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Bamboo scaffolding covers an old residential building in Hong Kong that will be pulled down and replaced with new flats, seen on March 18. Photo: AFP

LettersHong Kong doesn’t just need more housing, but also homes that last

  • Readers discuss the city’s poor-quality housing built for profit rather than longevity, the 25-year transformation of Victoria Harbour, the quarantine rules keeping Hongkongers grounded, and erratic bus services during storms
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The property situation in Hong Kong is very bleak and hasn’t been much improved over the last few decades. Not only do we have some of the most expensive housing in the world, but we also have some of the most poorly-made housing.

Instead of trying to build housing at the fastest possible pace we can, we should start building sustainable housing that lasts much longer than 50 years while also improving our overall quality of life.

We could do this by producing housing that can withstand at least the full duration of the typical 75- or 99-year land lease, rather than just building things which are not made to last as a means for developers to maximise their profits.

Additionally, we should adopt more stringent requirements for the sizes of properties while also keeping them affordable, otherwise people will have to make the choice between raising a family or buying a property, as is often the case now.

To even out the extremely high property prices, Hong Kong should try harder to diversify its income, rather than being overly reliant on its declining supply of land. To do this, we need to provide clear goals of what we want to achieve, rather than changing our minds on what sort of hub we want to be as each day goes by.

Lee Ross, Kowloon City

Our beloved harbour was saved from land reclamation

Our community should celebrate the tremendous improvements to our harbour and harbourfront over the past 25 years under the “one country, two systems” governing principles.


Fortunately, the ambitious plans laid down by the former colonial government to reclaim 1,297 hectares of the harbour were not pursued by the new government after the return to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997.

Unfortunately, however, by that time more than half of the 1,297 hectares had already been reclaimed and only 584 hectares could still be saved. These include the most sensitive parts of the harbour, including the whole of Kowloon Bay, Kowloon Nullah, Sulphur Channel and the waters surrounding Green Island, Tsuen Wan Bay and even large areas of the harbour at Central, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay.

Despite the wise decision of the SAR government, the harbour today has already been reduced to less than half the size it was when Britain took over Hong Kong in 1841.

Since the return to sovereignty, the Hong Kong government has worked wonders with the harbour. Instead of a narrow sea channel 800m in width that the harbour would have become – more like a river than a harbour – Hong Kong’s harbour is now still wide, deep and beautiful and one of the best harbours in the world.

Our community should also be thankful to the government for the wonderful transformation of the harbourfront into one of the best in the world for public enjoyment. It is now people-friendly and gives the public much-needed open space for relaxation and recreation.

These improvements to the harbour and harbourfront are among the most outstanding and long-lasting achievements of the government over the past 25 years, for which all the people of Hong Kong should be grateful. May the new administration continue this enlightened policy for the benefit of present and future generations of Hongkongers.

Winston Ka-Sun Chu, vice-chairman, Society for Protection of the Harbour

Risen from the ashes, but still caged by Covid-19

When President Xi Jinping said Hong Kong had risen from the ashes, I felt like adding: but to fly, it needs to dump the diabolical hotel quarantine and open up its borders.
According to Professor Ivan Hung Fan-ngai, the convenor of the government vaccine committee and a top infectious disease expert, the coronavirus has now shifted from pandemic to endemic. The government needs to face this new reality no matter how late.

The discredited quarantine and lockdown decree should be thrown out of the window. With a high vaccination rate, the changed nature of the virus and available treatment for more serious cases, Hong Kong needs to open up, as the rest of the world already has, and fly again.

Of course, vaccination, particularly of the vulnerable, should be our watchword.


Yet the present system has left Hong Kong paralysed, watching our neighbours eat our lunch.

Reducing the hotel quarantine to five days, or even three, may look like a giant step but really is nothing more than bureaucratic cowardice, with no basis in science.

Lam Kam Sing, Tai Po

Fair-weather bus services are no good in a typhoon

I am writing to express my disappointment at the KMB service on July 2 after the No 8 typhoon warning signal was taken down and normal public transport services should have resumed.

I set off from Discovery Bay and made my way to Tuen Mun with a change of bus to E33 at Tung Chung Cable Car station. While the Discovery Bay bus was punctual, I needed to wait 30 mins for E33. While waiting, I, and dozens of fellow KMB passengers getting drenched in the rain, could see numerous Lantau buses, Citybus buses and Discovery Bay buses running by, with no KMB buses in sight.

Eventualities like typhoons are a good test of a company’s service capabilities. I thereby urge KMB to improve its services especially when extreme conditions ease off.

Ralph Wong, Discovery Bay