Helipad will be bad for environment
Michael Kadoorie and fellow members of the Hong Kong Regional Helicopter Working Group are not happy because of the decision of the Town Planning Board to allow only two landing pads at the proposed helipad facility to be built on the pontoon beside the Convention and Exhibition Centre. This decision takes into account the fact that the project does not fulfil the criteria for harbour reclamation.
The group is now trying to bully our government into allowing the construction of a further two landing pads on Golden Bauhinia Square. The square is public open space. With the closure of pedestrian facilities on the Central waterfront it is also the only space left in the area that is large enough to host open air public gatherings, the very successful closing ceremony of the Olympic torch relay being the most recent. Many local residents are concerned about the negative effect the heliport will have on the public's right to enjoy one of the few open spaces left on the harbour front.
Commuters on the Star Ferry do not welcome the thought of deafening noise overhead and even choppier waters. No environmental impact assessment of the effect the noise will have on our very important convention and conference facilities has been published. When the consultation on building two landing pads on public open space is launched it is the duty of every concerned resident to send a strong message to the working group that Hong Kong people will no longer roll over and allow our rights to a better quality of life to be trampled over.
Candy Tam, Wan Chai
We must get priorities right
A rethink of the Central-Wan Chai bypass and cross-harbour tunnel facilitating the Sha Tin-Central rail link is now needed, following the government's decision not to appeal against the Court of First Instance ruling on the debate on temporary reclamation ('Planners face harbour rail, road rethink', May 4). This means that the planned completion for the Sha Tin-Central link will be delayed and possibly by up to a few years.
This all hinges on the debate on the meaning of temporary reclamation. Who is right?
The court has accepted the views of the opposition that any 'temporary' reclamation also falls squarely under the protection of the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance and hence the government cannot proceed with its planned construction method.
An alternative is that if the government can show that there is an overriding public interest. This might be another debate.
It is wise that the government has chosen to drop out from this groundless debate and look for other construction methods.
The administration did not lose and the opposition did not win either.
The public will have to suffer for another few years for the rail link to be completed. Who is the loser?
We all want to protect the magnificent Victoria Harbour and we also have to realise that any construction works will have a significant impact on our environment.
There is no such thing as a free lunch.
So why should we argue over the meaning of temporary reclamation and affect the convenience of millions?
At the end of the day, unless the bypass and the cross-harbour project are dropped, whatever construction method is chosen will affect the harbour to a certain extent. The Sha Tin-Central rail link project was first initiated back in 2002, and it will not now be completed until 2020.
How long should it take to develop our city? The Beijing Terminal 3 was designed and constructed in under four years and it is double the size of Chek Lap Kok. Does our society know how to weigh its priorities so that our city can advance? I have a lot of doubts.
H. C. Bee, Kowloon Tong
Proud of our civil service
Regarding lost government data, I do not agree with the legislator who said, 'it is just the tip of the iceberg' ('Government owns up to fifth case of missing data', May 1).
Based on the past performances of our civil servants and quasi-government bodies, we cannot deny that civil servants, as a team, are one of the best in the world.
Our disciplinary force is well respected worldwide.
We, as Hongkongers, are proud to say our Independent Commission Against Corruption's performance is second to none when compared to other similar organisations in the world.
I would also like to pay tribute to Dr Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, director general of the World Health Organisation.
Tsang Ka-yuen, Sheung Wan
Legislation is long overdue
As former director of the Government Records Service, I have to ask if, despite its previous assertions that all is well with government record keeping, the government now recognises that the time has come for this basic function and responsibility of government agencies to be supported by an archives ordinance ('Government owns up to fifth case of missing data', May 1).
Around the world, jurisdictions are reviewing and updating their archives legislation so they are in line with current international standards and best professional practices. Modern legislation provides for the keeping and management of current government records, not just archives, in all formats - electronic as well as paper records. Record-keeping experience elsewhere has shown that administrative guidelines alone are not sufficient. A legislative framework that imposes obligations on record creators and users within government to create, maintain and protect government records is also required.
Given recent events relating to the loss of electronic records, surely our government is not still going to claim that it can manage its records efficiently under administrative guidelines?
The mainland, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Australia, Germany, Britain and the US, all modern states exercising a wide range of government functions, have archives legislation.
On what basis, does the Hong Kong government seriously believe that it can be the exception?
Don Brech, Causeway Bay
Fearing for fate of bears
I refer to the photo of beautiful black bear cubs being hand-fed at a breeding facility in Mudanjiang , Heilongjiang province ('Bear necessities', April 26). I wonder if anyone seeing the picture has given any thought as to the fate of these bears.
I have come to two possible conclusions.
At best, either these gorgeous and intelligent creatures will end up at the Heibao Bear Paradise, a theme park, or they will end up at a bear bile farm.
At the former, they will be trained to entertain ignorant humans.
The second option will see them being confined in a restricting cage with a steel catheter driven into their side in order to milk their bile for a pharmaceutical company.
Here they will remain for the rest of their long lives, unless by a miracle they could be rescued by the Animals Asia Foundation which fights an uphill battle to end this despicable practice. Neither of these fates are what could be called 'necessities'. I would be delighted to be proved wrong by any readers.
Mara McCaffery, Sai Kung