Talkback

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 April, 2004, 12:00am
 

Q Should the Stubbs Road mansion be declared a monument?


I arrived in Hong Kong in the mid-1970s but even before that, Love is a Many Splendored Thing was ingrained in my psyche forever. As a romantic, if ever I see it listed in television schedules, I drop everything to watch it. Sadly, I am unfamiliar with Soldiers of Fortune (and anyway, have always preferred William Holden to Clark Gable).


Unfortunately, the intention of Stephen Yow Mok-Shing to sell the property featured in both movies has come at an inconvenient time. I can understand his decision to benefit from the 'shortage' of land on the island but given the current political situation, maybe there is another way for Hong Kong people to express their wish to maintain a little bit of the magic of this territory.


If the government is stretched to fund such an extraordinary asking price, perhaps they should follow the excellent example of the New South Wales Government in Australia that ran the 'Opera House Lottery' which was extremely successful in generating funds to build what is now regarded as a world icon. Maybe the Jockey Club could administer such a lottery. Why should Hong Kong not have a world icon too?


In the past few days, I have passed 45 Stubbs Road on the bus, and would hate to see it dismembered in an effort to build yet another set of 'chopsticks'.


Warwick Matthews, Mid-Levels


I have read with interest your story on the Stubbs Road mansion and its likely demise. As I and my family live in the area and are subjected to the daily view of the 'chopsticks' which should never have been built, and the traffic jams at the so-called 'lookout', we are very concerned about the fate of this fabulous heritage home and landmark, officially designated or otherwise.


One needs only to observe the dozens of tourists who walk by to see the home and its extensive grounds to understand its viability as a heritage site. Clearly, this is a valuable Hong Kong landmark which could and should become a designated landmark and museum. With all of the nonsensical expenditure in the name of tourism ($90 million for a fake pier at Stanley) and the imminent destruction of another heritage-grade site (the Wan Chai Market), this property stands alone as a vehicle to show Hong Kong is a world-class city which protects its heritage.


As a resident, I am embarrassed by the fact that the lay-by on Stubbs Road is promoted as a tourist site. More often than not it is too misty or too polluted to see anything of interest from this lookout, much less Central or the Harbour.


The mansion boasts the premier view in the area. A side benefit would be to alleviate the unsafe traffic movements in this area caused by the existing lookout.


We shall see whether the various government or quasi-government bodies have any teeth when it comes to protecting the mansion.


James Snelling, Mid-Levels


I have always thought that the owners of this home must be very lucky and extraordinary people, who appreciate and value Hong Kong's heritage and culture. Views of this beautiful structure give pleasure to thousands of Bowen Road walkers every week.


There is no other home of its kind on the island that is as visible to the public.


Given HK's appetite for development, I have always been impressed that it has been allowed to remain, given the fantastic views it enjoys. Unfortunately, it seems the owners are not that extraordinary after all. I sincerely hope this property is accepted under the Review of Built Heritage Conservation Policy and found important enough to preserve.


Amy Chan, Happy Valley


Q Should euthanasia be legal under certain circumstances?


I write with reference to Jonathan Man's opinion on euthanasia (printed on April 28). While clarifying the central concepts is important in discussing whether to legalise euthanasia or physician-aided suicide, I do not think we should lay the burden on the government in initiating discussion among the public.


Of course, it would set up a useful framework of discussion if we distinguish carefully between active and passive euthanasia, between voluntary, involuntary and non-voluntary euthanasia, and between intended and foreseeable death. It may be even better if we have more consensus on the meaning of life, the nature of medicine, and the conditions under which one is morally permitted to choose death and take one's own life.


Forging agreements on these normative issues is always more difficult than assessing the factual impact of allowing or disallowing an individual case of euthanasia or its legalisation. Nevertheless, I am optimistic that we are moving towards a better answer through rational discussion based on logical reasoning and our reflected moral intuition.


I do not think the definition of life is so important in the present context. People are not arguing over whether euthanasia is a deliberate ending of life because even proponents of euthanasia would probably agree that it is. The real crux of the contention is under what conditions we are morally allowed to end one's life.


While the government should start researching the policy aspects of legalising euthanasia, it would be exorbitant to request it to do everything in initiating public discussion on the matter. So long as freedom of expression is upheld in Hong Kong, everyone is entitled to express their opinion on the issue. Don't you think the responsibility in stimulating public discussion lies with academics, media and schools?


Simon Kwong, Siu Sai Wan


Q What are your ideas to make Stanley more appealing to tourists?


I wonder whether the tiny 'artist's impression' published in your newspaper is an accurate representation of what the Tourist Commission is thinking of doing to upgrade the Stanley waterfront. If it is, then I am horrified by its singularly sterile appearance, especially the industrial-looking buildings on the right of the picture.


Is it the government's intention to eventually allow high-rise buildings to replace the existing walk-ups? In its present state, the Stanley waterfront would be quite a let-down for tourists if it were not for its sea view and the market-style shopping nearby. A more sensitive treatment would include features such as jetties, benches and canopies, not to mention trees and shrubs. The rather 'hard' development that is depicted is regrettable and I hope that some improvements will be made to encourage street-side activities.


John PL Wong, Pokfulam


On other matters...


I am writing in response to yesterday's article 'A sting in the tail' about the trials of Hong Kong vets. This is not a pleasant place to be a dog owner at all because of the lack of empathy and awareness outlined in the article. I have been a dog owner for years and never have I had such a miserable experience as I do here.


I have two dogs, one 'cute' golden retriever rescued from a pet shop when he was six months old, unable to walk because he had never been out of his tiny cage, and one black mongrel, picked up off the street at the age of five weeks.


People usually try to clumsily pat the retriever, but when they see the mongrel they often scream in terror and leap into traffic to avoid him.


Over the past 18 months, three of the four walks around my village home have been closed. The dogs are not allowed on public transport so I have to pay taxi fares to take them on hiking trails.


I spend a good deal of any walk trying to stop them picking up rubbish thrown by thoughtless passers-by. I try to be a responsible dog owner. I clean up after my pets, they are both de-sexed, have all their injections, are treated regularly to prevent worms, fleas and lice and enjoy three walks a day so they do not bark and irritate my neighbours.


But the attitudes of the people we meet when we are out have made me yearn for the day when I will be able to move to a country where a dog really is man's best friend.


Amanda Chapman, Tai Wai


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