PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 January, 2010, 12:00am

High-speed rail greenest mode of transport

Much of the debate on the proposed Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express rail link has centred on its economic impact.

While supporters of the proposed project argue that it would benefit Hong Kong's economic development, opponents and activists are unhappy that HK$66.9 billion would be spent on a massive infrastructure project that, in their view, would amount to a waste.

They have thus far ignored the scientific consensus that medium-distance, high-speed rail travel is far more environmentally friendly than cross-border coaches and aircraft (the carbon emission of a plane trip per capita is as much as 10 times the same trip on high-speed rail), both of which are very popular.

In this regard, the express rail link is definitely a worthwhile investment, as a measure to reduce the negative environmental impact brought by cross-border travel between Hong Kong and southern China.

In the same spirit, the government's West Kowloon terminus and all-tunnel proposal is the most logical in minimising the rail link's environmental impact.

Alternatives such as the Professional Commons' proposal to locate the terminus in Kam Tin [Kam Sheung Road] would fail to attract travellers from Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and New Territories East who presently use the coach or fly.

Charles Lieou, Kwun Tong

Many question cost, not need

In news reports over the past few days I have read a number of remarks on the building of the high-speed rail link, by important people such as Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.

They seem to be saying that all the voices of opposition are against the building of the rail link.

This appears to be the reason for Mr Tsang's remarks on the importance of the project to the economy and competitiveness of Hong Kong.

However, upon further reading, I realised that many of the objections centred on the cost of HK$66 billion plus, rather than the rail project itself.

Opponents argue that an equally effective rail link could be built with much less public money.

Are some individuals failing to understand the opposition and its arguments, or are they intentionally misleading people?

Wilkie Wong, Pok Fu Lam

Environmental price too high

I do not think that the Hong Kong-Guangzhou Express Rail should be built.

If the project that the government backs goes ahead, residents of Tsoi Yuen village in the New Territories will have to be relocated so the railway can be built.

The government seems to think that the only solution is to offer the villagers money and, if need be, government-owned flats.

It does not seem to have listened to the villagers and asked them what they really need.

A good and responsive government would genuinely listen to citizens.

We also have to consider environmental issues.

If the project goes ahead, a lot of trees will be felled and animals' habitats destroyed.

We need to take greater care of our environment.

It is feared the construction of the railway would put some endangered species at even greater risk.

I am also critical of the lack of public consultation.

The government has not provided sufficient information about its plans to Hongkongers.

It has been suggested that once it is in operation, the high-speed rail link will struggle to become profitable.

Given the high price tag for building it, if it does not generate a profit, taxpayers will incur considerable losses.

There must be full disclosure on the part of the administration before it commits such large sums of money for any infrastructure project.

Because of the damage it will do, we should not build this rail line. Besides, we already have convenient transport links between Hong Kong and the mainland.

We do not need to rely on a Hong Kong-Guangzhou express rail system.

Natalie Jane Fei, Sham Shui Po

Drug risk for drivers

I refer to the letter from Patrick Gilbert ('Test drivers', January 1).

I feel obliged to respond to his concern about driving under the influence of drugs.

Driving under the influence of drugs is an offence under section 39 of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap 374).

A driver who is convicted will have his licence suspended for a minimum of three months and may be liable to imprisonment for up to three years and a fine of HK$25,000.

Existing legislation does not empower the police to require a driver to provide a specimen of body fluid for drug analysis. However, a police officer who has reason to suspect that a driver is driving under the influence of drugs will question that person and search the motorist and the vehicle for drugs.

The driver will be arrested if he admits the offence and if drugs are found.

With his consent, he will be taken to a hospital and a blood sample will be analysed to ascertain the types and amounts of drugs in his body.

A wide range of drugs can impair someone's ability to drive safely. A motorist can be affected by over-the-counter medicine, prescription drugs and illicit drugs.

The government will continue to follow relevant studies and legislative amendments in other countries to assess how Hong Kong's legislation on driving under the influence of drugs can be enhanced.

The government will also continue to remind drivers through publicity and education that taking drugs can impair their ability to drive safely.

David Ng Ka-sing, chief superintendent, police public relations branch

Terrorists fit certain profiles

Kevin Rafferty decries 'controversial racial and religious profiling' in the fight against terrorism ('Intelligence still the best defence against terrorism', January 12)

In the next breath he says that 'good intelligence is the best way to catch terrorists'. Surely the most basic intelligence is to recognise that while not all Muslims are terrorists, all aviation-based terrorists in the last decade have been Islamic. Italians are not outraged if we look for mafia types predominantly among their communities.

Just why should the 'more than a billion Muslims' be antagonised by the focus being on the Islamic community, if, as we are often told, they are against terrorism and there are 'relatively few Islamic terrorists', as Rafferty assures us?

The converse is a politically correct examination of every single passenger, or random in-depth screening, which surely takes efforts away from closer scrutiny of those posing the greatest risk - young Muslim males, especially those travelling one-way, with no luggage and paying in cash.

This is such a basic form of 'intelligence' that the calls in the US for passenger profiling are now bipartisan.

Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay

Wake-up call on illegal dumping

I refer to the letter by R. Hau ('Crack down on illegal dumping', January 12).

Police are aware of illegal dumping. Such activities are often reported to them, but they cannot act, as there appear to be loopholes in our laws. Articles have appeared in the press in which the authors have suggested ways to curb this anti-social problem, but our government has failed to act. Maybe officials would start paying attention if someone dumped waste in Golden Bauhinia Plaza.

I hope some post-'80s activists take up this issue.

Nigel Lam, Kowloon Tong

Promote sport

Although Hong Kong is good at putting on major sports events, it is less successful at getting more children involved in sport at the grass-roots level.

For most Hong Kong children, academic studies are regarded as the priority. Their parents encourage this attitude.

They are taught that they must work hard to succeed in what is a very competitive society. They do not want to be left behind and, therefore, neglect sporting activities.

There are also other distractions, such as surfing the net and chatting with friends through text messages. In many schools, there are not enough PE lessons.

However, sports development is essential so that children grow up leading healthy lifestyles. More must done to encourage our youth to get involved in sport. And there must be a change of attitude on the part of parents.

Ho Siu-ting, Sheung Shui

Foot power

Although there have been calls for more people to buy electric cars, I agree with critics who argue they are not that green.

The production process is the same for all cars. The metal must be moulded and shaped at high temperatures, and this involves the use of fossil fuels and presumably the release of greenhouse gases.

Also, electric cars tend to be more expensive than ordinary cars, so they will not be as popular with consumers. People who own cars will often use them even to travel short distances.

We need a change of attitude. If we can get to somewhere on foot then we should do so, instead of driving. Apart from anything else, the exercise will be good for us.

Leung Chung-yan, Tsuen Wan