Letters to the Editor, August 20, 2012
Why it makes sense to keep terminus
The government has cited technical difficulties and public opposition for its decision to scrap the planned HK$270 million redevelopment of the Tsim Sha Tsui ferry pier bus terminus.
I think it was right to abandon this project even though it had already been approved by the Legislative Council.
The proposed piazza would have brought limited economic benefits.
Tsim Sha Tsui is already a well-developed tourist area, particularly with the 1881 Heritage dining and shopping complex, and malls like Ocean Centre and Harbour City.
These established venues, which are landmarks in the area, would have proved more popular with mainland tourists than the new piazza. The visitors focus more on shopping than cultural issues.
Therefore, it was better to stick with the status quo.
Taking away the bus terminus was never a feasible option given its convenient location, not just for locals, but for tourists staying at nearby hotels such as the Peninsula and the Sheraton.
Also, as your report pointed out ("Ferry pier bus terminus saved", August 9) experts from the Works Branch discovered that the nearby ferry pier's foundations would not be able to support a major renovation and expansion project.
Also, I agree with those people who argued that the bus terminus had historical value.
It is a large-scale public transport interchange which has a long history in Hong Kong and it has already become part of the collective memory of Hongkongers.
Many citizens feel nostalgic about this place.
Clearly, when looking at all aspects, the advantages of keeping the terminus outweighed the disadvantages, especially when you consider the saving of HK$270 million that will be made by not going ahead with the piazza.
Jess Chan, Ma On Shan
Government plays the blame game
I refer to the report ("Ferry pier bus terminus saved", August 9). Many people, like myself, will be very pleased with this outcome; and many activists deserve credit for it.
But the government's response tells us what many of us have long suspected.
The report said that the administration had "decided to shelve its long-discussed proposal to build a piazza to replace the Tsim Sha Tsui ferry pier's bus terminal, blaming technical difficulties and public opinion".
The crucial point here is that the decision is not "in response to public opinion" but, and please note this, blaming public opinion.
At least we now have a clear indication of where we, the public, stand. We have been warned.
Peter Robertson, Sai Kung
Taiwan seeks co-operation, not conflict
I am a former spokesman of the ruling Kuomintang in Taiwan and refer to the report ("Ma makes first move on truce for Diaoyus", August 6).
Beijing may have wrongly interpreted the peace initiative that Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou proposed to ease tensions in the territorial dispute in the East China Sea. Your report referred to analysts casting doubts on Ma's intention to co-operate with Beijing.
Clearly, there is a blurring of the issues of sovereignty and resource development.
As the strongest claimant to Diaoyus' sovereignty, Taiwan refuses to work with China with regard to that claim.
However, when it comes to developing natural resources around this disputed area, Taipei welcomes any kind of co-operation with Beijing and with Tokyo.
It is increasingly apparent that the status quo will not stay as it is. That is why Ma's proposal aims to offer a last resort for all the governments involved in this dispute.
It enables them to get out of this crisis by establishing a multi-faceted framework to ensure future exploration and development.
In fact, Beijing should be the first to applaud this idea because it is the only way for China to prevent a conflict, on nationalist lines, with Japan.
This would be the worst outcome for all countries involved.
Also, such a scenario would reinforce the position of those who talk about the "China threat", especially at a time when Beijing is taking a harder stance in another serious dispute in the South China Sea.
Charles I-hsin Chen, London, England
Tree clean-up operation taking too long
With the hoisting of typhoon signal No 3 followed by No 8 caused by Typhoon Kai-tak, it was inevitable that we would have strong winds that would damage and bring down some trees.
The problem is made worse by the fact that some of the trees blown down by Severe Typhoon Vicente last month have still not been removed. In the aftermath of a storm the government must have a faster clean-up operation.
This is important during the tropical cyclone season. For example, a lot of damaged trees on the ground around Sheung Shui have yet to be removed by the relevant department.
These trees are obstacles for pedestrians and vehicles and in some cases pose a risk.
I don't know why a prompt clearance operation cannot be undertaken after the storm has passed. Surely the priority should be the welfare of the public.
Rakie Shek, Sheung Shui
Universities can train specialists
The collapse of trees is a relatively common occurrence in Hong Kong. Given that a falling tree can hurt passers-by something must be done to deal with this problem.
What makes things worse is the fact that a lot of trees are diseased ("Root rot epidemic covered up, experts say", August 10).
There must be more frequent inspections of trees in Hong Kong and if they are found to be diseased, they must be chopped down.
This is an important short-term measure. However, in the long term, it is of paramount importance that Hong Kong has more experts who have a sound knowledge of tree management. I know of no course in any of our universities which would train someone to become a specialist in this area.
Because we do not have enough inspectors who are suitably qualified, the government is slow to deal with problem trees. The administration must ensure we have more people with tree management skills who are able to accurately assess the condition of trees.
Tree management courses must be introduced in our universities.
Daniel Hui Yin-hang, Sha Tin
Squatter huts have viable future in HK
There have been calls for squatter hut settlements in Hong Kong to be phased out. However, I do not think there is any need for the government to have a strategy which would get rid of these dwellings.
I don't think the huts pose an immediate threat to the occupants. If Hong Kong had not been hit by Severe Typhoon Vicente, these structures would not have been damaged.
It has been argued that because a lot of these settlements are built on slopes they are at risk from landslides. Also there is a greater chance of a fire, because residents use liquefied petroleum gas for cooking.
These issues could be dealt with more effectively if the government permitted residents to use stronger material such as bricks and concrete when they are making repairs. This would make them more resistant to fires and landslides.
Also, it will cost the government a lot more to pull all these structures down than to allow residents to make improvements.
Apart from the cost of demolishing them it might also have to pay substantial sums in compensation. Officials would also have to deal with the discontent of squatter hut dwellers if they had decided they wanted to stay put. Of course there are problems in these communities, such as criminals involved in illegal activities. But with a closely supervised squatter control unit, these problems can be addressed.
All that is needed is a properly run control unit and a change of regulations so that residents can use bricks and concrete, and the squatter huts will have a future in Hong Kong and need not be phased out.
Chloe Fung Tsz-ying, Sha Tin
Wording of water bill to be changed
I refer to the letter by Stuart Brookes ("Department's bill could be more polite", July 23), which suggested that the Water Supplies Department change the heading of the English-language water bills - "Demand for Payment" - to use more polite language.
This heading has been used for many years.
We have no intention whatsoever of being impolite to our consumers, and recognise that such wording may not be common in contemporary usage.
Upon finding that the financial implications are nominal, we have decided to change the heading from "Demand for Payment" to "Bill".
We are now working with our IT and printing contractors to effect the change in around two months.
We do value the opinions of our consumers and strive to improve our services in all relevant aspects.
Gabriel Pang, senior engineer/public relations, Water Supplies Department