To a retired town planner, it seemed a perfectly reasonable question: Why not take trams off the roads in Central to reduce traffic congestion? Sit Kwok-keung says he was unhappy at the storm of criticism his application to the Town Planning Board to do just that provoked, but he quickly got over it as he knew such a reaction was inevitable. Conservation, environmental and urban planning groups have been up in arms, voicing their opposition to any suggestion that the iconic 110-year-old trams would be derailed, even forming an alliance to call on the board to reject the application. "There will always be opposing views in town planning. So are we not going to get the job done whenever there's opposition?" Sit asks. "I think I have done nothing wrong in this case and that's why I will continue regardless of the opposing views." In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Sit revealed he spent only two days drafting his proposal before it was submitted to the board early last month. Although he is unsure whether the proposal will be good for Hong Kong in the long run, the 60-year-old says it is the job of town planners to review what was not done in the original planning and follow it up. "Bus routes have now been reorganised - why can't tram [routes] be the same?" He insists there must have been discussion in the past on whether to scrap the trams when the MTR Corporation built the Island Line in the 1980s. But community groups reacted strongly to the proposal, saying the transport system loved by Hongkongers should remain, and counter-proposed making a section of Des Voeux Road Central a car-free zone. For Sit, it is just the latest battle over land use. About six months ago he put forward another sensitive request to the Town Planning Board, asking it to rezone the Admiralty headquarters of the People's Liberation Army's Hong Kong garrison into a hotel site. But the application was rejected as the board considered there to be no strong reason to support it. Sit did not give up. He refiled the application and it is expected to be heard in October. Perhaps it is this sort of persistence that landed him a government job in the first place. Beginning his public service career as a land inspector in 1974, Sit was promoted to town planner at the age of 37, something he never thought possible because of his humble background. Sit lived in a resettlement area - Hong Kong's first generation of public housing - as a child. "I studied at provocational school and never had a dream when I was young," he says. "I grew up in a resettlement area and had to borrow rice during the 1967 riots. It was very fortunate that we did not starve to death or become triad members. "When I received the confirmation letter from the Planning Department promoting me to town planner, I thought it was a dream." But the road to success did not come easy, and it was never planned, he says. Before joining the government, Sit worked at a watch factory. As a teenager he resisted temptation to have fun after work, or put in more hours so he could earn extra. Instead, he spent around a quarter of his HK$100 monthly salary on evening school tuition fees. After a few years, Sit joined the government as a land inspector and later took the certificate of education examination to advance his career. With the satisfactory results, he was promoted to survey officer trainee and finally senior survey officer before he went to Australia in 1992 to study for a postgraduate diploma in urban and regional planning. But that was not part of his plan either. He got the idea after talking to his juniors about the need to study for such a diploma to make them professional town planners. "If I didn't walk the road, they might blame me for directing them to a dead end. If I succeeded, they could follow. So it would not be my problem if they failed [the diploma], because I proved it worked." Sit was promoted to assistant town planner after his overseas studies and a year later became a town planner. He took a voluntary early retirement package in 2004 and set up a town planning consultancy, where he now works three times a week. But just a year after he retired, Sit suffered acute liver failure and last year had a minor stroke. He believes it was fate that he is now in a one-man job. "It just happens I have the time and knowledge of [town planning] that people know little about, and there's this road that God pointed me to, so why not?" he says. "If God didn't arrange this, I would have died 10 years ago. Why could I be discharged from hospital just three days after being admitted? "I can't turn a blind eye to all these issues as God has not arranged for me to die early - simple as that. I don't think I am making a nuisance but contributing to Hong Kong society." The Town Planning Board has scheduled a meeting for October 23 to discuss his idea of removing the trams. Asked if he will refile the application if it is rejected, Sit replied: "It'd be meaningless as I have already taken this opportunity to remind transport authorities to follow up. My responsibility ends here." What are his chances of succeeding? He has this to say to his former colleagues on the board: "We can never guess what smart people will decide."