Newsletter No. 454

8 454 • 19.3.2015 ’ 本刊由香港中文大学资讯处出版,每月出版两期。截稿日期及稿例载于 www.iso.cuhk.edu.hk/chinese/newsletter/ 。 The CUHK Newsletter is published by the Information Services Office, CUHK, on a fortnightly basis. Submission guidelines and deadlines can be found at www.iso.cuhk.edu.hk/english/newsletter/ . 你是未来城市研究所副所长,这个研究所是做什么的? 这个研究所辖下有五个研究中心,我主力负责土地和房屋政策 议题,其他同事则关注可持续发展、社区规划、少数族裔文化, 以及艺术等未来城市发展须要关注的事项。当然,全球暖化、空 气污染都是相关的议题,城市的特点是跨学科、全方位,需要很 多不同专业的团队一起合作。 什么原因促使你关注和研究香港房屋问题? 我的专业是建筑测量师,早年一直关注旧楼失修问题,无可避 免涉及物业价值,当时发现某些楼宇质素很差,但却继续升值。 国际上大部分城市楼价都只是比建筑成本贵一点而已,但香港 很奇怪,建筑成本只占楼宇价值的三分之一至五分之一那么小, 那其余那些是什么呢?我从此就开始研究香港房屋问题。 现在的高楼价为社会带来哪些影响? 香港楼价已去到国际指标称为「极度无法负担」的程度,带来 的社会问题:首先是影响家庭的决策,如不敢结婚,推迟结婚, 不敢生育,这又影响到社会未来人口够不够。其次,人们被迫 住在一些非常不适宜居住的环境,包括笼屋、棺材房、劏房,现 在甚至连猪栏也可以卖出去让人住,整个城市的宜居度急剧下 降。最后,房屋不能负担,是导致社会上仇恨不满情绪和排外心 态的导火线之一。 导致香港高楼价的原因何在? 三个令香港楼价去到不能负担地步的因素,都是政府造成。第 一是政府在银根供应方面依循联系汇率,导致这段时间美国 减息印钞票,大量热钱流入,推高香港楼价。第二是人口,如果 政府对于内地移民没有审批权,甚至鼓吹输入高质素专才和劳 工,在房屋已经不能负担及供应不足的情况下再增加高收入人 口,只会把楼价推得更高。第三是土地供应,政府供应的土地长 期不足,甚至曾长期停止供应,导致今天的恶果。 最近有学者撰文提倡开发郊野公园,你有何看法? 讨论开发郊野公园时要留意两件事,第一,香港市区人口密度 达到每平方公里二万五千人,是全球密度最高的头几位,但全港 平均人口密度,约是每平方公里七千人,在世界上属中度水平,虽 已跌出宜居城市之列,但还不算太差,这是因为前殖民政府选 择一种高度集中的城市发展模式,在市区作高密度发展,乡村、 郊野公园和绿化带则维持低密度,甚至无人居住状态,让市民 观看录像,请扫描QR码或浏览以下网址: To watch the video, please scan the QR code or visit: www.iso.cuhk.edu.hk/video/?nsl454-edward-yiu You’re an associate director of the Institute of Future Cities. What does this institute do? The institute has five centres. I focus on research on land and housing policy. My colleagues work on sustainability, community planning, cultures of ethnic minorities, and art, which are some areas related to the development of future cities. Of course, global warming and air pollution are also relevant topics. Studies on cities are interdisciplinary in nature and require the cooperation of experts from different fields. What made you focus your studies on Hong Kong’s housing problems? I’m a professional surveyor. I used to concern myself with the problem of building dilapidation, which inevitably involves the issue of property value. I found that even though some buildings were quite shoddily constructed, their value kept rising. House prices in most cities around the world are only slightly higher than their costs. The situation in Hong Kong is 共享自然生态。这其实是一种取舍。所以千万不要在地图上看 到郊野公园占我们百分之四十的土地,就以为很多,可以随便 拿来用。如果这样做,全港人口平均密度势必增加,生活质素每 下愈况。 第二是根本没有必要发展郊野公园,香港有四千公顷闲置官 地,还有八百公顷棕土,就是现在新界用作货柜场、劏车场、货 仓那些遭破坏和污染的农地。如实施棕土先行政策,就能获得 大量土地,起码二三十年内都没必要讨论发展郊野公园。 房屋问题有何正本清源的解决方法? 最根本的解决之道是有真正的民主政府,改变现在那种土地属 于政府而非人民的前殖民地式错误制度,令有关土地的决策受 民意监察;但这个理想似乎不是那么快可以实现。另一个中短 期的解决方法是实行新加坡式组屋政策。在新加坡,组屋是公 民权利,只要是公民就能以可负担的价格获得居所;香港的公 屋却是福利,入息要低到某一程度才能申请。其实现时香港的 资助房屋已占全港房屋量的一半以上,大量已超过入息和资产 限额的家庭继续住在资助房屋之内,与其大家争相申请公屋和 居屋,不如召开一次全面的谘询和讨论,如果大家都属意实行 新加坡组屋制度,就将之变成恒常的政策,令市民安心,把精力 用于发展事业,无谓不必要地浪费在房屋之上。 Photo by ISO staff strange. Construction costs make up only one-third to one- fifth of house prices. What’s the rest? Curiosity about this made me study Hong Kong’s housing problems. What are the problems of high property prices? Property in Hong Kong has been ranked ‘severely un- affordable’ by international standards. This causes social problems. First, it has an impact on people’s decisions to get married and have children. People don’t get married or delay marriage, and they are reluctant to have children. This in turn affects our demographical growth. Second, people are forced to live in some very unbearable housing, such as caged homes, coffin rooms, sub-divided flats. Now even pigsties are sold for people to live in. The livability of the city has deteriorated significantly. Finally, housing unaffordability causes social unrest and xenophobia. What