Letters to the Editor, June 20, 2014

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 2:50am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 2:50am

Assess impact before adding urn places

I write to raise my concern regarding the construction of a columbarium at the corner of Consort Rise and Victoria Road, which will have more than 35,000 urns.

The coordination of the various government departments in dealing with crowd control, traffic and rubbish around existing graveyards and urns in the area at festivals has been disappointing, which does not bode well for the addition of another site.

During the Ching Ming festival and Chung Yeung festival, cars can be seen illegally parked on pavements around Bisney Road, Consort Rise and Victoria Road, forcing pedestrians to walk in the street. Police officers rarely appear to keep order, and when they do merely ask drivers to move without issuing parking tickets or having any cars towed. Drivers consequently continue to loiter in the area, causing congestion.

How is the area therefore expected to cope with another 35,000 urns by early next year? If four people visit each urn, that amounts to an extra 140,000 people at festivals.

The district council and local residents were not consulted on the construction of the columbarium. According to the Hong Kong Chinese Christian Churches Union, an urn is sold at an average price of HK$20,000, generating a total revenue of HK$700 million. Graveyards in front of the No 4 columbarium on Victoria Road are now being cleared. Does this signal a plan is under way for another high-rise, high-profit columbarium in the neighbourhood?

Construction should be halted until a proper consultation with residents is carried out. A transport survey is also overdue to assess the impact of a new columbarium on traffic.

Without permanent solutions for crowd control, traffic management and rubbish collection in place, the authorities should not allow construction to continue.

Rachel Tong, Pok Fu Lam


Anti-mainland sentiment is paranoia

I refer to the article "Eternal Struggle" (June 4), where the writer expresses his mixed feelings regarding the June 4 crackdown on students in 1989. His ambivalence, as he calls it, stems from "the paradox of [Hong Kong] forever and at once benefitting from and resenting the Chinese".

I would suggest to the much-agonised writer that to define Hong Kong and its value as a civilised city by its opposition to the mainland is being paranoid. This paranoia, often seen in many self-proclaimed "civilised" Hongkongers, is manifested in the notion that a child urinating in the street or on the MTR poses a threat to common decency.

Rather, what constitutes a substantial threat to common decency in Hong Kong is not any such unfortunate incident involving tourists, but the inconsiderate habits of everyday commuters, which deserve far greater attention.

Hong Kong people should grasp the danger and the vanity inherent in defining themselves as the antithesis of the mainland.

Han Joo Hun, Sheung Wan


Help for the elderly there on request

In reply to L. C. Wong's letter ("Cathay Pacific baggage policy hard to bear", June 18), Cathay Pacific will always, upon request, ensure any elderly passenger is well looked after.

A ground staff member will meet an elderly passenger, especially if he or she is travelling with a medical condition, and ensure baggage is collected from the carousel and loaded onto a trolley, and will escort the passenger to the point of immigration - all this has been provided for my elderly mother free of charge.

Cathay Pacific does not seek to profit from the elderly. Had the passenger's condition been clearly explained, L. C. Wong's father would have been treated in the same manner and he would never have had to lift a 23kg bag himself.

Mark Peaker, The Peak


Enforce good behaviour at Ocean Park

While I am pleased to see that some state-of-the-art adventure rides have been installed and several new aquariums opened at Ocean Park, I am frustrated and annoyed at the misbehaviour of many visitors. During my visit, I saw a man spitting on the ground, a woman letting her child urinate on the ground, visitors jumping queues and a lot of shouting and screaming on escalators.

If there are regulations prohibiting this sort of behaviour, why are they not enforced? If the issue is a lack of manpower, the park should employ more people to see that these rules are observed, and impose fines on visitors breaking them, as well as step up efforts to educate visitors about suitable behaviour and respecting other park users.

A good amusement park not only provides fun and games, it should also provide a peaceful and hygienic environment. Ocean Park's hard-earned reputation as a first-class theme park is being tarnished by acquiescing to the misbehaviour of some visitors.

Michael Ko, Tsing Yi


Consumer welfare key to ordinance

Last month the government released a plan to consult the public and relevant stakeholders over the formulation of guidelines on anti-competitive behaviour under the Competition Ordinance. This plan for consultation is now available online at the Legislative Council's website.

The document outlines the Competition Commission's plan to engage the public in order to design suitable guidelines on how to avoid falling foul of competition laws.

The commission has a legal obligation to issue such guidelines under the ordinance. According to the document, the aim is to provide "focused guidance" to businesses on how certain commercial conduct may risk being anti-competitive.

Given that the government's competition policy is ostensibly concerned with the protection of consumer welfare, it is vitally important that these guidelines reflect this policy.

In a sense, every single Hong Kong resident is a relevant stakeholder in these guidelines, since we are all consumers in one form or another, whether as an intermediate consumer or end consumer.

When the formal consultation process begins, respondents should be encouraged to include consumer welfare as part of their response. This will ensure that the guidelines promote market access and competitive pricing.

Hopefully this will facilitate the removal of the cartel problems that currently plague the Hong Kong economy.

Zachary S. Gould-Wilson, Jardine's Lookout


Lawmakers need to clean up their act

Egg-throwing, shoe-throwing and poster-smashing Legco members often have good points to put forward, but their method of presentation is atrocious. They shout too much and listen too little.

Why are Legco members allowed to disrupt and postpone meetings? These violent lawmakers should behave better or be thrown out. How can we teach our young people to respect authority, law and order and people's property if the examples set by adults are so atrocious?

It seems to me that the government and authorities in Hong Kong can do nothing without us citizens protesting. I am amazed at the cost of these protests.

Through having to ensure the safety of these protesters, our police officers are not only stretched to the limit but are also putting themselves in danger due to the thuggery of some protesters. Businesses suffer, and taxpayers' money is wasted.

Leela Panikar, Clear Water Bay


MTR problems due to bad decisions

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee questioned recently whether an inquest into delays in the construction of new MTR lines would help resolve the problems. The simple answer is no.

The problems are a culmination of several decisions by successive governments.

As a public corporation, the MTR has had to balance the interests of the general public against prudential commercial principles. The partial privatisation in 2000 changed the MTR into a publicly listed company, the success of which can only be measured in terms of profit. The balance has tilted.

The merger of two railway companies with rather different technologies and traffic characteristics in 2008 also did not help. The creation of a mammoth organisation means the government can only ask one company to build new railways, and so wherever there is disruption, there is only one company to point the finger at.

The decision to undertake five projects at the same time was also a bad one, resulting in a limited talent pool, a shortage of labour, and engineers being stretched to the limit. The problems have been compounded by a rise in public expectations and ageing equipment.

By international standards, the MTR service is good value for money. The longest trip on the urban line is still cheaper than the shortest trip in London, with a much superior service quality, and fares, in relation to average incomes, are still affordable.

An inquest will not help solve these problems. Even if more heads roll, these positions will probably be filled by less experienced people, which will not help resolve the situation.

Dennis Li, Mid-Levels