• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 6:24pm
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 September, 2013, 9:37am

Only in Hong Kong would anyone consider building a 'boutique hotel' on Victoria Peak


Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.

Anyone who has walked along the picturesque Lugard Road around Victoria Peak will know that this is one of the more tranquil areas of Hong Kong. It is true that rich people live there but the road is open for all to enjoy and it forms part of the Hong Kong trail. It attracts hikers and tourists, who, at least for the few months of the year when it is not shrouded in pollution, are able to enjoy spectacular views of Hong Kong harbour.

But only in Hong Kong would anyone consider building a "boutique hotel" catering to 52 people in such a location. There is an application for such a building before the Town Planning Board. It doesn't take a genius to work out that a hotel at this location will lead to an enormous increase in traffic.

As the Alliance for a Beautiful Hong Kong (ABHK) says in its opposition to the proposal: "Instead of a relaxing walk, pedestrians will have to be on the alert to avoid cars, and the tranquility of the area will be disrupted by the need for cars to sound their horns to warn pedestrians and other vehicles."

The ABHK also warns in its paper of the damage to the environment arising from the need for sceptic tanks and soakaways, of which some aspects fail to comply with Environmental Protection Department standards.

The deadline for public comment on the proposal ended on August 2, having attracted 158 responses, of which 151 were against the development. However, towards the end of the period for public comment the developer submitted additional documents and the Town Planning Board deferred the hearing for the applicant for a month but did not extend the deadline for public comment on the new proposals. The idea of a hotel in this location is plainly absurd and should be thrown out by the board.


Errors of emission

It was with some interest that we recently came across the June/July 2005 issue of Hong Kong Motorist, which discussed air pollution with Sarah Liao Sau-tung, who was secretary for environment, transport and works, as the department was then called.

She conceded that vehicle emissions "contributed to a major part of the of the air pollution at street level". The government at this stage was introducing catalytic converters for taxis and minibuses, and LPG fuel.

But in an interesting indication of how little she understood about air pollution, she said that despite government efforts, air quality would not improve "until 2007". The interviewer concludes that Liao was clearly passionate about reducing air pollution but said that exact answers to the problem "may be some way off". She was at least correct in that assessment.


Over the moon

It's good to see that our leaders in Beijing are leaving nothing to chance. With the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holidays approaching, the disciplinary arm of the Communist Party has released a tough no-nonsense circular. "During festivals, sending mooncakes and gifts paid for with public funds is strictly prohibited; luxurious feasts, travel, fitness programmes and high-end entertainments that are covered by public funds are strictly prohibited," it read.

The circular continued in a more vigorous tone: "Superior departments and officials should seize on the trend of these luxurious celebrations and be courageous enough to spot and rectify decadent behaviour in a timely manner while setting an example themselves."


Nomura rising

Investment bank Nomura is beginning to see a favourable turn in its fortunes. It was the only investment bank to post a double-digit rise in its fixed income revenues in the first half of the year. They were up 12 per cent, against the industry average growth of -9 per cent, according to a report in Financial News.

Over the 12 months to the end of June, its FICC (fixed income currency, commodities) business grew one-third, and it has doubled its market share of FICC revenues since 2010. The bank has been profitable for the past four quarters.

That may not sound remarkable but as the newspaper observes, for a bank that has been struggling since it bought the rump of Lehman's business five years ago for the deceptively low price of US$2, that's not bad going.


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This article is now closed to comments

John Adams
Only in Hong Kong indeed !
I first learned about this absurd proposal in a letter to the SCMP a couple of weeks ago
I cannot think of anything more selfish, idiotic and totally ************ than this.
If the Town Planning Board approves the proposal I think HK may erupt into bombing to stop the developers in their encroachment on the environment and the open collusion of those who run the TPB
Sceptics fulfil a useful role in society and they should not be thrown into tanks.
Simply idiotic. How difficult will it be for some nuts to cause inconvenience in a path several feet wide?
Would any one who could afford a pricy hotel stay have the patience, after whatever number of hours in flight and immigration, to endure traffic from CLK to the peak which could unluckily be a 90 minute ride in rush hours, and then for some reason gets stuck at Lugard Path? After all the hassle the patrons will find most part of the year, the room with a view they were promised was meerly a sorry sight of fog, mist, and pollutants. It will be a marketing nightmare.
John Adams
Agreed !!!
Not to mention the fact that in the event of a black rain warning or typhoon No. 8 + Lugard Road may be blocked by landslides, as happened a few years ago to the chagrin of walkers round the Peak !
So let prospective "boutique" hotel guests be prepared to hand-carry their luggage for a mile or so !
The Lugard Road ring round the Peak belongs to walkers in perpetuity - both local and visitors alike. It does NOT belong to selfish, money grabbing developers .
I don't know who this particular developer is, but if ever this absurd proposal gets approved I'm certain that it will spark civil disruption on a scale never seen before.
( PS : I do NOT live on the Peak. I live at base sea level, but I do often walk round the Peak )
Application before the TPB? It's the end for us! They've made a shambles in the NT, now they have moved upwards ... the Peak.
Is "sceptic" how they spell septic tank in UK/HK "English" or am I not reading deeply enough into Mr. Winn's intent?
it's a Howard typo
also Chaz, 'septic tanks' are Cockney rhyming slang for your countrymen
Only in Hong Kong, only all over the world. Have you ever heard the song Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell?? You are naive if you think this is a local issue. This an issue occurring around the world for close to a century.
....Skeptic and sceptic...




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