Time to break free of staid Kai Tak rules and have fun

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 July, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 July, 1998, 12:00am

A WORD in our leaders' collective ear: if you want us to rejoice in our new airport, then speed up the arrival of the undisputed new benefits which are supposed to come in its train.

Here is one. Hong Kong has neon lights in a variety of shapes and colours, but they have one thing missing: movement.

The reason for this, or so we were always told, was the proximity of Kai Tak.

Apparently there were fears that - say - a flashing Coke sign might be mistaken for the beacon on the hill behind the Junction Road playground, leading to errant Jumbos attempting to land on the Island Eastern Corridor.

Well, we can stop worrying about that. Presumably local light displays can now flash, blow smoke rings and do all the other fascinating things. This is unfortunate for the proprietors of existing neon artworks, but promises to add more glitter to life for the rest of us.

Let us please have a formal announcement of the liberation of lighting, preferably with a competition for the best festive flicker.

Also floating about somewhere in the legislative box room is a little ordinance which used to be the subject of occasional government television warnings.

This made (and presumably still makes) it an offence to do a variety of things within a set distance of Kai Tak airport, including flying kites, model planes and hot air balloons.

This restriction is now unnecessary. This is an opportunity to bring some harmless and photogenic pursuits in from the cold. The model plane fanatics traditionally meet in a field near Sai Kung. They produce an entertaining spectacle.

Even better though, are the kite flyers. At the moment they hang out, I think, in two places. There is one spot in Clear Water Bay frequented by those ambitious souls who try to fly nine-metre dragons and such stuff.

There is also a field off Sai Sha Road which appeals more to the traditionalists. You buy from a stall a whole packet of small kites made from the more diaphanous of tissue paper, and try your luck. As these kites are regarded as disposable, there is no attempt to rescue any which go astray, and as a result a fine colourful collection adorns the surrounding trees.

A unique sight you can see here is kite flyers' trousers. The usual way of controlling a Chinese kite is to have the string on a giant cotton reel, with a stick going through it. You pull in or let out string by rubbing the stick between the palms of your hands and your legs.

This, presumably, has a corrosive effect even on denim, because serious flyers have leather patches on their thighs to protect their trouser legs.

This activity would make an interesting and colourful contribution to urban life. It would, of course, not be allowed in Urban Council parks and playgrounds - very little is - but the solution to this problem surely lies in the airport runway itself.

This is a nice windy spot and in accordance with the official policy of propping up property will presumably not be wanted for development in the near future.

While we are thinking of uses for the runway, what about go-karts? They were barred from Victoria Park, quite rightly, as too noisy. But Kai Tak is quite isolated, and anyway the people near it are used to noise.

Come to that, is it not time to consider the final solution to the illegal road racing problem? We could provide a legal track on which those young nutters who wish to live dangerously could do so without disturbing other road users.

This brings me to the departure hall, which is surely ideal for a purpose which would allow the SAR to make sporting history. We could have the world's first indoor golf course.

This would involve a modest investment in sand and artificial grass, but think of the international publicity, and think of the practical advantages.

Play could continue round the clock regardless of time or weather.

Special memberships could be sold for astronomical sums to Japanese millionaires.

Internationally famous golfers would flock to participate in the first ever Indoor Open, and fanatics of this foolish game would jet in to watch them from all over the world.

Or at least, they will if Chek Lap Kok is working by then.