Let’s work together: People’s planning for our Home and our Land – 318 Rally (Destination at Queen Pier)
Civic Frontier and Pan-Democrats will initiate a rally demanding for universal suffrage in March 18, we (a group concerned with the environment, conservation, spatial and policy planning) will also join the rally and support the implementation of universal suffrage. However, before the universal suffrage, we can implement democracy in different areas, after all, spatial and planning policy has direct impact on our living space. The preservation of Star Ferry Pier has brought us together. We hope to meet and work with more like-minded friends in March 18, and set up a network to implement People’s planning for our home.
We don’t have an organizational center to prepare for this rally, we coordinate the division of labour via a loose e-mail network (Local Action) and hope that friends who are interested can join in and help out. Below are some of the tasks that you can help out:
1. Online friends, website owners or bloggers, please attach the sticker at ‘beyond the stars’ to help promoting the rally. For those who don’t have a website/blog, please send email to invite friends to join the rally or attach the sticker to your email signature.
2. We are in progress of producing a newsletter, in the middle spread page; there will be a map to show all kinds of planning problems that Hong Kong is facing. We wish that you can forward to us information (with 20-30words) of location that has this kind of problem, so that we can include them onto the map. For example:
Queen Pier: The boarding spot of royal family and governor during colonial period, a historical structure that is threaten by demolition due to government refusal to modify the road alignment for 10 meters.
3. If you want to organize activities related to the same theme in the demonstration and assembly, please let us know your plan so that we can help in coordinating.
We would like to implement the idea and culture of direct participation in organizing the rally so as to demonstrate the idea of People’s planning
Below is the rally statement of Local Action.
People’s planning for our Home and our Land – 318 Rally (Destination at Queen Pier)
During colonial period, Hong Kong was regarded as a borrowed space and borrowed time. After the handover in 1997, “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong" remains a political slogan. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in 2003, 2004 to express their aspirations of democratic election, which has not yet been implemented. Worse still, including the distribution of wealth, such as land-use planning and population policies are still inclined to corporate interests. People cannot have a say to the use of their space.
Privatization of public space by consortiums: public housing shopping centers, which were belonged to the Housing Authority (citizen), had been privatized by LINKS; the development West Kowloon has prioritized the interest of corporate; The waterfront of Hong Kong, detached from the living space of ordinary people, has turned into the backyard of private properties or large scale shopping mall, the Central seafront reclamation also falls into the same trap, which is designed as an extension of government head office and the giant Mody Mall.
Cultural and historical heritage has given way to developers: the former Marine Police Headquarters, a historical site, has been developed by Cheung Kong Limited into a fake cultural tourist building, dozen of century-old tree were chopped; Star Ferry were forcibly demolished. If we do not stand up to defend the space, the Queen’s Pier, historical sites of Central College, Nga Tsin Wai Village and other cultural monuments will not be survived through the development thrust.
Neglecting environmental conservation: Our government keeps saying that they care for blue sky; however, the city has more and more wall buildings covering up people’s blue sky and blocking people’s air. Until today, Hong Kong doesn’t have any comprehensive conservation policy; the developers randomly fell down trees in their development projects. Most of the meetings of EIA Committee are closed door, as a result, many projects have ignored public aspiration for environmental protection, for example, LNG terminal’s plan in Soko Island may lead to extinction of dolphins in Hong Kong waters.
Urban renewal sweeps away small businesses and grassroots: Wan Chai, Sham Shui Po, Tai Kok Tsui and Kwun Tong are living spaces for the grassroots. Urban renewal development is sweeping small business, the grassroots and their communities away from the region in large scale; instead, the consortiums, chain stores and expensive residential building moved in. Such development model has destroyed the community networks and urban characteristics and further polarized the rich and the poor by spatial segregation.
Lack of community resources and unequal distribution of resources in new town: the planning in Hong Kong is very centralized. New towns like: Tin Shui Wai, Tung Chung, and etc. do not have enough community infrastructures and supports (including education and health services), which results in serious social problems.
Population and wealth distribution planning: Hong Kong has very poor planning policy towards population development. For example in resolving unemployment problem, the policy does not address the need of the woman population; the housing policy does not address the needs of young people and gay community; the right of abode for the offspring of Hong Kong people has lasted for more that 10 years and not yet been solved, on the other side, the government encourages the importation professionals; There are hundreds of thousands of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong, who do not have space for their activities; On the one hand, the government says we should broaden the tax base, on the other hand, the inheritance tax has been abolished, while the government wants to introduce GPS which targets at ordinary people; while we are confronting population aging, the society don’t have comprehensive public health insurance and retirement protection scheme ……
The civil society has been launching different kinds of campaigns to protect their home and land, the preservation of Star Ferry Pier and Queen Pier are symbolical, they are located at Central, a space occupied by government offices and corporate consortiums; we wish the space can become a site for people to join force, and declare that people have the rights to participate in the planning of our home and land. Universal suffrage is a practice of democracy; we also need to practice direct participation in all kinds of planning issues that affect our life and living space directly. We want and we are practicing democracy now!
Date: 18th March 2007
Time: 14:30 to 18:00
Route: Wanchai South playground to Queen Pier
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