Last month, the Executive Council approved the construction of the third runway system in theHong Kong international airport (hereinafter referred to as ‘The Third Runway’), they also approved of the fundraising plan purported by the Airport Authority, which seeks to fund the $HK141.5 Billion construction fee through a private fundraising campaign.
However, the Third Runway’ astronomical cost brings with it enormous societal impact, and the plan should have followed well documented approval procedures: where the plan is announced and endures a long period of public inquiry, when enough public support have been garnered, it should have been scrutinised and voted by the Legco.
However, none of these procedural check and balanced havevbeen honoured, the Airport Authority have sidestepped the oversight of Legco and its intention is apparent, to ensure that the purported plan goes ahead in a timely manner. We maintain that such blatant disregard of the HK political system is unreasonable and unjustified. All organisations included in this petition letter hold in unison that the Legco should value their opportunity to scrutinise the request for additional staffing for the ‘airport expansion preparatory office’, and make an explicit request to the Airport Authority to handover their fundraising plan to the Legco for public scrutiny.
The fundraising plan purported by the Airport Authority can be subsumed in three main points: 1) the government will waive the dividends owed to it by the Airport Authority (a fully owned subsidiary of the HKSAR government) depriving the treasury of HK$47.2 Billion;
- Levy a HK$180 surcharge termed “airport expansion fees” on passengers and airlines
Borrow from financial institutions. On the surface, the purported plan does not cost the public any money, however, this is a misconception. First, the plan deprives the treasury from a legitimate income source, secondly, it is effectively levying departure taxes on all passengers; thirdly the HKSAR government must act as guarantors for any loans borrowed by the Airport Authority, and if there is any delays or default in payment, it is the public who will be footing the bill. We have illustrated that the above plan will beindirectly tapping into public funding, not only has it not been subjected to public inquiry and scrutiny, it has also sidestepped the oversight of the Legco, inadvertently raising the question of whether it has any conflict with the Basic law.
The Third Runway is the most expensive infrastructure project in HK’s history, but its economic benefit is questionable, and the government has yet to release any document that illustrates the cost to benefit ratio and its profit model. Additionally, the viability of The Third Runway hinges on close cooperation with Shenzhen’s airspace, and so far the government have only spoke of preliminary negotiations in 2007, the details of which could not be disclosed to the public for ‘commercial reasons’.
The government is expecting the Hong Kong people to comply with its decision based on little evidence and public debate for the construction that involves such a huge reclamation project, such enormous spending of public resources. This is inherently unfair and unjust.
The Third Runway construction will have enormous environmental impact, and environmental organisations have already applied for judicial review against the government. The construction viability and profitability are both called into question, but the Airport Authority have not given a satisfactory reply to the public.
Organisations partaking in this petition request all Legco members to value this opportunity to scrutinise the request for additional staffing for the‘airport expansion preparatory office and make an explicit request to the Airport Authority to handover their fundraising plan to the Legco for public scrutiny and approval; and to disclose the contents regarding the 2007 agreement made between HK and Shenzhen regarding the control of airspace between the two cities.
If the government fail to provide satisfactory answers regarding the sharing of airspace and proposed economic benefits of The Third Runway, the Legco should vote down the request for additional staffing for the ‘airport expansion preparatory office.
Participating organisations :People’s Aviation WatchCivil Anti 3rd RunwayIgnite Your BeliefUmbrella ParentsDefense of HK FreedomProgressive Teachers’ Alliance