Brakes

Talkback

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 July, 2008, 12:00am

What do you think of the seaplane proposal?

With regards to H.C. Bee and his letter concerning the seaplane proposal (Talkback, July 16), I would like to draw his attention to the fact that this idea has been around since 1998, when I proposed an idea for seaplanes to the Tourism Board (then the Tourism Authority).

I suggested using a seaplane to fly short trips up and down the Pearl River Delta. It could also be used to fly short hops to outlying islands where tourists could enjoy the aerial beauty of the territory. The package would include stopping at two or three islands during half-day or full-day tours to have lunch, sit on the beach or go somewhere accessible. These routes would operate in conjunction with selected local tour agencies and they would offer special trips such as spending the Mid-Autumn Festival on a beach, or a short night flight around Victoria Harbour. The main experience here would be taking off from and landing on the harbour.

The seaplane terminal would reflect a visual display of the early history of the city, with paintings, photographs, short films and musical accompaniment. All staff would wear period costumes that mirrored the interior design of the terminal. Such a design could include, for example, wooden fans hung from the ceiling. A rickshaw concession would operate a service to and from nearby hotels, or operate a route around the Kai Tak area, allowing passengers to drop off at taxi ranks if so required.

Since then I have mentioned this proposal several times, but without success or interest being shown, despite it being supported by substantial planning and research. I, too, think that it is exactly what the city needs.

Nick Mason, Lantau

We can only hope that a seaplane will again grace the skies above Hong Kong and Macau. Not only would it be a great attraction, but it would bring back some romance to the city. But let's not stop there; why not an airship? It might take a couple of hours, but what a lovely way to travel across the Pearl River Delta.

It does not take much to imagine a flight, drinking champagne, a pleasant lunch then arriving in style in either of the cities. These are ideas that will help bring in more people.

Stephen Anderson, Macau

What do you think of the standard of road safety?

The two fatal accidents on Hiram's Highway and Garden Road caused by fully laden coaches could have been avoided if the government had made 'endurance brakes' compulsory by law.

In the European Union, [Automotive Industry Directive] 71/320/EEC requires that all vehicles over 5 tonnes with more than eight passenger seats must pass a Type II-A test, which means driving at 30km/h on a 7 per cent down gradient for a distance of 6km without engaging the normal brake.

This means there must be a system in addition to the normal friction brakes (usually disc brakes or drum brakes) to absorb the energy. This could be an engine brake, hydraulic retarder or electromagnetic retarder.

In the recent accidents, both buses concerned had no such endurance brake.

Without one, brake linings heated by prolonged braking could lose friction, hence 'No brake! No brake!', which is what the driver in the Garden Road accident apparently yelled ('Girl killed, 32 hurt in Central bus crash', June 30).

Franchised bus companies in the city deserve applause in this respect.

All double-decker buses owned by KMB, Citybus and New World First Bus have automatic transmissions with retarders installed. The fully laden weight of such a bus is 24 tonnes, but they all brake very well with the retarders.

In recent years, coaches from big private bus companies such as Kwoon Chung have also upgraded to have automatic transmissions with retarders. But this is done voluntarily by operators with better safety sense. It can only become standard if it is required by law.

The city usually has a high standard of transport laws (for example, the Euro IV emission standard at the same pace as Europe). Let us also raise the standard of laws concerning road safety.

W. Yeung, Aberdeen

On other matters...

I refer to the report ('Mother gets probation for neglect', July 10), about a mother who was put on probation for 'neglecting her two young children, who were burned after being left at home'.

Children who are two or three years of age cannot take care of themselves. They have not developed fully and need their parents to help with even their basic needs. When children are left at home, they are the ones who pay the price. If there is an accident, they can be left emotionally and physically scarred for life.

It is not the children's fault, as they are too young to understand. It is the fault of the mother and a society where the parents get a slap on the wrist.

There are so many cases in this city where parents leave their children alone. What are they thinking? Don't they have any common sense? This is a vibrant city that has a lot to offer. Why not offer day-care facilities for the children without charging the parents? It can be managed by volunteers who are trained to do this. This issue has remained unresolved for a long time. The government should work on this issue immediately for the sake of all children - a precious gift that should be given top priority. Don't worry about more malls. Build day-care centres so children can be in a safe place.

Michele Kalish, The Peak

Working in Central, it can be difficult to find a place to have lunch.

Every day, when I leave my office in Central at around 12.45pm, whatever eatery you look at, it is busy. Every little food store, restaurant and fast-food shop is full of people. It is impossible to find a seat. People probably think that white-collar workers in Central are mostly well heeled. What I find interesting is that they often line up outside the fast food store to buy a cheap lunchbox or eat at the cheaper restaurants. The queues are longest at these places.

Central, in reality, is like the rest of this very diverse city. You can see BMWs, Jaguars and Mercedes-Benz cars everywhere, but you also see poor old ladies collecting cardboard on the same street. You can see people enjoying a high-class lunch with wine in a hotel lounge, and in the same area there are construction workers, insurance agents and stock brokers, all in the same queue for the HK$23 lunchbox. These are the unique features of our capitalist 'one country, two system' society.

We should all take the time to enjoy that diversity.

Eric Wong, Hung Hom