Cantopop star and “unofficial chief executive of Hong Kong” Andy Lau has come under fire from netizens for supporting land reclamation, a stance in stark contradiction to his otherwise environmentally-friendly credentials.
It all began when Our Hong Kong Foundation — a think tank led by the city’s first chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa — posted a video on Tuesday titled “Let the Next Generation See.”
During the three-and-a-half minute-long video, Lau, via voiceover, can be heard throwing his support behind a plan to build a 2,200 hectare artificial island to the east of Lantau Island to tackle Hong Kong’s land supply problem.
“If there’s lots of new land in Hong Kong, we’ll have more space to build public houses and facilities. Regular people do not have to wait so long to improve their lives. The new land will also create new entrepreneurial space, different types of jobs and bring more job opportunities,” he says.
Later on in the video, he adds: “I know when talking about land reclamation, there are many different opinions. But is there really a one hundred percent perfect plan? If we want Hong Kong to move forward, making choices is inevitable. Choose a direction that is best for Hong Kong and go for it.”
The pro-establishment think tank, which unveiled the plans in August, claim the project could house up to 1.1 million people in 250,000 and 400,000 housing units.
Environmental groups, however, have raised concerns that any proposal involving land reclamation would have a serious impact on the environment and marine wildlife.
Shortly after the video was posted online, many Hongkongers took to social media to point out how Lau’s support for the land reclamation project was inconsistent with his role as a conservation ambassador for the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation (OPCFHK).
More than a month ago, Lau was seen fronting OPCFHK’s “no straws campaign”. A Facebook post by the foundation says that Lau has been telling people to look after the environment as far back as 2007.
Lau also penned a song about global warming, which includes lyrics such as: “One winter there will be no snow, and the polar bears will be homeless”, “eskimos will need to queue up for cold air”, and “today, you will go to the office for work, tomorrow it will be a room full of sharks.”
Netizens left comments such as “Oh Andy, you support marine conservation and land reclamation, you’re kidding right?” Others joked that the reclaimed land could be built using all the straws that went unused during the no straw campaign.
Commenters also dismissed the point made by Lau in the video that Hong Kong is running out of space and argued that the problem is more about the unequal distribution of land in Hong Kong.
Others have pointed out that it’s not just Lau that appears confused. At least one person pointed out that although OPCFHK claims to be pro-marine conservation, no one from the organisation or Ocean Park has actively opposed land reclamation.
The debate over land supply comes just days before chief executive Carrie Lam is expected to deliver the government’s solution to ease Hong Kong’s housing crisis and land supply problem in her upcoming policy address.
The government-appointed Taskforce on Land Supply has advanced 18 proposed measures, including land reclamation, to create more space, while other advocates have suggested options including developing brownfield sites — most of which are used by businesses as storage space — turning barges into floating cities, and reclaiming golf courses.