The pile of toxic mud that would not die

After mulling it over, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam will, according to the chatter, ‘announce’ her ‘candidacy’ in the March ‘election’ for Hong Kong Chief Executive next week. The Chinese Communist Party’s local zombies will be under instructions to remain non-committal for a time, while Beijing waits in case any skeletons are found – or need to be found – in her closet/illegal basement. And not long ago the lady seemed genuinely intent on retirement in sunny England. It would be fascinating to know what Leninist charm-tactics persuaded her to change her mind.

Meanwhile – she has signed this deal on the Lok Ma Chau Loop.

Our Peng Chau correspondent has thoughtfully dusted off the (surprisingly exhaustive) archives going back to late Oct 2005

…and continuing into Aug 2007 (perhaps especially recommended), Oct 2007 (starring Regina Ip), early March 2008 (highlight on Shenzhen’s agenda), late March 2008 (Henry Tang) and Nov 2008 (Henry fobs off Shenzhen rabble). Yes, the Lok Ma Chau Loop Shenzhen Cooperation Tech Hub-Zone has a past.

(It has never gone away. Those well-known Friends of the New Territories at Arup were concocting some Low-Carbon High-BS Strategic Development Strategy up there recently.)

What has changed in the last decade?

First, it seems ownership has now been officially transferred to Hong Kong, no doubt by order of Beijing. Pure nasty conjecture: this might have involved confiscation from one of the old Shenzhen mayors or deputy mayors who were imprisoned over the years for selling municipal promotions. Either way, following the necessary arm-twisting it seems ‘Shenzhen’ in some form or other still insists on being involved in the land within Hong Kong jurisdiction. This is a/the key point.

Second, the Hong Kong side has apparently changed its tune. Ten years ago our officials were humouring their Shenzhen counterparts but had little intention of agreeing to the Mainlanders’ obsessive pleas for ‘cooperation’ and ‘partnership’ on Lok Ma Chau.

Third, the pile of dredged-up toxic mud has somehow become fit for humans to develop and occupy.

What has not changed?

First, the notion that this piece of land must be some sort of ‘tech’ or whatever hub, when sprawling Shenzhen easily accommodates thousands of start-ups, the Pearl River Delta is full of other such designated districts, and Hong Kong is supposedly short of space for housing, elderly homes, playgrounds, even apparently dog charities.

(More broadly, we see the continued bureaucratic mentality that a patch of real estate plus a big construction budget can bring into being human talent and inventiveness. Or, alternatively, can serve as a disguise for a luxury housing development for a favoured family, a la Cyberport, or as a way to uplift surrounding land values – on both sides of the border – after the Hong Kong taxpayer puts all the roads, sewers, power lines in.)

Second – and this is the most interesting recurring theme – the Shenzhen side still has a curious deep-rooted interest in Lok Ma Chau as a venue for cross-border movement of (at least some) people and money

There could be an innocent-ish explanation for this. As we see with its Qianhai Professional Modern Services International Cooperation Hub-Zone Complex, Shenzhen would love a slice of Hong Kong’s low-tax convertible-currency free-for-all money-grabbing action. Who wouldn’t? Beijing would also no doubt like to encourage more ‘integration’ (merging, absorption, profit-reallocation, etc) across the border. (By ‘innocent-ish’ here, we mean in accord with Chinese government policy rather than with private criminal aims.)

Then again, the Shenzhen officials seem to be in a surprising hurry to get the Arsenic Swamp City Science Tech Zone-Hub Park up and running, right now, ASAP, gimme gimme gimme. And the area is very conveniently located near the Shenzhen government headquarters.

And the murk goes on. The Hong Kong side’s estimated time-scale of some seven or so years suggests that our bureaucrats foresee some potential for unforeseen difficulties as they ‘move forward’ possibly without getting anywhere. Maybe, after the Palace Museum supplicant’s kowtow, Carrie just needs to give some quick face to ‘Shenzhen-integration’ to be absolutely sure of moving into Government House.

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12 Responses to The pile of toxic mud that would not die

  1. Big Al says:

    Suggest we stick the Palace Museum in the Lok Ma Chau Swamp, stick the tech hub/luxury housing development (that’s original!) somewhere else (preferably in Shenzhen) and let the West Kowloon Cultural District settle back to whatever it was supposed to be before we were “gifted” the Palace Museum. By the way, did anyone actually ask for the Palace Museum? I don’t recall being asked if we wanted Chinese cultural icons … If I had been asked, I would have preferred a Great Wall to a Palace Museum, as this could be put to good use … in the Lok Ma Chau toxic swamp.

  2. mjrelje says:

    well if bitch from hell Carrie does get in, at least it will seem that we are being run from London again as she racks up countless $millions in first class travel commuting between her home in UK and offices in Peking and Hong Kong .

  3. Old Newcomer says:

    Instead of the Palace Museum (or even as well as), let’s make part of the WKCD into a Museum of Cantonese Culture. So far as I can Google, there isn’t one anywhere in the world at present. Tell Beijing it’s helping Hongkongers to appreciate their deep Chinese roots.

  4. Joe Blow says:

    I am trying to imagine Carrie Lam having sex.

  5. Old Newcomer says:

    @Joe Blow – why?

  6. Red Dragon says:

    Joe Blow,

    I feel ill. You have ruined my day.

  7. Reader says:

    Yet again the S*MP offers up a loaded question as its ‘poll’:
    Is seven years too long to wait for the Lok Ma Chau Loop tech park?
    From a year or two ago, this feature of the ‘newspaper’ – which may run for days – surreptitiously slips into our minds the notion that there are only two possible viewpoints on a given issue – both of which amazingly assume whatever the HK/China governments currently want.
    Vainly one searches for ‘We don’t want the Lok Ma Chau Loop tech park’ as an option.

  8. Joe Blow says:

    @Old New: I want to know if she is a filthy slut who talks dirty, or…..does she tell her fella not to mess up her coiffure ? Is she a sweetheart of the rodeo who likes to ‘ride the bull’ or does she tell him: “10 minutes because I have a 9 AM departmental meeting” ?

    Y’know, those things.

  9. oldgit says:

    This idea has been around since the 1980s when I can remember the promo by a second-ranking property developer by the name of Lo. He put a value of HKD140 million on the titles which, he claimed, were under lease from the Governor. He had a gweilo ex-Civil Service policeman on his payroll.

  10. LRE says:

    @Joe Blow
    Given what passes as her idea of consensual government and public consultation, in the wake of the secret museum that no one wanted, she’s probably a rapist.
    Carrie Lam? More like Roofie Lam…

    (See also picture above: “don’t let excuses get in the way.”)

  11. Laguna Lurker says:

    Expert advice should have been sought at least a decade ago on the detoxification of the “arsenic swamp” of the Lok Ma Chau Loop. There are well-established technologies for mycoremediation (use of fungi) to sequester heavy metals and hydrocarbons.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26348882/

    http://www.fungi.com/blog/items/the-petroleum-problem.html

    But of course, no one in the HK administration would have had the initiative to do any relevant research.

  12. Knownot says:

    Joe Blow – “I am trying to imagine Carrie Lam having sex.”

    Imagine this: the highly-fancied Carrie Lam, wearing blinkers, being ridden by Ronald Arculli.

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