Date: June 24th 2004
Location: Mott Connell Ltd., 40th floor, Hopewell Centre
Attendees: Hosting Groups
Mott Connell Ltd. (MCL) K.M. Yeung
Anne F. Kerr
Civil Engineering Department (CED) W.Y. Tang
Security Bureau (SB) Charles Wong
Correctional Services Dept. (CSD) W.W. Cheuk
Planning Department (PD) W.S. Lau
Kadoorie Farm Wong Lun Cheong
Green Power Cheng Luk Ki Woo Lai Yan Karen
Save Lamma Campaign (SL) Cecilia Chu
WWF Hong Kong (WWF) Clarus Chu
Points Addressed in the Meeting:
1. All attendees agreed that MCL would provide detailed minutes
identification of the points raised by each group in this
meeting. In addition, each invited group will later submit
a separate document outlining their group’s position
on the prison proposal.
2. SL questioned the extent to which the stakeholders’
concerns raised in the 1st consultation round had been addressed.
CED said MCL had noted down in detail all the concerns by
each group, and that these concerns were adequately addressed
in the blue consultation document handed out in this meeting.
Green Power and WWF pointed out that the summery of concerns
in the blue document, which were extremely brief, did not
reflect any of the specific points they had raised in the
1st consultation. Also they had never received any minutes
from MCL. MCL said they will go back and check their records.
3. Members of the invited groups queried the percentage of
opposition in the first round of consultation. CSD and CED
both said they had not worked out the percentage number.
4. CSD went on to explain that MCL would produce a detailed
booklet documenting all the issues discussed in each meeting
in each round of consultation. But when asked whether this
can be made accessible to the public, CSD said they were not
sure because consent would need to be sought from individual
5. All the four invited groups made clear that the content
of today’s discussion can be disclosed and be made accessible
to the public.
6. CED restated that the scope of the Feasibility Study (FS)
is to examine the “technical aspects” in regards
to selecting a preferred land formation for the prison on
Hei Ling Chau. Other issues, such as site selection process
and policy matter are considered to be “non-technical”
issues and are therefore not part of the study. However, they
agreed try to provide answers for some of these issues in
7. WWF asked if the government will continue to press the
projects ahead if there is over 50% opposition. CED did not
say yes or no, but said they are still at the preliminary
study stage, and that all opposite views will be considered
before the Financial Committee makes a final decision.
8. SL said pointed out the key problem lies on that Hei Ling
Chau was a “given” from the beginning in the 1st
consultation and there is no public debate on the site selection
process. CSD stated these issues had actually been debated
in at length in Legco since 2000, which they consider to be
a public forum. PD added that the details of the debate were
available on the web. SL stressed that one of the core issues
of dissatisfaction in Hong Kong is that plans are only presented
to the community at the last stages when almost all the important
decisions have already been made. The Hei Ling Chau prison
could be seen as an almost paradigmatic case having emerged
after years of internal government processing and only brought
to the community to discuss whether the reclamation should
be a “square” or “rectangle” shape.
It is therefore not surprising that consulted groups only
want to talk about the “non-technical” issues
concerning the justification of the prison itself.
9. SL queried SB on the forecast of prison population and
whether they had anticipated an “ideal” population.
SB said the ideal number is 20000. But the proposal was voted
down in Legco. SL also wanted to know if it is correct that
the Super Prison will come on line in 2013, but only meet
anticipated needs till 2015, which was confirmed. SB explained
that over-population was the norm and might be necessary again
in the future.
10. Invited groups queried how the site search was first
conducted. PD said typically all the sites were first identified
by PD with consultation from other departments. However, PD
also acknowledges that some sites were proposed without consultation.
Invited groups queried as to the level of detail that went
into the analysis of need for the super prison and into the
choice of Hei Ling Chau from among the five “finalist”
site options. Stated that “Information Booklet”
which is supposed to justify choice has almost no information
besides reiterating that Hei Ling Chau is the right option.
PD said that they would provide more detailed information
on the process of choosing a site.
11. SL asked whether the existing prisons could be upgraded
and expanded to increase accommodation for more prisons. SB
stated they have already tried their best to do so. But there
are constraints to most sites, such as requirement of substantial
land formation work. Some other sites are adjacent to private
land which would require costly and complicated land resumption.
12. PD said the possibilities of refurbishment and expansion
were debated in Legco. One major constraint is that most prisons
were adjacent to country parks and its expansion will pose
problems. PD and CS also said the details of the Legco debate
is transparent and can be found on the government website
according to the following dates:
Dec 7, 2000 Security Panel
Jun 7, 2001
Feb 7, 2002
July 9, 2002 Planning Land and Works Panel
Feb 26, 2003 Public Work Subcommittee
May 16, 2003 Legco Finance Committee
Aug 12, 2002 Island District Council
Jun 9, 2003 Island District Council
13. SL questioned the impacts of the HLC development on Lantau
which has been designated as a conservation zone and targeted
area for tourism development. PD said it was true that the
area was in a coastal protection area for the S.W. New Territories,
but that none of the proposed sites would be problem free.
