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CommentLetters

Letters to the Editor, July 7, 2014

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 5:17am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 5:17am

Strong case for lower urban speed limits

In the last five years, there has been little change to our picture of pedestrian casualties, with 73 fatalities on average each year.

On Des Voeux Road Central, the Community for Road Safety has recorded buses overtaking stationary buses at 49km/h. While such speeds do not violate the legal speed limit of 50km/h, there is little room for error given the lack of space and visibility. It is clear neither the bus companies nor the authorities recognise that under such circumstances, bus drivers should overtake with caution at speeds below 30km/h.

Over the last few years, we have been advocating lower speed limits in our urban areas: 30km/h for minor streets and 40km/h on busy main streets.

There is ample evidence of their effectiveness in road safety and contributions towards a more attractive city. The impact on motorists will be minimal, as their travel time is largely controlled by inevitable delays through junctions. The recommendation does not cover highways and well-planned main roads.

Despite a global trend to adopt a similar policy, a move towards lower urban speed limits in Hong Kong has been hampered by a lack of understanding of the rationale.

The government should critically review the effectiveness of current policies on pedestrian safety. If it appears unlikely they will bring about any further and significant drops in casualties, then new approaches should be taken on board, including the introduction of area-wide lower speed limits on our secondary road network. The time has come to show genuine care for pedestrians rather than blaming them.

Julian H. Kwong, chairman, Community for Road Safety

 

No-parking rules flouted regularly

Congratulations and profound gratitude to all those who braved the heavy hands of the Hong Kong police who began rounding them up on the morning of July 2 in Central.

Like the government they serve, the police acted with great irresponsibility.

The real culprits who occupy Central are not our Hong Kong youth. Neither are they those who are anxious about the chief executive election.

No, they are the fat-cat businesspeople whose high-price luxury cars continue to illegally occupy the main roads of Central, causing both danger and inconvenience to countless pedestrians. When will our police force treat these daily violators in ways similar to how their superiors appear to expect them to treat our youth?

Who, in the last analysis, is causing more inconvenience?

The prize goes to those who appear both comfortable and safe in breaking the law, almost every weekday, especially at the close of office hours.

Their convenience appears to be more valuable than the safety and convenience of we ordinary citizens. Or maybe they are colour-blind, not understanding that solid yellow lines actually do mean "no parking". Let's go after the real culprits occupying Central.

It is time for our police to be more intentional and systematic in ticketing those who seem to believe financial privilege trumps law and order.

If these owners find it easy to simply pay the modest traffic violation fines, then raise the bar until they begin to feel both financial pressure and some sense of lawful integrity.

Reverend Bud Carroll, Lamma

 

A sham poll is worse than no elections

The pro-democracy march on July 1 reflected the desire in Hong Kong for genuine universal suffrage.

The election committee for the last chief executive election in 2012 had just 1,200 members. They were not democratically elected and with a bias heavily in favour of the business sector, not representative of the wider community.

I have no objections to a screening process for candidates for the 2017 election of the chief executive, as long as it is done according to genuinely democratic procedures. If all the candidates are predetermined by Beijing, the so-called one person, one vote will become meaningless.

A fake election is worse than no election at all, because it legitimises the result. Under such circumstances we should all boycott it. And we must all continue to fight for real universal suffrage. That was why I joined the July 1 march.

John C. M. Lee, Siu Sai Wan

 

People must avoid violence at marches

I am sure many Hongkongers have become aware that some large demonstrations can turn violent and I have wondered why we are seeing an increase in this kind of behaviour.

These unruly protests seem to have escalated since Leung Chun-ying was elected chief executive in 2012.

I think this is because many citizens are dissatisfied with his performance.

Some resort to aggressive behaviour because they see this as the only way to express their extreme dissatisfaction with the administration.

Like many other citizens who have expressed their views on this subject, I do not support the use of violence in demonstrations in the SAR.

Hong Kong is an international city. People are given a good education. Therefore, they should know that violence is unacceptable and recognise that it cannot solve the problems they are seeking to highlight.

Also, the rule of law is of paramount importance here. We should be willing to listen to people who are expressing their opinions, but also emphasise that any protests in the city must be conducted in an orderly manner.

The mini constitution of Hong Kong is the Basic Law and it should be obeyed by everyone, including people who are participating in anti-government demonstrations.

These activists have to be aware of the potential consequences of their actions. Their acts of aggression could lead to other people sustaining injuries.

Surely, nobody wants someone to be seriously hurt as a result of an unruly protest.

We should all be aiming to ensure that Hong Kong is a harmonious society.

Zoe Chan Kam-ying, Kowloon Tong

 

Wanting the same rights as US citizens

In the US, people are born with basic rights, such as the right to free speech and to participate in free elections.

Whatever political rights we might be given are conferred on us by the central government.

We should be entitled to the same rights of free and fair elections when it comes to the election of chief executive and seats in the Legislative Council.

At present, we are, in effect, second-class citizens and this cannot be the kind of status that is acceptable to Hongkongers. It is a bit like ancient Rome where you had Roman citizens and those of lesser status.

Jimmy Chan, Tuen Mun

 

China has valid claim to Diaoyus

The disputed Diaoyu Islands (known in Japan as the Senkakus) are important because of their location.

They are close to major shipping lanes, offer rich fishing grounds and lie near potential reserves of oil and gas.

I think that China has the most valid claim of ownership of these islands over those which have been made by the Japanese government.

These islands have been part of Chinese territory since ancient times.

They provided important fishing grounds for the Chinese administration which governed what is now Taiwan.

