Letters to the Editor, August 20, 2014

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 August, 2014, 4:45am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 August, 2014, 4:45am

Nations gain from civil disobedience

Many people, and recently even Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, have opposed the Occupy Central movement, saying it does not abide by the law and could hurt Hong Kong's political future and its relationship with Beijing. Labelling the movement "illegal" blocks chances for a consensus between all parties.

The way I see it, Occupy Central is an act of civil disobedience; it must have some form of illegality in order to identify itself as against the government. In this case, it is the electoral system that we're looking to change and illegality is natural in such movements.

Moreover, civil disobedience movements in the past have actually brought about progress and benefits to a country, instead of harm.

For example, Mahatma Gandhi's salt marches helped Indians fight for political freedom and finally independence. Besides, when you look at India's current relationship with Britain, it turns out that cooperation and trade pacts are much better than before.

Although complete autonomy may not be possible by 2017, I don't think the Hong Kong government should shut down suggestions and chances of cooperation with organisers of the movement by calling it illegal and signing petitions against it.

After all, when everyone pitches in, a consensus can be achieved and everyone will be happy with the electoral method in the end.

Joy Pamnani, Tsim Sha Tsui


Disruptive tactics could turn violent

I agree with correspondents who, when writing about Occupy Central, have asked Hongkongers to think twice before getting involved in protests.

Not only are the tactics of Occupy Central likely to lead to public chaos, but they will also adversely affect the image of Hong Kong. Actions may speak louder than words, but you must always think carefully about the actions you propose to take.

Hongkongers should practise self-discipline and patience.

I am concerned that Occupy Central's tactics could eventually lead to violence and I am concerned about possible traffic accidents in the crowded business district.

Citizens should express their views through peaceful means. They can write to the government with their views. People can also organise petitions, which is the tactic chosen by the Alliance for Peace and Democracy.

Hongkongers are stronger if they stand together.

Kenneth Chan Yu-hin, Sai Kung


Developer seeks to scrap compromise

I commend Lai See for its clear and informative article ("New Hopewell planning application angers residents", August 9). I am one of those residents.

I can remember that, in November 2008, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, then the secretary for development, announced in Legco, with much fanfare, that a long negotiation with Hopewell Holdings (over its proposed hotel in Wan Chai) had "borne fruit".

A deal had been reached to strike a balance between the genuine concerns of the local community and the oversized ambitions of the developer, with the hotel reduced from 93 to 55 storeys.

This prompted your congratulatory and optimistic editorial in November 2008 ("Hopewell compromise shows way forward"). Now, almost six years later, that fruit has gone rotten.

Your opening statement still holds true: "Hong Kong developers are not renowned for having a give-and-take attitude." Leopards do not change their spots, and property tycoons' cravings for more gross floor area and planning concessions remain relentless and insatiable.

However, it is ridiculous that they can restart the statutory planning process after settling for a compromise (which gained the Town Planning Board's consent) so as to get the land lease signed and sealed.

It is now apparent that there was a hidden agenda in 2008 to reactivate the statutory process once the land was secured.

Now they are putting the public through all the time, trouble and costs of contesting the planning process all over again.

This is developer duplicity, or as young Hongkongers now say, "tycoon hegemony". The Kennedy Road Protection Group was correct to ask Carrie Lam, now in her role as chief secretary, to step in again.

Frank Lee, Wan Chai


Stationary minibuses polluting air

Lai See has written about operators like FedEx taking advantage of lax enforcement of parking regulations to make daily use of prime locations to conduct business.

However, this is the tip of the iceberg, and other firms are well known to residents.

Complaints about abuse of parking facilities to the Transport Department and police fall on deaf ears.

The most visible example of this in Tsim Sha Tsui is Henderson Land Development.

This conglomerate has been parking its minibuses every day for years on the metered bus bays in front of 27 to 35 Kimberley Road.

They advertise Henderson projects - The Reach, Double Cove, Green Code and now Metro 6.

The vehicles idle all day in front of restaurants, small shops and numerous residential units.

Not only are the idling engines affecting air quality, tourist coaches have to double park when dropping off or picking up passengers.

This obstructs the narrow street, brings traffic to a halt and is the catalyst for unbearable blasts of vehicle horns as drivers behind vent their frustration over the delays.

Drivers refuse to switch off their engines.

Henderson already has its own parking facilities at nearby Mira Mall. However, suggestions made there that a little corporate social responsibility on the part of the developer would go down well have been ignored.

Lee Shau-kee, chairman of Henderson Land, is in his eighties.

He must surely recognise that high levels of air and noise pollution affect the health of elderly residents in this part of Tsim Sha Tsui.

As a grandparent, he must also recognise the risk to young children from idling engines.

Mr Lee has spoken out against Occupy Central. This is a little rich considering that he has been profiting from the occupation of a Tsim Sha Tsui street for many years.

Once again, it appears that our tycoons are very selective in their causes and could do with engaging in a little reflection before criticising others.

Paul Kumar, for Tsim Sha Tsui Residents' Concern Group


Thorough tree checks are essential

I refer to the tragic death of mother-to-be Zhang Qin, after a tree fell on her while she was waiting for a minibus in Mid-Levels last Thursday.

This illustrates the need for regular checks of trees, including those on private land, such as the grounds of an apartment block.

The government must now pay closer attention to all trees in Hong Kong and proposals to plant them.

If, for example, trees are to be planted on a slope, officials must examine such proposals and visit the location to decide if such a slope would be a suitable and safe place for trees.

Regular checks need to be overseen by the government, in order to try and ensure that accidents like this do not happen again.

Wang Tsz-man, Tseung Kwan O