talk back

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 July, 2005, 12:00am

Q Should the Central Market be preserved?

It is ironic that the government is seeking advice from Hong Kong people over whether the Central Market should be put on the preservation list. We all know we have no hope of preserving so-called cultural and historical relics because the government is bent on getting rid of all 'living fossils' and characteristics from our daily life. Spurning dai pai dong, redeveloping Central's Li Yuen Street East and the endless reclamation of Victoria Harbour are a few examples. The Central Market will be the next to face the axe without mercy. We all know its selling price is more valuable than its historic value.

W. M. Ng, Heng Fa Chuen

On other matters ...

The incidence of wheels coming off buses and trucks appears to be increasing and should be of great concern to us all. Detached wheels have been known to demolish walls, maim or kill bystanders and cause damage to other vehicles and/or property. Clearly, they are a growing cause of traffic accidents.

Just imagine the carnage which might result if such an incident were to happen in the middle of a busy shopping area. Over recent decades, buses and trucks have become bigger and more powerful and hence capable of carrying more passengers/ heavier loads. Conversely, the wheels and the way they are fixed to the vehicle have largely remained unchanged.

The main causes of wheels becoming detached include; over or under tightening of wheel fixings, overloading of a vehicle, wheel-bearing failure, differential thermal contraction and improper (damaged or contaminated) mating surfaces.

The use of power wrenches, now so popular in many workshops, may leave the wheel nuts either too tight or not tight enough. If too tight, the nuts will be excessively stretched and not be able to function correctly. However, if they are not tight enough, the wheel will not be sufficiently clamped to its hub.

Over or incorrect loading of a vehicle leads to the overloading of one or more of its axles and hence the overloading of wheel fixings. Overloaded wheel fixings will eventually fail with often disastrous consequences.

Maintenance staff and professional drivers must understand that: wheel nuts wear out and must be replaced from time to time; too much or too little lubricant used on wheel nuts may lead to over or under tightening; power wrenches must be set to a low torque and then a good quality torque wrench must be employed to carry out the final correct tightening using the proper sequence; when a broken wheel nut is detected all should be replaced, not just the broken one; and make sure that the vehicle or any of its axles is never overloaded, and so forth.

I believe that tailor-made, continuing professional development courses should be provided to professional drivers and wheel maintenance personnel to ensure safety.

Iain Seymour-Hart, Fellow of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers

The response from Miranda Leung of MTR Corp (Talkback, July 23) consists of obfuscating spin, attempting to deflect valid concerns raised by Tung Chung residents. It is disingenuous of her to attempt to escape criticism by saying 'no changes have taken place since May'. It is precisely those changes that were being questioned, and which started the continuing debate. The concerns of the travelling public have still not been adequately addressed.

I would suggest also, that the peak period from Tung Chung starts a bit earlier than 7.30am, especially now that the 7.30am train no longer exists. No mention is made of the trip back from Hong Kong in the evenings, which if anything is even worse than the morning journey. Ms Leung tells us that the Tung Chung line was 'designed and built taking fully into consideration the ultimate population'.

I believe that there may be serious design deficiencies that make it unlikely that the line can physically run trains at a greater frequency than every five minutes, due to the poor design and placement of crossovers, and the lack of turnaround facilities at the termini.

For an example of a better design, look at the Tsuen Wan line or, indeed, the Island line, where the trains can and do run much more frequently because they can be quickly turned around at the terminus. To increase the frequency on the Tung Chung line, serious (and expensive) engineering works will be required. I suspect that this is a major reason for the MTR's resistance to calls for increased frequency.

Ms Leung compares the line with other MTR lines. This is not strictly valid, as the other lines probably do not carry as many long distance commuters. However, while we are making comparisons, what about the new KCR Ma On Shan line? This also has long distance commuters who are provided trains between three and six minutes apart with considerably less patronage. Is the MTR being too greedy?

Finally, I really think Ms Leung should leave her office and actually use a peak time Tung Chung line train from Hong Kong station, and see if she can still truthfully maintain that there is plenty of spare capacity.

Peter Stanley, Tung Chung

So now the greenies and Brian Baillie (Talkback, yesterday) are heckling Hong Kong's Environmental Department and Sarah Liao Sau-tung about banning shark's fin at government banquets. Why have they not responded to calls to stop hotels and supermarkets from selling caviar and foie gras.

At least, West Island School, which also joined the protest against shark's fin soup, is on holiday and one hopes that when school resumes, teachers there will not forget to help save the sturgeon and the badly abused fowl.

But from the continued silence of the others, one wonders if the almost extinct beluga sturgeons are less fashionable to save? How about the newly endangered species of sturgeons now the beluga is almost gone?

And is the disgusting habit of staking funnels down the neck of geese and stuffing them with liver-destroying foods more acceptable to Mr Baillie and others because it's an enjoyed staple of western diets.

The media must do an unbiased survey/article and ask these same people who protest about shark's fin if they have ever eaten caviar or foie gras and if they will continue to do so. Perhaps then we will see that what is good for the goose (pardon the pun) is also good for the gander to eat.

Name and address supplied