Letters to the Editor, October 8, 2013

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 October, 2013, 12:31am


Cars given priority over mass transit

I refer to the letter by Evan Auyang, deputy managing director of KMB ("Too many buses inefficiently serving several urban areas", October 3).

It is indicative of how poorly we are governed when a major public bus franchise (KMB) openly displays exasperation with our Transport Department's slow motion. Hong Kong used to be a fast-moving city, but now we appear to be stuck in second gear with the brake on. The private car should be public enemy number one, but instead the department mollycoddles elite car users, at the expense of the vast majority of the travelling public and pedestrians.

It is socially unacceptable to keep building more roads, while forcing citizens into subways and onto footbridges. The lack of action on road pricing, and in particular the tolls for the tunnels between Hong Kong and Kowloon should embarrass our bureaucrats, because our schoolchildren could work out an effective plan in no time.

Public road transport and commercial vehicles have to move at optimal speed: do our civil servants realise the economic loss? I feel little sympathy for private car drivers caught up in peak-hour congestion, when there are more socially acceptable alternatives available. London has prohibited private cars from specific lanes on certain roads in order to optimise public transport.

For example, why haven't we prohibited cars from one lane of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel? Road pricing and restricted private car use policies have remained in the government's "too difficult" filing tray for far too long.

P. C. Law, Quarry Bay


Change of tradition makes sense

Since green groups launched a campaign to stop airlines and shipping lines bringing shark fins into Hong Kong imports have dropped by 30 per cent. Also, people here and on the mainland are spending less on food made from shark fins and so demand has dropped.

People involved in the shark fin industry have argued that the campaign which has led to this drop in imports has adversely affected the livelihoods of poor fishermen.

I believe that shark finning is a cruel practice and it puts shark populations at risk. Some species could become extinct if this practice continues.

It has been part of Chinese tradition that people would have shark's fin soup served at banquets as a way of showing off their wealth. Clearly, there is a case here for a tradition that will have to change.

The government should encourage citizens not to choose to serve dishes using shark fins at their banquets. It should also be willing to help fishermen financially so they can find another line of work.

Angel Chiu, Tsuen Wan


Latest climate findings get short shrift

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, among the most heavily evaluated and critically reviewed pieces of scientific work ever, makes very sobering reading, but not in Hong Kong.

Was your cursory page A10 coverage of the report ("'Another wake-up call' on warming", September 28), compared to a pressing story of fake Blue Mountain coffee filling the City front page on the same day ("'Blue Mountain' name is a hard case to fight"), a reflection of the perceived importance of the two stories?

It's tempting to think so following a drip-drip over three weeks of ill-informed scepticism about climate science from Lai See that recycled a mix of cherry-picked, decontextualised science, misinterpretation and contrarian error, much from other journalists who believe they alone have identified fatal flaws in this complex area somehow overlooked by 95 per cent of climate scientists worldwide.

In Hong Kong apparently corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians, media owners and, yes, journalists are parents and grandparents who have no need to consider the IPCC conclusions. An ostrich-like commitment to following a business-as-usual scenario ensures an increasingly difficult future with a degree of certainty that economists can only dream about. Does the media have any responsibility in this regard?

Do people honestly believe that all these thousands of scientists worldwide are so utterly, completely wrong, and are making this stuff up for publicity or just to scare politicians into spending money? Really? If this reflects how our opinion leaders evaluate the world then serious questions must be raised both about their espoused acumen and their mental health.

Irrespective of whether you believe the science or the deniers, the laws of physics are immutable. The world is accumulating heat rapidly and human-emitted CO {-2} and deforestation are responsible. When enjoying your next cup of steaming Blue Mountain coffee, consider its heat content and reflect, not just on the beans.

Richard Fielding, director, public health research centre, faculty of medicine, University of Hong Kong


Avoid building flats in our country parks

Is Hong Kong's land supply problem so serious that we have to consider building in our country parks, these valuable yet meagre recreational areas?

The government keeps trying to argue that in Hong Kong we are desperately short of land for building homes.

In fact the prices of flats have reached astronomical levels. If more private properties were built they would just become used as a tool by speculators and would not be used to accommodate people who are struggling to find a home to live in.

There are unsold flats in Hong Kong and available land. A lot of land exists that was once developed and has now been abandoned. Some of it is used for temporary warehouses and car parks. There are also vacant industrial blocks.

Consultation with the landowners could entail rather long drawn-out negotiations and prove costly to the government in terms of compensation. Yet, these areas are far more suitable than country parks, being connected by roads. They are ripe for development unlike the country parks.

The government has to deal with this issue sooner or later. It has to ask whether it is going to continue to shirk the issue of misused landor overcome the obstacles it faces in order to increase the supply of land that can be used for housing.

It would seem sad to damage ecosystems in our country parks when we have available land which is being wasted at the moment and on which apartment blocks could be built.

Lau Yuen-ying, Tuen Mun


Great need is housing for the poor in HK

Sir David Akers-Jones has proposed developing part of Lantau South Country Park as a parkland city.

Hong Kong's great need is for housing for the poor, so that the embarrassing and despicable subdivided and substandard dwellings and cage-bed spaces can quickly become history. May I therefore presume that Sir David is suggesting a car-free project? I appreciate that the former secretary for the New Territories had a good experience with the development of Discovery Bay. However, I would much prefer that Sir David, who was also chairman of the Hong Kong Housing Authority, used his considerable experience to advise the administration of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on how to extricate itself from the small-house policy, with which he has much familiarity, and how to turn New Territories land into new towns to resettle slum dwellers from urban areas.

Policies in the New Territories were originally conceived to prevent the decay of rural communities, but this has been a dismal failure as the rural indigenous villagers have dispersed (often overseas) and have been replaced by outsiders and foreigners. The beautiful countryside has been sadly neglected by the local stewards and trustees and allowed to become a junk heap. Thank goodness for our country parks. Money is the driver of the Heung Yee Kuk's thinking.

I find it ludicrous that local landowners and brokers still expect Hongkongers to grant them special consideration.

Frankly this is no longer deserved, and hopefully Sir David can help forward some stark home truths.

I. M. Wright, Happy Valley


Official service would have been right

I found it sad that the government did not organise any official memorial ceremony for the 39 people who died in the ferry disaster off Lamma Island during National Day last year.

The administration of Leung Chun-ying may have celebrated the achievement of the People's Republic of China, but surely it should also have held a service to remember those who died in the ferry collision.

What happened last year during the National Day fireworks display was a traumatic experience for those who survived and those who suffered the loss of loved ones.

I believe that a responsible government should remember the dead on October 1 every year.

I also feel that it must step up and strengthen marine safety measures, even if less practical. This is especially important at busy times such as a festive occasion like a fireworks display.

Gravis Cheng, Yuen Long