Heliport noise in Wan Chai will be hardly noticeable
We are responding to your article on the proposed heliport ('Heliport noise will be as loud as jackhammer: study', July 23). This commented on the noise impact of the heliport, off Golden Bauhinia Square, on the nearest residential and commercial developments and the proposed waterfront promenade.
While you used information from our Working Group report, the fact is a heliport as proposed will make noise which is on a par with the ambient noise of a cosmopolitan city. Activities in the streets create noise, activities in business offices create noise, buses zooming past create noise. The spectrum of noise-impact comparison provided in our report is an attempt to be entirely transparent.
However, your comparison between a jackhammer 10 metres away and 'heliport noise' was slightly misleading. The latter refers to the noise generated at take-off and landing only - a few minutes for each movement and say four movements per hour while the heliport is in operation. In short, noise from the heliport will be hardly noticeable in our daily life.
The impact on the environment of a heliport development, which is essential and desirable for Hong Kong, must be considered with extreme sensitivity. We have done our best to innovate and integrate with the surrounding waterfront promenade, to infuse the vibrancy of our harbour and to provide open public access.
On the important issue of noise, we are organising, with the assistance of recognised experts, a test this month to compare helicopter takeoff and landing noise with ambient and different recurrent background noise at the site, as part of our public consultation. And we shall continue to listen carefully to different views put forward. The public debate on this must be fact-based, and we shall do our best to provide the facts.
Sir Michael Kadoorie, in his deputation to a Legislative Council joint panel on January 31, clearly articulated his reason for championing this cause - he saw this important piece of aviation infrastructure as missing for too long without any indication of the government giving it priority, at the risk of Hong Kong failing to maintain our position as an international and regional aviation centre. It is all for the good of the wider Hong Kong community.
SANDRA MAK, Regional Heliport Working Group
Teach intolerant Saudis
I read with great interest 'A different path' (July 30), by staffer S. Wayne Morrison, about his experience of Islam. Morrison writes that he sent a message to his family and friends telling them of his decision to marry and convert to Islam.
I also have a friend in Hong Kong who fell in love with a Muslim girl and was only allowed to marry her if he converted to Islam as demanded by the girl's parents, which he did. If Morrison encountered the same obstacle, this proves that Islam is not tolerant of other religions and suffers from a superiority complex.
Also he seems to call for all people to not merely tolerate but respect other faiths as their own, as preached by Mahatma Gandhi. In non-Muslim nations, I assure you that Muslims have been having it even better than in their homelands. If this is not so, why do so many Muslims never go home, even if they are offered a better financial position there?
Maybe Morrison should seek a posting in the holiest land of Islam, the most intolerant Saudi Arabia. Not a church or Hindu temple is allowed to be built there. Enlighten the Saudis. They can learn a lot more about love and tolerance in all spheres, if that is true Islam, as per his research.
GERALD YUEN, Tsim Sha Tsui
Different kind of cruelty
I refer to the letter 'Blaming the US for Iraq fuels the terrorist cause' (July 27), by G. To. Most nations did support hunting down Osama bin Laden, as well as giving our deepest sympathy to the victims of the 9/11 attacks.
The essence of the wars against terrorists, however, has altered much since the invasion of Iraq. The objective of the war is no longer purely to fight terrorists, but to root US power in the Middle East, to retaliate against the dictator who plotted to kill US President George W. Bush's father and, most important, to seize control of the region's oil. Now that the rhetoric that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction has vanished, what are the grounds for the US keeping its troops in other countries?
There is no doubt that the US has brought in some freedom, but it has also spread hatred, fear and suffering. Iraqis are living in an unprecedented state of terror - endless bombings and fighting. Mr To cited the 'Freeing Iraq' rhetoric of warmongers in the US. But how true is this?
I do not support the acts of the terrorists, but I have great sympathy for the suffering people in the Middle East. From their perspective, the US and other western countries are giant terrorists. Remember the cruelty of Alexander the Great and Rome. Now the powers' cruelty is through economic threats, and bullying weak nations to sell their resources cheaply. You can appreciate their resentments.
CHAN KA-SHING, Yau Ma Tei
Answer on mainlanders
In 'Mainland quotas rising' (July 30), the principal assistant secretary for education and manpower failed to convincingly explain why mainland students are not allowed to come to Hong Kong to take - unlike local students - overseas top-up degrees offered through a local university.
Indeed, Irene Young appears to be saying that it is okay for local students to take courses regulated under the Non-Local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Ordinance - which confirms their acceptability to the government in terms of standard; otherwise what is the point of the ordinance? - but it is not okay for mainland students to take them.
Here she brings in a massive red herring about the mainland authorities, 'who will have to be satisfied with the quality of the programmes'. This has nothing to do with the mainland authorities. If it has, who is setting the agenda for education in Hong Kong? You cannot on the one hand say that these degrees are good enough for local students, but on the other hand, exclude mainland students from taking them on the grounds that they are not. There is no logic to this exclusion. Ms Young's answer is a good example of how not to answer a straightforward question.
D. B. HUNTER, Sai Kung
Examinations have always been a burden for Hong Kong students - for example, the Hong Kong Certificate of Education exam determines whether they will continue to study en route to university.
Students know that they have only one chance in the HKCE exam. They must not allow any mistakes to creep in, so that they get a place to study next year. Pressure builds up, causing many psychological problems.
I think that when school assessments are counted from 2009, it will benefit the students greatly, helping them to shed some pressure and evaluate their abilities more accurately. School assessments will reflect their real-life abilities instead of their memorising technique.
VINCENT LEE YUK-SING, Tsing Yi
Will China reciprocate?
The first Chinese tourists on a package tour entered Britain recently. Such a tour has been described as 'a dream come true'. Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth's second son, welcomed the first arrivals at a reception in the Tower of London. Now that the British government is bending over backwards to facilitate these visits, perhaps the central government could reciprocate in its treatment of British subjects entering the mainland. I refer to the regulation whereby British subjects must obtain a visa before they reach the border, whereas other nationalities can obtain an entry visa on arrival. Also, I understand that a British tourist will be charged more for a visa than other nationalities.
J. WILSON, Yau Ma Tei