Letters to the Editor, February 15, 2016
We have to ask if rail link will cost more
Hong Kong memories are short, but not short enough to forget the the statement by then transport minister Eva Cheng on January 2010 to the Legco Finance Committee that her HK$66.9 billion request for the express rail link had adequate contingency and she would not be coming back to the committee to ask for more.
These funds were not adequate, and she has left her successor (not herself) to seek an additional HK$19.6 billion, but is this enough?
The HK$66.9 billion was to complete the West Kowloon terminal whereas a saving of HK$580 million has been made in the latest request by only completing 10 of the 15 platforms. Will additional funds be required in the future to complete the five remaining platforms or were they an over-provision based on over optimistic patronage?
Is the HK$19.6 billion sufficient for the establishment of the customs, immigration and quarantine facilities wherever it is determined that they should be located?
Can any income be generated by the areas which may not now be required for these facilities? With the now lower estimated patronage, are there other areas within the terminal which can be used to generate income, or are these areas to be left unused (and forgotten) like the intended Airport Express arrivals terminal at Hong Kong Station (under the IFC) which has been left incomplete and unused for the last 18 years without any apparent income generating purposes?
A transport study in 2009 for the West Kowloon terminal identified necessary highway improvements; these included an underpass on Canton Road at Austin Road and a link into the Western Harbour Tunnel from the elevated Nga Cheung Road (west of ICC) to the Western Harbour Crossing. Their cost was not included in the HK$66.9 billion as their feasibility had not at that time been proved. How are these necessary measures to be funded?
While the members of the Finance Committee are encouraged to vote for the additional HK$19.6 billion, they might like to contemplate whether the committee in 2010 should have supported Eva Cheng’s refusal to consider the alternative express rail link proposal, which offered equivalent or better transport benefits at half the price without many of the problems of her project.
Ronald Taylor, Pok Fu Lam
Assessment serves useful purpose
Fewer primary schools will be subject to the Primary Three Territory-wide System Assessment test.
This has been done in order to deal with the anger felt by parents and the pressure pupils face from the TSA.
One of the problems faced by students connected with the TSA test is that they are forced to do too much drilling.
Schools do this because heads feel the schools themselves are being tested and so they want children to improve their scores. The Education Bureau has tried to allay these concerns by saying only students’ standards will be tested.
Another criticism has been that in the past the test questions were too difficult. I am glad to learn that this is being dealt with and the questions will be modified. If it is still felt the bureau is still putting too much pressure on pupils and teachers, it must make whatever modifications are necessary.
Despite the bureau’s adjustments, many parents still want to see the TSA abolished, however, I do not think there is a need to do so.
The assessment has its value as it can judge students’ levels. And this gives teachers clues about how to improve their teaching methods based on whatever weaknesses the students had. If it is scrapped, officials will probably come up with another assessment mechanism and it will have its own problems.
I hope the bureau decides not to cancel the assessment.
Lovelyn Wong, Tsing Yi
Authorities must act to curb pollution
I am concerned about the severe levels of air pollution that are causing so many problems for the residents of Beijing.
In December it achieved the most serious warning when the red alert was issued by the authorities.
The problem is now so bad it has received international attention.
Severe air pollution can be harmful to the health of citizens in the capital, and children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. It can also pose risks for people involved in strenuous outdoor activities. High pollution levels can exacerbate respiratory problems like asthma.
The pollution can also irritate people’s noses and eyes. Smog in and around Beijing can inhibit the growth of plants and trees and on farms cause serious damage to crops. These high levels of carbon emissions cause global warming.
The government should try to get more people to cycle to try and reduce the number of cars in the city.
There should also be tighter controls on the burning of coal at factories. Measures cannot be introduced in one go. What is needed is a planned, step-by-step approach.
Emily Yeung Ching-yi, Sham Shui Po
Governments out to control their citizens
If governments truly believe that man’s production of carbon dioxide causes dangerous global warming, they would ban the use of motor cars, motor trucks, tractors, motor homes, motorbikes, motor mowers and launches and petrol-driven chainsaws.
These all pump out the two dreaded greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide and water vapour.
Horses, bullocks, wagons, bicycles, scythes, rowing boats and axes are the true-green tools – all were good enough for our pioneers in Australia.They would also close all coal, oil and gas-fired power stations, and cover the land and buildings with solar panels and windmills. (Smart people would also stock up on candles and firewood for those cold still nights and cloudy windless days.)
Genuine climatists would also ban all tourism advertising. It just encourages people to jump into cars, buses, trains, aircraft and ships to go somewhere else, consume local resources, produce tonnes of CO2 and then come home again (passing in transit all the other people doing the same trips in reverse). We should surely be instructed to stay home and watch the celebrated naturalist David Attenborough on battery-powered TV
What about all the government-promoted fireworks displays, motor rallies, sports extravaganzas and never-ending world games and expos?
These all require millions of people to go somewhere, consume things and then return home, producing heaps of carbon dioxide.
With the modern magic of the country’s new broadband network, every Australian could have a ringside seat at every world circus without leaving the comfort of their own lounge chair. And if governments were genuine, they would have already nominated a region to pilot-test the costs/benefits of their true-green society.
Today’s politicians are not genuine in this way. If they were, they would confess that carbon dioxide is innocent and all this has nothing to do with controlling climate, but everything to do with controlling people.
Viv Forbes, Rosewood, Queensland, Australia
Turning HK into sports hub is not feasible
I can see the advantages of Hong Kong establishing itself as a cultural and sports hub.
It could attract more tourists and a different kind of visitor. Many people come here now to shop and eat, so diversity would be added to the tourists sector.
Also, there are not enough sports venues in the city and this makes it difficult for someone with ability who wants to become a professional athlete.
However, on the downside building all these new venues would require taking up land that is needed for more housing, particularly public housing estates where waiting lists are long.
Also, building sports complexes uses up a lot of money that should be used to improve the lot of our elderly citizens.
For these reasons I would not support developing Hong Kong as a cultural and sporting hub.
Michelle Ho, Yau Yat Chuen