Spend HK$100m cash wisely

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 April, 2013, 1:42am

Correspondents have expressed the hope that the HK$100 million allocated to each of Hong Kong's district councils will be spent wisely and be used to develop signature projects.

Obviously the allocation of such large sums to the councils is payback by Leung Chun-ying for support during the chief executive election and a way to retain the councillors' loyalty.

However, taxpayers, while welcoming the opportunity to improve facilities in their districts, are concerned about the lack of guidelines and the pressure on the councils to come up with proposals in an unacceptably short time frame.

Our district councils are retroactive rather than progressive and rarely put forward innovative proposals.

Most of the so-called improvements carried out recently in Tsim Sha Tsui have been problematic.

Take the removal of all vegetation on the lower slopes of Signal Hill, then encasing it in high brick walls.

The result would make an excellent skateboarding facility, but hardly something that is appropriate for the only entrance to a public park.

Then there has been the unnecessary installation of dozens of planter boxes on railings at the Mong Kok end of Wylie Road.

This stretch of road runs along the railway embankment and, on that side, tables and seats installed some years ago are rarely used as few people use this pavement.

The other side serves only some schools and a college so the railings and planters are overkill.

The annual maintenance costs alone would have been better spent on facilities in more crowded areas.

The unnecessary waste of metal is alarming.

When friends from other districts described the projects being touted by their councils, the Tsim Sha Tsui Residents' Concern Group tried to find out what Yau Tsim Mong District Council was proposing to spend its HK$100 million windfall on.

A search of the council website left us none the wiser as the only information available in English is a reference to a council discussion. We tasked one member to follow up on this.

A call to the council elicited the response that five projects are being considered.

We now have to wait for a translation of the council minutes to find out what these are.

As the deadline for submission of proposals passed on March 31, it is quite clear that in Yau Tsim Mong, as no doubt in many other districts, local residents will have no say in what will be foisted upon us.

Is this an acceptable use of our tax dollars?

Paul Kumar, member, Tsim Sha Tsui Residents' Concern Group