14. PD explained that during the Legco debate the originally
proposed 144 hectares prison development was scaled down to
80 hectares. But it is still impossible to find a perfect
site with no impacts in Hong Kong. They agreed that a land-based
option would be preferable, but the options are lacking. PD
then briefly explained the constraints of each site. The large
empty Firing Range area was considered to be too rugged and
had substantial explosives to be cleared. The Yuen Long Plain
had too much private land. Lin Ma Hang had and Kong Nga Po
is considered to have significant economic development potential
as a frontier area. Tung Lung Chau was considred to have too
high conservation value.
15. PD went on to reinstate that the eventual selection of
HLC is a balanced decision based on comparing the territorial
development potential of each of the 5 sites. PD also said
this is not to say HLC has no value, but after comparing with
the value and potential of other sites such as eco-tourism
it is still considered to be the “most suitable choice.”
16. Invited groups further questioned the potentials of frontier
area -- SB explained that there are not that much developable
land available – and certain land need to be retained
as a buffer zone. GP stated that the area already contains
low priority structures – why should they be there while
the prison cannot?
17. SL stated much of the constraints in planning stems from
the fact that 80 hectares is taken as a given. If the prison
where somewhat smaller it would open many more possibilities
for location. SL questioned the method by which the prisons
to be located were chosen. It seems rather arbitrary that
ALL of the institutions on HK Island and Kowloon must be moved,
while the NT ones are ok. SL asserted that it must be possible
to rank the institutions in terms of the ones most in need
of upgrade / expansion. If so, it would seem that relocating
the seven or eight highest priority institutions would gain
most of the economies of scale, and that the return on investment
money would be higher than the current proposal. In addition,
having a large but less massive prison would mean that there
would be many more suitable sites and no need for large scale
reclamation, bridge building, etc.. The government representatives
had no reply to these points.
18. SL further stated that despite the SB’s earlier
statements about the inability to expand existing institutions,
the current facilities on Hei Ling Chau and also on Lantau
appear to be surrounded by abundant empty space and that putting
a “large” rather than “super” prison
at these or other sites seemed quite feasible.
19. SL queried how the 12 billion estimates for this project
was determined and whether there is detailed research and
analysis on the costs. SB said this will be part of the work
of the Stage 2 feasibility study. SL then asked whether the
cost and size of the project had any likely bands. SB said
that the 80 hectares was considered a minimum for the requirements
while the costs were still a rough estimate.
20. SB went on to explain the benefits of co-location -- economies
of scale (8 prisons will be relocated – save manpower
-- about 400 staff would be reduced compared to what would
normally be needed given the institution size. SB explained
that all five of the existing remand facilities would be grouped
together, but SL pointed out that even if an argument existed
for grouping these together there is no reason why they couldn’t
be in their own facility rather than all together with the
21. SL pointed out organization problem of the proposed arrangement.
Although there are many large prisons around the world the
Hei Ling Chau proposal is actually just for a large land area
in which the existing 15 prisons would be relocated with each
maintaining their separate identity and administration. If
efficiency is supposed to be the driver of this project then
how is it that administrative and organizational efficiencies
are not part of it? The SB replied that they would share certain
facilities such as canteens, recreational areas, etc. SL responded
that this is only a small part of the potential gains and
that it seems quite bizarre that all these prisons would continue
to be run separately as it undercuts the whole alleged rationale
for the project.
22. The invited groups also questioned the real operational
savings of the prison.
23. When asked whether the government would still consider
other potential sites other than those already identified,
PD said they welcome any proposals that are problem free.
SL said the issue is not about providing “a problem-free
solution” (which is impossible). It should be about
enabling a more transparent and flexible process. SL questioned
why the 5 remand facilities had to be grouped with the 10
prisons – if a prioritization of highest return of investment
co-locations were made then the site choosing process would
be a very different exercise.
24. PD said LIM (The Living Islands Movements) had proposed
Pak Nai as an alternative site. But PD considered it not suitable
because of its location in an ecologically sensitive area
which is also full of explosives. Furthermore, the land is
too narrow for development.
25. SL queried what is considered to be “narrow.”
Again it seems the issue is that the 80 hectares prison is
26. Kadoorie Farm pointed out that in the Planning Study HK2030,
Kong Nga Po is not on the top agenda for development. But
PD said in fact it will be a major development area. But the
invited groups were not convinced that putting the prison
in or close to the frontier areas would really stand in the
way of this development. They also asked for more detailed
comparisons of this site and Hing Ling Chau.
(MCL then presented a power point presentation their preferred
option of land formation at HLC)
27. SL expressed concerns for lighting at night on the prison
– MCL said directional lighting and other mitigation
measures will be studied.
28. WWS queried what the basis was for this land formation
– quantitative assessment? MCL said its assessment is
based on desktop research. CED stated that more detailed research
will be conducted in the stage 2 study.
29. SL asked that if any further study earmark money for
the re-examination of other prison configurations and sites.
30. The four invited groups re-iterated their views that
the problem with this whole project was that the process lacked
transparency and legitimacy. This put the government, the
consultants, and the community into a needlessly adversarial
role. All groups officially confirmed their opposition to
the project and that they were not endorsing any land formation
options as they were beside the point.
31. It was confirmed that MCL would provide detailed minutes
of the meeting within two to three weeks and distribute them
to the attended groups for comment.