Town Planning Review

World-city formation under an executive-led government: The politics of harbour reclamation in Hong Kong

Town Planning Review (2006), 77, (3), 311–337.

Abstract

Controversies over Central Harbour reclamation have beset Hong Kong for over a decade. Recent efforts in Central Harbour reclamation by the executive-led government to provide more land for economic and infrastructure development to boost Hong Kong's status as Asia's world city have met strong objections from different sectors of the population as they demand zero or minimum reclamation, greater accessibility to the waterfront and better quality of life for all. The unfolding of the case reveals that because of the entrenched institutional set up and resource allocation mechanisms in the administration, the power play between the two contending rationalities (for and against harbour reclamation) tilts in favour of the government, despite the fact that the business sector is collectively opposed to further reclamation and local organisations have proactively sought alternative ways of re-imagining the harbourfront. The case allows for a contextual analysis of the politics of world-city formation in a mode of governance dominated by an executive-led government and its dynamic relationships with a fledgling political community 'attempting' to 'reclaim' their rights in city building and place making.

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Ng, Mee Kam