Hong Kong will build homes on artificial islands near Lantau to tackle housing crisis: Carrie Lam

A section of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HKZMB) is seen from Lantau island in Hong Kong. PHOTO: AFP
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the government will build new communities on artificial islands around Lantau, the largest outlying island in Hong Kong. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

HONG KONG - Hong Kong will build homes on artificial islands to tackle what the city's leader calls the greatest challenge for her 15-month-old administration.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the city's government will build new communities on artificial islands to the east of Lantau, the largest outlying island in Hong Kong, and off other coastal areas such as Tuen Mun and Lung Kwu Tan.

The artificial islands will have a total area of about 1,700ha and will provide between 260,000 and 400,000 homes to 700,000 to 1.1 million people.

Mrs Lam said 70 per cent of the homes will be public housing.

The so-called Lantau Tomorrow Vision will involve brand new transport networks and environmental protection strategies, Mrs Lam said in a televised policy speech that laid out policy priorities for the coming year.

The plan also aims to create 34,000 jobs in the next two to three decades.

Lantau island, home to the Hong Kong International Airport, is also a top tourist destination, with attractions like the sitting Big Buddha statue.

Mrs Lam said the commissioning of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which reports said is slated for opening at the end of this month, will further improve transport connectivity between Hong Kong and other cities in the Greater Bay Area.

In Mrs Lam's second policy address since she was sworn in as Hong Kong's first female Chief Executive in July last year, housing and land supply was given much prominence - with an entire chapter devoted to these two issues and placed before the chapters on economy and people's livelihoods.

The purpose, according to Mrs Lam, is to demonstrate clearly that the shortage of land supply not only directly led to a shortage of housing supply, but also affects people's quality of life.

Mrs Lam, who came under fire last week after Hong Kong denied a work visa renewal for a British journalist working for the Financial Times, said the city's government would not tolerate acts that advocate Hong Kong's independence and threaten China's sovereignty.

Chanting "Protect media freedoms" and holding placards that said "Free Press. Not Persecution", more than a dozen pro-democracy lawmakers staged a walkout from the city's legislative council before Mrs Lam started giving her speech at around 11am.

Mrs Lam also announced that her government is extending maternity leave to 14 weeks for its employees.

In a surprise reversal, Hong Kong will impose a ban on e-cigarettes, joining at least 27 other places that have banned the smokeless devices.

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