talk back

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 December, 2006, 12:00am

Q Do we need tougher laws to protect trees?

I read the articles with a great deal of interest because we are facing exactly the same problem but this time it is the government cutting the trees.

Our road (Castle Peak Road) was widened to accommodate a four-lane highway and prior to the start of work, there were lots of very tall trees along the road. For the sake of improving the road, the Highways Department cut down all the trees.

We were promised at the time that the trees were merely moved and would be replanted when the road was completed.

We were also told that new trees would be planted at the site. Now the new highway is completed and the workers have packed and left. We are left with an open footpath and not a tree in sight.

The Lands Department is so keen in investigating the tree hacking incident at Leung King Estate, perhaps it should be equally keen to pursue an investigation into how so many trees were destroyed without any effort to replant new ones.

Diane Chan, Sham Tseng

Q Should discussions be reopened on demolition of the Star Ferry pier?

Your news report ('Star Ferry clock could be put back in action, says Big Ben custodian', December 19) on Monday's Legislative Council's planning, lands and works panel meeting should have further reported that it emerged that the demolition contractor had actually agreed to allow a Hong Kong green group to collect the two demolished but intact sections of the Star Ferry clock tower.

However, the contractor retracted this offer a few hours later, saying the clock tower must now be delivered to a landfill.

After intensive questioning by legislators, the Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan, revealed that the clock tower had been dumped in a landfill but she failed to elaborate on who ordered this.

It was further revealed after questioning that there was no intention to preserve the historic Queen's Pier - with its simple and beautiful architectural lines - or to remove it intact and re-erect it as part of the Central reclamation: it too would be demolished in the coming weeks - in its place would be a memorial plaque noting that this was the site of the Queen's Pier.

The only people 'higher' than the permanent secretary are the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen Ming-yeung and Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.

Did one of them specifically direct that the clock tower (which at one moment was about to be 'saved') be sent to a landfill and have they also specifically directed that there will be no re-consideration in preserving or relocating Queen's Pier?

I and many others are at a complete loss to understand such stubborn determination to destroy historically and culturally important architecture.

And, also, why is there a complete refusal to engage in constructive dialogue.

Is anyone willing to answer?

John Batten, Sheung Wan

As a pedant with little better to do on a Tuesday night, I felt I ought to point out that your report ('Star Ferry clock could be put back in action, says Big Ben custodian', December 19) on the Star Ferry clock tower - sterling as it was - included a glaring error: Big Ben is not a clock, it's not even the tower.

Big Ben is the name of the bell whose famous chimes are the signature of the Palace of Westminster in whose wonderful clock tower it hangs.

Mark McCord, Lamma

To those that say that Queen's Pier has even less of a reason than the Star Ferry pier to be preserved, I wholeheartedly disagree with you.

How can one write off its quaint black and white waterfront structure complete with granite walls and a gently sloping roof as insignificant?

Are Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen Ming-yeung so focused on money that they must push their agenda at the chagrin of the Hong Kong public and even their own legislature?

This leads me to believe certain members of our government have no soul, no feelings, and whose only intent is to turn Hong Kong into a soulless, repetitive shopping mall. Some may concede that Hong Kong is a city of progress. Yet how much 'progress' could it be if it benefits no one (inconvenience), it creates more problems (a new highway will only create more traffic) and is forced undemocratically down our throats by a bunch of bureaucrats?

Nathan Tseng, Mid-Levels

Q Is The Link Management treating doctors unfairly?

I do wonder whether doctors are really voicing their opposition on behalf of patients or merely for their own benefit. I am not sure how much of a 'rent increase' was imposed on doctors, if any.

However, I guess their consultancy fees for patients have been adjusted in recent years. If so, they have already been charging patients more while their rent stayed unchanged for years. It is widely believed that doctors at public housing estates enjoy lower-than-market rents.

I am not sure what doctors operating in other premises think when those who have clinics at public housing estates get such privileges.

Quite likely they would not be so enthusiastic about opposing The Link's proposal. In fact, just ask a few doctors operating at private shopping malls and you will find how much they long to move to public housing estates to operate. To them, such a position is just like a gate opening to more business with lower costs. Who else would resist such an opportunity?

Therefore, if doctors at public housing estates really think they cannot stand it any longer, no worries. A long queue of doctors is waiting outside anyway.

Kitty Liu, Tai Po