Hold reclamation referendum

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 July, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 July, 1998, 12:00am

One of the last good pieces of legislation enacted by the elected Legislative Council in 1997 was the Harbour Ordinance which stated that: 'The central harbour is to be protected and preserved as a special public asset and a natural heritage of Hong Kong people.' Alas, I now understand that the Government is about to implement yet another reclamation project covering some 58.9 hectares, stretching from Central to Wan Chai. And the main purpose of this reclamation appears to be to move the present government offices to the waterfront in a central government complex and create a Museum of Reunification.

The latter, I would have thought, could more logically be an extension to the existing Museum of History in Kowloon Park.

As for the former, I doubt whether the Hong Kong people approve of such a plan. Test their opinion with a referendum, like the Swiss do, and find out.

When many African countries won their independence from colonial powers after World War II, the first thing they invariably did was to build expensive offices and other structures to emphasise the transition. But here we have a community, mature and sophisticated, and, frankly, we don't need more grand offices for our leaders or the civil service. These are not our priorities.

What we do need, however, is an urgent, determined effort to reverse the mounting pollution that is ruining our health, clean up the city and the 'fragrant harbour' from the odours that have invaded even the Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Above all we need green open spaces to enhance the quality of life here. Only then will the tourists return to see what the SAR has done after reunification.

The already-reclaimed huge space that was Kai Tak should be the challenge for imaginative town planners, not more costly reclamation.

M. SAKKAF Geneva, Switzerland