Letters to the Editor, July 16, 2013
Fat cats must not be allowed to ruin course
I had to read Guy Shirra's letter ("An end, please to golf's great land grab", July 13) three times before I could work out whether or not he is in favour of the Hong Kong Golf Club being turned into another cash cow for our avaricious property developers.
My own view, as a non-member of the golf club, is that whoever came up with this hare-brained scheme needs to better understand the important role that the club plays to the wider community.
Media reports have so far made it seem as though the club is ring fenced and available only to wealthy members, but this is far from the truth.
As the club's website shows, visitors are welcome from Monday to Friday.
In addition, local golf societies play the club's three 18-hole courses on a regular basis, as do local companies and institutions that organise corporate outings for staff and clients.
The club also has reciprocal arrangements with many other clubs of similar standing around the world, members of which visit Hong Kong to play golf and to spend money in the local economy. As such, it may well be the case that more rounds are played each year by non-members than members.
In addition to the Police Athletic Club holding its annual cross-country event at the club, the inter-schools cross-country championship is also held there each year.
Our fat-cat property developers have already destroyed most of Hong Kong's structural history, so it would be truly sinful to let them also destroy a landscape rich in sporting history, and one which gives immense pleasure to thousands of people, both local and international.
The Old Course at Fanling has the distinction of being the second oldest golf course in the world outside of Great Britain, while many of the world's best-known golfers have played in the Hong Kong Open.
Most of the sporting greats and past open champions have praised the unique composite course at Fanling; a layout made up of nine holes of the New Course and nine holes of the Eden Course.
If indeed further land is needed for housing, then there are two ideal locations that readily come to mind: the race courses at Happy Valley and Sha Tin.
Gambling is a vice that leads to misery and destitution brought on by debt, so by doing away with the two race tracks, the lives of many local families will greatly improve.
Richard Castka, Tai Po
Club linked with Hong Kong's growth
As the storm clouds gather over the hallowed fairways of Fanling, one can but ponder the thoughts of members facing the closure of their beloved club.
It is easy to mock the Hong Kong Golf Club as a privileged bastion available only to the few, but the club is more than this; with a history entwined with the growth of Hong Kong, the club and its elder members represent a part of our heritage and cannot be so easily set asunder.
Hong Kong Golf Club can be part of a new generation of golfers who aspire to the best and the clubs outreach programmes aim to achieve this; if we reclaim all our land for development, tell me, where do our children play?
Mark Peaker, The Peak
Overprotective parents should be able to let go
The term "helicopter parents" refers to those parents in Hong Kong who are overprotective of their children.
Frankly speaking, if care is excessive, sons and daughters will grow increasingly dependent on their parents and they will probably fail to acquire the self-survival skills that are needed in life.
I have heard about a friend whose daughter, already aged 14, still clings to her mother who organises her schedule.
This is in stark contrast to old imperial China where teenagers were supposed to be self-sufficient.
I also know of a boy of around the same age whose mother accompanies him to all his tutorial classes.
She basically makes all his decisions for him without consulting him first.
Though it is understandable and natural that parents want to provide for their children, they should not be over-attentive and stifle the development of these young people.
Some teenagers who are looked after in this way can sometimes grow up to become rebellious and out of control.
Mothers and fathers have to be realistic and recognise when it is the right time to let go and allow their children to go it alone and learn the necessary survival skills in life.
Teenagers learn from making mistakes and they must be allowed to make them.
I think this message needs to be got across to adults in order to ensure that future generations get good parental education in Hong Kong and grow up to face the difficulties life will throw up.
James Au Kin-pong, Lai Chi Kok
Main culprit not climate change
Thomas Ho ("Red alert", July 6) referred to reports by the World Bank and the Climate Change Business Forum claiming global warming will threaten our future unless a course of adaptation is taken.
This is based on outdated conclusions and recommendations contained within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report No 4 released nearly six years ago.
Regarding the concept of anthropogenic global warming, some scientists continue to put forward a number of reasons as to why they are still sceptical about it.
These objections will need to be addressed by IPCC Assessment Report No5 which is scheduled to appear in September 2014.
Mr Ho raised a number of contentious issues. Why is the heat-trapping effect of the most important greenhouse gas, water vapour, ignored as a cause of global warming?
Where is the evidence to show that temperatures, sea levels and the frequency of extreme weather events are rising at an ever-increasing rate?
When exactly did Mr Ho's "new normal" of climate change start?
Risk management is not just about mathematics, including modelling, but is interdisciplinary. Cost-effective risk management must reduce the real risk rather than an unproven "modelled" risk.
Finally, the main culprit is not climate change as the climate has always gone through changes in the past, with or without the influence of humans.
The most important reason for the increase in future risk is our greed for economic development through population growth and the exploitation of natural resources, including the utilisation of marginal amounts of land.
Wyss Yim, Pok Fu Lam
Pollution that is damaging our health
Earlier this year, research undertaken in Hong Kong showed that light pollution in the city was the worst on the planet. This is clearly a serious problem and something must be done to solve it.
The worst area for this form of pollution was found to be Tsim Sha Tsui.
The fact is that lights stay on in buildings at night when they are no longer occupied and therefore are not needed. This state of affairs must change and lights, which are not needed in such buildings at night, should be turned off.
We need to take seriously the health warnings that have been issued about excessive light pollution and how it can adversely affect brain and hormone functions.
We need to lower the intensity of lights, which obscure the night sky.
Of course, artificial lighting has an important role to play in the city. For one thing, at night, it ensures that people can walk the streets and know they are safe. However, in Hong Kong, it is now intrusive and excessive and action must be taken to protect the city.
Melody Lo, Tseung Kwan O
Lights can help to clear up congestion
At the intersection of Wing Lok Street and Hillier Street in Sheung Wan, there is a noisy bottleneck of traffic every day.
Many cars going west on Wing Lok Street arrive at this junction and attempt to turn right onto the very short section of Hillier Street leading north to Des Voeux Road, which is already filled with cars backed up at the stop-light there.
Their inability to gain access has the immediate effect of preventing anyone else from continuing west on Wing Lok Street and, although there are signs "prohibiting" right turns on to Hillier Street until 7pm, many private cars, taxis and delivery vehicles try to do so every day.
The result is that blood pressures rocket and the horn honking starts.
If ever there was a traffic black spot where tickets could be handed out like confetti, this is it. Of course, there is never a traffic police officer around when you need one or where there should be.
May I therefore suggest to the Transport Department that it is high time to rethink this particular junction?
It should introduce traffic lights facing Hillier Street timed with those at Des Voeux Road to be green simultaneously (it works in Manhattan) and lights facing Wing Lok Street to be fitted with "go straight only" arrows until 7pm and "straight or right-turn-only" arrows thereafter.
This might go a long way towards preventing further insanity in this neck of the woods.
Peter Basmajian, Sheung Wan