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Letters

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 April, 2011, 12:00am

Grade A office will create heat island effect

Architect Oren Tatcher's argument suggesting not turning a concrete block into an urban oasis, but instead turning it into a bigger block, completely misses the point ('You can't turn a concrete block into an urban oasis', April 12).

I am sure by now most people can recognise the phrase 'urban heat island'.

A recent study by Professor Emily Chan of Chinese University's public health department attributes an increase of heat stress related mortality of 1.8 per cent for every degree beyond 28.2 degrees Celsius.

The urban climatic map that the Planning Department has published indicates that the areas around Central Market are experiencing a daytime urban heat island temperature of four to five degrees beyond the norm.

Scientifically, we all know what is causing it - bulky buildings forming walls blocking the needed air ventilation; podiums that occupy the whole site leaving no air volume around them; man-made materials that increase the thermal capacity of the urban environment; and the lack of urban greenery.

An oasis exists in a desert, not next to a park.

As an urban designer, one should try to improve the environment where it is most needed.

When examining the urban climatic map more closely, it is evident that a few areas in urban Hong Kong are problematic.

The Central/Sheung Wan area, that measures roughly one kilometre by one kilometre, is in need of mitigation measures.

Providing green spaces is an effective strategy. In the vicinity, Central Market, Central Police Station and Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters are the only remaining large open spaces yet to be filled. They must all be preserved.

Ask an old lady pushing the cart, making a living under the sun on the street if she wishes to see yet another Grade A tower with blank glazed facades filling the only remaining gap on this portion of Queen's Road Central. I am sure she will tell you a story closer to memory.

It would be more humane for her to be able to take a moment to rest and take refuge from the hot and scorching sun of a Hong Kong summer in an oasis (fake or not).

If she tried to do that in a Grade A office block, she would probably be kicked out by the security guards.

Of course, none of that matters if, as members of the architectural profession, we can afford to dream about architectural philosophy and enjoy a cup of cappuccino behind the glazed blank facades of the Grade A office towers.

Yes, I can agree that you cannot turn a concrete block 'easily' into an urban oasis, but that does not mean you should instead build office towers of whatever grade.

We already have too many of these buildings. Let us give life a chance in this area and think about making money elsewhere.

Professor Edward Ng, School of Architecture, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Wrong target for macho men

I refer to Public Eye's satire on Hong Kong's macho men hailing from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and swooping on a 72-year-old egg-waffle seller ('Old hawker an easy target for crime-fighters', April 13).

It prompted me to issue a challenge to these macho men. They should arrest those drivers and their passengers who are guilty of the all-too-familiar practice of dumping rubbish and cigarettes on Hong Kong's roads and streets. I have witnessed this on many occasions.

Macho men, don't bully the old, helpless and weak. Show some courage in front of those culprits who pose a greater danger to Hong Kong citizens.

H. Hiew, Fanling

Give egg-waffle hawker a break

Egg waffle is a traditional street food and may be considered part of Hong Kong's culture.

I feel sorry for the waffle maker Ng Yuk-fai, fined for illegal hawking. In Central you see shoeshiners. They have obtained licences, so why not Ng? Why can't the government give him a chance to carry on with his business legally?

He wants to earn money by his own efforts rather than claim CSSA and yet he is being stopped from doing so. Where is the justice in that?

He should not be denied his right to work. Many Hongkongers like eating egg waffles so Ng should be given the opportunity to earn a decent living.

Lee Tong, Shun Lee

College not part of community

The Zheng Sheng College PR machine is running again, this time making a variety of questionable claims about its role in the Mui Wo community.

In a recent radio interview, [college principal] Alman Chan Siu-cheuk claimed the college was part of the Mui Wo community and said it also had businesses there. Indeed, they have been commercial premises which have no staff and are never open. And there are no Zheng Sheng students integrating themselves into the community.

I am sure those people in Mui Wo, many of whom campaigned for the reopening of the Mui Wo school, would be very surprised to hear Zheng Sheng believes it is part of the community.

The college reveals a flawed understanding of how a true community works. Its present strategy [to be allowed to take over the school] can only be compared to finding an uninvited guest in your home who insists they already live with you, while helping themselves to your best crockery.

Unlike South Lantau residents, Zheng Sheng has different bases and properties in Hong Kong. By contrast, the school was built in the heart of Mui Wo to serve the community and the children of South Lantau and the outlying islands.

For an educational charity to take away the only school building belonging to a community seems to be a wholly uncharitable act.

If Zheng Sheng College wishes to be integrated into Lantau, it would do well to respect the community, not exploit it.

Tania Willis, Lantau

Candidates will foot the bill

I refer to Terry Scott's letter ('CE poll race funding a farce', April 15).

The government has recently proposed to adjust the election expenses limit for the chief executive election from HK$9.5 million to HK$13 million.

The election expenses by individual candidates standing in the chief executive election will not be funded by the government. Such expenses are to be met by the candidates themselves.

Justifications for the increase were set out in a paper for the Legislative Council panel which met on Monday. Details are available from the panel's webpage (www.legco.gov.hk/yr 10-11/english/panels/ca/papers/ca0418cb2-1504-1-c.pdf).

Unlike other elections, the government does not provide financial assistance to the chief executive election candidates. Candidates may raise funds from different avenues to finance their election campaigns.

The election expenses limit is just a ceiling on the maximum amount of money a candidate can spend to promote his candidature in the election.

Freely K. Cheng, for secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs

Long-term solution feasible

The problem of falling rolls is getting serious. with some schools facing the threat of closure. I think small-class teaching can help to solve this problem.

With smaller classes, teachers would be able to spend more time catering to individual students' needs.

Teachers would find it easier to handle students and their workloads would get lighter.

Teaching can be a thankless task. With this new scheme, teachers would get more work satisfaction.

This could help to upgrade the quality of education in Hong Kong.

Given that the problem of falling rolls is long-term, what we are looking at with small-class teaching is a long-term solution.

It can help prevent the closure of institutions and stabilise school development programmes.

Michelle Suen, Yau Tong

Small classes not the answer

The gradual introduction of small-class teaching is surely not a viable stop-gap measure for the problem of failing student rolls.

When there are not enough students, we try to cut down the size of the class to make the situation of falling rolls look better.

If the number of students keeps dropping, are we to continue reducing the size of the class? Of course not.

We must come up with a better solution to the problem.

Coco Tsang Tsz-yan, Sha Tin

Backing charges

A great deal of electronic waste is generated in Hong Kong, which is why the government is proposing charging consumers and vendors recycling fees.

I would support such a measure. I think people would think twice about discarding an electrical appliance if they faced expensive recycling fees. This could help to solve our e-waste problem.

People should give greater thought when it comes to throwing away an appliance.

If it is broken it can be easily repaired. They should not automatically discard it and buy a new product.

Also, manufacturers should try and make their appliances more durable and they should use recycled material in the manufacturing process.

The costs charged by repair firms to fix electrical goods should be at reasonable levels so that people are more reluctant to throw them away.

Law Ka-man, Kowloon Bay

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