Save lovely harbour

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 October, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 October, 1995, 12:00am

I AM writing on behalf of a group of concerned Chinese-Canadians in the greater metro-Toronto areas. Many of us still maintain residency in Hong Kong.

Our recent perusal of letters from concerned citizens in Hong Kong to these columns, pertaining to the protest to the proposed large-scale Victoria Harbour land reclamation project (approximately 1,200 hectares). The proposed project is enormous relative to the petite size of the existing harbour. If it is carried out, it will inevitably change the entire cosmetic view of the once beautiful Victoria Harbour that we cherish and remember.

I was amazed to learn that land reclamation on this scale, according to Hong Kong law which is governed by the Foreshore and Sea-Bed (Reclamations) Ordinance, requires only two people to decide upon and approve such a project, namely, the Director of Lands and the Governor of Hong Kong. No public hearing nor Legislative Council legislation approval is required, irrespective of how large the project is.

This regulatory by-law seems dictatorial and obsolete in a democratic society. It is absurd to bestow such power in the hands of only two people, people who will make unilateral decisions which will bring about substantial ecological changes. This 'facelift' of the harbour will result in irreversible damage.

Doesn't the Government want to test public opinion and get the approval of the people of Hong Kong? Or is it only concerned with a few self-serving interest groups? In my opinion, as an absentee Hong Kong resident, common-sense tells me that a responsible government in the colony would exercise more prudence in its decision-making. It would carefully evaluate the benefits vis-a-vis the adverse lasting effects of major reclamation. It would carry out a public opinion poll and provide people with the fullest information possible, prior to the implementation of its scheme.

Anything less than such actions, would force some people to wonder what the Government's real motives were and to suspect that it had a hidden agenda.

Political reasons aside, numerous letters to these columns have pointed out the adverse biological and ecological effects of the proposed reclamation project, which will result from narrowing the harbour.

This will have a devastating effect on the already congested harbour and I believe that as a result of the project, pollution will get worse.

We urge the Government of Hong Kong to take the initiative and put a brake on this land reclamation project. It must show leadership to preserve this valuable part of our natural heritage.

This should be done for the sake of today's and future generations.

Last but not least, it would be remiss of me not to recognise and mention the crusading work of the Hong Kong Land and Building Advisory Committee chairman, Mr Winston Chu, who unselfishly promoted the Save the Harbour Campaign when he and his family were vacationing in Canada and the US. We appreciate the time he took to talk to the local Chinese community and keep us abreast with what has transpired with regard to the reclamation project. He explained to us its profound implications, and what would be the adverse effects with respect to future harbour conditions, if further reclamation development was not abandoned.

We Chinese residents abroad strongly urge the Hong Kong Government to think again about this proposal.

Listen to our pleas to save the beautiful Hong Kong Harbour that we all recall with such fond memories.

If this reclamation goes ahead, that is all we will be left with - fond, but sad memories, photos and films of something lovely, but lost, forever.

Please do not destroy this part of our natural, geological heritage.

It would be a tragedy if this happened.

R. CHU Toronto, Canada