PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 November, 2011, 12:00am


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CLP Power should not bulldoze HQ

Following media reports on the opposition of local residents to the plans put forward by CLP Power to demolish part of its 70-year-old grade one listed headquarters on Argyle Street to make way for residential blocks, I decided it was time to take a good look at the building.

The CLP headquarters has always been a Kowloon landmark. If you were nodding off on the bus you always knew where you were when this distinctive building came into sight.

I discovered that there are steps beside the building leading up to Kadoorie Avenue that provide an excellent view of the rear of the block.

This is no rundown tenement crying out for redevelopment. On the contrary it is an elegantly proportioned building in pristine condition. How can approval have been granted for its destruction?

A quick review of CLP's accounts show that while revenue in 2010 was 50/50 through the electricity business in Hong Kong/energy business outside Hong Kong, this is only a recent trend.

Back in 2001 all revenue was locally generated. It can therefore be claimed that it is the Kowloon and New Territories captive market that has funded the upkeep of this building for most of its 70 years. It belongs to the community.

CLP is guaranteed returns of 9.9 per cent on the domestic market via the scheme of control. There is therefore no pressing need for it to bulldoze this listed building. On the contrary, it should be exploring alternative uses that will continue to contribute to the community while conserving the green lung and ventilation corridor in one of the most polluted areas of Mong Kok.

Assisted residence for the elderly, educational establishment, medical facilities would all be appropriate for a low-rise block with multiple entrances.

As for granting economic incentives to CLP to engage in another Wan Chai market-style faux conservation project by turning the clock tower into a museum, the people of Kowloon should be questioning the corporate social responsibility of CLP.

They should point out that, having profited from a monopoly and guaranteed returns for decades, it is surely time that it acknowledges its debt to the community by respecting a heritage building that is an integral part of the Mong Kok landscape.

Candy Tam, Wan Chai

Powers of prince hardly democratic

The subject of democracy continues to be debated.

I note in the report ('Prince Charles holds power to veto laws', November 1), that in Britain Prince Charles has the power of veto over the wishes of parliament in cases where he feels that his interests may be affected.

His interests are vast; if he were not a prince he would be called a tycoon.

Is this democracy at work in a country exalted as a prime example of democracy?

One of those complaining is Labour peer Lord Berkeley. He is a member of the unelected second chamber in parliament, the House of Lords.

An unelected second chamber does not appear to me to be democratic.

It seems strange to me that a socialist would want to become a 'Lord' as presumably it is against his principles.

He and his socialist colleagues have had ample opportunity in the last 65 years to reform the House of Lords and abolish the monarchy.

They have chosen not to do so, preferring to have titles and of course the perks that go with that. Lord Berkeley should not be complaining about a system he continues to feed and profit from.

Countries get the government that they deserve, democratic or not.

Michael Jenkins, Central

Mainland rich vote with their feet

I refer to the letter by Peter Lok ('Mainland system is working', November 1).

As a reposte to this view a report appeared on the front page of the same edition ('Super-rich want to leave mainland'). Some people appear to be voting with their feet, perhaps because they do not have any other form of vote.

P. C. Law, Quarry Bay

Ensuring better staff relations

A survey has shown that many Hong Kong employees will get a pay rise of 5 per cent next year.

However, a lawmaker from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions believes that an increase of 8 per cent is required to cope with the effects of an increased rate of inflation.

This is clearly an important issue given that the aim for most Hongkongers is to save enough to buy their own flat. If they do not get a decent pay rise then it will take longer for them to realise their dream.

I think firms that can afford to pay more to employees should do so. It would certainly lead to better relations in the workplace.

Kelvin Ng, Sha Tin

Pedestrians are getting raw deal

Tony Price has hit a number of nails on the head ('Pedestrians treated as second-class', October 28).

The problem is widespread in Hong Kong but I will focus on my office location near Times Square where the situation is acute. Mostly empty private vehicles circulate the narrow feeder roads, and with pedestrians having to walk on the road an accident is inevitable.

The new look Leighton Centre is an example of a failure in pedestrian flow. It has no upper or lower walkways now and with shops fronting the pavement, pedestrians are squeezed between glass frontages, window shoppers and metal railings which often take up a third of the pathway, beyond which permanently congested traffic spews its venomous fumes.

When will there be a holistic look at urban planning which has people at its core? Mr Price is right, we can and should do better than this.

Norman de Brackinghe, Pok Fu Lam

Short-term solution makes sense

I refer to the report ('Flak flies over doctors plan', November 1).

I would hardly call a petition signed by just 7 per cent of Hong Kong doctors (777 out of 11,000), 'strong opposition' to the Hospital Authority plan to provide a short-term solution to the current manpower crisis.

With the increase in medical school admission numbers next year, including the double entry consequent on the education reforms, this is not going to be a long-term problem.

Health services in Hong Kong are undergoing a quiet revolution with a much greater emphasis on primary care and the prospects of a plentiful supply of local doctors.

I hope that these doctors of tomorrow will not regard medicine as an industry but an honorable, rewarding and fulfilling opportunity to serve their fellow citizens with humanity, compassion and knowledgeable skill.

Instilling such values into the students will be a challenge when they are exposed to a rather different morality from a small but vocal political minority 'practising' medicine in Hong Kong today.

I am sure, however, it is a challenge that will be well met by both of Hong Kong's excellent medical schools.

Professor Andrew Burd, department of surgery, Prince of Wales Hospital

Higher water charges not the answer

Hong Kong's citizens have no worries about shortages of necessities such as food and water.

They take them for granted and this is probably why there has been a surge in the demand for water and why it is wasted.

Some people have suggested that usage can be reduced by raising water tariffs, but there could be some negative consequences.

If charges were raised then the costs of running companies in Hong Kong would go up.

This would be one more additional charge faced by foreign investors during an economic downturn and it could deter them from running a business here.

Also, Hongkongers are struggling to cope with a high rate of inflation and they do not need life to be made even harder, especially people on low incomes.

There are other options available.

The government could offer subsidies or tax rebates to those firms that installed systems designed to save water.

In the long term, education could help to teach youngsters and other citizens to be concerned about the environment.

Howie Lee, Ma On Shan