Letters to the Editor, August 29, 2015

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 August, 2015, 4:52pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 August, 2015, 4:52pm

Revamp will definitely hurt tourism sector

The Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui will be closed for three years so that it can be more than doubled in size.

Also, there will be a food hub, a film gallery and a performance venue at this site.

Even though the Town Planning Board has indicated it may take less than three years, I do not support this project.

I do not really see the point in extending it. People go there to see the statues and handprints in cement of the celebrities. The same number of tourists will go for these reasons, so what is the point of extending the avenue? I do not think it will attract more visitors because it has been doubled in size.

Also, the closure of this very popular venue will lead to financial losses being incurred, because there will be no tourists at the site.

I believe that some people visit Hong Kong specifically to go to the Avenue of Stars. They will probably go to another country because it is closed and this will adversely affect the tourism and retail sectors.

The negative impact seems obvious to me and yet the government does not appear to have given it serious consideration. It should be having a rethink about this project before it gets under way.

If it decides to go ahead with the revamp, it must come up with other ways of attracting those visitors who wanted to see the Avenue of Stars.

Lam Cheuk-see, Yau Yat Chuen 

Big developer, as always, calls the shots

Whenever New World Development decides what it wants, the Town Planning Board obediently wags its tail.

This one-sided relationship dates back to the early 1980s when New World redeveloped Hanoi Road by annexing more land than the designated area and finishing with a development which was never in the original plans.

All amendments to the project were initiated by New World and approved by the board.

The company's New World Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui was underutilised. The redeveloped site will have millions more square feet to lease in the new skyscraper tower. So the company joins forces with the board, saying it is part of its corporate social responsibility to beautify the harbour and increase tourism. In other words, with more tourist activity, it is more likely to lease out all of the new building.

The Avenue of Stars does not need New World's help. It has already exceeded all expectations and has been phenomenally successful.

On weekends and public holidays, you can barely squeeze past the crowds of tourists.

Nalini Daswani, Tsim Sha Tsui

Backing idea for green oasis on road

Des Voeux Road Central is in the heart of the city's business district.

It is crammed with shops and offices, and buses and other vehicles take up every spare inch of road, and pedestrians fill the pavements.

Should pedestrians really have to endure such a crowded environment? A group of planners clearly does not think they should have to and last year published a study proposing a bus and car-free Des Voeux Road Central.

Under the plan, only trams and necessary vehicular traffic such as delivery vans and emergency vehicles would be allowed to use the road.

There would be sitting-out areas and landscaped features.

I really support the ideas put forward in this study. It would lower air pollution in Des Voeux Road Central and create a better environment for pedestrians and for office workers wanting to relax during lunch breaks.

Pedestrian zones have been recognised as an important element in urban planning and should be seen as an integral part of Hong Kong as Asia's world city. This bus-free zone would improve the city's image abroad.

Karen Chan, Tseung Kwan O 

Repression of gays hurts economies

I refer to the letter by Ndemio Stephane ("Gay rights simply not an issue in Kenya", August 17).

If gay rights are not an issue, what then of human rights? Is your correspondent who says that "people who cannot change their sexual preference, then they can go live where homosexuality is legal" an advocate of forcing people to deny who they are? Does he condone Kenya's new anti-homosexuality bill recently submitted by the Republican Party in the National Assembly that will allow [foreign] gay people in Kenya to be sentenced to death by stoning?

Ndemio Stephane is ignorant of the reality of the lives of countless numbers of Kenyans who are discriminated against, stigmatised and subjected to torture, often resulting in death, because of their sexual orientation.

They face arbitrary arrest and unnecessary harassment by the police who extort money from them, and they are only released after bribing their way out of custody.

Your reader's comment of asking if a country will advance economically if it embraces gay rights is easily answered: yes, it does.

A report released in November 2014 by the United States Agency for International Development and the Williams Institute, at the University of California Los Angeles, found that countries that treat lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people equally have better performing economies.

A study of 39 countries compared a measure of rights granted by each nation related to homosexuality, decriminalisation, non-discrimination laws, and family rights to gross domestic product per capita and other measures of economic performance.

The positive link between rights and development was clear: countries that come closer to full equality for LGBT people have higher levels of GDP per capita.

Diversity is a part of humanity and the views of this correspondent and the Kenyan government reflect their failure to be a part of it.

Mark Peaker, The Peak

It is feasible to teach three languages

Kelly Yang's article about teaching the future generations of Hong Kong is right on the mark ("Can we, like San Francisco, create the spark of innovation?" August 27). Why isn't anyone listening?

Teach three languages and our next generation will be a triple threat and we might actually be Asia's world city.

Eve Roth Lindsay, Central

Students take initiative with liberal studies

I refer to Hiram Liu's letter ("History can be an interesting subject to learn", August 17).

He said that "preferred answers" exist in liberal studies. As a Form Five students I have to say that such a claim is unjustified. He also suggested teaching history in secondary schools using the same methods employed at university could improve students' critical thinking skills.

My liberal studies teachers emphasise the importance of interpretation of data, thinking from different perspectives, justifying an argument in a logical way, quoting examples and using key concepts learned in class.

You will not gain any advantage by memorising so-called suggested points. You need the skills mentioned above. Constant discussions in class can sharpen your critical-thinking skills.

I do agree with your correspondent that history is an important subject that every Hong Kong student should study. We need to learn from the mistakes of the past. However, it is not easy to reform the senior secondary syllabus and change the way that history is being taught.

Teachers, students and parents have suffered enough from previous education reforms. They do not need more changes.

However, I do think it should be made a compulsory subject in junior forms when students have a comparatively more relaxed study environment. Multimedia aids and games could be used to spark students' interests.

Cyrus Lo Chak-chiu, Ma On Shan

Now TV's package is outrageous

With the rugby World Cup approaching, I contacted Now TV to ask about subscribing to Fox Sport 2 (the channel showing the competition).

I was told I would have to subscribe to an additional package of channels for two years at an extra HK$200 plus per month (I already pay them HK$416 per month). This is outrageous.

If ParknShop or Wellcome obtained sole rights to sell turkeys in Hong Kong and, when I went to buy one, told me that I would also have to buy a duck, a chicken and a goose, and would have to commit to buy one of each regularly for the next two years, I don't think anyone would be surprised if my response was unprintable. But this, of course, would never happen, because there are trading laws in place to prevent it.

Why are these laws of fair trading not applied to television providers who, quite unashamedly, take advantage of their customers' weak, uncoordinated bargaining position? Is this not within the powers of the Ombudsman?

Peter Robertson, Sai Kung