PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 June, 2008, 12:00am

Fatal flaws in fuel efficiency suggestions

In his letter ('How to save fuel and reduce our petrol outlay', June 23), Tommy Hui, former advisory committee chairman, mechanical engineering, Hong Kong Polytechnic University suggested 'measures we can take to make our costs lower and to use fuel more efficiently in our vehicles'.

His points - on accelerating slowly and smoothly, driving at optimal speed, checking engine conditions and not accelerating or braking too hard - are recommendations one can readily find in all car owners' manuals and are nothing that car owners don't know, except those who do not bother to read the manuals.

Mr Hui suggested filling up petrol tanks at cooler ground temperature, saying that the 'cooler the ground temperature, the denser the petrol' so drivers 'pay less for more'.

This is far too theoretical to be practical.

Also, Mr Hui seemed to think we can save petrol by pumping slowly.

This is a scenario which is only applicable overseas.

Here, in Hong Kong, attendants in the forecourt fill up petrol in cars. They set the amounts and the pumps do the filling automatically and at a set speed.

I was disturbed by Mr Hui's recommendation to get 'better tyres with less road friction' and 'the more you can reduce it the better'.

First, better tyres are promoted as providing better grip (in other words more friction), for better directional control and stopping that are conducive to safe driving.

Less road friction is readily found on bald tyres or on those that are accidentally contaminated with grease.

As such, these are very dangerous.

On how to save fuel and reduce our petrol outlay, I have the following ideas (which are beneficial to drivers and to the environment) to suggest to Mr Hui.

Cut down on unnecessary car journeys;

Rely less on cars and turn more to public transport;

Stagger journey time when driving to avoid peak hours; and

Walk instead of taking any form of transport for short trips.

Fuel costs are currently causing havoc in most economies worldwide.

Driving down the demand on petrol sensibly but substantially enough could force prices down.

Charles Chow Chi-man, Sheung Shui

Keep Tamar's 'green carpet'

What I liked most about the winning design for the Tamar government headquarters was the 'green carpet' concept.

The architect behind the scheme proposed a large area of green lawn, making a connection from the urban area to the waterfront.

I believe this is the most crucial design element that made the scheme more attractive than the other proposals.

The building itself is just an ordinary curtain wall structure.

I am disappointed to learn from the recent Central waterfront public consultation that the green carpet concept is not seen as a necessity.

In the consultation process, two rather different waterfront schemes were offered to the public.

I believe that Hongkongers want to see a green waterfront.

It would be a misrepresentation of their views if the design that is chosen does not embrace the large green lawn that was seen at the Tamar public exhibition last year.

I think we need some clarification on this matter from the government.

H. C. Bee, Kowloon Tong

Museum left high and dry

The government's recent proposal to build the M+ 'mega-museum' in West Kowloon at a proposed cost to taxpayers of nearly HK$5 billion is utterly dumbfounding. If the government is indeed concerned that the city is in danger of becoming a cultural backwater, perhaps it would be better advised to look at the state of existing museums in the city.

The Maritime Museum, despite seeking to celebrate and raise awareness of one of the most integral aspects of Hong Kong's development, is currently struggling for funds.

I believe that it has not received a single cent from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

Given the Maritime Museum's importance to Hong Kong, this is shameful.

Rather than expending a vast amount of taxpayers' hard-earned money on a glamour project such as the M+, it would be far more encouraging to see the government contribute a fraction of those funds to a worthy and culturally relevant project such as the Maritime Museum.

David Beaves, Clear Water Bay

Poor buildings a safety issue

I refer to the recent incidents of debris falling from buildings ('Taxi damaged as debris falls off another building into the street', June 21).

I wonder if the Hong Kong government has any enforceable laws and regulations to safeguard the safety of the general public. Apart from personal safety, the unsightly scene of those old buildings with faded paintwork damages the image of Hong Kong as a cosmopolitan city, not to mention as a tourist destination.

Frankly, there are very ugly residential buildings situated in upscale areas with commanding harbour views next to the Eastern Island Corridor, because there is no consensus among the owners to give these buildings a timely facelift after almost 20 years.

Anyone visiting Singapore in the past 10 to 20 years will have been taken aback by the clean and orderly image projected by the extremely high standard of external wall maintenance for practically all the buildings.

All buildings have to be maintained and painted every five years by the owner associations, otherwise the government will appoint a contractor to do so and send the bill to the owners directly. While I do not suggest such a heavy-handed approach in Hong Kong, this is an issue which should be taken seriously, in order to ensure public safety and to protect the global image of our city.

Our lawmakers and officials should take a proactive stance to deal with this matter.

K. S. Chan, Tuen Mun

Poultry coup

Even while legislators debate the desirability of competition legislation, there is a large organisation with deep pockets buying up all the diverse and competitive retail outlets of an important commodity to create a monopoly.

Inevitably this newly formed monopoly will remove competition resulting in higher prices. Without the incentive of any competition, lower quality will result. Taste will go out of the window. The consumer will again suffer.

Yes, I am referring to the government's nationalisation of the live chicken industry. We must keep this monopoly fox out of the chicken coop.

Jeremy M. Barr, Kowloon City

Callous attitude

A pledge that it will not happen again is not enough ('Apology over evictions at hotel', June 20). The evictions at the Tatami Hampton Hotel in Mong Kok should not have happened at all.

The distress caused to the hotel's guests by the bailiffs taking possession of the hotel was entirely foreseeable and preventable, if only the relevant officials had used their initiative.

Such an uncaring attitude of civil servants must be corrected.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan