Letters to the Editor, September 3, 2013
Agreement did not give PLA waterfront site
I thank the Secretary for Development Paul Chan for his letter ("Government still has goal for world-class harbourfront", August 28), a response to my letter ("Government keeps breaking pledges on precious harbourfront", August 14) which objected to the government giving a 30,000 sq ft site on the Central harbourfront to the People's Liberation Army.
Mr Chan referred to the Defence Land Agreement under which the PLA was given 14 sites for military use. But he should know that this Central harbourfront site was not one of them and that the agreement only gave the PLA the right to berth military vessels at this site and not the site itself.
Since 2000, seven original and amended outline zoning plans (OZPs) were approved by the Town Planning Board to give effect to this berthing right of the PLA while the site itself had always been zoned "open space" for use as a public harbourfront promenade.
It was not until February 15 this year that the OZP was suddenly amended to rezone the site from public "open space" to "military use" and to hand over the site to the PLA.
Mr Chan should clarify the following for the benefit of the public:
How can a "military site" with strict security against public access be compatible with a "world-class Central harbourfront" that he has promised the public?
What words in the agreement is he relying on as conferring such land rights on the PLA when, as mentioned above, the agreement actually stated the opposite?
How can a "military site" be used as a public "open space" in contravention of the Town Planning Ordinance and Article 12 of the Garrison Law?
What legal document has been signed by the PLA when Mr Chan referred to "the garrison's agreement that it would open the area of the military dock site to the public as part of the waterfront promenade when it is not in military use"?
- Even if there is such a legal document, how and who can enforce such agreement against the PLA when the Hong Kong law courts have no jurisdiction over the PLA?
Winston K. S. Chu, adviser, Society for Protection of the Harbour
Department must be privatised
On a regular basis, there are letters published in your columns about the glitches in managing the Environmental Protection Department.
The criticisms are widespread, ranging from future planning to leaking landfills. It surely is clear to all interested parties, that the culture at the department is defensive, uncreative and lacking management skills.
Therefore, our chief executive must seriously consider privatising the department, in the same way as it has been done before, for example, with the MTR Corporation.
It is only when and if the culture at the department becomes more entrepreneurial in nature that the huge number of daily problems facing it can be solved on a case by case basis.
Richard Paine, Tai Hang
Relying on incinerators not the answer
I refer to the report ("Landfill's liquid waste leaks into city's rivers", August 29).
There has been a heated debate following this news about Ta Kwu Ling landfill. What happened has raised public concerns about landfills. I think we must lighten the burden these sites presently face.
The government must find substitutes for these landfills. One possible alternative is to construct incinerators. However they have a downside as they give off emissions.
The government should pay experts to do more research and come up with a suitable strategy so that the landfills can gradually be replaced.
The administration can also help reduce waste by supporting the further development of the recycling industry. Recycling here is not as advanced as in other places in the region. Recycling firms must be offered more subsidies in order to encourage business people into the sector.
The chances of the authorities successfully tackling the solid waste problem will be minimal without the engagement of the community. All citizens need to adhere to the 3Rs - reduce, reuse and recycle - in order to reduce volumes of domestic waste.
Dumping waste into landfills or incinerators alone is not a sustainable way to handle solid waste. We must all work together to achieve sustainable development of our city.
Lee Tsz-ching, Kwun Tong
MTR explains fare structure on network
I would like to thank S. Huang for commenting on the MTR's fares ("MTR's fares confusing for passengers", August 29).
With regards to the comment on Octopus users paying more on some routes, we would like to point out that we need to adhere to two principles when calculating individual fares. First, adjustments to Octopus fares are in units of 10 cents; and second, adjustments to single journey ticket fares are in units of 50 cents.
When adjusting the fares in 2012, as the percentage increase of some single journey ticket fares would be quite high after the adjustment of 50 cents, the MTR decided not to adjust single journey ticket fares below HK$7 for that year.
As such, some single journey ticket fares are slightly lower than their corresponding Octopus fares after the fare adjustment.
In fact, we note that if single journey ticket fares are adjusted to a level higher than the Octopus fares in one go, the increase rate may be too high. Thus, we will remove the situation gradually starting from this year and in the coming few years. In fact, after this year's adjustment, the number of cases where Octopus fares are higher has been substantially reduced from 596 cases in 2012 to 206 in heavy rail, and from 1,276 cases to 672 in light rail.
Separately, with regard to the 10 cents charge for each journey on the pre-merger MTR lines using Octopus, it should be noted that the purpose of such fee collection is to share the capital cost of retrofitting platform screen doors and automatic platform gates on the early railway lines, as the original investment plan for constructing the lines did not include capital cost of these doors and gates.
We have completed instalments of doors in 30 underground stations and have retrofitted gates at eight above-ground stations.
Up until April 2013, the MTR has collected a total of HK$1.063 billion through the fee collection and it is expected that the amount will be fully recovered in the first half of 2014. The 10 cents collection arrangement will then stop.
Kendrew Wong, media relations manager, MTR Corporation
We should all aim for much quieter city
I refer to the article by Michelle Wong of Civic Exchange ("Loud and clear", August 23).
I agree with her that stricter enforcement rules are needed to curb noise pollution, but we also need better urban planning and design.
Enforcement of anti-noise pollution regulations is insufficient as citizens generate this kind of pollution in a number of ways.
This adversely affects people's mental and physical health. It also damages the image of Hong Kong.
We can only deal with the problem by having stricter legislation.
Officials need to try and reduce noise pollution levels from shops. These shops generate sometimes loud noises in order to attract customers.
Another form of voice pollution comes from traffic noise.
A better form of urban design would ensure a clear separation between highways and housing to reduce the impact of traffic noise for residents.
For instance, there must be more noise barriers installed.
In the long term, the government must introduce policies that try to reduce car usage, such as higher taxes and more user-friendly urban design.
With such measures in place, the quality of people's lives will improve.
Their physical and mental well-being will be better and the overall image of Hong Kong will also undergo an improvement. We all have a responsibility to try and reduce noise pollution levels.
Tsoi Sin-yi, Tseung Kwan O
Education can lead to more organ donors
I refer to the report, ("A chance at life for 14-year-old" August 22), about a young Hong Kong boy who has had a heart transplant.
The donor [who died following a traffic accident], through her selfless act, helped to save a precious life.
Unfortunately, there are still many people in the city who do not register as organ donors. This can partly be due to traditional Chinese views or a misunderstanding.
Some families will not sign the consent form to allow the organs of a deceased relative to be harvested.
This is a pity as there are thousands of patients waiting for organ transplants.
The government needs to do more to try and change people's attitudes, through the internet, advertising and leaflets.
The media can also do more to help people appreciate the importance of registering as organ donors.
Also, people can also encourage family members to agree to become donors.
In these ways more people will agree to be registered as donors and more lives will be saved.
Elam Hui, Tseung Kwan O