When Taiwan was returned to China under the Treaty of San Francisco, after the second world war, the Diaoyu Islands should also have been returned.

Documents dating as far back as the Ming dynasty show these islands as being part of the coastal defence of Fujian province. Japan took the islands by force in 1895 in the first Sino-Japanese war, and kept them in the treaty signed after the war, but that does not mean that this represents acceptance of legitimate ownership under international law.

Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of geography knows that the Senkaku Islands have no direct link with Japan's Ryukyu Islands. So these islands cannot be used by Tokyo to prove its sovereignty over the Senkakus.

As I said, I see it as a historical fact the Senkaku Islands are a part of Chinese territory and I believe that Japan's claims lack credibility.

Emily Lee Tan-ting, Kwai Chung

 

Seeking clear explanation over school

In Hong Kong, property development is a very important part of the economy, so I am not surprised that St Margaret's Girls' College on Caine Road has not signed a new lease because the new rent being proposed by the landlord was too high.

I do find it surprising, however, that the Education Bureau has been unable to find a temporary site for the school closer to Caine Road than Tai Wai.

That is 15 kilometres away across the harbour and on the other side of Lion Rock.

The bureau has many empty former school premises. Surely there is a suitable building closer than that.

And why, when the school is going to all the trouble of moving to such a distant location, will the bureau not permit it to have a Secondary One intake in September?

Is this just a temporary arrangement for one year while the school settles into its new environment or will there be no Secondary One admission in September 2015 either?

Perhaps the secretary for education would like to comment.

Charles Yeung, Sheung Shui

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This article is now closed to comments

impala
@Emily Lee
It is 2014. You should try to find some (other) maps showing various borders in different parts of the world as they were in 1895, or before that. If all countries would start claiming (back) whatever territory was theirs back then, there would be no end to it. For one thing, we'd have to reinstate most of Asia, Africa and Latin America as European colonies.

Did you know for instance that Hong Kong Island is clearly shown as British territory in a map from 1895? And you will say that things changed since then, that there was a Sino-British treaty and so on. Yes. That is precisely my point. Things change.

In international law, historical sovereignty is pretty much irrelevant, especially if it relates to anything more than a couple of decades ago. Current and recent control is what matters first and foremost, and whether such control has been disputed ever since it was established.

If China were to agree to submit the Senkaku/Diaoyus dispute to an international court for an arbitrage decision, they would not stand a chance. There is not a shadow of doubt that China's claims to this territory hold no legal basis whatsoever. China knows this of course, and it is precisely the reason that it is refusing to submit the case for arbitrage.

You may find it unfair, but if you believe in the rule of (international) law, you have to accept that sometimes the rules don't work in your favour. The alternative is anarchy, or indeed armed conflict.
kctony
Zoe Chan,
Define "harmonious society".
So far what level of violence has been reported in the pro-democracy protests? If you think a few shouts and a few arrests by the police is categorized as violence, then you need to learn what violence is from other international cities.
Hong Kong people are educated. Beijing worries about these people's ability to think. When their voices are completely ignored by the government, what other options do you think they have other than to go to the streets to draw attention from the authorities? This happens in every international city when people think the society has turned unjust. Of course, in those international cities, people can vote to send an unpopular government packing.
In HK, the pro-democracy protest is about the haves vs have-nots as HK's income distribution has skewed alarmingly to a few hands. People's livelihood has been deteriorating fast. The Beijing selected CEs have proved incapable to improve HK's standard of living.
You ought to be privileged & connected to lack the empathy of the plight of Hong Kong's have-nots.
sammckhk
The commissioner of police is looking after his prospects in the future. Do you think he'll get a nice lucrative job working for one of the developers if he makes them walk a few extra paces to their cars now or inconveniences their wives when they've finished shopping. Like all our civil servants - always has the eye on post-retirement opportunities.
gunzy
Mr Kwong, and how many of these pedestrian fatalities are due to people jaywalking/trying to beat the blinking man, too busy looking at their smart phone, or some old person who thinks he's 22 but walks slower then a slug.
.
HK pedestrians do not follow traffic signs. They think they are above it, that it's for the other guy. I'm surprised we don't have more fatalities.
Dao-Phooy
The Reverend Bud Carroll's letter is spot on. This problem of lack of enforcement of daily breaches of traffic laws has been raised on a regular basis in the Letters section of the SCMP. The Commissioner of Police should provide justification for his change of policy that police deal with 'real crimes'. Turning a blind eye to blatant daily breaches of the law by the police lowers the respect of the general public towards the police.
chaz_hen
The HK police are now just an arm of the political ruling class. Who owns the politics in HK besides Beijing? Yes, the tyGoons. Nothing new...you've got your One Country.
martinturner
I strongly endorse the proposal by the Community for Road Safety for a blanket speed limit of 30 km/h on most urban roads, which would be a major encouragement for people to cycle around town, facilitating their journeys while reducing congestion on roads and pavements. In the UK, just such a measure was recently passed for a 20 mph limit on almost all roads in the City of London, as a result of a campaign initiated by cyclists three years ago. The new rules come into force next week.
While a lower limit makes very little difference to actual motoring times, it is a potent signal that the roads, which occupy the majority of open space in built-up areas, are not owned by those behind the wheels of vehicles but are a shared resource for us all to get around.
And yes, a 30 km/h limit will mean that cyclists will move at a more sedate pace than many are capable of. So be it, our journey times will not be much affected either – the bike is always the most effective way to get around a densely packed city like ours.
www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/all-roads-in-the-city-will-have-20mph-speed-limit-by-the-end-of-the-month-9582113.html
 
 
 
 
 

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