PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 November, 2011, 12:00am


Cavernous solution to land shortage

There has always been strong demand for land in Hong Kong.

The Development Bureau is looking ahead and has put forward some ideas for future developments.

One option is further reclamation outside Victoria Harbour ('Landfills aren't all bad, says minister', November 11). However, environmentalists are concerned that such projects will further destroy Hong Kong's natural habitat.

Some people, in seeking alternatives, have suggested rock-cavern developments.

I would rather see these rock caverns being created than new reclamation. The latter changes the coastal landscape of the SAR and disturbs aquatic ecosystems. This can lead to a decrease in Hong Kong's biodiversity and could lead to some marine species being endangered.

Also, such a project can cause serious pollution. This can have a direct impact on residents living nearby and could adversely affect Hong Kong's economic development. Once a reclamation project has been completed outside Victoria Harbour, a unique area of coastline may disappear forever. What replaces it may be bland and artificial.

The rock-cavern developments will not lead to residences being built underground. The public consultation process on increasing land supply in Hong Kong is looking at using these caverns for various facilities including sewage works and even cemeteries. But we need to be innovative. For example, in Helsinki, Finland, the It?keskus swimming hall has been built underground. We could do something similar here and have libraries and exhibition halls.

It has been found that 64 per cent of the land area of Hong Kong is suitable for rock-cavern developments. They are certainly worthy of consideration and would form part of our efforts at sustainable development.

Coco Chan, Kwai Chung

Roads clear only for bureaucrats

Patrick Wood in his letter ('Target the real noise polluters', November 8) questioned why 'the might' of officials that was used to curb the sound of children at play in a Lantau school could not be directed towards the unacceptable volume of gratuitous noise pollution created by selfish drivers. Well, here is the solution.

At 7pm on November 10, I was astonished to find Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, usually a seething mass of honking double-parked vehicles, completely car-free and silent. Four police officers and three traffic wardens were waving away any loitering vehicle. I asked what was going on and was told 'famous people' were coming to The One mall for a reception.

Three AM [government vehicle]-registered cars swept past. As our chief executive was in Honolulu for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum leaders' summit and the chief secretary's car has the CS plate, it could not have been a function related to a state visit.

So for the convenience of minor officials attending a knees-up, commercial life on the street was curtailed.

If Mr Wood wants action on noise pollution from vehicles in his district, he should invite some government officials around and they can 'use their might'. Of course he could then ask them why police resources are being used to camouflage the very conditions being created on our streets through the bad planning policies of the same officials and why they are spared the congestion and noise pollution the rest of the community has to bear with as a result.

Above all, he could ask why drivers parked on a zebra crossing, honking their horns and ignoring police officers and traffic wardens are given a limp-wristed verbal warning while our streets are cleared to make way for the vehicles of the very officials who should be ensuring a stress-free environment for all residents.

Mary Melville, Tsim Sha Tsui

Bring foreign wine experts to mainland

Food safety scandals and a reputation for turning out fake products have resulted in a negative image of China. It is important for the country to try to restore people's confidence.

Legendary US wine expert Robert Parker has commented on the possible development of the wine industry in China. He said, 'They're incredibly fast to pick up things, to learn, to immerse themselves' ('Wine critic praises China's passion', November 8).

Improved living standards in China could create the perfect environment for a wine industry as more Chinese seek to buy luxury goods. I agree with Parker that there is great potential and such an industry could attract international investors and benefit the nation's economy.

However, those entrepreneurs who get involved must realise that there are a number of countries, such as the US and France, which have far more experience in the wine business.

So if China wants to increase its competitiveness when compared to the established wine nations, there must an education drive to ensure that those involved in the fledgling industry know what they are doing. Professionals in this field should be brought in to help.

Janet Ching Hoi-man, Hung Hom

Article 23 is aimed at unruly mob

In his letter ('HK people are genuine patriots', November 16), Professor Steve Tsang refers to Deng Xiaoping .

Yet he deliberately ignores the fact that Article 23 was written into the Basic Law also with the blessing of Deng and those who succeeded him - in an orderly transfer of power, I may add.

There are Hong Kong people and there are Hong Kong people. Article 23 is not directed at those who genuinely 'work for the respect, dignity, rights and betterment of one's fellow citizens', as Professor Tsang put it, and for the good of China as a whole.

It is directed at the many rabble-rousers against whom Deng saw the need to insist that there should be a People's Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong.

I have heard Professor Tsang on the radio and assume from his accent that he hails from Hong Kong so his rabble-rousing views do not surprise me.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Racist sign an enduring myth

I refer to the letter by William Chao ('Victims of bias turn perpetrators', November 12).

He referred to a sign put up in a Shanghai park in the 1930s. That sign was supposed to have said 'Chinese and Dogs are not allowed.'

For the record, there never was such a sign in Shanghai. The actual sign is now in the Shanghai Museum and it says, 'Servants and pets are not allowed in private parks.'

It is not much different from signs found these days in elevators in some exclusive buildings in Hong Kong, directed this time at Filipino helpers.

It must also be remembered that in 1930s Shanghai, Chinese were not the only servants.

Many expatriate families had Indians or Russian emigres for their help.

Plus, the sign was never placed in public parks, just privately owned areas of the city. Presumably, the master could not bring his pet to a private park, either.

The sign was later interpreted by some enterprising foreign correspondent to read 'Chinese and Dogs are not allowed'.

This made for better headlines and it stuck, but it is wrong.

T. P. Cope, Lantau

Literary arts are poorly developed

Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city. People come here from all over the world, for holidays or to make money in business ventures.

While it has developed in many spheres, little has been achieved in the field of literature.

I agree that Hong Kong's bilingualism provides a good environment for interaction between distinguished poets from around the world. But that does not necessarily mean it will be easy to turn it into a leading centre for poetry ('Poet sings Hong Kong's praises as a literary hub', November 10).

That is difficult to achieve with just a small group of people. Given that our students are exam-oriented, it is hard to nurture creativity. Few of them have time to even think about composing poems.

Good translation plays a crucial role in improving cultural exchanges between countries. But our universities have few courses to train translators in creative fields like poetry as there is a greater demand for financial and business translation courses.

Another problem is that poetry is not really promoted here. If you walk into a bookshop in Hong Kong it is easier to find a novel than a book of poetry.

All these obstacles make it difficult for Hong Kong to become a poetry hub.

James Au Kin-pong, Lai Chi Kok