PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 January, 2009, 12:00am

What do you think of the decision not to build an MTR station at Happy Valley?

Deciding against having an MTR station in Happy Valley illustrates a short-sighted approach to the provision of a long-term sustainable transport system in Hong Kong.

The Happy Valley-Wan Chai area is badly served by the MTR. This is a result of a decision to delete the original station proposed between Wan Chai and Causeway Bay stations when the Island Line was built. The same mistake is about to be repeated.

The MTR generally plans stations every kilometre along its lines so that people are usually within walking distance of a station. The transport policy is based on a railway-led strategy, and a comprehensive network of lines and stations could achieve this objective by providing a station within 500 metres of everywhere in urban Hong Kong.

Happy Valley is a case where the long-term view of a sustainable transport system - independent of road systems, air pollution and traffic congestion - should be applied, rather than a short-term argument relating to construction costs.

There is traffic congestion in Happy Valley on a regular basis, and this results in major delays at the Queen's Road East/Wong Nai Chung junction, which can lead to major delays in all directions. There is no other practical long-term solution than to remove trips from the road and put them underground in a railway.

This station would also facilitate access to the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital and the racecourse, relieving much of the traffic congestion.

The possibility of an alternative system of pedestrian underpasses to Causeway Bay station is unrealistic. Already the walks through the Causeway Bay MTR station to Times Square are at the limit of what is acceptable. An underpass extension to the heart of Happy Valley would not work.

There is only one opportunity to provide this station and it must be taken now, not only for those going to and from Happy Valley, but as part of a wise policy to provide a comprehensive railway station network to serve all of Hong Kong for the next 100 years and beyond.

Ian Brownlee, Happy Valley

Will you be putting less in lai see packets this year?

I am not married, which means I do not need to distribute lai see, but I would like to express my views on this subject.

Of course, I am happy when I receive the red packets from aunts and uncles, especially the ones containing HK$50 or even HK$100. However, in reality I strongly disapprove of this custom. This is because of my childhood experiences.

My father was a truck driver. He worked hard but did not earn much. Every Lunar New Year, he would worry about the money he had to spend on lai see. It was a real burden for him.

That is why the Chinese call Lunar New Year a 'new year task', meaning a festival that is difficult to cope with.

Actually, the red packet is a kind of blessing given by the elderly to the younger generation. The sum involved should not matter. I would suggest that whether or not there is an economic downturn, lai see should only be HK$10.

Wong Pui-lam, Kwun Tong

Should more hawker licences be issued?

I think more hawker licences should be issued in the future and I think most Hong Kong people would agree with that view. Pedestrians sometimes enjoy being able to buy cheap goods at hawker stalls.

I think issuing more licences would be good for the community. Someone who sets up a hawker stall is running a small business, and it is not easy to start a business in Hong Kong nowadays. People with such ambition face high rents and stiff competition, sometimes from much larger companies, and they face many other barriers preventing them from fulfilling their dreams.

If the government allowed more hawker stalls to exist, then a larger number of people would be able to launch enterprises, and this could help to narrow the wealth gap. However, officials must maintain public order, and so they should restrict the number of hawker licences that are issued.

Restrictions should also be imposed on the location of these stalls so they do not block roads or pavements. It will be up to officials to work out the details of any new hawker licence scheme.

Eric Leung Ka-sang, Wong Tai Sin

Should hiking be banned near hill fires?

The authority has every right to ban hikers access to those routes that are near a hill fire. The hikers will only make things worse for the rescue services if they are trapped by the fire.

Firemen and police officers would already have their hands full dealing with the fire and they would not want to have to deal with another situation. Hikers who go on trails close to a hill or forest fire are ignorant and selfish.

You regularly see reports of serious fires around the world on TV news reports. Sometimes residents lose their homes in these fires, but on many occasions casualties are kept to a minimum because people have heeded the warnings issued by the authorities and accepted the advice to evacuate before the fire reached them.

Thomas Won, Wan Chai

On other matters ...

It seems to me and to a number of my friends that yet again the ticketing arrangement for the Hong Kong Sevens was another shambles.

For the first hour from 10am on Saturday, it was impossible to connect to the Hong Kong Ticketing website. Then I was able to connect, but the website was not working. I tried calling the so-called hotline (31 288 277) from 10.15am and the number was 'unobtainable'. The number remained unobtainable until shortly after 12 noon but was engaged.

I finally managed to connect to the website at about 3.15pm and it worked well enough to inform me that all tickets had been sold.

A number of my friends had exactly the same experience. They too were attempting to connect to the website from 10am on Saturday. Few of them actually managed to connect, but those who did said the website's 'Sevens' page was not working. A number of friends also had problems trying to connect by telephone and had no success.

It is particularly galling that it is becoming more and more difficult for genuine rugby followers in Hong Kong to get tickets for this event. What is even more galling is the sight of masses of empty seats during the tournament.

Keith Maxted, Tai Po