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designing hong kong
Below is the last in this series of readers' comments. We come back to the Hung Hom Waterfront Park once we receive new plans. Previous newsletters can be found on www.designinghongkong.com

I support three Hyde Parks
There is enough space for residential developments, including Kai Tak and the New Development Areas in the New Territories. Older districts are unbearable with traffic and there is little road space left for pedestrians. The three waterfront sites – Hung Hom, North Point Estate and the former incinerator/abattoir in Kennedy Town –should be converted into simple parks which are easily accessible by elderly people and children.

Not another empty park
Another empty Hong Kong Park with no real facilities isn't the best thing for Hung Hom or anywhere else, including the Central reclamation and Kowloon Waterfront. The Hung Hom waterfront should have a row of 2 or 3-story small restaurant buildings, preferably in the colonial style (like the old Murray House) combined with a park area, going from the Hung Hom ferry pier to the new hotel near the KCR freight yard so that people can really enjoy an alfresco cafe lifestyle. These restaurants can generate profits to pay for the set-up and upkeep of the park and buildings. (Editor: Compare Singapore River, Darling Harbour in Sydney and Xintiandi in Shanghai.)

Selfish owners in Hung Hom
The park proposal shows the selfishness of property owners in Hung Hom. Now that they own their property they want an unobstructed harbour view and the land in front of them to be building-free. They fail to take into account that Hong Kong is a metropolitan city with 7 million people but only with a total land area of 1,000 sq.km (60% of which are country parks). The idea to build a Hyde Park is unrealistic. There are many low income and underprivileged people in Hong Kong waiting for their turn to move into public housing. Forcing them to move to the NT where job opportunities are scarce and transportation cost high will only exacerbate social disparity. We need to strike a balance between conservation and development.

Sorry, I was wrong
Priscilla LEUNG Mei-fun is not a DAB member, she is an 'independent' supported by the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government and the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions.

Rude commentary (1)
Typical, motor mouth Priscilla jumping on someone else’s bandwagon. As a Kowloon West resident I can vouch that all she has done for the community to date is to erect a lot of banners along our main streets. At least she teaches the Demos to get a move on.

Rude commentary (2)
I like receiving your updates. Keep up the good work in keeping the general public informed on the government’s failures to build anything of real substance. I got so frustrated, I’m now overseas to work on green buildings in a country were they really care about this. (Editor: We like people to stay and make Hong Kong a better place!)

Just Another Day at the Department of Signs (by David Price)
There is a senior civil servant in the Department of Signs responsible for spending his department’s annual budget of $2 billion. Every year he gets a call from the Secretary for Signs. “Mr. Woo,” the Secretary for Signs says, “we’ve agreed that this year’s sign budget is to be the same as last year.”

“But I don’t need two billion dollars! Hong Kong has enough signs already.”

“Nonsense!” says the Secretary. “Hong Kong always needs more signs. Road signs, announcement signs, warning signs and, particularly, signs telling people what they cannot do. I went to a gazetted beach last weekend and there was not one sign saying ‘Cars are Not Allowed on this Beach’. Do we want people driving cars on the beach? Of course we don’t. But people will unless you put up a ‘no cars’ sign.”

“No one drives on the beach in Hong Kong."

"Mr. Woo, I want no arguments about this. We need more signs. Goodbye.”

So for another year Mr. Woo and his hardworking staff have to scratch their heads to find things to say on signs, and find more and more places to put up these signs. Only occasionally does Mr. Woo have a good start to his morning.

“Mr. Woo, Mr. Woo. Good news! This morning I passed a sitting out area in Sai Wan Ho that had not one sign.”

“It’s a miracle! Where is it?”

“Tai Lok Street in Sai Wan Ho.”

“And you mean there is no sign saying ‘Tai Lok Street Sitting Out Area’?”

“Well, obviously, there is that. But there are no ‘prohibited’ signs.”

Astonished, Mr. Woo calls in his team of ‘prohibited notice’ writers and they brainstorm. ‘‘No dogs, no spitting, no vagrancy, no littering, no dumping, no hawking, no skateboarding, no lying on benches… all the usual. I want these up by lunchtime. Now, let’s be more creative,” Mr. Woo enthuses.

“How about ‘No grazing of water buffalo’?” suggests a veteran of the department. ‘‘No gambling,” suggests a raw recruit.

“Yes,” said Mr. Woo, “I like it. Sai Wan Ho could well be a hotbed of outdoor gamblers. Let’s make this a huge big banner; that will put a stop to their big plans. Let it be done. How much will that lot cost?” “

$6,235,” says the number cruncher immediately, moving to the big board to adjust the ‘budget yet to be spent’ column to $1,600,397,160.

“Err, boss,” pipes up the raw recruit again. “I’m thinking of road signs here. What if we make them double-sided? Two signs in one if you like.” With a quick and convincing sketch, Mr. Woo is sold.

“It’s brilliant! One road sign will cost almost twice as much to make. We’ll rattle through the budget.” That evening, Mr. Woo took his creative team out for dinner, and on to karaoke. It was well past midnight when he got home. “You’re out late,” Mrs Woo said sleepily as Mr Woo slid into bed. “Something to celebrate,” he replied, gently reaching out to straighten the ‘No Snoring’ sign on her side of the bed before falling into a deep and contented sleep.
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