PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 July, 2011, 12:00am


Central faces second-class waterfront

The Society for Protection of the Harbour is in complete agreement with Dick Groves ('Don't waste potential of waterfront', June 18).

Hong Kong people should be aware that our 'world-class city', as promised by our government, will end up taking second place to Singapore.

Unlike the city state's modern and striking Marina Bay waterfront, a centrepiece of our Central harbourfront will be a huge, ugly ventilation building for the Central-Wan Chai bypass. It will sit in front of the Four Seasons Hotel and ruin our internationally admired cityscape.

The tragedy is that no one knew about this building, as no details were given. There was never any public consultation. It was only recently brought to the attention of the public and the Harbourfront Commission. When strong objections were raised during a commission meeting, the government claimed it was too late to change the plan. This is unacceptable.

As Mr Groves rightly pointed out, our Central harbourfront is the most important urban development site in the world. It is a strategic asset and should symbolise Hong Kong. We must get it right, because there will not be another chance. Once completed, the new harbourfront will be practically for all time.

The government should plan the waterfront in the public interest and for community needs as an investment for Hong Kong's future rather than entrusting its development to private interests, as is now being proposed.

Over the years, our society has done all it could to try to give our community a quality harbourfront. We applied for a judicial review in the High Court of the Central reclamation plan and to the Town Planning Board for a review of the Central Reclamation outline zoning plan to improve the design.

We successfully persuaded the environmental and planning panel of the Legislative Council to pass motions asking the government to review the planning for the Central harbourfront.

All these were to no avail. Cosmetic changes were made, but there was no substantial improvement.

We recently proposed to the Harbourfront Commission that a Central harbourfront development authority similar to the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority be created as soon as possible to undertake the task of giving Hong Kong people a Central harbourfront that we can all be proud of. Such an authority is needed to properly develop the plan and to implement it. It is now up to the community to demand from the government a genuine world-class Central harbourfront for Hong Kong before it is too late. If Singapore can do it, why not Hong Kong?

Winston K. S. Chu, adviser, Society for Protection of the Harbour

Local schools fine, but we need options

I agree with Cynthia Sze regarding our local schools ('Nothing wrong with our schools', June 27). My children have benefited in many ways while attending government schools. However, it would be extremely difficult to immerse a child in the local system if he or she had not attended from a very young age.

Hong Kong must provide educational options to maintain our role as an international city. These could involve a means-tested education grant for use in English Schools Foundation or international schools and controlling admission to international schools, as is done in Singapore. Ms Sze states that it is too late for free rides from the vanished British empire. Yet millions of dollars every year are spent on allowances for civil servants to educate their offspring in Britain.

Should Ms Sze take on these disloyal compatriots, I would be very pleased, as these funds could enhance local schools greatly. It is they who need educating about the benefits of our local schools.

Phillip Walker, Wan Chai

Disqualify lawmakers who resign

Regarding the controversial rules proposed for by-elections after the resignation, death or incapacity of an elected legislator, the solution is fairly simple.

A legislator who resigns for any reason should be disqualified for re-election in the current Legco term.

In the event of death or other incapacity, such as dementia, a by-election should be conducted under the present arrangements. I don't think anyone can argue with that.

Any legislator who resigns can always get back into Legco in the subsequent election if the electorate likes him or her enough.

W. K. Wong, Central

Curb use of mobiles for health's sake

Many people appear to be addicted to mobile phones.

However, research has now linked their use to a possible cancer risk. The research is intended to cause public alarm, and I think health issues must be considered.

For example, some people constantly use the touch-screen functions on their mobile phones, and this can result in pain in the fingers, leading to chronic injuries.

Also, use of mobiles by drivers has been linked to an increase in road traffic accidents. People who use their phones while driving, even with a hands-free kit, are easily distracted and are four times more likely to be involved in an accident.

To avoid the hidden dangers of mobile phones, I think we should limit their use and children should be discouraged from using them, because they are especially at risk with their developing nervous systems. If adults want to use a mobile, they can choose to minimise their exposure by keeping calls short.

Rosanna Chiu Tsz-yau, To Kwa Wan

Banks, too, should be penalised

On June 21, the Securities and Futures Commission announced on its website that it had fined Sun Hung Kai Investment Services HK$4.5 million for its sale of Lehman-linked products.

Could the SFC please explain why the banks involved in the sale of Lehman products were not also fined?

Glenn Turner, Wan Chai

Partner with Macau as an alternative

I was intrigued by A. L. Nanik's comments ('HK can't rely on other delta airports', June 27) in support of three (and presumably more) runways eventually to be constructed at Chek Lap Kok. Your correspondent disagrees with your columnist Lau Nai-keung (an advocate of collaboration with other delta area airports).

It remains unclear why A. L. Nanik writes 'HK cannot rely on other delta airports' but Macau was not singled out for the special attention it clearly deserves, as a neighbouring democratic SAR with fast connections to Chek Lap Kok.

Firstly, Macau's airport is crying out for more passengers, to support a business case for modernisation.

Secondly, it has cheap airlines and cheap landing fees.

Thirdly, Hong Kong citizens are already paying for a lovely new bridge from Lantau, presumably so that, on their way to Cotai, they can come and see dolphins near Macau's empty runway.

If they prefer to come from Hong Kong by ship (with better facilities than those on buses), they might arrive at Taipa ferry terminal, only 100 metres from the airfield fence.

By comparison, London Heathrow works well in a complementary way with London Gatwick and two other airports linked by road and rail. There are other examples. Why then, one must ask, cannot a balance between competition and collaboration be reached?

What is that bridge for again?

S. Crampton, Macau

Taxi drivers should not keep change

I refer to the report ('No cash? Pay taxi fares by flashing the plastic', June 24).

Although I hardly take taxis, I feel it is a good idea to pay the fare by credit card, although, for example, getting from, say, the airport to Central costs no more than HK$400.

Some taxi drivers argue that it would affect their practice of rounding up fares by up to 50 cents and pocketing the extra change.

In the first place, they should give the exact change to passengers and not round up fares in this way.

It is up to the passenger to decide whether to give a tip.

Taxi drivers have been accepting credit cards in Los Angeles since the 1990s.

It make sense, because LA is a bigger city than Hong Kong. A trip from A to B can easily cost a passenger US$100 or more.

I am surprised Hong Kong has not yet adopted this credit card scheme.

Eugene Li, Deep Water Bay