My Take

Proposal to scrap Hong Kong tram service defies belief

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 August, 2015, 1:55am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 August, 2015, 1:55am

The Town Planning Board dealing with rezoning and building issues is not the most exciting public department to visit. But now and then, there are such outlandish applications to the board that they get everyone all hot and bothered.

One is a recent submission to cancel the Central to Admiralty segment of the tram service to improve traffic.

The company behind the proposal is called Intellects Consultancy, headed by someone called Sit Kwok-keung. It turns out Sit was formerly a long-serving senior town planner with the Planning Department.

Go figure. Now we know the kind of people who work at the department.

The proposal instantly makes Sit pubic enemy number one, but he was brave enough to go on radio to defend himself.

He said electric trams served no purpose other than taking up large chunks of major roads and blocking traffic during rush hours in the city's main business district.

People wanted to keep the trams for nostalgic reasons only, he said, describing them as "moving museums" that should go.

Sit did not rule out phasing out the entire tram service if his plan for the cancellation of the Central to Admiralty section succeeded.

Actually, I wouldn't take Sit's plan too seriously. The government wouldn't dare touch the iconic trams, seeing what happened when it removed the old Star Ferry pier. That marked the beginning of the city's nativist protest movement.

Earlier this year, Sit's company also proposed rezoning the Tamar area to replace the People's Liberation Army buildings there with hotels. The plan, which of course went nowhere, also included restoring the old Star Ferry pier.

One imagines this plan should be more popular with many Hongkongers than his tram proposal. But the government simply shot it down at the Town Planning Board. Security chief Lai Tung-kwok denounced the plan himself.

Assuming Sit wasn't an idiot, he must have known both proposals had a snowball's chance in hell of getting approved.

We can only conclude he has been trying to drum up publicity for his company.

If that's really his goal, he's done it now.