are the causes of Hong Kong’s sky-high property prices? Hong Kong’s unaffordable housing market has three causes, and our government is to blame for them. First, the government has pegged our currency to the US dollar. When the US lowers their interest rates and adopted a policy of monetary easing, our property market suffers from overheating as a result of a continuous inflow of ‘hot money’ into the city. Second, the government doesn’t have the authority to screen and approve newcomers from mainland China to the city. In fact it is eager to bring in quality migrants and high-skilled workers. When our housing is unaffordable and in short supply, the increase in high-income people will only push house prices higher. Third, there is a long-standing shortage of land supply. The government even placed a moratorium on land sales. This is also a cause of our current woes. Some scholars have advised that we should develop our country parks. What’s your view on this? We must keep two things in mind when discussing the issue of developing country parks. First, the population density of urban areas in Hong Kong is 25,000 people per km 2 , which is among the highest in the world. But the overall density of Hong Kong as a whole is 7,000 people per km 2 , which falls somewhere in the middle on a worldly scale. With such high density, Hong Kong is not considered a livable city, but it is not too bad. The colonial government chose a model of concentrated development for this city. Urban areas have been built to high density, while rural areas, country parks and the green belt have remained low density or uninhabited, so that citizens can enjoy the natural environment in the countryside. This is a trade-off. So, we can’t say: Wow, 40% of our land is country parks. It’s a lot. Let’s take some out for development. If we do so, the overall density of Hong Kong will significantly increase and our living quality will plunge. The second reason that we should leave our country parks alone is the fact that we have 4,000 hectares of unused government land and 800 hectares of brownfields. Brownfields are contaminated land used as container depots, scrapyards and storage areas. By adopting a brownfield-first policy, we can acquire enough land. And we can leave aside the issue of touching country parks for the next 20 or 30 years. Is there any way to solve our housing problems once and for all? The most optimal solution is a real democratic government. With real democracy, we can right the wrongs of the past colonial system of treating land as an asset of the government, instead of the people. And any decisions on land can be put under public scrutiny. But it seems that this solution won’t be coming any time soon. A short- or medium-term solution is adopting Singapore’s public housing programme. In Singapore, affordable housing is a right to which every citizen is entitled. In Hong Kong, public housing is a social welfare benefit that only people with low-enough income can enjoy. But in reality subsidized housing makes up more than half of the total housing units in Hong Kong. Many people with incomes or assets exceeding the limits still live in subsidized housing. Rather than letting people fight for public housing and home ownership scheme flats, why don’t we hold an extensive public consultation? If the general public is in favour of the Singaporean model, then we should make it a consistent policy. Then people can focus their energy on developing their careers instead of fretting about housing. 未来城市研究所副所长 姚松炎教授 Prof. Edward Yiu Associate Director of Institute of Future Cities

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