It would be wrong to rename historically-important roads in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 May, 2016, 5:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 May, 2016, 5:02pm

I refer to N. Balakrishnan’s article (“Why Hong Kong should have a Sun Yat Sen Avenue”, April 15) and subsequent letters, advocating the renaming of Hong Kong roads such as Queen’s Road and Waterloo Road. While I see no harm naming new streets, I do not believe that renaming existing major thoroughfares is advisable.

Firstly, there are plenty of new roads being created as land is being reclaimed such as Tim Mei Avenue and Lung Wo Road on the Central reclamation that will become major roads in the city. These could easily be renamed after famous people without controversy.

Secondly, renaming roads that people have known all their lives will likely lead to aggressive push-back as people feel that their collective memories are being threatened once again.

Thirdly, N. Balakrishnan writes that the colonials committed atrocities in India, which is why colonial names have been changed there. However, once Hong Kong became a crown colony, the British human rights record in running the city was pretty good. Think of the millions of refugees who fled communist China and were welcomed here in the 1950s and 1960s, the creation of jobs, housing estates and other institutions that we value. There is no need for Hong Kong to pursue a form of historical revisionism as, for example, we see in India with changes in city names.

Lastly, there would be major inconvenience to the tens of thousands of individuals and businesses that live/operate on Waterloo Road and Queen’s Road as they notified friends and partners of a change of address by e-mail, online and in writing.

Anyone who has changed address will remember that it is a pain and then multiply this by all of those who would be affected.

So, in conclusion, yes to naming new roads, but no to renaming historically important roads.

John Hellinikakis, Pok Fu Lam