Letters to the Editor, February 12, 2014
Character of old Wan Chai disappearing
I was sad to read the report ("Felling of iconic tree angers activists", January 24).
People are right to be angry about what is happening in Wan Chai. Hopewell dominates Southorn area with the massive scale of its developments, especially with The Avenue nearing completion on what used to be Lee Tung Street. The neighbourly character of "Old Wan Chai" is being removed. It is a paradox that The Avenue intimates trees while, on the Hopewell Centre II site, more than 500 trees are being removed.
Also, more trees outside the development's boundaries will be felled to accommodate roadworks and infrastructure associated with it, as traffic mitigation measures in Kennedy Road and Queen's Road East. Some of them are fine specimens and characteristic of this old Wan Chai area. It is ridiculous that not one tree will remain on this large site which was part of a green belt.
It is even more ludicrous when one considers that the Town Planning Board requires, as a condition of approval, a 2,030 square metre public park, and a 3,850 square metre private park. It is astonishing that none of these trees could remain in their natural position in this whole 6,000 square metre park area. What are the Home Affairs Department and government's planners doing?
They are avoiding their remit of protecting the public interest in order to favour an influential developer.
Frank Lee, Mid-Levels
Appalled by country park proposal
Frankly, as a Lantau resident, it is very disheartening to hear Franklin Lam Fan-keung's "eco-friendly" comments about development ("'Build in Lantau's country parks'", February 10).
Lantau is host to a vivid variety of flora and fauna, and resident species, making its country parks among the most relaxing for Hong Kong residents to enjoy. Disrupting this balance, in any way, would catastrophically destroy their essence and take away any chance to ever see such beauty and peace in its current state.
Development of this area for monetary gain is all that is on Mr Lam's mind.
May I invite him to take some time from his busy schedules and meetings, and come to Lantau for a weekend to truly experience it.
I think he will then agree that no amount of money is worth such destruction. Alternatively, he can attend a crash course on environmentalism.
Taher Kesuri, Lantau
Free shuttle buses from cruise terminal
I refer to the letter by Stephen Harrison ("Terminal left very negative impression", February 3) and Anna Healy Fenton's blog ("Cruising tips - and a chilly welcome for Kai Tak passengers", January 26).
Worldwide Cruise Terminals apologises for the negative impression Mr Harrison had of Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. I wish to make clarifications to the letter and the blog.
There is a Hong Kong Tourism Board shop and information stand in the exit hall.
A currency exchange shop is under renovation and will open in the coming months, to supplement currency exchange facilities on board the ships.
Free shuttle buses to nearby MTR stations have been offered during all of the ship calls.
Many cruise passengers take shore excursions on coaches arranged by the cruise line.
There is a public green minibus service between the terminal and Kowloon Bay MTR station running seven days a week. There is a Sunday and public holiday franchised bus service between the terminal, Ngau Tau Kok MTR, and Kwun Tong MTR stations.
The major taxi associations have been given two presentations, including 2014 ship call schedules, and have been on three site visits of the terminal in the past year.
Over 30 taxi associations are reminded of individual ship calls the day before every call, by their requested method of communication.
Information cards with the individual taxi car plate number on one side, and terminal address and key phone numbers on the other side, are given to all passengers who queue for a taxi.
We hope that this provides more information on the subject. The Kai Tak district is a work in progress, of which the cruise terminal is the first completed piece. We understand that more transportation services will become available as additional facilities in the district are completed, including the pediatrics centre of excellence, stadium, Kai Tak MTR station, runway park, and more.
We will continue to advocate for additional transportation services, and the addition of new services, such as a public ferry pier for an additional Kai Tak stop on the existing North Point-Kwun Tong route, or for charter ferry excursions to Lei Yu Mun, Central, the Geopark, Stanley, Disneyland, and Hong Kong's many other seaside attractions.
Jeff Bent, managing director, Worldwide Cruise Terminals
Electrified railways do break down
On Sunday, the MTR Corporation's East Rail Line suffered a four-hour service failure owing to a breakdown of an electrical insulator on the overhead wiring system.
Local television news stations immediately exploited the situation to create "breaking news" about the failure and the ensuing delays, interviewing passengers complaining about a lack of information. Let's put this into perspective. Within less than four hours, engineers had rushed to the scene and repaired the wiring, allowing normal operations to resume.
In the meantime, single-track operations had been implemented allowing partial services between the affected Fo Tan and University stations. Services were also complemented by free shuttle buses.
Before any of our usual ignorant local democratic politicians jump on their electioneering bandwagons, let me point out that nowhere else in the world could such a breakdown have been handled more admirably and efficiently. The MTR Corp went out of its way to minimise the inconvenience caused to passengers. It is also impossible for a company operating an electrified railway, now some 30 years old, to maintain a system that never fails. Breakdowns happen almost daily on London's Underground network and passengers take these irritations in their stride.
Passengers should be realistic and appreciate that Hong Kong enjoys one of the most efficient railway systems in the world. And if local politicians, are even thinking of once again exploiting this breakdown to gain personal publicity, I ask that they show maturity and refrain from doing so.
P. A. Crush, Sha Tin
Ensuring access tough for small firms
A recent survey has found that many restaurants are not providing adequate access to the disabled, with cha chaan teng having the worst record.
I sympathise with people with disabilities, but I don't think that these small businesses can be blamed for this state of affairs.
They are faced with rising rents and these cha chaan teng are generally very small places where it would be difficult to make the necessary adaptions.
I think the problems highlighted by the survey could be dealt with if the government was willing to offer subsidies to smaller-scale enterprises.
They could then make the changes to their premises which would bring us a step closer to creating a barrier-free society.
Choki Chung Cho-kiu, Hung Hom