Slice of Life

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2007, 12:00am


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From the South China Morning Post this week in: 1973

Kai Tak was feeling the strain as early as 1973, and one site for a new airport was ruled out for a reason that now seems ironic ...

Three possible sites have been suggested for a second international airport in Hong Kong to ease pressure on Kai Tak. Consultants carrying out a HK$6 million study on Hong Kong's aviation future are looking at the merits of a new airport in Sai Kung, Sha Tin or on Lamma Island.

The need for a second airport to take some of the strain off Kai Tak was pointed out again this week by the airport's general manager, Ken Smith. He spoke of the 'tremendous' problems and pressures on land-starved Kai Tak, and the strain would increase 'unless you are fortunate enough to establish another airport elsewhere'.

The Civil Aviation Department has refused to comment on the calls for a second airport.

It is known, however, that the possibility of a second, 'satellite' airport is one of several alternatives being studied by the Los Angeles consultants, Ralph Parsons and Co. They are building up a dossier on the strain of increasing air traffic into Kai Tak. Three million passengers passed through last year and air traffic is doubling every three years.

Civil Aviation Department officials accept that Kai Tak will have reached peak capacity by the early 1980s - its single runway can take only 35 flights an hour. Of the three suggested sites for a second airport, Lamma is being practically ruled out on the grounds of immense spending to build a link bridge or tunnel.

People, it seems, were more than happy taking matters into their own hands:

An angry mob of 100 Sai Kung residents - mostly elderly women - clashed with police who tried to serve closure orders on their houses.

The Tseng Lan Shue villagers attacked a platoon of 'Blue Berets' with farm tools and brooms as the officers advanced on them. Earlier, 'sentries' beat gongs to summon villagers when about 100 policemen marched into the village about 11.40am.

The villagers formed a ring around four structures that had been declared dangerous by the Buildings Ordinance and where closure orders were to be served. When the police advanced on them, they were attacked with brooms, poles and hoes.

The officers managed to break through the human 'defence' to serve the orders. However, the villagers tore down the orders. Three policemen and one 61-year-old woman were injured in the incident.

Commenting on the incident, Sai Kung district officer Clive Oxley said the closure orders were intended solely to protect the public in case of collapse and 'do not necessarily mean the affected buildings will be demolished'.

'I have personally explained the reason for orders to the villagers, and the 25 people affected have moved out voluntarily - with one exception.' Mr Oxley blamed certain 'leftists who simply chose to not accept the British law' for stirring up the trouble.

More than 100 restaurateurs planned to rally public support to make it legal to play mahjong during feasts and party occasions.

They claimed their businesses would be gravely affected if the police continued to arrest players during their pre-feast games in restaurants.

The vice-chairman of the Hong Kong and Kowloon Restaurant and Cafe Workers General Union, said the government had long allowed such games. 'People have been playing mahjong during or before their feasts. They need to have some relaxation to get away from the daily hum-drum routine.'

But contrary to tradition, he said, police have recently started arresting players.

'This is arbitrary enough. For if the police didn't do anything about the 'illegality' of the game in the past, why should they harass us now that such games have become part of Hong Kong's culture?'