ba­sic Law and called for a “gen­uine public con­sul­ta­tion”.

Fi­nan­cial ser­vices sec­tor leg­is­la­tor Christo­pher Cheung Wah-fung urged op­po­nents to drop “po­lit­i­cal rad­i­cal­ism”, be prag­matic and fo­cus on eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent phone poll by the Lib­eral Party, among 1,071 Hong Kong res­i­dents, 71 per­cent feel the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment “im­por­tant” for the high­speed rail and 61 per­cent sup­port invit­ing main­land lawen­force­ment of­fi­cers to the re­stricted area.

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