Protection of hiking area essential

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 January, 2014, 3:27am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 January, 2014, 3:27am

I support the government's decision to incorporate the Tai Long Sai Wan enclave into Sai Kung East Country Park.

Anyone who goes hiking regularly will know that Tai Long Sai Wan is one of the most scenic parts of Hong Kong. This is an outstanding hiking trail, comparable to any hiking experience anywhere in the world. It is therefore in the public interest to preserve and protect this area so that future generations of Hongkongers and walking enthusiasts from abroad can enjoy the wonderful natural beauty.

Hong Kong is not short of controversies, such as the extreme inequality in terms of housing rights.

So-called indigenous villagers are given the right to build a house, despite the fact that some of them were born outside Hong Kong and have no need of housing here. Other Hongkongers who were born and continue to live here have no such rights and face the highest housing costs in the world.

We are supposed to have a free market economy, but a lot of essential supplies like meat [imported from the mainland] and gas and electricity are controlled by monopolies or duopolies.

We pride ourselves on being one of the most affluent societies in the Asia-Pacific region, with a high per-capita income. And yet, many citizens work extremely long hours and have little time to rest, be with their families, exercise or continue their studies.

However, despite all the pressure we face, we still have our country parks. At the weekend, Hong Kong citizens can pick up their rucksacks and take a hike free of charge. Walks like this revitalise them and help them to recharge their batteries.

The Tai Long Sai Wan area is under threat. For example, construction work for a private development [that was stopped] threatened to change the area in 2010.

It is of paramount importance that this pristine area is protected and the government must scrutinise its development. It will be in a better position to do so with it incorporated into the country park network. This means there is now a better chance of an area with such natural beauty not being degraded.

The country park system set up in the 1970s preserves the countryside for the Hong Kong people.

Any legitimate claims regarding the enclave can be handled by relevant government departments or through the courts.

Kenneth Chu, Wan Chai