Stop excuses and get on with arts hub
Michael Lynch, CEO of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, informs us that the 'basement is a complicated issue. It goes all under the site' ('Arts hub seeks more cash for basement', July 26).
Apparently, digging a hole in the ground now requires billions more in financing. I am perplexed, as I thought digging holes and making them into foundation areas normally incorporated creating basements. Was this overlooked in the Norman Foster plan? Was a basement an optional extra?
As the dilly-dallying continues, perhaps the authority needs reminding that the entire Marina Bay development in Singapore and Guggenheim Museum, in Bilbao, Spain, were built in a fraction of the time it is taking to construct the arts hub. Both now are established art and cultural destinations.
All Hong Kong has is a fenced-off piece of reclaimed land. More than HK$21 billion has already been allocated to the project and to date nothing has been achieved other than the art of building bureaucracy.
Now we are told they need billions more to build a basement. It is outrageous and it is time to stop pussyfooting around and do what Hong Kong was once good at - building things.
Mark Peaker, The Peak
Modify this bizarre travel alert system
I could not agree more with your editorial ('Time to speak out on gun control', July 26).
Aurora, Colorado, is but the latest location that illuminates the dire, archaic and lax gun laws in the US.
The fact that gun sales have soared since this latest outrage indicates that this vast country and its politicians have become morally bankrupt.
The Security Bureau encourages Hong Kong residents to refer to its outbound travel alert system before firming up travel plans. I have checked its website and there is not even an amber alert ('monitor situation') for the US. Given that people simply going to watch a film there may be placing their lives in danger, this is inconsistent, to say the least.
In stark contrast, since August 2010 a black alert warning of a 'severe threat' with the advice to 'avoid all travel' has been posted for the Philippines, which places it alongside Syria and far above Indonesia, Israel, Myanmar and Pakistan.
This is a bizarre slap in the face for the many thousands of Filipinos who contribute so willingly to life in Hong Kong. Will Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's new administration urgently reassess this matter?
One may suspect that the reason the alert placed on the Philippines has not been downgraded is that our previous government was seeking to curry favour with the mainland authorities in order to look tough, at a time when China is becoming increasingly assertive and provocative over vast swathes of sea surrounding neighbouring countries.
Frank Lee, Mid-Levels
Steps can be taken to save old trees
A vintage tree fell on Nathan Road last month, two years after another tree on the same site had to be removed.
Not only should we feel sorry for those people who were injured but also for the ailing banyan trees at that location.
Pictures from a current exhibition about Tsim Sha Tsui's past show trees lining Nathan Road, extending at least a few blocks farther north from the present location. These banyan trees are living icons linking our past memories with the present day.
We certainly do not want to see them only from photos in museums. I'm sure we would all rather enjoy their shade and the feeling of serenity from seeing their ancient branches.
There is an urgent need to introduce measures to save the remaining trees. Simply spraying insecticide does not offer adequate protection. Long-term plans must be adopted to resolve the fundamental causes, such as roadside pollution and lack of conservation measures.
While it is impractical to divert all traffic from the stretch of Nathan Road between Haiphong and Austin roads, we should introduce electric vehicles here and re-route all long-distance traffic.
What is more, we do need not to have long queues of double-decker buses along the length of Nathan Road heading towards the Tsim Sha Tsui bus terminus at the Star Ferry.
Many cities around the world offer commuters free shuttle bus services in urban areas. This could reduce the volume of traffic and roadside pollution.
A healthy forest always has a balanced mix of mature and young trees. We need to ensure these Nathan Road icons are kept alive.
The strip has long been a boulevard and should remain so in the years to come.
Peter Lam Kai-ming, Quarry Bay
Revamp integrity checking
I agree with those people who have argued that the government should revise its integrity-checking system for civil servants.
I think the present system is ineffective and it is sometimes difficult for the Independent Commission Against Corruption to monitor or investigate suspected cases of corruption within the civil service.
Take the case of former development minister Mak Chai-kwong [under investigation for alleged abuse of a civil service rent subsidy]. He underwent 'at least five integrity checks in the civil service and a sixth when he became a minister' ('Ex-minister in probe had several checks', July 14). This clearly shows the need to revise the present checking system.
Making the necessary changes can boost public confidence in the civil service and in the credibility of officials and ensure that citizens have faith in the new government of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. This is important, given that people are expecting C.Y. Leung's administration to implement a number of relief measures.
Ensuring the integrity of our civil servants is essential, as they should be role models for Hong Kong citizens.
A revamped integrity-check system can help us in the continued fight against corruption.
Ng Sin-ying, Sha Tin
Cable TV defends coverage
I refer to the report ('Another TV hurdle for English speakers', July 28), to the letter by Ian Marriott ('Cable TV's Olympics own goal', July 28) and to the letters from Lester Lim ('Presenters were not impressive') and C. Meredith ('Full English option is needed') which appeared on August 1. They all referred to Cable TV's Olympic programming.
We are fully aware of English-speaking viewers' needs and are therefore simulcasting Olympic 3 Channel (Channel 64 in standard definition) and Olympic 3D Channel (hd204 in 3D) with professional English commentaries.
These channels provide daily live broadcasts throughout the Games from early afternoon well into the following morning and on some days up to noon. Highlights are provided during the non-live hours on Channel 64.
The Olympic 3D/Olympic 3 channels offered the opening and will show the closing ceremonies as well as a wide range of world-class events that would be welcomed by those who prefer English commentaries. Viewers who prefer Cantonese commentaries can watch our other Olympic channels. Given the diverse coverage suiting Chinese and non-Chinese viewers, an extra Nicam service appears to be unnecessary.
At Cable TV, we try to include presenters who are professional and have experience hosting mega sports events including the Olympics and World Cup. We also encourage Hong Kong's young athletes to participate in these events as presenters. Green as some of them might be, we believe in their potential and would welcome suggestions and encouragement from our viewers to help them grow and develop their talent.
Carmen Cheung, assistant controller, external affairs department, Hong Kong Cable Television Limited
Any biased material is unacceptable
I have no objection to the Hong Kong government implementing national education in schools if what is taught is factual and impartial.
What is wrong is the subsidy given to the National Education Services Centre, which produced a handbook for teachers which has been criticised for being one-sided. If this is true, the government must withdraw endorsement of the book and start afresh.
Using such material in schools would lead to accusations of the government allowing brainwashing. As a responsible parent, I would be worried and angry.
Why did officials not check the contents of this book before a subsidy was granted?
Nicholas Low, Tseung Kwan O