Cab chat

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 October, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 October, 2003, 12:00am


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But Kwong-yu, 56, says Victoria Harbour should be preserved at all costs because it is a crucial part of Hong Kong's past, present and future.

Ride from Wan Chai to Po Lam. Cost: $163.20

If the government wants to do something it will always find excuses to back it up so that it can push ahead regardless of what the public thinks.

I don't believe we need to reclaim any more land - not for a while anyway. I can see there was a need 20 or 30 years ago, but not in the near future, especially when both the economy and the property market are stagnant.

Even if we think reclamation is inevitable, we need to ask ourselves whether we want to forge ahead with these developments regardless of possible long-term damage to our environment and heritage.

If we look around Hong Kong, it is extremely difficult to find examples of unique heritage which give this place a sense of history and identity. The government is even redeveloping the Sheung Wan area - one of the oldest districts.

In the next 10 years I am afraid there will be nothing left in Hong Kong that is at least 100 years old or has a history behind it, which is really sad. Do we really want to turn Hong Kong into an artificial city - modern and hi-tech on the outside, but with no real substance, no soul and no rare qualities on the inside?

The harbour means a lot of things to Hong Kong people. To me, it represents purity and feminine beauty. I would say the way the harbour flows can be likened to the curves of a beautiful woman. But spiritually speaking, the harbour has an unusual tranquil quality that has a calming effect on Hong Kong.

The harbour has provided Hong Kong with ample opportunities over the years to develop into what it is today - a financial hub of Asia and an international port. The way we treat the harbour should reflect a degree of gratitude for what the harbour has given us.

The government seems to be pushing the limits all the time with its policies, but with something like the harbour, we need to tread very carefully. We cannot afford to risk losing the harbour for short-term gains, certainly not for the building of a few roads. Modern developments, no matter how significant they are, should not come before our priceless heritage.

Our politicians should have done more to protect the harbour. I know the Sars report has been the focus for the past couple of weeks, but we shouldn't lose sight of other important issues. And I don't think it is right to keep pressing for the health chief, Yeoh Eng-kiong, to resign. Too much effort has been wasted in witch-hunting. It is time to do something constructive.

We should look back and try to remember all those experiences from Sars and learn from them. We should stop being so vindictive. I don't believe the outcome would have been less severe or there would have been fewer casualties had it been someone else rather than Dr Yeoh at the helm.

Some people seem to be setting or re-adjusting the standards only after the events have taken place. With the benefit of hindsight, of course anybody can criticise and say this or that should have been done. But is it really fair? Dr Yeoh has an attitude problem, but he has done his best and we shouldn't crucify him because of his arrogance.

Sars is a new virus, a new experience and the biggest nightmare for everyone. Now we have woken up from this bad experience, we need to tackle our health issues with a clear head and we shouldn't let personal feelings muddy the water. Getting rid of Dr Yeoh won't change the outcome.

Hong Kong people have again learned to fight for themselves but the Sars experience has created animosity between the government and the people.

We need to question the authorities to keep things in check. But there is no need to be hostile towards the administration all the time. We are all in the same boat. And if we don't settle our differences and keep rowing in different directions, this boat will go nowhere.