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PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 October, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 October, 2003, 12:00am
 

Q What do you think of the decision to allow the Central reclamation to resume?


I feel it is outrageous that there are plans afoot to destroy even more of Hong Kong's magnificent harbour, but even more outrageous is the fact that none of the Legislative Council objected when discussions were taking place.


What does that tell you about the powers that be?


The harbour is one of our main tourist attractions - people flock up the Peak to see the view across to Kowloon.


When you consider that the original harbour stretched as far back as the tram tracks, surely there has been enough damage done (particularly considering there is now a glut of office and residential accommodation and there is no fundamental need to develop further)? A. M. Gould, Pokfulam


One of the problems I have never been able to understand in the 23 years I have lived in Macau, has been the lack of any real urban landscape planning in downtown Hong Kong and Kowloon.


Even when the British came out with the Metroplan in the 1990s, there was no consistent landscape planning for these areas. And the vacuum effect of this allows any government department to apply its own ideas to those areas.


They try to solve isolated problems without a full view of Hong Kong. The issue now is reclamation in Central and Wan Chai. It is interesting that the main arguments of the government departments are to reduce traffic jams and to bring in financial revenue.


Yet the added value for people's lives is minimal - and in terms of environmental impact the project is a disaster.


If the reclamation work continues, it will be bad for Hong Kong. I don't believe that if the courts eventually decide that the project is unlawful it will revert back to its prior state.


The departments are playing a very dangerous game with tremendous financial, human and ecological costs. So please help stop this nonsense of a reclamation project. Francisco Cabral, Macau


Mr Justice Michael Hartmann rejected the application by the Society for the Protection of the Harbour to suspend all work until the courts could finalise the legalities surrounding the harbour reclamation projects.


He said that 'it would be wrong to entirely ignore the financial consequences [of filling in the harbour] as if they are of no consequence'.


I want to ask him a simple question. Is it right to entirely ignore the environmental and social consequences as if they are of no consequence?


Financially, the court's ruling also brings undesirable consequences. The government is now free to decide whether to continue the project or just suspend it. It is believed that the government is very likely to restart the reclamation. The government's argument is that the cost of the stoppage could be significant. However, if the government loses the case in the appeal court, it would be responsible for returning the harbour back to its appearance as if the latest reclamation work had not been done. Is this financial consequence not significant when compared with that of a temporary stoppage?


Another argument is that the damage done by reclamation is not irreversible. But once the reclamation work starts again, it does actually bring an undesirable and irreversible result.


Environmentally, the pollution brought by the reclamation brings harm to marine life. It would take a long time to recover, even if the project is stopped in the near future. If the government refuses to listen to public opinion, social discontent may result. Thus, the international image of Hong Kong would be lowered. The loss cannot be measured just in terms of money.


The courts and the government should know that it is better to suspend the reclamation project. The government should send officials to the companies involved in the project to negotiate a settlement. With the support of the public, I think the companies would be kind enough to agree. Joyce Chan Chung-yan, Tsuen Wan


Why is our government being so stubborn to insist on filling in the harbour? It is absolutely pitiful that it has no ability to come up with an alternative solution to cope with the traffic problems.


And now, Hong Kong citizens have been the ones to come up with ways to solve the problem. We don't mind doing the government's job, as we all know Hong Kong belongs to us.


The importance of the natural environment is increasing in Hong Kong. Most Hong Kong people are facing and surrounded by concrete every day. Any scene of nature is really rare here. So the government must retain one of our few remaining natural assets for Hong Kong. It's our lovely Victoria Harbour. Lilian Li, Tin Shui Wai


Victoria Harbour is one of the defining characteristics of Hong Kong. If the harbour becomes narrower, it will eventually become a river. So the ships may not have enough space to anchor to the shore.


Victoria river. It is so laughable. The natural characteristics of the harbour can be devastated easily but they cannot be recreated so easily. Central's traffic jams may not be so easy to be solve, but surely we can think about other more helpful methods to tackle the problem? Or do we just want to destroy Hong Kong? Yvonne Lee, Choi Hung


I think the judge in this case has been in Hong Kong for too long. He's got the money mentality.


He says in his view it would be wrong to ignore the financial consequences of not destroying the harbour.


What are a few million dollars compared with our national heritage? Especially when it is highly likely that they will have to throw good money after bad to dig it all up again after the people demonstrate their objections. I agree with the suggestion that all the government offices should be relocated from central locations. It is the buildings that should be reclaimed and converted back to the harbour. Melvyn Crowle, North Point


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