Letters to the Editor, August 23, 2013

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 August, 2013, 3:01am

Lugard Road hotel plan defies belief

On my desk is a farcical town planning application for construction of a boutique hotel on Lugard Road at The Peak.

Is there a law to prevent people wasting the government's money to review these absurd applications?

An occupancy for 42 guests and 10 employees is projected and, according to the submitted application, this will generate 20,000 litres of effluent daily.

The proposed septic tank for the development is seven metres from Lugard Road, making the path a likely part of the leeching field for the sewage.

A jacuzzi will replace the swimming pool and drain into the natural waterways as the old pool did.

According to spa experts, scum from jacuzzi pipes contains bacteria and viral micro-organisms that many cities do not allow into their sewage system.

Hotel guests would need to make multiple trips each day up and down Lugard Road, often in electric vehicles or large tricycles provided by the hotel. There would also be frequent service deliveries.

As the road is less than two metres wide in some places, vehicles would constantly confront pedestrians with baby strollers and in wheelchairs, with no place for them to pass.

The report states there is an average of 165 pedestrians per hour on Lugard Road (up to 800 pedestrians per hour on Sundays and holidays) using the trail, creating many opportunities for serious accidents with the added vehicles. In fact, a former resident of 27 Lugard Road trained his staff in CPR, because of the difficulty of access there.

The largest car he could drive on the narrow path was a Mini Cooper, and he was on first-name terms with everyone at the car body shop.

Safety and access issues aside, the proposed pair of three-storey, egg-shaped buildings the owner plans to "nest" adjacent to the 1914 Grade II historic home are aesthetically mind-boggling.

The building interior will be completely reconfigured, negating the value of the "historic tours" they propose.

I can only guess that this application is so far-fetched in order to give the owners of the pristine 100-year-old building an excuse to demolish it.

If we do not like their boutique hotel proposal, the next proposal will be for a brand new McMansion. But it will still need a septic tank ...

J. Lee Rofkind, American Institute of Architects/LEED AP, Alliance for a Beautiful Hong Kong


Fee brings hardship to graduates

What terrible news that the tuition fee for a complete degree course is now HK$500,000.

It seems Hong Kong's degree programme has become a trap for young graduates. It is like giving them a one-way ticket to a Dante's Inferno, full of cheeky ideas for earning fast money, with ethics, morals and social responsibility no longer on the radar.

They look ahead to a long, winding road with the huge roadblocks of marriage and mortgage, not to mention finding the money to pay back their elderly parents.

But a Form 5 graduate, if he has strong enough build, can join the police force and earn about HK$9,000 a month. After five years, he can save up to HK$500,000 and also enjoy walking the streets every day.

On the other hand, a university student may still owe the government HK$500,000 plus interest and be busy having to look every day for a higher-paid job without concentrating on their current one. In the end, our economy suffers. Couldn't universities copy the idea of working from home to develop a home internet university to reduce the tuition fee and save our ailing education system?

Pang Chi-ming, Fanling


Russian law will hinder gay athletes

Russian athlete Yelena Isinbayeva condemns the support for gay athletes and tourists who will attend next year's Sochi Winter Olympics.

She states that gay athletes are not banned; however, Russia's laws are more likely to adversely affect gay, lesbian and bisexual athletes during the lead-up to the Winter Olympics than their straight peers.

Not only have these athletes to contend with training and Olympic qualification, but there is now the worry of prosecution for visible signs of same-sex attraction while competing in Sochi.

This will affect their chances of winning medals as the effort needed for self-censorship to avoid criminal charges can undermine performance.

The threat of criminalising demonstrations of affection between athletes and their partners means that they cannot openly celebrate (or be consoled) after years of total dedication to their sport.

These laws run contrary to the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play espoused by the Olympic oath as surely as they discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.

It is patently unfair for athletes who have trained hard to have to take a personal stand against homophobia by being forced to consider abandoning a perhaps once-in-a-lifetime appearance at the Olympics.

Joseph Ting, Brisbane, Australia


Government must move to ease tensions

Of late there has been much heated debate regarding whether the behaviour of teacher Alpais Lam Wai-sze, in her altercation with police in Mong Kok, should be praised.

First of all, I would like to ask one question: if you are being scolded relentlessly by a stranger, how would you feel? For me, surely I would feel insulted and disrespected.

I claim no expertise in politics, but I do think respect is an important moral human value. For a teacher, using foul language to attack others is definitely not the right thing to do.

Fighting for democracy does not justify behaving in an impolite and disrespectful way. Lam should exemplify the qualities of a moral person by bringing out rational discussion.

Due to the deep-rooted problems in our society nowadays, such as the conflict between government supporters and the stance of supporters of democracy, people tend to relate everything to politics.

It is time for the government to ease the tension between both sides, for instance by showing more sincerity in listening to people's thoughts and the needs of the middle class and the grass roots. Only if the government shows more empathy can it hope to ease people's distrust and discontent.

I also hope the media can try to be unbiased and avoid stirring up trouble in society. Extreme opinions can only aggravate the situation right now.

It upsets me to see our home being torn apart because people hold different opinions. I wish to see it become harmonious and peaceful again.

Karena Fok Hiu-lam, Tuen Mun


Giving public the slip on Victoria Park

I refer to the editorial ("Asleep at switch, slip road slips in", August 17) about the slip road which when complete will destroy the views and facilities in Victoria Park.

Victoria Park is a huge part of the cultural heritage of Hongkongers. The contraction of it is tantamount to destroying our collective memory.

Everything in Victoria Park has its historical value, no matter whether it is the children's playground, nursery compound or bowling green.

The government has a responsibility to protect these fine public assets, instead of damaging them.

Another ridiculous thing is that some district councillors said they did not notice that the plan would cut into Victoria Park.

Actually, this is a very surprising state of affairs as there was an open tender last year.

If these representatives really care about the citizens, why would they miss this important detail and hide the fact?

If they are so careless, how can we trust them to report the hardships of the people to the government?

Anson Cheung, New Territories


Let's preserve our Chinese characters

I am writing in response to the article about people being unable to write Chinese characters correctly with their own hand due to lack of practice ("Chinese characters a victim of digital era", August 20).

With the rapid advance of technology, people are more likely to type Chinese characters into computers rather than writing by hand, and the result is that some cannot even write some simple words.

It is a serious problem that causes a loss of Chinese culture and literature. Chinese characters are complicated and amazing, so it is important to keep and learn to write this precious language.

To solve the problem, teachers may help by trying to avoid giving online homework to their students.

Although the online method is more convenient and easier to mark, this could be an effective way to provide more chances for students to write.

Companies can also play an important role in preserving the language.

When they are hiring workers, a handwritten curriculum vitae and the accompanying letters should be a standard requirement.

This would encourage the public to write proper and beautiful Chinese characters so that it can benefit both the workers and the companies.

In conclusion, there are many opportunities to learn to write Chinese characters. I hope that people will learn and practise writing the words that they think they know.

Lo Ho Ching, Cindy, King Ling College