Swire Group


PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 April, 2008, 12:00am


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Have you had problems using public open space?

I write in reference to the continuing debate about when a public space is not a public space.

I am astonished by both The Center (where I work) and Taikoo Place (where I dine most nights) for their naivety regarding their legal entitlements.

There seem to be many falsehoods surrounding not only right of access, but also how far that access is stretched.

Taikoo Place is on Tong Chong Street, which I believe to be a public thoroughfare, yet it is often blocked off by Swire Properties for whatever shindig they see fit or by digging it up at regular intervals.

People are forbidden from taking pictures of either The Center or Taikoo Place because of some weird idea that the pictures are the commercial property of a building. That would seem even more bizarre considering most tourists to Hong Kong take pictures of our beautiful skyline.

I must add, however, that Taikoo Place is not one of the most attractive office areas in Hong Kong, so perhaps Swire should be happy that someone wants to take pictures of it.

I would certainly welcome a more concerted effort by the government in educating both commercial property developers and management about their rights, and a quick investigation into the actual ownership of Tong Chong Street in Quarry Bay, which I am guessing would prove very interesting.

Callan Anderson, Taikoo Shing

How can sex workers be better protected?

Many people are concerned about this issue following the murder of four prostitutes.

Being a prostitute is considered an immoral job, and it would appear that because of this, some people, including some police officers, are reluctant to help them. However, regardless of what job someone does, he or she is entitled to work in a safe environment.

To offer sex workers more protection, I think the law has to be amended.

At the moment, sex workers work out of one-woman brothels. This means they are at serious risk of being targeted for robbery or assault.

We should not be seen to be encouraging prostitution, but we should be willing to ensure that they have a safer environment and face fewer risks than they do at present.

We have to try to get rid of the bias we feel when it comes to prostitutes. There has to be a change of attitude, and that includes police officers. The police have to pay more attention to the safety of sex workers.

Officers should take seriously any reports of incidents involving sex workers, and people who live near these brothels should treat the prostitutes as normal people and be willing to help them.

In a sense, we should see society as one big family. Prostitutes should be accepted as part of that society.

Olivia Wong, Yau Tong

Should height limits be imposed in Happy Valley?

One issue that should not be overlooked is the increased traffic congestion that the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital expansion programme will generate.

The hospital entrance is at the junction of Village and Shan Kwong roads and is already a cause of frequent gridlock.

Amazingly, the district council and Transport Department refuse to consider comprehensive changes to the one-way system or traffic signals at this junction on the grounds that - even after doubling the size of the hospital - 'the traffic along Village Road will not increase [significantly] upon completion of the new building'.

One can only assume that none of these wise administrative officials have ever had to sit in one of the epic weekend traffic jams on Village Road.

Paul Gardiner, Happy Valley

On other matters ...

I refer to Craig Gibson's complaint over a '60-metre-tall advertisement showing a nearly naked guy on a building in Central' (Talkback, March 27).

Perhaps Mr Gibson has not noticed but it is the very nature of Hong Kong's advertising and billboard edifices that attracts tourists to our shores.

They scour the city, cameras in hand, aghast at the sheer number of advertising hoardings.

The advertising industry in Hong Kong is unique in so many ways. And, apparently, it is working, as the tourists keep coming and the adverts are certainly noticed, hence Mr Gibson's letter.

I, for one, actually like the dramatic billboard in Central.

Would your correspondent be objecting if the focus of the advertising campaign was female?

The vast majority of recent visitors to the city whom I have spoken to like the advertisement.

Lloyd Gaffy, Singapore

Candy Tam (Talkback, March 21) complains of the service at the British consulate in Hong Kong. My experience there has been just the opposite.

When I urgently needed to get a new passport because of a family emergency, the consulate staff were most understanding and sympathetic. In fact, they very helpfully issued my new passport while I waited.

You could not ask for a more efficient service, so let's give them some credit where it is due.

Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels

I am glad the schools have reopened after the Easter break. Their sudden closure last month was chaotic, for students, teachers and parents.

I think we are all ready, psychologically, to come back, and that it was the only practical thing to do.

If the schools had not reopened, the Education Bureau would have been severely criticised. The longer the schools remained closed, the longer the term would have lasted. This would have meant a delay in the start of the summer holidays, and this might have resulted in further chaos.

Furthermore, health experts have confirmed that the present flu virus is a common one ('Schools set to reopen after flu outbreak', March 26), so there would have been no reason to keep the schools closed.

Esther Chan, Sheung Shui