talk back

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 May, 2005, 12:00am

Q Should rules be revised so long-established dai pai dong can survive?

I read with interest your story on the slow extinction of yet another facet of Hong Kong daily life, dai pai dong. Of course, all cities evolve and change. Unfortunately, it appears that Hong Kong doesn't evolve, it is merely replaced every 10 years or so (much to the glee of those involved in property development, I'm sure).

Any visitor wishing to experience the evolution of Hong Kong into one of Asia's greatest trading ports would be hard pressed to find evidence that it ever existed before the invention of the mega shopping mall.

Now government regulations (imposed I assume in the 1970s to control a public health issue) are effectively condemning another vibrant part of Hong Kong's history to the lap sap. The irony this time is that it's not some old dusty building, but an integral part of neighbourhood life and the government could fix the situation rather easily, by changing the law.

I'm amazed that the tourism board is still ploughing that infertile rut, namely Hong Kong: the shoppers' paradise. Maybe in the 1960s and 1970s I would agree, but the year is now 2005 - been there, done that and, anyway, it's cheaper on the mainland.

It seems the board is again behind the curve. For instance, wrapping one of our few remaining heritage sites (the clock tower on Kowloon side) in a shopping bag highlights the dearth of its imagination.

Why does it appear that these issues have to be exposed by the press before anyone in responsibility takes action?

Could the board tell us what priority it puts on preserving some of the social fabric of Hong Kong? Not words, but plans.

Would the board be prepared to tell taxpayers of its plans and thoughts (or lack thereof) for Central's wet markets (packed with tourists last Saturday), the preservation of the few remaining shop houses on Hollywood Road (one surrounded by a tour group from Taiwan busy taking pictures, again on Saturday), the Central market building (many possibilities for a central city site), the renovation of the outlying ferry pier promenade, what are its thoughts on the incessant 'canyonisation' of Wellington Street, Lyndhurst Terrace? And finally, does the board support the government's plan to plonk a groundscraper (whatever that means) shopping mall smack in the middle of the 'new' Central?

Andrew Stormont, Central

Q Is the discount sufficient to ease traffic congestion?

Obviously not. Hong Kong has always been known for being overcrowded and for its traffic congestion. During rush hours, the Cross-Harbour Tunnel to Hunghom is always congested. The government has tried many ways to ease the traffic conditions, such as putting harsh taxes on imported private cars, and increasing the time between bus-waiting intervals. However, the increase of the eastern tunnel fee on May 1 has worsened the situation.

Although I don't often take the Cross-Harbour Tunnel to get to Kowloon, in these few weeks I have already witnessed the devastating impact and inconvenience that it has brought. The traffic conditions in Central and Causeway Bay have been badly affected - many speedy highways are now congested in non-rush hours. The eastern highway that usually takes about 10 minutes to pass, now takes us about 20 to 30 minutes. The government has miscalculated the tunnel 'business'.

The discount of the eastern tunnel is only a temporary way to ease the congestion. Since the discount applies only to buses and trucks, it provides no help at all for minibus drivers and private car owners.

One of the factors that kept Hong Kong a competitive city was its well-equipped transport network and communication system. If we do not take more action to ease the traffic congestion, Hong Kong will soon lose its uniqueness and become less attractive both inwards and outwards.

Nicholas Ho, Happy Valley

On other matters ...

One wonders how desperate the police force is for money when you find police sneaking up to your car to issue a ticket when your car has been left unattended only for that brief two minutes while you dropped off your child, or when you find them standing right next to the meter waiting for that last minute to expire so they can charge you $320.

Do police really have nothing to do but wait for those unlucky ones who just happened to be late by a minute or two?

I parked my car across from Wellcome on Oxford Road while I went in for some necessary groceries. Before any of the shoppers knew it, two officers had sneaked up and issued tickets to all cars. It is obvious that all cars parked there were shoppers at Wellcome. If we were in any way obstructing the traffic, the officers could have come into Wellcome to ask car owners to move their cars. But no, they had to issue tickets to everyone.

I am sure everyone living around that area knows that traffic in Oxford Road is mild and that the only way for car owners to shop at Wellcome is to park outside the supermarket, unless you can lug your heavy groceries for two blocks where meter parking is available if the few parking spots nearest Wellcome are already taken.

Not everyone in Hong Kong can afford a driver to wait while they shop. If I cannot park outside a supermarket where there is absolutely no traffic and where my car does not pose an obstruction, then please tell me where I am supposed to park?

Name and address supplied