PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 April, 2007, 12:00am

URA promises only benefit developers

In his letter, 'Canyon-effect claim is unfounded' (April 19), Paul S. W. Leung of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) says it will implement measures to ensure good ventilation at the Peel Street/Graham Street project and more than 1,000 square metres of public open space will be provided.

To residents of Tsim Sha Tsui, this promise has a familiar ring. When the Hanoi Road redevelopment was presented to residents many years ago, we were promised 1,200 square metres of landscaped open space, street landscaping and provision for parking of tour buses to alleviate congestion on our streets. However, as the project nears completion, it is now clear that the developer has been allowed to greatly increase the floor space, and public facilities, if any, will be minimal, polluted and unattractive. The promised landscaped open space is, in fact, a canyon-like passage blocked at one end by a multi-storey footbridge linking the high-rise buildings on either side. The URA has advised that parking for only eight tour buses will be provided.

Residents have had to endure more than a decade of disruption, obstruction, construction noise, and dust and visual pollution during the various phases of the redevelopment programme, and for what? New World Development will make billions in profit while the local community will get a few potted plants on a congested pavement.

The mandate of the URA is to revitalise urban communities, not clear out residents to allow property developers to maximise profits. Unfortunately, our representatives in the legislative and district councils have taken no steps to monitor this project to ensure the developer delivers on the promised public facilities. Legislative Council representatives for West Kowloon have not even deigned to respond to my letters on this topic.

Complaints to the URA are met with the statement that its projects 'evolve' during the construction phase. Those with reservations about the Peel Street/Graham Street project need be under no illusion: the evolution of this project will only favour the developer, and any promises made now are mere window dressing and disposable.

Mary Melville, Tsim Sha Tsui

Accountability loophole

We should all thank Frank Ching, 'The missing link on accountability' (April 24), for drawing our attention to a loophole in government accountability which many may have missed.

There is now, apparently, no law requiring the government to preserve its records. Is it not a requirement in law that companies should keep their accounts for seven years and their minute books indefinitely? Does the Legislative Council not have to keep records of its meetings indefinitely? Do consultants not have to keep their site records for 12 years? Yet the government can, and does, destroy its records whenever it likes, even if the documents might be required in a court case.

It is wrong that government officials should be allowed to work to lower the standards of accountability required of the people they purport to govern.

Even worse is the news that this deterioration in government self-discipline has come about since 1997, when such care of public records was required by law. The public should demand an answer to the question: when will government accountability be returned to the standards that existed here up to 10 years ago?

Ken Bridgewater, Tai Po

Turning a blind eye, HK-style

Your correspondent, 'Some happy with police' (April 17), was surprised when police took no action against the hawker selling fake Louis Vuitton wallets on Queen's Road Central. He is obviously a newcomer to the city.

Enforcement of any regulation in Hong Kong is deemed to be the sole responsibility of a designated sector and officers belonging to another sector would not dream of getting involved.

Residents who object to the constant harassment from fake watch/bag touts on our streets and call on patrolling police are advised that any action must come from customs officers. Police walk past vehicles that are blatantly ignoring parking regulations because enforcement is considered to be the duty of traffic wardens. Every now and then there is a crackdown. However, in a day or two it is business as usual - safe in the knowledge that all you risk is a verbal warning, the mainstay of law enforcement Hong Kong-style.

Karen Greene, Tsim Sha Tsui

Protect the free market

The Liberal Party and the Consumer Council must stand up and protect the free market in Hong Kong. The restrictive contracts being pushed by telephone, TV and internet companies - renewed without the written consent of the credit card holder - bring the free economy of Hong Kong into disrepute.

The law should protect free market competition by allowing consumers to revoke any service contract with three months' notice.

Long-term business should be earned.

Sam Chow, Central

Hypocrisy in Iran protests

The Asia-Pacific humanists are watching the declarations from European and United States leaders against the Iranian nuclear programme with dismay. It is estimated that the US nuclear arsenal in Europe alone has reached 480 warheads.

To these numbers must be added the 350 warheads of France and the 185 of Britain. Therefore, we are talking about a Europe from which more than 1,000 nuclear weapons could be launched to any point of the planet.

The US controls an arsenal of over 10,500 nuclear weapons.

We denounce the hypocrisy of political leaders from the European Union and the US who protest against the Iranian nuclear programme.

All these countries have signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), while not even respecting the commitment to dismantle their own arsenals.

We insist that the only solution is to apply the same criteria to everyone.

We denounce the fact that the real escalation of conventional and nuclear armament is paid for with money that nations should be investing in health care and education.

We invite the governments of India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea to ratify the NPT and, together with the governments of the US, Russia and China, dismantle their arsenals.

Simultaneously, we invite the Iranian government to renounce their nuclear ambitions and instead invest in renewable energy sources to safeguard their oil reserves if this is their desire.

We ask that a proportional and progressive disarmament plan be defined by the UN, with deadlines for the dismantling of nuclear arsenals, with appropriate, independently verifiable checks and controls.

The nuclear powers should be legally bound to respect this plan and expect to receive sanctions for non-fulfilment.

May the Asia-Pacific region play its part in building a peaceful world, the vanguard of a universal human nation, based on non-violence and solidarity.

Tony Henderson, chairman, Humanist Association of Hong Kong