Letters to the Editor, June 29, 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 June, 2016, 3:23pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 June, 2016, 3:23pm

Encourage walking to ease traffic jams

In his reply on June 22 to a legislator’s question about congested roads on Hong Kong Island, the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, said the Central-Wan Chai Bypass would alleviate traffic congestion on Connaught Road Central, Harcourt Road and Gloucester Road. He said the projected volume-to-capacity ratios on these roads will decrease from 1.3 to 0.9, which means traffic conditions will improve.

However, I do not agree with his bureau’s assessment that the bypass cannot reduce traffic flow in Des Voeux Road Central. This assessment is based on the assumption that traffic demand and the pattern of road usage remain unchanged in the near future. Thus, even though the reserve capacity of the junction of Pedder Street and Des Voeux Road Central would be improved from 2 per cent to 6 per cent after the commissioning of the bypass, congestion on Des Voeux Road Central is not expected to be eased.

Clean Air Network has been proposing to rezone Des Voeux Road Central into a pedestrian and tram-only precinct. This innovative scheme aims to reduce road transport demand in the district by providing an alternative transport for short distances – walking. Together with the implementation of electronic road pricing in the area, congestion and related air pollution in Central can be enormously reduced.

It will be a great loss to Hong Kong people and the government if the Central-Wan Chai Bypass cannot perform its intended function – to alleviate traffic congestion in Central and Western District.

The bypass should be considered as part of a bigger strategy to reduce the public’s reliance on road transport for short distances, in order to ease traffic congestion. Improving the pedestrian environment is one measure that should be implemented in parallel.

Patrick Fung, Clean Air Network

Collaboration holds key to a smart city

I read your article “Hong Kong faces challenge from Singapore in ‘smart city’ planning” (June 22) with interest.

In Hong Kong, we have just set up a Smart City Consortium to provide advice to the government and act as a voice for the industry, which includes start-up organisations, small and medium-sized enterprises, established companies and other public and private stakeholders.

No doubt both Hong Kong and Singapore are capitalising on the huge potential of the Internet of Things market. Only the sky is the limit when it comes to debating the types of services a smart city should offer. From our viewpoint, all stakeholders must collaborate in a model of public-private partnerships to formulate a smart-city agenda.

To keep up with what other cities are offering, we must tap the wisdom of the business community and also the public. To that end, a public consultation will be launched in August.

Daniel Chun, Smart City Consortium

Lancôme U-turn was cowardly

I was livid after learning of Lancôme’s U-turn on its endorsement of singer Denise Ho.

A company cannot measure its success solely on its commercial triumph, as public relations and integrity are important, too. Lancôme failed to honour its invitation to Denise, who is a pro-democrat, to front a promotional concert. It apparently gave in to outraged mainland consumers who disliked her for her political stance.

Denise has always been a controversial artist, particularly since the Umbrella Movement, in which she took part. I am sure everyone is aware of that. By inviting such a controversial personality, Lancôme should have been prepared to face the heat from her critics. But it wasn’t. Backtracking on the invitation and abruptly dropping its endorsement of her was just disrespectful and shattered the image of Lancôme in Hong Kong.

It’s true the mainland is a bigger market than Hong Kong and Lancôme would prefer to cater to mainland opinion rather than ours. In that case, it should just not have invited such a controversial artist for collaboration in the first place, to safeguard its brand name and profit.

The way Lancôme acted showed that it is a cowardly and immature company.

Harry Ng, Tseung Kwan O

Investigation must ask hard questions

As a Hong Kong citizen, I take pride in the bravery of the two firefighters who died battling the Ngau Tau Kok inferno, Thomas Cheung and Samuel Hui Chi-kit. My heart goes out to their bereaved families.

Meanwhile, may I raise the following questions about the firefighting strategy adopted? A government task force will be set up to investigate the incident, and I hope these questions will be addressed.

Firstly, when the life of the first firefighter was claimed, wasn’t it a clear signal that the fire was very strong? In this regard, why were firefighters being continuously sent to the deadly scene seemingly without taking any preventive measures?

Secondly, with reference to Australia’s experience in dealing with bush fire, could we adopt the strategy of “fighting fire with fire”? And when the fire on the third floor was out of control, could another preventive measure like removing dangerous objects on the fourth floor and spraying water there have been taken earlier on the second day to stop the spreading of the fire?

When the representatives of five firefighting associations defended the commanders’ strategy last week, may I ask: when the fire was beyond control, should not the primary strategy be on how to contain it, rather than to put it out directly at the expense of the safety of firefighters?

Finally, may I draw attention to what we learnt from the recent incident at City University: the collapse of the rooftop at a sports centre there provided good evidence that experts can sometimes make mistakes. While we share the pain of the frontline firefighters and their commanders, would it not be too early to draw a conclusion that there had been no mistakes in the firefighting strategy?

To be fair to the bereaved families of the two firefighters, should the conclusion be drawn by the Coroner’s Court?

Kendra Ip

Unfair to criticise firefighters

I read the criticism of the firefighters tackling the massive blaze at Ngau Tau Kok and must put into words what I believe.

There is so much criticism, but those who criticise are not firefighters. They may sit in an office or serve in a shop – a “safe job”. Those tackling the blaze know best. They have extensive training and they are the bravest people. So they know best. May I ask those who criticise, “Why are you not firefighters?”

We should be proud that we have persons who put their lives on the line every day for us, who have families and loved ones who worry about them every time they go to work. Do not criticise unless you are prepared to do that job.

Margaret Gibson, Sham Tseng

Back to the good old days for the UK

I am absolutely delighted that the UK has decided to reject the European Union. Well done Messrs Johnson, Gove and Farage, and as a backhanded compliment, Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Corbyn. Seventeen million Brits have made perhaps the wisest mass decision in recent history.

The notion of unaccountable bureaucrats dictating what British people can and cannot do always stuck in my craw. The UK populace is now liberated.

The next big development following Independence Day has to be the return of the old-style blacky-blue-covered passports with their appropriately sized pages and a message from the Queen informing “To whom it may concern” to “help me on my way”. I for one cannot wait to take delivery of mine.

Jason Ali, Lantau