talk back

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 June, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 June, 2004, 12:00am

Q Should the government press ahead with its super-jail plan?

Hei Ling Chau should have its present facilities removed, and be given back for the use of the people of Hong Kong.

Such islands are rare jewels in our offshore waters, and should be treasured and maintained as part of the heritage of future generations. There has been far too much exploitation of Hong Kong's limited and precious assets.

The consultation on this project has been pathetic. A perfect example of Hobson's choice.

Yes, there are several alternatives - but each centred on the plunder and desecration of Hei Ling Chau - and its neighbouring Lantau.

The study has been a complete waste of public funds, and the proposals will burden the taxpayer with further engineering works that will run into billions of dollars: $1 billion for a road and bridge (and do not forget the ongoing maintenance costs) - for 700 cars a day. Then another $1.5 billion for 80 hectares of reclamation. A breakwater built at considerable expense a few years ago is to be removed - and a new one built to take up even more of our waters. Kill this ridiculous proposal right now.

Gordon Andreassend, Tai Kok Tsui

What an excellent idea to build a super-jail on Hei Ling Chau. It seems the proposal has a number of points to recommend it.

First of all it will provide a boon to the construction industry, which must be considerably distressed at the ever-diminishing opportunities for it to make pots of money now that virtually the only land left to build on is under water.

A more caring government would surely turn some of that wasted space in the country parks over to the developers so that they can continue into the foreseeable future to make massive profits for themselves.

Second, it will provide a haven for all of those latter-day Robin Hoods from over the border who have for some time now been making such an admirable attempt to redistribute the wealth of the country. Indeed, in their own small way they have been quick to realise the potential of country parks for lining their own pockets.

Third, it will enable the government to once again display its own largesse by selling the eight defunct prisons that the super-jail will replace to their friends, the property developers, for scandalously low prices, thus opening up fresh avenues for further exciting and unnecessary construction.

Finally, and I hope this does not sound too selfish, it will provide something for us residents of Mui Wo to look at. Quite frankly, looking out of your window at a whole heap of water is not much fun, especially now that the view of Hong Kong Island is more often than not shrouded in an impenetrable barrier of pollution.

The prospect of 700 cars a day passing by my window to visit incarcerated mainlanders is one which I relish.

The bridge to the super-jail will go some way towards restoring our pride.

Donald Latter, Lantau

I read with alarm your recent coverage of the super-prison project, reporting that the public consultation phase is about to end unnoticed, save for the efforts of the Living Islands Movement.

As a resident of Discovery Bay and a keen yachtsman, I fear that the impact of the reclamation, the prison and its associated bridge will have a huge effect on our use of the local waters. South Lantau is an area of natural beauty and is a popular recreation area. The much cheaper alternative, Kong Nga Po near the border, is not being considered because 'the area could be used to boost economic integration with the mainland in the future'.

This argument is disingenuous at best and ignores the value of some of our most attractive natural resources - Hong Kong's islands.

James Fernie, Discovery Bay

Only a very naive or inexperienced government and planners could conceive of investing billions of dollars on developing an international standard Disney theme park, and then decide to destroy the natural beauty of its immediate surroundings and house thousands of criminals less than a mile away.

Is Hong Kong serious about tourism or does it just want to waste a lot of money paying lip service to the idea?

Michael Huggins, Lantau

On other matters ...

I would like to make a clarification about the Urban Renewal Authority's development concept competition for the Lee Tung Street/Mcgregor Street project in Wan Chai.

The competition covers the whole project site and its surrounding area, not just the part of Lee Tung Street where the wedding card shops are located. The future master plan for the site has to be treated in a comprehensive manner.

Two of the five winning entries contain interesting proposals for conservation of Lee Tung Street. The entry from Peter Cookson Smith mentioned in a reader's letter on Wednesday is not the only one with such a proposal.

It would be an unfortunate misunderstanding to think that the contents of the five winning entries will be used for a cut-and-paste exercise to come up with the master design.

The competition is part of a process of community consultation that started with a workshop organised by the URA's Wan Chai District Advisory Committee over a year ago. Another gathering was held for the competition participants to listen to the views and aspirations of local residents.

We will continue with the consultation process in the coming months.

Eddie So, Urban Renewal Authority