Urban renewal policy in Hong Kong : an analysis of its formulation and implementation
The Land Development Corporation (LDC) has become the leading urban renewal agent and one of the major instruments of the urban renewal policy in Hong Kong. The LDC is an independent statutory body operating in accordance with prudent commercial principles. The LDC carries out the urban renewal projects with much more power than other private developers. They have great autonomy to plan, implement and redevelop their projects. Their policies and actions of the LDC directly affected the livelihood of the residents and also the general public in important ways.
However, the operation of the LDC had been criticized by academics, pressure groups, affected residents and the media for being closed-door operating, back-door politics, lack of transparency and lack of public participation and consultation. If these kinds of public corporations having great autonomy and their authority cannot be monitored properly by the public, the interest of the public can be endangered.
This study aims at examining the degree of the public accountability of the LDC as a public corporation and the implication of the public accountability towards the residents within their project areas and the general public. It bases on the experience of the tenants in the case of the Tsuen Wan Central Project to review the operation of the LDC.
The concepts of public interest and public good are paramount important in the case of public corporations. There should be limits for the corporations to maximize their profits at the expense of social interests to fulfill the social purpose (Batra 1993). Public accountability can take in three forms 1) to members of the public directly, either as individuals or as community 2) to agencies such as the Ombudsman or Parliament 3) to
official superiors and peers (Finn 1993).
The direct influence of the public, the representation of the managing boards, the openness of the public corporations and the authority of the external agencies such as Ombudsman, Legislative Council all affect the public accountability of the public corporations.
The experience of the Tsuen Wan Central Project clearly shows that the public accountability of the LDC is even worse than governmental departments. There is no guideline in the corporation on regards the access of information. The public found it difficult to seek information and difficult to make complaints. It is not accountable to the legislators.
The LDC regards the urban renewal projects merely as a kind of economic activity to redevelop the old urban areas into high-rises and profitable buildings. It neglects the social implication onto the community and the society as a whole. The public accountability of the corporation is essential to provide a checks and balances mechanism to protect the public interest.
Under the prevailing social climate in Hong Kong, there is increasing demand for the openness of the government and the empowering of the people's right. The government must incorporate more elements of public accountability in the urban renewal policies, especially in the LDC and the new Urban Renewal Authority, so as to improve the implementation of the policies and the livelihood of the people.
School:The University of Hong Kong
School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:urban renewal government policy china hong kong corporations evaluation case studies land development corporation town planning tsuen wan
Date of Publication:01/01/1999