Letters to the Editor, February 02, 2016

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 February, 2016, 4:24pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 February, 2016, 4:24pm

Conservation a vital part of plan for Lantau

I refer to the letter by Tom Yam (“Lantau committee sees island only as real estate”, January 27) and wish to provide relevant information for your readers.

The Lantau Development Advisory Committee published its work report “Space for All” on January 10 which is available on the website (www.LanDAC.hk).

The report details the ­proposed vision, planning principles and major proposals for the development of Lantau. Much emphasis is placed on balancing and enhancing development and conservation. For example, the projected future population and ­economic developments are along the North Lantau ­Corridor of Tung Chung new town and its expansion, the ­airport and its surroundings, Siu Ho Wan and Sunny Bay.

As a long-term vision, the strategic East Lantau metropolis, if taken forward, may provide additional capacity to cover for Hong Kong’s economic and population growth.

Elsewhere, including Mui Wo and Tai O, the committee sees opportunities for conservation and leisure and recreation facilities for the people of Hong Kong.

There are also short-term ­measures such as improving existing sharp road bends, building mountain bike trails, and adding car parking spaces to ease the parking problem.

It is thus grossly inaccurate to describe the plan as “a swathe of real estate”. The committee’s discussion papers and notes of meetings are all uploaded to the website of the Development ­Bureau and members must comply with the house rules and requirements of registration and declaration of their personal interests.

With the “Space for All” report released, we are undertaking a public engagement exercise.

We welcome the public to read the materials on the above website and provide us with their views.

Lai Cheuk-ho, secretary, Lantau Development Advisory Committee

Island’s unique character is under threat

I refer to Tammy Tam’s column (“Lantau: The next big chance to build new HK town”, January 18).

It has been argued that developing Lantau Island could be a way of dealing with Hong Kong’s inadequate housing infrastructure and strengthening the economy.

However, I do not think it would be a good idea to build a new “new town” on Lantau. First of all, such a project would damage the island’s natural environment. Hong Kong’s largest island has unique biodiversity which attracts thousands of locals and tourists. That unique character could be lost if Lantau becomes commercialised.

Building thousands of new housing units would not be compatible with existing infrastructure. Also, residents could find their lives disrupted by noise from aircraft if apartment blocks were built near the ­airport.

This would be similar to the problems Kowloon City residents experienced because of their proximity to the old Kai Tak airport. And if a lot of blocks were built near Disneyland this might make the theme park less attractive to visitors.

I have no doubt the development of Lantau could bring new opportunities and make a lot of money for some Hong Kong citizens. However, as I said, it is a flawed proposal. The government must take serious note of the views expressed by people during the public consultation, especially if it emerges that most citizens are opposed to it.

Any projects must be based on the principle of sustainable development and any white ­elephant plans which waste ­taxpayers’ money should be ­rejected.

Anson Sin, Tseung Kwan O

Insult to the intelligence of HK public

I totally agree with Colin Bosher (“Escalator walkers are in no danger”, February 1) and his experience supports the prognosis put forward in my letter to these columns in September (“Standing on escalator not a safer option”).

Fortunately almost all local Hongkongers adhere to the long-established etiquette of ­standing on the right, to allow the left side for walkers.

We all know this is not a safety issue and the MTR could never present any genuine data that indicates that our time-honoured convention has led to accidents.

To the contrary, as in Mr Bosher’s case, walking is safer than standing, especially as many who stand are not holding the handrails or paying attention, but engrossed in their screens and oblivious to ­anything else. Whenever I hear the bleating announcement “stand firm” I have a strong urge to issue an expletive as I continue to walk on the left.

The only users who appear to heed this inane instruction are mainland tourists, and as they block the way this can place them into conflict with locals.

It is about time that the MTR swallowed its ego and used some common sense.

It is a sure sign that the MTR is not a genuine public company as it acts like government departments that find it impossible to admit mistakes.

These unnecessary exhortations are an insult to the intelligence of the Hong Kong public and should be withdrawn.

Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels

London Tube backs walking on escalators

I recently travelled on the Underground in London and the Metro and RER in Paris.

Both systems encourage walking on escalators.

Why is Hong Kong’s MTR different?

Christopher Heneghan, Abergavenny, Wales

New two-child policy will help economy

I think the relaxation last year of China’s one-child policy will have a positive effect and this will outweigh any perceived disadvantages.

It can help address the country’s gender imbalance. This imbalance was exacerbated when the one-child rule was in force by people in rural areas wanting a son, which resulted in high abortion rates. Also it will lead to more people of working age which can help deal with the problems created by an ageing population. Substantial resources will be used up looking after elderly citizens.

Having more available workers can help with China’s long-term economic development.

Also, with the introduction of the new policy I see greater ­freedom for Chinese people, at least in this area of their lives. It should be a basic human right for people to be able to decide on the size of their family and so now couples face fewer restrictions.

The one-child policy was always considered to be controversial, partly because it led to such a high number of abortions.

With the policy now scrapped I think the image of the central government in the eyes of the international ­community will improve.

Joyce Lee, Kowloon Tong

Shut all schools when there is a big freeze

Secondary students had to go to school on January 25 despite the very low temperatures, while primary schools and kindergartens were closed.

Because such very cold weather is rare in Hong Kong school buildings are not equipped to deal with it, so I do not think it is safe for any schools to be open when temperatures are so low.

It does not matter how old students are, they cannot adapt so quickly to a sudden drop in temperature. It makes no sense that the Education Bureau ­decided an 11-year-old primary student should not have to attend school, but a secondary student, aged 12, must turn up.

Cathy Lo, Tseung Kwan O