Letters to the Editor, October 10, 2015

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 October, 2015, 4:46pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 October, 2015, 4:46pm

Conservation policy exists to help elite

I refer to your editorial ("Preserving our heritage is vital", September 27) and generally agree, because a city that does not respect its past cannot expect others to respect its future.

Hong Kong is struggling to understand its own identity in these post-colonial days and heritage fosters a sense of belonging.

However, Hong Kong's official conservation policy for built heritage is a sham as it is disguised development.

The government is kowtowing to developers, architects and building professionals, while giving the false impression to the public that it is genuinely interested in preservation.

Our conservation policy is not about preserving heritage but preserving money-making for a well-connected elite, often without even paying a land premium.

Central Market is a prime example of the largesse: how much has already been paid out in architect's and surveyor's fees, even though the project has remained moribund?

It is good that the massive glass tank structure perched on top of the existing building has been scrapped. This modernistic addition made a complete mockery of the original Bauhaus structure and design features.

It was like an old lady wearing a rapper's baseball hat and pretending she is an adolescent.

The government should decide clearly either to preserve a building exactly as it is so it retains its local integrity and relevance or demolish it for redevelopment.

The current addiction to heritage development is an oxymoron.

It is the sense of familiarity with established landmarks that gives meaning to a city.

The ridiculous half and half "revitalisation" projects offer no sense of belonging.

Regarding Central Market, I hope this Bauhaus building is preserved exactly as it is, with all its design features and age.

To carry the old lady analogy further, there is no need to tart it up.

Otherwise, it is better to demolish and redevelop. This building has been vacant since 2003. What a waste.

P. C. Law, Quarry Bay 

Philistine and Stalinist denial of history

I read with some alarm that Hongkong Post is planning to cover the British royal insignia on pre-handover postboxes ("Conservationists fume over plan to stamp out royal crest on postboxes", October 6).

There are two reasons why they shouldn't do this, first, it's a waste of money, and second, it's a Stalinist and philistine denial of history.

In Ireland, there are hundreds of postboxes that date back to before the country's independence from Britain, all with the crests of Britain's kings and queens.

They are all going strong despite history and the humid Irish weather, and many are over 100 years old.

These postboxes are lovingly cared for and used, as it would be a complete waste of resources to have them all removed out of political angst.

So what did An Post, the Irish postal service, do instead of replacing them or covering up the royal crests? It simply painted them all green, the colour of a republican, independent Ireland.

What better way to snub their noses at their previous colonial overlords, but with a huge amount of practicality and common sense. I am sure seeing these recycled icons of colonial times makes all Irish people feel proud.

And what about Hong Kong? Just as in Ireland, all these pre-handover postboxes are already painted green.

Surely it would be better to keep them exactly as they are, with not a hint of Royal Mail red showing, as a visible history lesson to all on our streets?

Bert S. Y. Young, Chai Wan

Adherence to old ways is costing lives

While Hong Kong is a modern, international city many citizens still hold to aspects of traditional Chinese culture and will not register as organ donors.

Only a few patients are lucky enough to get the organ transplant they need here. It is a shame that so many citizens are not willing to accept new ideas.

There must be more publicity through the media to try and raise the awareness of citizens.

They need to realise the human cost of a lack of donors, so that they know about those patients who passed away because the hospital could not find a donor.

Carly Fung, Tseung Kwan O

Change law so there are more organ donors

It has long been the excuse that, as Hong Kong is a traditional Chinese society, no opt-out policy on organ donation following death can be introduced. As a result, the opt-in system is failing to produce sufficient organs for transplant operations.

There has just been the case of 19-year-old Jamella Mangali Lo who sadly passed away on October 7 because a donor could not be found for a life-saving lung transplant. I hope the secretary for food and health will agree that this tragic case should be the catalyst for introducing opt-out legislation as soon as possible and without any needless non-professional consultation.

Hong Kong society should have this. If Singapore and many other countries around the world have already seen the light of day on this, then it is high time we followed suit.

Guy Shirra, Sai Kung

Shameful decision on crunch match

So, the much anticipated (and crucial) Hong Kong versus China World Cup qualifier will not be staged at the 40,000 capacity Hong Kong Stadium, but instead will take place at the 6,300 capacity Mongkok Stadium. What a disgrace and what a joke.

Shame on the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and shame on the government of the Hong Kong SAR.

This is another kick in the pants for the people of our great city.

I guess the chance of my family seeing this match is about as good as what it was for the Qatar game. In other words, not a chance, forget about it.

The department reckons nine days will be insufficient for the grass to grow back after the Rugby Sevens World Cup qualifiers take place at the same venue. It is autumn; there is plenty of sunshine.

We claim to be a world-class city, but we are not even close.

Anyway, all the best to the Hong Kong football team.

Unlike the Tamar "team", I'm sure you will do us all proud by having a go and trying your best.

Barry Dalton, Sai Kung

Student leader was right to speak out

Critics of University of Hong Kong student union president Billy Fung Jing-en say his decision to break a confidentiality regulation, imposed on all members of the HKU council, was an immature act.

He said he did so because he wanted people to know the truth about why the council rejected Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun for the position of pro-vice-chancellor.

I accept that a confidentiality rule should be taken very seriously, but Fung clearly saw this as a moral issue. He was angry with some of the reasons given, such as Professor Chan not having a PhD.

He did so knowing he was taking a risk and that it could affect his academic and career prospects. Despite those risks, he felt he had to speak out.

Some citizens might say this is a matter for HKU and has nothing to do with them. However, this is about justice and that is something that should concern all of us. Chan was the only candidate to be put forward by an independent selection committee and HKU council voted against him, giving groundless reasons.

We would not have known this unless Fung had decided to speak out.

Dora Chan, Sha Tin 

Behaviour of students like Red Guards

I refer to an article by Phil Chan ("An attack on HK values", October 1) on the saga of not appointing Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun as pro-vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong. He said, "Have we forgotten how the Cultural Revolution played out? Law schools were among the first to go."

I agree with Mr Chan but would present a different scenario. In fact, the scenes of HKU students led by their leaders storming the university's council meeting in July, shouting abuse and frightening council members, reminded me of Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. They acted in the same way towards their elders and intellectuals.

These youths seem to think it's alright to break from civility, and the rules in a society as long as they believe it's their right to protect their freedom above everyone else.

I absolutely support the HKU council decision not to appoint Professor Chan to be pro-vice-chancellor as he has involved himself together with others in bringing politics into HKU and therefore making it a battleground for all parties involved.

It also seems that Professor Chan is still using his appointment to further his political convictions today.

My only regret is that the council did not make a swift decision to drop him as a candidate for the reason I mentioned but dragged it out to create more confusion in society.

Cecilia Clinch, Mid-Levels