What do you think of the revised Mega Tower project?
Hopewell Holdings has made it clear it is willing to listen to public opinion and so it will cut its proposed Mega Tower in Wan Chai by 38 floors ('HK$20m plan to save trees at tower site', November 20).
This will be the first project in Hong Kong where the developer is not seeking to maximise the gross floor area. In terms of maximising on the land value, it is not a wise commercial decision and Hopewell probably owes its shareholders a solid explanation as to the rationale behind making such a drastic decision.
On the other hand, the public will welcome the move and the project may not seem so 'mega' now.
It is still a mystery how the government endorsed this project in 1994, given the traffic problems, which are even worse today. Will the scaled-down plan ease fears of projected traffic problems? This will not be made clear until details of a traffic impact assessment are made public.
We have to ask if the revised hotel plan will be compatible with the environment and will it really bring new life to Wan Chai district? I am not convinced.
Wan Chai is a historic area and the key activities in the district happen at street level.
The hotel project will make no connection with Wan Chai's heritage. What, in effect, is being proposed is just another Pacific Place. Just look at the impact of Pacific Place 3 on Wan Chai.
It is just another commercial building, glassy and cold without the human touch.
Is this what we want for Wan Chai? It would probably be best to build some kind of community centre or a Wan Chai museum on the site.
Although I would agree that it is a big step forward for a developer to sacrifice additional profits in response to community needs, the basic issue is that the hotel project is in the wrong location.
This site is not suitable for such a project. Why can't the developer appreciate this simple fact?
H. C. Bee, Kowloon Tong
It was great to hear the news that the developer was willing to cut 38 floors from Hopewell Centre II.
It is trying to bring it below the Hong Kong Island ridge line and reduce the effects on the views of the hill.
Trees will be transplanted and be allowed to grow.
The developer has shown that it recognises it has social responsibilities and is not just concerned about making money.
It will stick with the proposed road improvement works, which will include widening Queen's Road East, and I am sure residents and workers will save time in traffic.
I am also pleased that Hopewell Holdings will restore the grade-one listed historic mansion Nam Koo Terrace.
It will become a popular scenic spot.
Yvonna Fung, Tsuen Wan
I am pleased that Hopewell Holdings has shown that it respects the views of residents and green groups regarding the Mega Tower hotel project.
Not only is the revised plan reduced by 38 floors, but the developer has also promised to preserve a green area between Kennedy Road and Queen's Road East. This will reduce any perceived problem of the 'wall effect' in Wan Chai. It sets a good example to business.
There are few green sites in Wan Chai. Shopping malls, apartment blocks and hotels cover most of the land.
Up until now the priority of businessmen has been to maximise profits at the expense of the environment and residents.
However, the Mega Tower developer is willing to accept smaller profits and is doing its best to improve the environment. This project is an example of a developer accepting social responsibilities.
The project will 'provide construction work for 1,500 and 4,000' ('Mega Tower height cut by 38 floors', November 20), which is good news during the economic downturn. Looked at from all the angles, this is a win-win project.
Cheung Yuk-shan, Tsing Yi
I live on Kennedy Road and I know the facts that are being side-stepped by the government. The only vehicular entrance to this hotel will be on Kennedy Road, not Queen's Road East.
Not only will this hotel serve its own guests, but it will also be turned into a conference centre for potentially another 1,000 plus visitors. This means more coaches and taxis on Kennedy Road.
Our residential neighbourhood will be turned into a commercial zone and we will be stuck in much worse traffic.
This project is simply not viable in terms of traffic and common sense tells us that already.
C. A. Lee, Wan Chai
Should poor families receive subsidies for extra-curricular activities?
A subsidy should only be offered to students for extra-curricular activities if the family cannot afford to pay the fees. For example, if a student from a low-income family is keen to learn a musical instrument, or join the Scouts and needs to buy a uniform, a subsidy will be a necessity.
However, if the student is joining an extra-curricular programme which is free or costs very little, then there is no need to provide a subsidy.
Offering subsidies when appropriate to poor students will help them get involved in society.
It sends a message to them that even though they are poor, they are entitled to fair treatment and to a share of resources.
Mandy Chan Man-hang, Lai Chi Kok
Poor families should receive subsidies from the government for extra-curricular activities.
There has been a greater diversification regarding studies in schools as Hong Kong has to remain competitive in the face of challenges from other areas of Asia.
If students only focus on their studies, they may become less competitive when they enter the job market. That is why they are encouraged to join activities.
However, many low-income families cannot afford such activities and are losing out. The parents, who may be on welfare, have to get by on tight budgets. These young people have to join the same competitive market as youngsters from a better-off background.
Though the government does offer subsidies, the present system does not appear to be working. Many children are still not getting the financial help to which they are entitled. This may be due to lack of promotion. The government has to produce more adverts so students are made aware that help is available.
Venus Choi, Yuen Long