Island Eastern Corridor

Talkback

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 April, 2009, 12:00am

What do you think of plans to widen Hiram's Highway?

I am a former permanent resident of Hong Kong living in Stockholm.

I moved to Hong Kong when I was three and lived there for 16 years. For the last nine years, my home was in Sai Kung, and I loved it. Even before moving there, my family used to spend a lot of time in Sai Kung.

It was a good way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. My father and I would head up into the hills and fly kites, have picnics and ride bikes.

Visiting Sai Kung and the rest of the New Territories is a unique experience, considering that Hong Kong is one of the most stressful and fast-paced places on Earth. Therefore, I was shocked to learn from a friend about the plans for widening Hiram's Highway.

It goes completely against what Sai Kung represents. Its appeal and uniqueness lie in that it has not been completely overrun by highways and skyscrapers like Kowloon, or worse, Hong Kong side.

There are other options. My friend tells met that other suggestions have been put forward to deal with the congestion problem.

The Swedish government has imposed a traffic-congestion charge. Surely, such a charge could be introduced to deal with the problem of increased traffic flow into town and would make people think twice about whether to use their car or take the bus instead.

A congestion charge would also help ease the pollution problem in Hong Kong. So the government would be killing two birds with one stone.

Sai Kung is a safe and friendly place. It is unique - a relaxed and welcoming community. A highway is not compatible with my image of Sai Kung.

People go to Sai Kung to experience something that is different from the rest of Hong Kong. Let us keep it that way. Let Sai Kung be.

I hope the voices of those opposed to widening Hiram's Highway are heard by the relevant officials.

Martina Holm, Stockholm, Sweden

What do you think of Hong Kong's electric car

It is refreshing, if rare, to see a Hong Kong government official show some vision and a can-do attitude.

I am referring to Environment Secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah, who said his department would give the support needed to allow electric vehicles (EVs) to prove their viability.

As for where to trial these small electric cars, where better than in Discovery Bay? We already have around 500 golf carts specially licensed as 'village vehicles'. They are not really roadworthy, and for Discovery Bay residents their replacement by electric cars would be a step up in safety and efficiency. Why not allow these EVs to replace the golf carts over time?

Such a phase-in would allow time to iron out teething problems.

Perhaps Mr Yau could prevail on his colleague in the Transport Department to allow the use of battery-assisted bicycles to be ridden on roads as bicycles, as they are done elsewhere in the world.

Again, Discovery Bay could be the testing ground for that, as there are already quite a number here, green, but 'unofficial'.

This could be done quite simply by the commissioner of transport showing some determination.

Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay

On other matters...

I refer to the letter from Jacky Kwok Hon-cheung (Talkback, March 24) regarding the West Kowloon terminus of the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express rail link.

Mr Kwok was referring to the report ('Explanation sought over plan to sacrifice seafront to terminus', March 19). I would like to clarify that the terminus of the express rail link will be an underground station. It will be located between Kowloon station and the new Austin station, with the main entrance on the north of Austin Road West.

The southern part of the terminus, which will extend into West Kowloon Cultural District, will be underground, while the space above and the seafront will remain part of the cultural district development. The construction of this scale of terminus and the surrounding roadwork will, however, require a construction site in the area.

Part of the cultural district has been identified to support the construction, and piers will be erected at the seafront so all material excavated can be taken out on barges. The MTR Corporation will, as far as possible, try to keep the traffic in the West Kowloon area to a minimum.

The MTR Corp always attaches great importance to enhancing the sustainable development of Hong Kong in addition to providing fast, safe and convenient rail services for to our commuters. The express rail link will benefit tourism industry and allow Hong Kong to have better social and economic integration with major mainland cities.

Jenny Tam, public relations manager, projects and property, MTR Corporation

We refer to the letter from Susan Spencer (Talkback, March 31) questioning the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department's use of cat traps.

Last week, Protection of Animals Lantau South (Pals) also had occasion to raise the issue of government procedures regarding these traps. Our case involved a kitten, caught and subsequently removed by the department.

It was claimed by Pals, desexed and micro-chipped, and returned to its Cat Colony Care Programme area - a scheme run by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals targeting stray and feral cats.

The next day it was captured again by a security guard who had 'borrowed' the trap from the department.

On pointing out how counterproductive and open to abuse this was, we were horrified to be informed that members of the public were entitled to 'borrow' traps since the department had neither the staff nor resources to deal with all cat problems.

Allowing animals to be caught in traps by inexperienced people would seem irresponsible in the extreme and could lead to any manner of mistreatment, torture or death. How can the department have any guarantee that those using their traps will do so in a humane and acceptable manner?

Here again is an example of the government's short-sighted policy of 'catch and kill' as opposed to prevention in the form of stringent deterrents, enforced legislation and education.

Jacqui Green, Protection of Animals, Lantau South