英文

Editorial : 'Super Funeral City' in Sandy Ridge

【明報專訊】The government is building a "Super Funeral City" in Sandy Ridge, a region adjacent to Shenzhen. Shenzhen citizens have voiced their opposition. The Hong Kong government has emphasised that it adjusted the plan in response to the opinions in question a few years ago in a bid to minimise the impact of the facilities on residents living in their vicinity.

Shenzhen and Hong Kong are inseparable neighbours. The ideal way for them to "get along" is to seek mutual benefit and a win-win situation. While occasional discord and disagreements are not unexpected, it is important to adhere to the principle of equality and respect, and engage in mutual understanding, mutual accommodation and more communication. The past decade or so has seen repeated conflicts between Hong Kong and the mainland, many of which were related to bread-and-butter matters. Many Hong Kong people have been unhappy, and there were times mainlanders were also disgruntled. The Sandy Ridge Funeral City project, which has provoked criticism from many Shenzhen netizens recently, is an example.

Hong Kong is plagued by the problem of land, with "homes" for both the living and the dead in short supply. In 2012, the government proposed to build a funeral city in Sandy Ridge, which would boast funeral parlours, crematoriums, columbarium niches and memorial gardens in one place. It is expected to provide about 200,000 columbarium niches. Related land formation work began in 2017 and has gone on for more than three years. It is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The government will later apply for funding from the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council to advance the construction of the "Funeral City".

The choice of Sandy Ridge as the site of the Super Funeral City would not have surprised anyone ten years ago. In terms of historical background, the Sandy Ridge Cemetery was established as early as 1950, and has been providing funeral facilities over the past half-century or so. Strictly speaking, the construction of a funeral city is merely an expansion of the cemetery's scale and functions. In terms of geographical location, Sandy Ridge is far away from Hong Kong's urban areas with no other facilities nearby for other developmental purposes. But the views and feelings of Shenzhen residents living across the river are very different. The Luohu District of Shenzhen is across the river from Sandy Ridge. At the most proximate point, they are only about 300 metres apart. Luohu is a bustling, densely populated region crowded with buildings. Many people have misgivings about funeral facilities and are worried that the smoke billowing from crematories will affect the air quality and living environment in surrounding areas. The news of the Hong Kong government's advancement of a Super Funeral City project has provoked a backlash among the people of Shenzhen. Some netizens are angered by the Hong Kong government's construction of such an obnoxious facility on the border. It is not difficult to understand such feelings if one puts oneself in the shoes of the other side.

When the Sandy Ridge Funeral City plan was first proposed, there was not the concept of integrated development in the Greater Bay Area. Some people believe that the Hong Kong government should re-plan the relevant land to match the future development of Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Theoretically, this is no doubt an option. But it might not be viable in practice. After all, there is a lack of various ancillary facilities in the local area. We should not restart everything from scratch on a whim. In Hong Kong, it is not unusual for many large-scale development projects to take 20 years to go from planning to completion. If the Super Funeral City plan in Sandy Ridge is shelved and relocated to a new site, it can easily be delayed after 2035 before the plan can be completed. This will seriously affect the supply of funeral services in Hong Kong in the medium-to-long term. Re-planning Sandy Ridge is easier said than done. It is necessary to think clearly about the consequences and repercussions.

明報社評2021.04.09:邊境規劃發展 須棄區隔思維

政府在毗鄰深圳的沙嶺興建「超級殯葬城」,深圳民間有反對聲音,港府則強調,數年前已因應相關意見調整計劃,務求將設施對周邊居民影響減至最低。

深圳與香港,是永遠無法搬開的鄰居,互惠互利求共贏,當然是最理想的相處之道,偶爾有摩擦紛爭,亦不足為奇,最重要是本着平等尊重原則,互諒互讓多溝通。過去10多年,香港與內地矛盾迭起,很多都跟民生有關,很多港人有不快,內地人同樣有不滿的時候,沙嶺殯葬城計劃,最近惹來深圳不少網民抨擊,正是一個例子。

土地問題困擾香港,陽宅、陰宅同樣供不應求。2012年,港府提出在沙嶺興建殯葬城,集殯儀館、火葬場、骨灰龕位和紀念花園於一地,預計可提供約20萬個骨灰龕位,相關的土地平整工程於2017年展開,至今3年有餘,可望年底完成,政府稍後將向立法會財委會申請撥款,推進殯葬城建設。

放在10年前時空,超級殯葬城選址沙嶺,並不叫人意外。論歷史背景,沙嶺墳場早於1950年設立,過去大半個世紀,一直用作提供殯葬設施,嚴格來說,興建殯葬城不過是擴大其規模和用途;論地理位置,沙嶺遠離香港市區,附近並無其他設施配套可供其他發展用途。不過對於隔岸的深圳居民來說,他們的看法和感受就很不一樣。深圳羅湖區與沙嶺隔岸相對,最近距離只得300米左右,當地是繁華鬧市,樓宇林立,居民眾多,不少人對殯葬設施有忌諱,亦擔心火葬濃煙不絕,影響周邊空氣質素和生活環境。港府推進超級殯葬城的消息,在深圳民間引起反彈,有網民不滿港府將厭惡設施放在邊境,只要將心比己,其實亦不難理解。

沙嶺殯葬城計劃提出時,尚無大灣區融合發展的概念,有意見認為,現在港府應重新規劃相關用地,配合港深兩地未來發展。理論上,這當然是一個選擇,然而實際未必行得通,畢竟當地缺乏各類配套設施,一切由零開始,重新規劃亦不能拍拍腦袋,心血來潮,想做便做。在香港,很多大型發展項目,由規劃到落成,動輒耗時20年,現在擱置沙嶺殯葬城計劃,另覓新址興建,隨時拖到2035年之後始能落成,這會嚴重影響本港中長期殯葬服務供應。重新規劃沙嶺說易行難,必須想清楚後果及影響。

■Glossary

生字

put yourself in sb's shoes : to be in, or imagine that you are in, another person's situation, esp. when it is an unpleasant or difficult one

viable : that can be done; that will be successful

ancillary : providing necessary support to the main work or activities of an organisation

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