George Ng Sze Fuk has been Chairman of the Sai Kung District Council for 21 years. SAI KUNG BUZZ asked does he hope to stay in the influential post beyond the next election. We also wanted to know what does he see as the main accomplishments during his decade or more in power and what were the disappointments.
The Sai Kung Council is controlled by the pro-Beijing DAB, so we asked him is this really a good thing.
Chairman George’s answers follow. First a little about him. He says he is sixth generation Sai Kung descended from fisher folk. He attended public school here as a child. Ask him what he is most proud of and he says founding the Lee Shui Wam Memorial School. It merged five village primary schools and now educates 300 youngsters from 26 countries. George ran a large garment factory in Guangdong for 38 years growing it to 4000 staff.
Costs got too high and last year he closed it down. Family investments include the Michelin-starred Sing Kee Seafood and Loaf On restaurants (see separate story). The building shortly to be constructed across the alleyway from Steamers is Ng family owned. George said they have not decided what to operate in it once it’s constructed.
Describing Sai Kung, George comes out with a nice quote: “There is a warmth and simplicity here that you don’t find in the city.” (Sai Kung Magazine.) George looks fit for his age, 67, and has a ready smile.
Is he going to stay on as Sai Kung Chairman for a third term? George is cagey, saying only that he hasn’t decided even whether to run for a council seat.
The answers below, however, suggest he does intend to stay in power.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE MAIN ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE COUNCIL DURING HIS 11 YEARS AS CHAIRMAN?
He says they have fought for the improvement of Hiram’s Highway to relieve traffic congestion for 20 years. This year they got substantial progress. Stage 1, between Clearwater Bay Road and Pak Wai, is anticipated to be commenced in the third quarter this year and finished by the end of 2020. After that, the Stage 1 section with be widened to four lanes.
The Council pushed the Government to establish the Geopark. In 2009 it became a National Geopark and in 2011 a member of the Global Geoparks Network. This has protected the geosites and popularised earth science.
ARTS AND CULTURE
Given more funds since the 2013 Chief Executive Policy address, the Council has organised a range of arts and culturalactivities. Some are new to the community: Chinese orchestra, opera and jazz concerts.
Tseung Kwan O sports ground, opened in 2009, was built to international standards on the advice of the local Council. Its the first venue suitable for international athletics competitions in Hongkong. The Velodrome was opened last year. It hosts high-level track-cycling competitions and is the home of the Hong Kong Cycling Team.
IF HE CARRIES ON AS COUNCIL LEADER, WHAT DOES HE HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH?
He says he will consult the public over the Stage 2 improvement of Hiram’s Highway between Pak Wai and Sha Ha and push for it to be built.
Residents of TKO have many complaints about landfills. Dust covers buildings, roads and trees. Construction waste is dropped on the roads. They will urge the Government to solve the problems.
ARTS AND CULTURE
George says he wants to establish a Sai Kung History and Cultural Museum to tell our history and promote the culture. The big challenges are money and the location.
Development is planned for a sports centre in Area 4, Sai Kung, the Wai Man Road playground, and the tennis and squash courts. The Council endorsed this two years ago and continues to push for them. The sports centre will be a multi-purpose area with spectator seating for 1400, activity room, tennis and squash courts, playroom, fitness room and ancillary facilities.
There will be a new town plaza with landscaped garden and piazza. Also to be built is a playground with artificial turf and hard surface pitches, a basketball court and fitness equipment.
IN 21 YEARS ON THE COUNCIL, WHAT IS GEORGE DISAPPOINTED ABOUT NOT ACCOMPLISHING?
Inability to solve the traffic and parking problems. We have developed from an old town without any official town planning strategy. There are not enough road and transport facilities and improvement is difficult because of the shortage of suitable land.
ARTS AND CULTURE
He is unhappy about not being able to develop a civic centre suitable for professional arts performances in TKO. George says TKO needs this sort of facility but the Government won’t agree, saying Kowloon East Cultural Centre will suffice.
THE DAB (GEORGE IS A MEMBER) HAS CONTROL OF THE COUNCIL: IS THIS A GOOD THING?
George replies that he doesn’t think DAB controls the Council. There are 29 members, of which eight are DAB affiliated. As Chairman he doesn’t vote unless there’s a tie. All the councilors are of different backgrounds, but they work together for the betterment of the community, he insists.
HOW DOES GEORGE MANAGE HIS LIFE SITTING ON SO MANY BOARDS, COMMITTEES AND COUNCILS?
George said he has not been a board member of Parks, Town Planning, Prisoners and ICAC for many years. As a member of Heung Yee Kuk, “I urge them to persuade the Government to allocate funds for the improvement of rural Sai Kung.”
DOES GEORGE BELIEVE THE GOVERNMENT WILL LOP OFF CHUNKS OF COUNTRY PARKS FOR DEVELOPMENT?
“It is difficult to make big developments in country parks because of lack of infrastructure. So I don’t think it will happen in the near future.”
“The Government is seeking new ways to get land for development. But I think country parks will be the Government’s last resource if there is no alternative.”
“We have to achieve a balance. Hong Kong people should determine what is essential to their well-being. It is give and take. If a piece of land is peripheral in country parks and of low or no ecological value, it is worth considering its ultimate use. But I do not believe the Government will kill off our country parks.”