Are the changes in Tseung Kwan O and Hong Kong beneficial?
Since the initiation of the New Town Development Program in 1973, Hong Kong has developed nine new towns, all of which have been designed to manage the increase in population and to prevent over-crowding in urban districts1 - Are the changes in Tseung Kwan O and Hong Kong beneficial? introduction. Hong Kong has undergone an excessive amount of change over the years in order for it to be possible to create new, urban environments. These changes have been both beneficial and detrimental, but the disadvantages undoubtedly outweigh the advantages. This essay will further advance and support my opinion by providing appropriate evidence and reasoning.
Tseung Kwan O is the seventh new town in Hong Kong. It has undergone expeditious development, currently serving as a home to approximately 330, 000 people and is quickly approaching the target population of 480,000 people. The overall development of the area to achieve such a goal has severely impacted our environment. In 1977, Tseung Kwan O had not yet been developed, and was comprised of beautiful mountains, beaches, and clear waters.
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It was not soon before these mountains were destroyed to create flat area for the apartment blocks and the bay was filled with reclaimed land so as to increase the possible living area. The total developmental area is about 1005 hectares (Hong Kong New Town Development). Not only has such modernization destroyed the natural formation of the island and its beauty, but the construction works have significantly worsened the air quality. As time has progressed, vehicular emissions from traffic on open roads and emissions from industrial landfills and chimneys have contributed to this pollution. Economically, the development of new towns such as Tseung Kwan O have probably benefitted the government, but simultaneously cost it.
Despite the fact that they earn a sufficient amount from those that live in the Tseung Kwan O settlements, a lot of money is spent on developing the apartment blocks and the technology industry buildings. By de-centralizing and dispersing the Hong Kong population more widely across the island4, the government is not gaining very much. Simply re-locating the already vast population causes the government to result in spending large amounts of money on issues that do not deserve priority. For example, more care should currently be applied to the environmental disgrace Hong Kong is in, rather than the modernization of yet another new town.
In terms of transport, the recent completion of the new MTR line has enabled faster connections between Hong Kong Island and the new towns5. This however, has encouraged industry, which has then encouraged further development of industrial factories and buildings, which has then led to a higher demand for reclaimed land and space. The decline of the fishing industry in Sai Kung and the disappearance of the intensive farming in Sha Tin have both been because of the development of the surrounding areas. It the local characteristics such as these that define Hong Kong and preserve its historical culture.
The evolution of these towns has lead to the demolishing of ancient culture sites. Nowadays, this concept of preserving culture grows increasingly trivial, and it is the remodeling of a previously undeveloped area that becomes more important. “The target at the commencement of the New Town Development Programme was to provide housing for 1. 8 million people in the first three new towns, namely, Tsueng Wan, Sha Tin and Tuen Mun. ” (Hong Kong New Towns).
This goal was quickly achieved, based on the concept that a new town was to provide a balanced, self-contained community as far as possible in terms of infrastructure. It is to be expected that the government would be keen on providing cheap housing for the victims of the Shek Kip Mei Fire and the residents of squatter settlements. This then benefits and looks after the less fortunate in the Hong Kong community. Eventually the numbers of those in need increased, until new towns were housing more than one quarter of Hong Kong’s population. 7 The construction of yet another generation of new towns soon followed, Tseung Kwan O, Tin Shui Wai and Fan Ling, doubling the stress that the previous generation had put on the environment and culture.
Therefore, in summary, it is evident that the government’s policy of establishing new towns in order to absorb Hong Kong’s inevitable urbanization has achieved its core near term social objectives. This said, the toll such rapid urbanization has taken on the environment is not trivial and needs to be considered in the overall measure of success. It is arguable that environmental degradation of such magnitude has created significant long term negative social impact.