Public rejects over-engineered paths and parks
I read with interest Mark Peaker's letter ('Pointless Old Peak Road wall would block a lovely view', May 3) opposing the government's third attempt to build barriers on Old Peak Road path.
Lung Fu Shan Environmental Concern Group wishes to thank Mr Peaker and all of the 426 people who were walking on Old Peak Road and stopped to write down their opinion on the reply slip for the consultation process that the government is currently doing.
The overwhelming majority (97 per cent), including several visitors to Hong Kong, said 'no' to the walls. We have forwarded their responses to the government.
The current consultation has been extended to May 30, so we urge people to write to the district office and express their views (firstname.lastname@example.org). Central and Western District Office has refused our requests to arrange a meeting with all the concerned parties so that we could discuss the proposal.
Its refusal is especially disappointing as its mission is to enhance communication between the government and the public. We hope this will be our last on-site public survey about barriers in Hong Kong, as the previous ones - including the one done by the government - showed the public is fed up with such barriers.
Since 2009, we have expressed concerned over the government's attempts to save us from ourselves by trying to erect railings, walls or increase wall height in Hatton Road, Old Peak Road path and Chatham Path, as well as catchpit covers that cause damage to the environment.
We urge officials to think long and hard about the wisdom of erecting these barriers in our country parks. They should undertake a review and remove the unnecessary ones. For example, they should halt the work they have started in Hatton Road.
Vivian Leung, chairperson, Lung Fu Shan Environmental Concern Group
Filipinos proud of democracy
Filipinos are having a general election next week, and those of us living away from the country have had the privilege of voting in advance.
Our consulate and some volunteer groups established the means for us to do this. It was done electronically for the first time here and in Singapore.
What stayed with me after I cast my vote, besides admiration for the efficient way the system was run, was the sight of the migrant workers flocking to the Bayanihan Centre in Sheung Wan to fulfil their democratic obligation.
It displayed hopes for a better future.
This is crucial for the multitudes who have had to toil abroad as a result of decades of bad governance at home. And even though some Filipinos see no hope at all unless our current system of government is completely overhauled, and others keep wishing for a Singapore-style form of authoritarianism, most feel we must exercise our patriotic right no matter what.
My day at the polls brought to mind a cartoon that featured in the South China Morning Post some years ago.
It was of a Hong Kong couple and their daughter having a meal, with a Filipino maid hovering in the background.
The child asks: 'Mummy, daddy, how come Marcelita can choose her country's president and you can't?'
Indeed, Hong Kong's democrats could learn a thing or two about how the democratic system works from those they view as menials. And though I realise folk like Elsie Tu will continue to label the Philippines democracy's big failure, the fact remains that Filipinos prefer freedom to authoritarianism and continue to hope for change. It is a cause of national pride.
Isabel Escoda, Lantau
Crowd manners must improve
One of the biggest challenges Shanghai may encounter during its six-month World Expo is not how to deal with infrastructure or transport problems, but how the Chinese people will behave.
This is an international event and people from all corners of the globe will be heading to Shanghai. Chinese citizens have been criticised for littering, spitting and shouting. They should try to avoid doing such things, as it could leave a negative impression with visitors.
I was concerned to see footage of the pre-fair event, which was open to Shanghai residents.
They did not queue up, they took photos even though 'no photography' signs were clearly displayed and they left behind rubbish after they had eaten their meals.
I appreciate China is a developing nation, but its citizens must try to shed these bad habits and behave better, especially when the country is hosting a world-famous event like expo.
Lau Kayi, Kwun Tong
Citizens can clean up image
China has been preparing for the World Expo in Shanghai for almost three years. As a Chinese, I am proud that the country can hold such a huge international exhibition.
However, I have been concerned by some aspects of the expo. For example, some hawkers are selling fake mascots near the entrance to the site and are thereby defrauding tourists.
Also, the behaviour of many visitors on the opening day was unacceptable.
They did not queue up or follow the instructions of the security personnel, especially at the Expo Performance Centre and the China pavilion.
They snatched tickets and pushed and jostled. Impolite behaviour like that does nothing to improve the image of the country.
The government has done a good job preparing Shanghai for the expo.
Now it is up to China's citizens to be on their best behaviour.
We must make it clear that we are enthusiastic about the expo, but also ensure that we behave in the correct manner.
We must help to make this a wonderful expo that our foreign visitors will never forget.
Karen Lee, To Kwa Wan
Victory shows city has a heart
It looks as though Hong Kong people have been successful in their attempt to save Wing Lee Street in SoHo from demolition.
This is important for a number of reasons.
First, this area of the city is part of our collective memory.
It is also the last complete street of tong lau [Chinese-style tenements] with the shophouse layout.
Buildings like this were designed in the 1950s and 1960s because they were practical.
While we must have development projects that ensure Hong Kong remains an international city, the government should also protect our heritage and our remaining historic sites. And yet it seems that SAR citizens are always having to fight to protect these locations. Unfortunately, we failed to stop the demolition of Queen's Pier and the Star Ferry pier in Central.
Our success over Wing Lee Street was in part due to the award-winning film Echoes of the Rainbow, which was shot in that neighbourhood.
Second, this street symbolises the spirit of a community.
For example, one of the residents is a silversmith who has made medals and trophies for the Jockey Club using a hammer and handcrafted tools. There is also a printing press, which illustrates how Hong Kong's printing industry operated.
The government must do more to prevent what is left of old Hong Kong from disappearing.
We should treasure these examples of the past before they disappear for ever.
Kathy Chau, Kowloon Tong
Ship museum belongs by sea
I have no idea what is eating Winston Chu of the Society for Protection of the Harbour ('Maritime museum must not deprive public of pier access', May 1).
For years he has been the voice of reason on increasing awareness among the public and the government of the unique treasure we have right in the middle of Hong Kong - Victoria Harbour.
Surely it would be good to raise Hongkongers' awareness of their maritime history. Creating a great maritime museum on the waterfront would be the best way to do this.
It would make no sense to banish the museum to the wastelands of the planned West Kowloon Cultural District.
Rob Grool, Quarry Bay
Cyclists now a traffic hazard
It is that time of the year when men on bicycles slow down traffic in Island Road and Repulse Bay Road.
These men, who are often dressed in colourful outfits, are a real nuisance to bus drivers as they cannot overtake.
May I ask these gentlemen to move their hobby to some countryside road? I noticed that most of them are in their 40s, so I guess a mid-life crisis put them on these bikes.
Why don't they do the usual thing and buy a Porsche or a Ferrari so we can all cruise at normal speeds in Repulse Bay?
Hendrik-jan Stalknecht, Repulse Bay
Ban all flags at Cenotaph
I refer to the letter by Cynthia Sze ('PRC flag right for memorial', April 30).
In one corner the PRC flag, in the other the Union Jack? I say 'a pox on all your flags'. The Cenotaph should be flagless.
It should commemorate all who have died in useless wars throughout eternity, wherever they are in the world, in the hope that the scourge of war, and the petty nationalism and lack of respect for others that incites it, will one day become extinct.
J. Fearon-Jones, Macau