Executive and Legislative Councilor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee used several interesting words last week during an English language radio interview about Hong Kong’s housing crisis. The word “crisis” can be used in several ways but used this way it means a very difficult or dangerous point in a situation. Everyone knows Hong Kong’s housing situation is in a crisis. Home prices have been rising every month for several years. Most Hong Kong people cannot afford to buy a flat. Rents are also rising. Hong Kong people are divided over how to create more land for housing.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor formed the Task Force on Land Supply to consult the public on different proposals to create land. Proposals include land reclamation outside Victoria Harbor, using the fringes (outer edges) of country parks, and using the Fanling golf course. Ip Lau Suk-yee criticized the Task Force on Land Supply as a government smokescreen to get public consensus (general agreement). During a war, soldiers sometimes create smoke to hide their activities. This is a smokescreen. But the word “smokescreen” also means something that is created to confuse or mislead people. Ip Lau Suk-yee meant the government created a task force to mislead the public because it is not possible to have public consensus on land supply.
She said the proposal to use the Fanling golf course was a red herring. A red herring is a type of fish which turns red when salted and cooked with smoke. But the word “red herring” also means something irrelevant that takes attention away from the main issue. Ip Lau Suk-yee said the proposal to use the Fanling golf course for housing is a red herring because it cannot create much land. She said land reclamation is a surefire formula to create enough land to solve Hong Kong’s housing crisis. The word “surefire” means certain or very likely to succeed. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are surefire ways to avoid becoming fat.
行政會議及立法會議員葉劉淑儀上星期在一英語電台節目上談及香港房屋危機（crisis）時，用了幾個有趣的字。Crisis可以有許多用法，在這裏則解作非常艱難或緊急的關頭。人人都知道，香港的房屋狀況已到了危急關頭（in a crisis）。這幾年來，房價一直按月遞增。大部份香港人都買不起一個單位。租金也在上漲。香港人對於怎樣創造更多的土地起樓，有很大的分歧。
特首林鄭月娥設立土地供應專責小組，就造地的不同方案諮詢公眾。建議包括在維多利亞港外填海、運用郊野公園的邊陲（fringes），以及使用粉嶺哥爾夫球場。葉劉淑儀批評土地供應專責小組只是政府用來取得公眾共識（consensus）的煙幕（smokescreen）。在戰事期間，士兵會發放煙霧去隱藏自己的活動，那就是 smokescreen；但 smokescreen一字還可解作用來迷惑或誤導人的煙幕。葉劉淑儀的意思是，政府成立專責小組是要誤導公眾，因為在土地供應上要達成公眾一致的共識（consensus）是不可能的。
她指，使用粉嶺哥爾夫球場的建議是個 red herring。A red herring是「紅鯡魚」，當希靈魚經鹽醃和煙熏後便會轉為紅色；然而，“red herring”也解作以不相關的事物轉移視線或議題焦點。葉劉淑儀說，將粉嶺哥爾夫球場用作房屋用途是「紅鯡魚」（red herring），因為牠所能創造的土地有限。她說，填海是個 surefire的方程式，能創造足夠的土地去解決香港的房屋危機（crisis）。Surefire是指十拿九穩、萬無一失的成功之道。定期運動和健康飲食都是避免發胖的萬全（surefire）之策。
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