Calling for the golf community to be heard, a top official has hit out at the Task Force on Land Supply, saying the exclusion of only golf members from its meetings was “not fair”.
Daniel Liu Ping-kwong, immediate past chairman and now honorary president of the Hong Kong Professional Golfers Association, said if golf members were barred from the task force, then so should members of other private recreational clubs.
The Hong Kong Golf Association has been reluctant to take a lead against the government’s plans to reclaim one – if not all – of the courses at Hong Kong Golf Club. The prime target appears to be the century-old Old Course.
“We should have the freedom to voice our concerns,” said Liu, ahead of Tuesday’s meeting of the task force. “It pains me to see golf resources being cut down.
“In the past we never voiced our concern. It is time for the golf community to speak up and demand that the government hear our views.”
The task force was due to meet last weekend to further study plans to build more than 5,000 flats at the Fanling club, as part of discussions on using private recreational sites and military sites to help ease a housing crisis.
The meeting did not take place and the agenda was pushed back for a second time as conflicts of interest arose after members of golf clubs were asked to declare their interest.
“This is not fair. If the task force is to review private recreational land lease policy, why are only golf club members excluded and not members of other private recreation clubs?” said Liu, a former professional golfer who was chairman of the HKGA from 2013-15.
“All task force members should be allowed to attend and should not be deprived of their rights because they are members of relevant clubs.
“If that’s the case, all members should declare their interest and if anyone has private recreational club membership, he or she should not be allowed to attend the meeting.”
Liu questioned why the task force seemed to have golf – and only golf – in its cross hairs.
“The task force is only focusing on the sport of golf and the Fanling golf course.”
“Once lost, heritage is lost forever. Even if a golf course is moved elsewhere, it is impossible for the heritage, history, unique design or natural beauty of its original site to be replicated elsewhere.
“Fanling is very well known in the international golf community. Like Augusta National in the US, which attracts pilgrimages from golf fans around the world, most overseas golfers visiting Hong Kong will want to experience the golf courses at Fanling.”
Liu said the golfing community had stayed silent too long, as the sport continued to suffer.
“I have been with the Hong Kong Professional Golf Association for many decades, witnessing the ups and downs of the sport.
“Over these years, many golf training facilities in the urban areas have been closing, affecting the livelihoods of thousands of related people, including coaches, players, manufacturers, facilities administrators and managers, and the development of golf as a sport in Hong Kong.
“The golf community and myself are worrying and feeling uncomfortable.
“We are all lovers of sports, all lovers of golf. We sincerely hope the task force will listen to all the views from the community and not just the voice from those against the sport and overlook the need for the development of golf.”