Central preservation proposals show common-sense approach

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 October, 2009, 12:00am

In his policy address Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen placed a great deal of emphasis on the six new economic pillars - education, medicine, environmental industries, innovative science, cultural development [and food safety and product testing].

He also talked about the preservation of Central and there has been much discussion about this plan.

The aim is to turn Central into an urban oasis for Hongkongers and tourists.

Many of its distinctive landmarks, such as the Court of Final Appeal and the Central ferry piers will be preserved. The main and east wings of the Central Government Offices complex will also be retained.

What Mr Tsang has proposed is significant, because it shows that our government is now trying hard to strike a balance between developing the economy and protecting our cultural legacy.

People are now able to appreciate the value of our culture. They are not so money-oriented.

I am really happy to see such a change as I always believe that culture is an indispensable part of our daily lives. It is therefore worth preserving that and so I support the new blueprint for Central.

I think the administration was right to choose Central for this preservation plan.

It has long been regarded as the core of Hong Kong and has been overdeveloped, leading to traffic congestion and serious air pollution.

These problems can be alleviated if the area is transformed and becomes a venue for recreational activities.

Many buildings there are of great historical value with unique designs. They add colour to our lives.

By preserving them can we pass on our heritage to be enjoyed by future generations.

The project has had its critics. They have said this plan for Central has come too late in the day and is still inadequate.

However, we have to be realistic. Heritage preservation is only possible when the city has a prosperous economy and a stable political set-up.

We have had to face serious economic problems since the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome and there was only so much the government could accomplish. However, things are improving and there is more we can do to protect our culture.

It is certainly not too late to implement this programme in Central. I also welcome the fact that the project will be completed in stages.

Undertaking a lot of preservation projects at once will not necessarily ensure a satisfactory outcome. It is quality, not quantity, that matters.

Given that the administration has now pledged its commitment to heritage conservation, Central, with its distinctive architecture, is the perfect location to carry out that policy.

As I say, this is not a case of too little, too late.

It is better that a government should make some efforts to preserve a society's culture, than just sit back and do nothing.

Li Wing-tung, Choi Hung