PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 January, 2009, 12:00am

Citizens are now standing up to developers

John Cheng ('Strike balance between causes', December 25), is concerned that one of our developers is being unfairly picked on.

Given that all of Hong Kong's richest people are in property, one finds is difficult to view them as innocent victims. There are ample reasons to pick on all developers - Sino Land, and others, for massive tower-wall projects over MTR stations; Cheung Kong and Henderson Land for blocking natural light and air in North Point; New World and Wharf hell-bent on building concrete walls on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront; Swire for its controversial Castle Steps project in Mid-Levels; and Sun Hung Kai for its Manhattan Hill podium. The list is endless but, as Mr Cheng has written a number of letters supporting the Mega Tower project, the developer he refers to is presumably Hopewell Holdings.

He says: 'Hong Kong needs mature political leaders to lead us into the future.' We certainly do and these leaders must have the courage to stand up for their constituents who have had their basic human rights to fresh air, natural light and public open space trampled upon by long-standing cosy arrangements between our government and developers.

The Mega Tower saga is a textbook example of such collusion.

A lapsed application is the basis for this development. To date, no document that validates the extension of building approval in 1996 has ever been produced.

The approval was not extended and the developer and the administration will do anything to avoid any legal process that rules on this and reveals collusion and lapses in due process.

Then there is the question as to how Hopewell was allowed to build QRE Plaza on a designated green site and why the secretary for development is trying to manipulate the Town Planning Board to retrospectively rezone the site. Here, we open another can of worms. Hopewell is not being picked on. Opposition to the Mega Tower is the beginning of the revolt of the middle class against the forces that leave us with a quality of life well below that of the working class in other communities. Young and upcoming politicians are astute enough to recognise this.

Citizens have found their voice and will no longer tolerate being peasants in their own land. Projects that are not compatible with the general good will be contested.

Candy Tam, Wan Chai

Safety of critical importance

We refer to the letter from Chris Singh ('Passengers right to be worried', December 26).

Citybus has duly noted his comments. The company is very concerned about the bus smoke incidents which happened on December 10 and has set up a special unit to investigate the cause of the incidents and explore preventive measures with manufacturers.

Safety is of critical importance to Citybus. As always, we conduct regular and thorough inspections on all buses to maintain them in the safest and most reliable condition, in compliance with the regulatory and safety requirements set by the Transport Department.

Moreover, our fleet is required to undergo the department's random spot checks and annual examination to ensure its safety.

Currently, every franchised bus providing services to passengers must meet the safety requirements and pass the stringent inspections of the department.

Elaine Chan, deputy head of corporate communication, Citybus

Delta vision is so inspiring

A study has suggested that the Pearl River Delta area should be developed in a more co-ordinated and comprehensive manner ('Planners have grand design for delta cities', December 29). This will boost the competitiveness of these cities as a whole rather than creating adverse competition among the cities of Macau, Guangzhou, Foshan , Zhuhai and Hong Kong.

In the 21st century, Hong Kong will increasingly lose its advantages to other cities under the wave of globalisation.

It is therefore important that we seek opportunities to look beyond the physical boundaries of Hong Kong so that we can advance.

I could not agree more that the study has pointed us in the right direction.

However, there are still many details to be worked out and there will have to be a great deal of discussion about how to co-ordinate our efforts.

The creation of delta cities and a 'gold coast area' is a mammoth task and will take at least two generations. For the sake of future generations, we should start the job now.

H. C. Bee, Kowloon Tong

The law does protect choices

I refer to the letter by Roger Phillips ('Misinterpreting meaning of laws', December 30). Religion is a choice, yet it is protected by Hong Kong's Bill of Rights Ordinance and under the Basic Law. The law does protect choices, if it is proper to do so.

That said, and contrary to Mr Phillips' misinformed opinion, homosexuality is not a 'lifestyle choice'. Nor is it to be assimilated with adultery or paedophilia, as he attempts to do.

While the nature/nurture argument has lasted long, only the most hidebound still deny that homosexuality is as natural as being musically gifted (or black). No one can otherwise explain why youngsters would 'choose' a characteristic that often leads to bullying, negative typecasting and, indeed, discrimination. The correct answer is that it was not a choice. In addition, choice or not, human-rights practitioners affirm that sexual orientation deserves protection from discrimination.

It is Mr Phillips, not Nigel Collett ('Citybus owes us an answer', December 22) who misunderstands the nature of anti-discrimination laws.

Paul Darbyshire, Central

On the edge of a slippery slope

Roger Phillips ('Misinterpreting meaning of laws', December 30) misunderstands the nature and importance of choice.

He described a sexual preference for individuals of the same gender as a choice. He also noted the parallels between homosexuality, in this regard, and paedophilia. You do not, however, wake up one morning and decide you are homosexual any more than you might wake up and conclude that you are heterosexual. Sexual orientation is not a choice, a fact which is made decisively evident when such 'choices' are deemed undesirable by others.

Homosexuality and paedophilia are all too frequently lumped together and doing so reveals a notable degree of ignorance.

Mr Phillips suggests that anti-discrimination laws protect 'natural' traits, but that we must bear the consequences of our choices, that choice-based discrimination is neither unlawful nor unethical. So, according to him, we may not discriminate against women, African Americans or albinos, but Buddhists, Democratic Party members and homosexuals are fair game? A slippery slope indeed.

This kind of approach fails in practice because it is frequently extremely difficult to identify and distinguish genuine choices. But furthermore, the value of choice itself is greatly undermined if such choices face arbitrary discrimination.

The recent Citybus debacle has certainly helped to illuminate underlying societal prejudices.

R. W. Y. Tsang, Pok Fu Lam