Pointless cross-border express link is a case of misplaced priorities

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 November, 2009, 12:00am

The government keeps telling us that the cross-border high-speed rail link must be built, otherwise we will be doomed.

It also brushes away a counter-proposal for a line that would save more than half the construction cost 'of HK$65.2 billion' ('Express rail approved - at 65pc price rise', October 21). To ordinary people, this alternative proposal seems like common sense, but our administration disagrees. It surely must know something that we do not.

The world has come a long way since we had to rely on moving things and people around. We should embrace a vision of the future which entails more people working from or at least near their homes.

Having thousands of people working and living hundreds of miles apart presents a very sad vision of the future. What we need actually is not something to take us physically further in at greater speed. But something that will do that in an academic sense. Instead of building a high-speed railway to move people, we should build a high-speed line to move knowledge. We can do this by investing in people. Imagine putting an extra HK$50 billion into education over the next five years. How much more could be achieved? If we could establish Hong Kong as an international human resources centre, we would never be marginalised.

I would not mind taking a longer ride somewhere, if I felt that at my destination I could find real opportunities. Likewise, people will not mind spending an hour longer to get to Hong Kong if what we have to offer is of unique value. Hong Kong has substantial reserves and yet we do not have enough money for critical things. Many people have to wait for years to get medical treatment. In some cases they get worse while they wait. Some old people may have to wait years to get into an old folk's home; some will die before they get their place.

We talk about developing a knowledge-based economy, but cannot even ensure all our school students have access to a computer. The list goes on. And yet we are so ready to spend HK$65 billion on a rail link that we can do without. Shame on those who let the government have its way.

J. Y. K. Cheng, Quarry Bay