Letters to the Editor, May 14, 2014
Expert inquiry into rail link delay needed
The recent confirmation by the government on the delay of the opening of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link has caused a furore, fuelled by lawmakers' outbursts and accusations of a cover-up by the MTR Corporation and the secretary for transport and housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung.
Critics have now called for the MTR chief executive, Jay Walder, and Professor Cheung to resign, well before an investigation by an independent body is carried out to determine the reasons for the delay and to what extent the MTR Corporation management was responsible.
We were told that, when the delay on the works came to light in November last year, MTR Corp engineers made every effort to catch up with the construction programme.
They apparently had high hopes that, given time, they would be able to get the project back on track.
It would therefore seem perfectly legitimate for Mr Walder to tell Professor Cheung not to report this to the Legislative Council at the time.
Delays during various stages of construction, especially on large projects like the rail link, and subsequent recoveries using various means and employing additional resources, are everyday occurrences in the construction industry.
The MTR Corp has established an impressive record of completing projects on time since its was set up in the 1970s, and its reputation is recognised worldwide in the engineering profession. There is no reason to doubt that Mr Walder's request to Professor Cheung was made in good faith.
For Professor Cheung to publicly announce the delay before every avenue to salvage the situation has been exhausted seems undesirable, as it could result in a loss of impetus to recover the lost ground on the part of the management team and the contractors.
Therefore, it was unfair and irresponsible for one legislator to describe Professor Cheung as being naive to have believed what Mr Walder had told him and for the others to accuse the MTR Corp and the government of lying.
The way forward now is for the government to appoint a small panel of independent construction experts to find out the real causes of the delay and where responsibility lies.
The last thing we want is to have a bunch of legislators who are not qualified and who have already formed their views to carry out the investigation.
Chan Wing-keung, Pok Fu Lam
Regulate police use of pepper spray
With more Hong Kong people demonstrating to express their views and uphold their rights today, the police will increasingly have to take charge to prevent conflict and violence.
However, there have been some cases of people being hurt by the pepper spray the police use. I think we need tighter regulation on the use of pepper spray to address this.
Firstly, this will help prevent unexpected accidents. As the spray is not target-specific and affects an entire area, innocent people nearby may get hurt.
Secondly, with police less ready to reach for the pepper spray, regulation can help keep the peace.
Du Ng, Sha Tin
Governments must act to ease tension
I am writing to express my views about the friction between mainland visitors and Hong Kong people. Many people blame the attitude of mainlanders for the conflict. I think Hongkongers should bear some responsibility.
Hongkongers are too emotional on this issue. We should understand that there are differences between the lifestyles of people living in Hong Kong and those in mainland China. We should be inclusive; it is not easy for mainlanders to change some of their behaviour.
I don't mean that we should endure the uncivilised behaviour of mainlanders, but we should allow enough time for them to change. Only criticising will just worsen the problem.
Both the mainland and Hong Kong governments can do something. First, the mainland government should not worsen the problem. The official mainland media has been reporting the frictions in extremely subjective ways, making the problem seem more serious than it is.
Similarly, Hong Kong's mass media shouldn't do anything to heighten the emotions of Hongkongers. Besides, since many who criticise the mainlanders on the internet are teenagers, it shows their lack of understanding.
The governments on both sides should cooperate to hold more camps and trips for teenagers to encourage them to communicate with mainlanders to increase understanding and build up a stronger bond with them.
Vicky Lui Wai Ki, Kowloon Tong
Build public lavatories in Mong Kok
It is not uncommon for a child to have to answer the call of nature while out shopping or walking in public.
Hence, it is not unreasonable for mainland parents to let their children pee in the street.
To avoid embarrassing incidents happening, parents need to be more observant, but the government also needs to re-examine whether there are enough public conveniences in Mong Kok.
As a resident living in Mong Kok, it is common for restaurants to refuse to allow customers to use their own washrooms, advising them instead to go to public conveniences, which are often far away.
To address this problem, the government needs to build more public lavatories to help ease strained ties.
Yuki Tsang, Mong Kok
Relatives need to see Lamma ferry report
On April 24, the Transport and Housing Bureau made public a summary of a report on the 2012 Lamma ferry disaster.
Hong Kong citizens have high expectations of this report, as they want to know who is responsible for this tragic ferry collision and what can be done to avoid the same thing happening again.
The report suggested that those who had failed to do their duty should be punished.
It said 17 marine officials had failed in their duties but there is no information about who they are, what their grades are, what their duties are or how they failed to fulfil them.
So we would like to ask: what can the public get from this report?
It falls far short of the public's expectations and those of the bereaved families.
Why is the government trying to hide the truth? It claims that criminal investigations and disciplinary work will be hampered should it disclose the details of the report.
However, are there any possible alternatives that would allow the bereaved families to know the truth without the investigation and disciplinary work being disturbed?
The department should accept some suggestions raised by councillors so as to rebuild the confidence of bereaved families.
Linus Wong, Fanling
Hong Kong does not need Li Ka-shing
I refer to your report on Hong Kong's economy suffering if Li Ka-shing were to reduce his investments in the city ("Li Ka-shing rumours 'may hurt Hong Kong'", May 10).
Quite frankly, I would be delighted if Li took his assets somewhere else. His supermarkets are grossly overpriced, with prices changing every day and against logic.
In addition, Li is a core reason the property market is inaccessible for many people.
Other than cajoling people to put his name on buildings, I see no reason for him to stay. Hong Kong was here long before Li and it will be here long after him. His companies are just designed to make a dollar for Li Inc.
And, if he does eventually fulfil his promise, can he take Richard [Li Tzar-kai] with him? Although I'd be hard pressed to suggest a place for them to go.
William Stevenson Spencer, Tin Hau