PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 March, 2012, 12:00am


Great spot for world-class water sports

The government has stated it has a vision to make Victoria Harbour 'a harbour for the people and a harbour of life'. Yet the realisation of this vision is frustrated despite the valiant efforts of the Development Bureau and the Harbourfront Commission, because of the government's inability to promote an integrated approach to waterfront development.

A case in point is the regeneration of Kai Tak and Kowloon East; it presents a crucial opportunity for the enhancement of Victoria Harbour.

Hong Kong claims to have aspirations to host an Asian Games. An absolute prerequisite for a bid is to promise world-class water sports venues for rowing, canoe and kayak events. Because of its shelter and dimensions, there are unique opportunities at Kai Tak for the development of a world-class, multi-use water sports centre.

A comprehensive presentation was made last month to the Town Planning Board by the National Sports Associations responsible for water sports in Hong Kong. They asked for specific provision to be made in the Kai Tak outline zoning plan to define sufficient space on land as well as water for staging major events. Such a centre could deliver real economic and community health benefits.

The board heard a range of circular arguments from government departments explaining that they each need more technical input from the other before giving their backing to a water sports proposal. The board was left with no alternative but to conclude that merely an aspiration for water sports is to be noted in the outline zoning plan pending 'further technical studies'.

Without denying that due diligence is essential, how can this paralysing loop of 'consultation' be broken in order to make the most of Hong Kong's assets and opportunities before construction of new infrastructure yet again compromises access to the precious asset of Victoria Harbour?

Who has responsibility for driving and co-ordinating the 'further technical studies' that are required to promote such an opportunity? Is it the Planning Department, the Civil Engineering and Development Department, Home Affairs Bureau or the Leisure and Cultural Services Department?

It is surely urgent for a harbour authority to be constituted, with sufficient resources and empowerment to take on the role of strategic planning of Victoria Harbour in its entirety, before yet more irreparable damage is done and more opportunities are lost.

Will the incoming administration make this an integral part of building a world city?

Stephen Bradley, Repulse Bay

Impressed by Shenzhen's initiative

The Hong Kong government sits on HK$1.29 trillion in reserves, according to Tom Holland ('HK must set aside cash now to meet future health costs', March 12), yet we are told time and again that switching to electric buses simply cannot be done as it is too costly for the local bus companies to bear.

Shenzhen, however, finds it completely feasible to find subsidies for half the cost of replacing half of its entire bus fleet with electric or hybrid buses by 2015 ('Half Shenzhen's buses to be electric or hybrid', March 13).

When will our government take the blinkers from its eyes and the cotton wool from its ears?

Its smugness about holding increasingly large reserves (far in excess of that needed to protect the economy), while declaring that smog is a problem too costly to fix is a sham. This is only made more visible by the progressive policies of our enlightened neighbours.

Hong Kong politicians, who are unencumbered by the rigours of electoral politics, should be in a position to dictate terms to the bus companies (backed by, if need be, generous government subsidies).

We lag behind the West in reporting standards for hazardous roadside pollution and now we lag behind the mainland in doing something constructive about it.

In the past, Hong Kong could afford to feel superior to the mainland in its living standards and governance, but this is no longer the reality.

Our smog is nothing to be smug about and it is killing us.

Catherine LaJeunesse, Sai Kung

Full of praise for Tangs' patience

Having watched the March 11 edition of ATV's Newsline, my respect for Henry Tang Ying-yen and his wife Lisa Kuo Yu-chin shifted from very little to considerable.

To patiently and calmly endure 30 minutes of Michael Chugani's insolent monologues is a true test of temperament, and both passed with flying colours.

Hans Mahncke, Kowloon Tong

Genes claim has no basis in science

I read with interest Isabel Escoda's allegation about TLC in 'Filipino nurses' genes' ('No substitute for nurses' compassion', March 14).

What we, peoples of various races, all have in our genes is DNA. Genetic stereotyping based on anecdotes is anathema. Lieutenant William Calley's premeditated murder of innocent Vietnamese villagers at My Lai is no more a proof of murderous genes in Americans than any allegation of a good Filipino nurse at a British hospital is proof of compassion in Filipino genes.

It makes no sense to generalise anecdotes. For every positive example, there is at least a counter-example.

Cynthia Sze, Quarry Bay

Japanese people resilient

Since the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan a year ago, the Japanese people have continued to prove their mettle as a nation in their effort to rise above adversity.

Compare this with the many Hong Kong households that are still trying to consume the enormous quantities of salt they panic-bought in the aftermath of the Fukushima crisis. Inevitably, it makes one reflect.

Ruel F. Trinidad, Hung Hom

Gruelling schedule bad for children

It is quite common for children to join extra-curricular activities such as learning to play an instrument or sporting activities.

Parents hope these activities will help their children to become competitive and stand out from the crowd. However, sometimes they go too far.

I watched a television programme where a little girl in Primary Two had four hours of after-school activities. She would then have her dinner and did not get to bed until midnight. Some of these children end up having a busier schedule that most working adults.

Do the parents ever ask if their sons or daughters want to spend so long in these activities? I am sure they do not and are just following instructions. They may not even be interested in, for example, music lessons, and because they get nothing out of the experience it is a complete waste of time and money.

With such a punishing schedule, these young children have less time to rest, relax and enjoy themselves.

This is bad for their health, especially if they do not get enough sleep. And this will affect their academic performance if they are tired in class.

Parents need to think carefully about this issue, find out what their children want and not overburden them.

Charmy Lau Cheuk-man, Tseung Kwan O

Raising epilepsy awareness

I refer to the article ('Let's paint the town purple for epilepsy', March 12).

We appreciate the opportunity to talk about our new campaign aimed at building epilepsy awareness in Hong Kong. However, the report requires clarification.

Epilepsy can occur in any person at any age and is not limited to ages five to 20.

Epilepsy is not caused when the brain releases excessive electrical signals disturbing normal brain activity. Seizures are caused when the brain releases excessive electrical signals disturbing normal brain activity and the tendency to have recurrent seizures is epilepsy. Basically, epilepsy is the condition.

The new name for epilepsy in Chinese is no gan tsing and not mo gan tsing.

As it is, there are too many myths and misconceptions that surround epilepsy, leading to the stigma and prejudice towards people affected by epilepsy.

Our new campaign, Paint the Town Purple, is an earnest effort to erase the many misconceptions and raise epilepsy awareness.

Shyamala Padmasola, Enlighten-Action for Epilepsy