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Speech by SDEV at MIPIM Asia Luncheon (English only) (with photo)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, at MIPIM Asia 2012 Luncheon today (November 9):

Mr Chupot, Mr Rean, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us for lunch. It is my pleasure to join you for the seventh MIPIM Asia held in Hong Kong. This year, the event has attracted more than 2,000 participants. I wish to express my warm gratitude to Mr Zilk and Reed Midem for organising this marvelous event.

     MIPIM Asia provides an excellent platform for exhibitors to showcase the region's hottest real estate projects. This year, with the new three-in-one format (two summits and one expo), MIPIM Asia brings together professionals from three of Asia's key industries, namely investment, retail and real estate.

     As hosts we wish to re-emphasise an initiative that we feel very proud of - Energizing Kowloon East. Last year, my predecessor Mrs Carrie Lam introduced this initiative. One year on we now have a dedicated office, the Energizing Kowloon East Office (EKEO) to steer, oversee and monitor the area's development. It will facilitate its transformation into another premier CBD of Hong Kong to support our economic growth and strengthen our global competitiveness. It's the HKSAR Government's intention to make Kowloon East Hong Kong's CBD2, a place where people would like to work, to do business, to walk, to stay and to play.

     To facilitate the transformation of this former industrial area into another Hong Kong CBD, it is important that the infrastructural works and facilities are well-designed and relate well to the overall context, planning and urban design intentions for Kowloon East. "Connectivity", "Branding", "Design" and "Diversity" are the four main planning elements adopted for Kowloon East. From this, the conceptual master plan, a living and evolving document enriched and refined by suggestions made during the on-going public engagement process, 10 main tasks have taken shape to help energize Kowloon East. These 10 tasks can be broken down into three key groups, namely "Enhance Connectivity", "Improve Environment" and "Release Development Potential".

     To "Enhance Connectivity", we will look at connections within Kowloon East and linkages between Kowloon East and its neighbouring areas. We have received suggestions for the construction of an "EFLS", which stands for "Environmentally Friendly Linkage System", a monorail system which is proposed to run across the old Kai Tak Runway from Kowloon Bay MTR station to Kwun Tong MTR station. We will also enhance pedestrian connectivity and the local streetscape, eventually providing a "walkable", "stayable" and "sittable" enhanced pedestrian environment in Kowloon East.

     To "Improve Environment", there are various areas that we will rejuvenate. For example, giving the waterfront along Hoi Bun Road a face lift to add vibrancy. I once heard a comment from an overseas friend that "the view from Kwun Tong Waterfront is worth a million dollars, but at the moment only a few people are using it". We will change this! The Kwun Tong Promenade Stage 1 has already been completed and Stage 2 will commence early next year with completion scheduled for the end of 2014. For the body of water between Kwun Tong waterfront and the old Kai Tak Runway, we are exploring options including boat racing, marina facilities and so forth to make full use of this prime resource.  

     At the heart of Kwun Tong is Kwun Tong's "central park" - Tsun Yip Street Playground. We will soon be giving it a face lift and making it into the first Industrial Heritage Park in Hong Kong. It will be an industrial heritage-themed open air museum with plenty of urban greening and industrial art installations.

     To "Release Development Potential", we have two Action Areas, one at Kowloon Bay and the other at Kwun Tong. We will carry out planning studies on different development options to bring vibrancy to these areas. Together, these two action areas have the potential for about 600,000 square metres of commercial space.

     While those tasks are in the making, we have some priority projects in the pipeline. Just two weeks ago, I joined the Opening Ceremony of a Place Making Event, "Playful Thursday" at Tsun Yip Street Playground. This is a weekly Thursday carnival with over 20 booths selling organic produce, live band performances, and workshops during lunch time and in the evening.  

     One of the aims of this "place making event" is to change people's perception and usage of public spaces in Kwun Tong. This event will run every Thursday until January 10 next year, so please support us by dropping in for a visit at Tsun Yip Street Playground. They also serve coffee there.

     In January next year, we will commence the "Fly the Flyover Operation", where we will turn a pocket of unused space under the Kwun Tong Bypass into an informal venue for arts and cultural events. Kowloon East is an "incubator area" for local artists. In the urban regeneration process, we will provide a platform for local artists to showcase their work to the community. We will launch this Operation with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department's "Youth Band Marathon" on January 20 with some 40 local bands and dance groups performing. On January 26, the "Make a Difference (MaD) Forum 2013" will be holding its "Night City Challenge in Kowloon East", where over 300 teenagers, local and overseas, will take part in a city orienteering event in Kowloon East. The final event will be a live bands concert at this informal venue. Later, in April, we will have the Response Exhibition for the Venice Biennale, which will also focus on Kowloon East this year.  

     Unlike conventional urban planning projects in Hong Kong which are led by infrastructural works, Energizing Kowloon East uses a new place making strategy to facilitate urban transformation using active dialogue and engagement with the community to create an urban environment that will benefit all stakeholders. For the rest of 2013 and beyond, there will be more place making activities and events to come! There will be many more opportunities for young artists to showcase their talents.

     Due to Kowloon East's rich industrial heritage, we plan to carry out an industrial heritage study and engage an integrated team of historians, architects, planners, urban designers and public arts experts to research the area and record the history of the factories and workers in Kowloon East. One option that we are considering is an industrial heritage trail in Kowloon East to showcase our industrial past and the legacy of "MADE IN HONG KONG" items, such as toys, thermal flasks, garments and textiles, radios, cameras, plastic buckets and chairs, red-white-blue recycle bags, paints and more. The study will help transform the existing heritage into our revitalised CBD2.

     Ladies and gentlemen, Energizing Kowloon East is an important policy initiative to help strengthen the economic position of Hong Kong and its global competitiveness in the long term. Hong Kong's CBD2 will be a place of rich diversity, business opportunities, new jobs and interesting activities. I take this opportunity to invite you all to visit our exhibition booth and see for yourself in detail our CBD2 initiatives alongside the Urban Renewal Authority's work and the new Cruise Terminal project.

     Walt Disney once said, "All our dreams can come true - if we have the courage to pursue them."

     In Kowloon East, all our visions will come true because we have the passion, determination and resources to pursue them.

     I must not hold you any longer. I hope all our guests enjoy their participation in MIPIM Asia.

     I wish everybody good health and for our guests from overseas, a safe journey home.

     Thank you very much indeed.

Ends/Friday, November 9, 2012
Issued at HKT 17:20


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