Lai See

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

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 September, 2013, 9:37am

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.