PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 August, 2009, 12:00am

URA gives priority to developers' needs at expense of residents

I refer to the report ('TST towers skewer new height limits', August 23).

Irene Chan, of Midland Realty, spoke about the internal sales of HK$20,000 per square foot at New World Development's The Masterpiece. This used to be known as the Urban Renewal Authority's Hanoi Road Redevelopment. She said: 'This kind of luxury building is not targeting people on the street but loaded buyers, mostly from the mainland.' This comment certainly puts projects under the URA into perspective.

Critics of the URA have claimed all along that its purpose is to move small businesses and clear ordinary Hong Kong people out of their homes. It sends them to reside and eke out a living in far-off new towns in the New Territories and East Kowloon so that property developers can build expensive investment opportunities in our most desirable inner-city locations.

The URA website claims is redevelopment projects target 'old, dilapidated buildings with poor living conditions. These sites will be replanned and rebuilt to achieve clear environmental and social benefits such as open space and community facilities'.

It also talks about assembling 'larger areas of land for comprehensive planning'.

With regard to The Masterpiece, it is patently obvious that the only truth in this statement is the bit about assembling large areas of land for comprehensive planning, not for the benefit of Honk Kong people, but to provide more half-empty 'investment' towers like those on West Kowloon. The Masterpiece is a monolith blocking ventilation and views.

In order to add an extra dozen or so floors Cornwall Avenue was closed off and included in the site. This has exacerbated already poor traffic flow. Where are our legislators and district councilors when Hong Kong people are being well and truly shafted?

Sitting in their offices and approving the process are staff of the Lands, Buildings and Planning departments, ever ready to expedite each and every suggestion on the part of the developer to increase the size of its project and generate more profits.

The same scenario is about to be repeated in Wan Chai and Kwun Tong. The URA Godzilla must be stopped in its tracks and exterminated.

Candy Tam, Wan Chai

Officials have woken up too late in the day

I refer to the report ('TST towers skewer new height limits', August 23).

Officials, senior staff at the Urban Renewal Authority, and environmental activists, all of a sudden seem to have woken from a great slumber and realised what is going on in Tsim Sha Tsui. However, the damage has already been done.

For more than 20 years I have been trying - through these columns - to draw attention to the problems that were simmering and a development that was affecting Mody, Hanoi and Carnarvon roads.

URA officials had cordoned off this once-vibrant business district for far too long, using town planning as an excuse. After public consultations and public protests, this area was given the green light for development, and we were promised there would be features for the public to enjoy.

However the developer hijacked the plans with the blessing of lawmakers and the URA by creating The Masterpiece. It resembles a giant tombstone. This is fitting, given that because of what happened, over a quarter of a century, business opportunities in this area were stymied and ventures died. The massive structure casts a dark shadow over the lives of residents in the Yau Tsim Mong district. They have to live with the 'wall effect' and the traffic bottleneck this development will create.

Developers have become so powerful that they dictate their own terms. Legislators let this happen, and now they to want to flex their muscles 'with more big skyscrapers despite new curbs imposed last year'.

In effect, they are challenging Legco, and I say good luck to our lawmakers.

They bulldozed over the wishes of ordinary people. They will probably do the same with the Legislative Council.

Nalini Daswani, Tsim Sha Tsui

Working five-day week is good for your health

I refer to Sherryn Hancock's letter ('Long hours are bad for our health and for the well-being of society', August 16).

I have no doubt that working long hours is bad for people. It puts them under great pressure. This can cause insomnia and lead to domestic problems.

Employees who have not had enough rest will be less efficient in the office, and the quality of their work will suffer. If this is widespread in the workforce, then the company's overall performance might suffer.

The government set an example with the [civil service] five-day week policy. I would like to see this policy implemented by more companies. Achieving it requires co-operation between employees and employers.

Peter Tang, Sha Tin

Why student drug tests must be implemented

Many drug abusers had their first experience of narcotics in school. Therefore, although it is flawed, I support the drug test scheme in schools, and I would like to see it implemented as soon as possible.

I feel that teenagers who start to take drugs do so mostly out of curiosity or through peer pressure. Their are risking their lives and so random tests are necessary.

Critics have said it is a violation of pupils' privacy. However, nothing is more important than teenagers' welfare.

As I said, these young people are putting their lives at risk and they need help.

Therefore, the drug test scheme must be introduced swiftly, before more innocent students suffer.

Tracy Wan, Kwai Chung

Government trying to tackle pollution

I refer to the letter by Lorraine Kennedy ('Bad air puts next generation at risk', August 9).

I appreciate her concerns over air quality in Hong Kong, but I feel she is being too pessimistic.

Also she focuses on problems with our air, but we have to recognise that there are other forms of pollution, such as marine and noise pollution.

Also when it comes to laying blame, it is clear that the factories in Guangdong are largely responsible for the deteriorating quality of air in the city.

To be fair, the Hong Kong government has implemented policies aimed at environmental protection. For example, there is the Action Blue Sky Campaign and the government broadcasts an advert in an effort to get people to stop idling their engines.

Instead of just complaining about the pollution problems we face, we should try and come up with practical solutions.

I am sure that prompt and effective action can be taken to deal with these problems.

Paul Yim, Sha Tin

Thaksin should be granted royal pardon

I refer to the article 'Unite or Thailand could collapse, king warns', (August 23).

It was reported that a petition signed by 3.5 million people, seeking a royal pardon for 'fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra' has been submitted to King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

I think that Thaksin should be pardoned by the king.

I believe that during his time as prime minister Thaksin brought prosperity to the Thai nation.

Once he has been pardoned, he can return to the country with his honour intact.

I would like to see him supporting and assisting the government of Abhisit Vejjajiva, and once Mr Abhisit's term of office has expired, this would be an opportunity for Thaksin to become prime minister again.

K. M. Nasir, Mid-Levels