Harbour authority welcome
I refer to your front-page article, 'Harbour authority could soon become a reality' (April 18).
My late mother, Cissy Chu, who started the Save Our Harbour campaign 18 years ago, would have been delighted to know that her beloved Victoria Harbour could at long last be protected and preserved by this new statutory body. Although she passed away five years ago, her efforts, despite her old age, have not been wasted.
Victoria Harbour and its waterfront are inseparable. Although the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance protects the harbour, proper planning and use of the harbourfront is also essential to achieving the full potential of our harbour so that it can be appreciated and enjoyed by all.
A harbour authority is needed to cut away all the red tape presented by more than half a dozen government departments and to get the job done quickly and efficiently.
I ask that our new government under our next chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, give its full support to this harbour authority so that it can commence its important and urgent functions as soon as possible. The enactment of the necessary legislation must be among his first tasks.
In terms of harbour and harbourfront planning, Hong Kong has lost out to Singapore despite Victoria Harbour, our unique gift from nature. Singapore has imaginative and attractive buildings on its harbourfront.
Up to now, the only achievement our government can boast of is a monstrous ventilation building in the most sensitive and obtrusive site on our Central harbourfront.
Two further buildings are being proposed that are designed to block the view of our iconic IFC tower and to degrade the beautiful skyline of our harbourfront.
It is time for the Hong Kong government to catch up to Singapore and to make Hong Kong truly Asia's World City. It is action and results and not words that count.
Remember, my mother is still watching.
Winston K.S. Chu, adviser, Society for Protection of the Harbour
Independent body to curb pollution
John Schofield describes the attempt by the Environmental Protection Department's Elvis Au to defend the indefensible - the building of a mega incinerator off Shek Kwu Chau - as 'tiresome', 'bizarre' and 'unacceptable' ('Cheung Chau residents will be affected', April 16).
Page 4 of April 16's paper showed an old man in Xinjiang sitting in a pile of rubbish, eking out a living by picking out recyclables in much the same way as Hong Kong's scavengers do: tiresome for the poor old folks who provide this service, bizarre considering Hong Kong's budget surpluses and unacceptable for so many reasons.
The picture also reminded me of the landfill we see on our beaches and around our villages and the mess we encounter every day at the refuse collection points. This too is tiresome, bizarre and unacceptable.
The incinerator will not change the waste and dumping problems in our communities.
The department's dual role as the project proponent and scrutiniser is very worrying, particularly when there appears to be no willingness to listen to the public or ability to resolve environmental problems.
Environmental protection should be integral to every government department, not an add-on. Projects should be independently judged, and polluters should face penalties.
Perhaps our new chief executive can consider an 'ICAP' - an independent commission against pollution - to better serve Hong Kong's environment.
Jo Wilson, Living Lamma
Align waste charge with bag levy
Friends of the Earth have proposed charging households HK$1.30 for every bag of refuse disposed of under a government waste-charging scheme.
The plastic shopping bag levy is only 50 HK cents. Hongkongers would find it cheaper to use shopping bags to dispose of rubbish, thus giving them no economic incentive to reduce waste.
It would be better - and fairer - to make the waste charge similar to the plastic bag levy.
Sean Neil Leung Ngo-yin, Sha Tin
Preserve HK's heritage lifestyle, too
With all the talk about heritage conservation lately, I was happy to read about the historic shophouse in Sham Shui Po that has been revitalised as a centre for traditional Chinese medicine ('Facelift just what the doctor ordered', April 12).
That it was originally an ointment shop makes this conversion all the more authentic.
But what makes it relevant is that the property retains its original function but with a modern interpretation. Instead of creating a museum dedicated to TCM, it is instead a vibrant, active clinic and teaching facility that will serve our community well.
Heritage conservation should not be just about preserving old structures and giving them a new spin. It should also be about honouring Hong Kong's lifestyle and cultural traditions.
The Development Bureau should carefully consider this when deciding what to do with these structures under the Heritage Scheme.
Owing to our city's escalating property prices, many of our traditions are under threat and slowly vanishing - tea houses and dai pai dong, markets and small merchants of speciality foods, just to name a few. These aspects make Hong Kong truly unique. Save those, too!
Florence Tang, Tai Po
Estate agents are already regulated
I refer to Cyrus Li's letter on the guidelines published by the Estate Agents Authority and Independent Commission Against Corruption ('Property agents must be regulated', April 14).
The authority is a statutory body established under the Estate Agents Ordinance, which provides for the licensing and regulation of the estate agency trade. Estate agents and salespeople must comply with the ordinance and its subsidiary legislation. They should also comply with the authority's code of ethics and practice circulars.
Those who don't may be subject to disciplinary action.
The authority strives to regulate the practice of estate agencies in Hong Kong, to ensure practitioners abide by the law and to promote a high standard of integrity in the trade.
To reinforce the corporate governance of the estate agency trade and to encourage quality professional services, the authority and the ICAC have jointly published a best practice checklist. It includes guidelines that set the best standard and procedures for the trade's practice.
It covers a broad range of issues, including integrity management, good governance and internal control, sale and leasing of properties, accounting controls and staff administration.
The checklist is not a legal tool but a tool to enhance the professional standard of the trade and provide practitioners with the best practice standard against which they can benchmark their professional services.
It also serves to remind practitioners to handle property transactions with integrity so the professional standard of the estate agency trade can be enhanced.
Anissa Cheng, Estate Agents Authority
Let's wait until C.Y.'s inauguration
Hong Kong's chief executive-designate Leung Chun-ying, elected by a political system stage-managed by the central government, has come up with decisive measures or promises to cope with pregnant mainland women and illegal structures in rural and urban areas.
This has met with both praise and criticism from different parties and walks of life representing different interests.
Any such concrete promises should be welcome, though whether they can be put into action remains to be seen.
Any excessive praise or criticism from the media or political parties would be undesirable pending his inauguration.
As hope is the mother of mankind, anyone who loves Hong Kong and China should send the best wishes for his success.
Peter Wei, Kwun Tong