PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 January, 2012, 12:00am


Build tram terminus at Wan Chai

The slow-moving trams have been loyally serving generations of Hongkongers.

Their nostalgic design is in sharp contrast to the glass-walled high-rises on both sides of the tramway, and I wonder if we can bring a new lease of life to our forerunner of green living.

The new tramway management announced a plan to upgrade its fleet, but how about its routes? Apart from relocating the Matheson Street depot, now Times Square, to both ends of the island, tram routes essentially remain the same as they have been for 100 years.

Developments on Hong Kong Island have brought tremendous changes to traffic patterns.

For unknown reasons, tram routes are always long-haul. Both these routes - Kennedy Town to North Point and Sheung Wan to Shau Kei Wan - take a good hour during rush hours nowadays. Causeway Bay and North Point terminuses allow only westbound traffic. The wait for an uncrowded tram near North Point eastbound to Taikoo Shing can take a very long time.

Allowing traffic running in both directions at all terminuses may require minimal reconstruction. Yet the potential of more frequent short-haul hops would make the tram service a better and greener alternative to the gigantic buses travelling on roads that follow the MTR line.

A new terminus at Luard Road/Johnston Road might alleviate the near gridlock commuting traffic along the CentralAdmiralty-Wan Chai corridor. With its exclusive right of way, the tram service often outruns other means of transport during rush hours. The existing refuse collection point hiding behind the Southorn Playground pavilion should be relocated to give way to a new terminus.

The location is a prime site of rejuvenated Wan Chai. With the pawn shop monument as the backdrop and trams running in front, it has already become one of the most frequent spots for photographs in recent years.

The addition of a tram terminus may turn Luard Road into Hong Kong's version of Powell Street in San Francisco, which tourists and locals flock to in order to ride the cable cars.

Peter Lam, Quarry Bay

Migrants in HK need a wake-up call

Thasbeeh Mohamed's letter ('Cantonese-medium local system is unsuitable for expatriate students', December 19) is rife with errors and biased generalisations.

Cantonese has always been most local schools' medium of instruction. If there has been any change since our reunion with China, there are now more English-medium schools. Expatriates who choose to come to work in Hong Kong should not entertain illegitimate expectations based on false memories of what it was like in the colonial age.

When Hong Kong people take up jobs in Beijing or Berlin, they won't expect the host city's government to provide Cantonese or English-medium education. Those who send their children to public schools accept that they have to study in the host city's local language.

To overcome the language problem and assimilate into schools abroad, migrant students from Hong Kong attend language tutorials after public school classes. Expatriate students who have problems assimilating into Hong Kong's local schools should do the same.

Those who find local schools unsuitable for their children should either pay for private education or find work in places where their children could adapt.

Getting admission to a good school is never easy anywhere in the world. Students not of the right calibre for good schools shouldn't expect special admission simply because their parents are migrant workers.

It is naive to ask for special treatment.

It is ridiculous that expatriates who find neither good jobs nor good schools back home should demand privileges as migrant workers in Hong Kong.

Contrary to your correspondent's claim, Hong Kong parents tend to over-schedule out-of-classroom activities for their children. My own children's outstanding academic results alone won't have won them admission to the world's top universities without their achievements in various co-curricular activities.

Every body politic must give first priority to its own people. Hong Kong's education priorities are to further improve the quality of local schools, to popularise the indisputable fact of its schools' high standard for international recognition, and to abolish the remnant of a colonial arrangement whereby our public education is segregated into local and expatriate schools.

Pierce Lam, Central

Why Russian paedophile was set free

I wonder if your report on Alexander Trofimov ('Paedophile Russian wins royal pardon', December 22) intended to point, albeit in a subtle way, to the obvious reason this multiple paedophile was given a royal pardon.

In case of any doubt, it is solely because of his US$300 million investment in Snake Island and his undoubted willingness to grease the palms of Cambodia's political elite.

Read the recently published book, Cambodia's Curse: The Modern History of a Troubled Land, by Joel Brinkley, for a telling look into the reasons for the growing divide between the mega-rich and abjectly poor in that sorry country.

Christopher Lavender, Mid-Levels

Cheaper city good for companies

A study last month found that Hong Kong had dropped down the rankings of the most expensive cities to live in.

I am convinced that this drop will be good news for companies with overseas staff assigned to the city.

For many years, Hong Kong has been notorious for its extraordinarily high cost of living.

This has adversely affected the living standards of citizens and people coming from abroad to work, who sometimes felt it was difficult for them to stay here.

Some companies refused to establish an office in the city because it was too expensive.

With prices dropping, Hong Kong can become a bit more competitive. Both overseas and local companies can enjoy the benefits.

Of course, pollution is another factor that can make it difficult for firms to get overseas staff to work here.

The SAR government should take the action needed to solve this problem so that companies have a better chance of getting people to come and work in the city.

Jonathan Mak Ka-long, Sha Tin

Cleaner air claims are wrong

The environmental authorities in Beijing are claiming that they have met their 'target of 'blue sky' days for this year' ('Residents cry foul at city's blue skies boast', December 19).

Many internet users have cast doubt on this claim and expressed their anger, saying the authorities are using an unreasonable 'five-grade classification system'. Given these online comments, it is clear pollution problems are still serious in Beijing.

A growing population and pollution caused by the manufacturing sector and cars are the major factors behind Beijing's bad air.

But rather than try to deal with these problems, the city's environmental bureau is only concerned with boasting about the number of blue-sky days which it claims shows an improvement.

This shows an attitude problem on the part of officials.

The pollution that is affecting Beijing is not only a dilemma today, it is related to the health of future generations.

Janice Lo Yee-yung, Hung Hom

Buyers need new floor space rules

I refer to the report ('Flaws found in planned rules on floor space', December 21).

Stewart Leung Chi-kin, chairman of the executive committee of the Real Estate Developers Association (REDA), thinks that because the gross floor area (GFA) has been a long-standing market practice in describing the size of a flat it should be retained.

He thinks that any change to the method of measurement may cause confusion.

Mr Leung is using a strange logic, because the fundamental reason for changing the rules is that down the years purchasers have been confused by the developers' use and abuse of GFA.

Many Hong Kong residents feel that they have been cheated because the use of GFA may disguise the actual useable living area of the property on offer.

The fact that at the media briefing Mr Leung was backed up by representatives of four of the most dominant developers shows that old habits will die hard and that pressure is being applied to the government to retain the status quo.

The culture of manipulation and arrogant lack of respect for the customer has been a feature of Hong Kong's development industry for far too long.

Therefore, the government should disregard REDA's objections and press ahead with the proposed changes to the regulations covering the sale of new flats in order to safeguard buyers in Hong Kong.

K. Y. Leung, Shouson Hill