MTR Passenger Train Reserved Space for Freight?

The Transport (and Housing) Bureau said it does not go too far for the train to cram 6 persons per square metre. Have cargo been included in the calculation? One handrail three cargo there! It is just 3 cargo / m^2!

Source: Ken Lee

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MTR Power Failure shows Disability of Transportation System

Wow! A power failure of MTR East Rail at Fanling on 16:30 Tuesday caused congestion at Admiralty station! So many people that Admiralty station has to temporarily close the gate. A witness Cheung Alex said “I have waited for two trains at Taikoo. Now I need to wait for four more at Admiralty!”

Comment by Kay Lam. Photo: Astrophel Lim.

The power failure caused delay to the train. The service between Tai Po Market and Lo Wu was reduced to 20 minutes per interval, and Tai Po Market to Lok Ma Chau to 30 minutes per interval.

Source: MTR Service Update @ fb

Many passengers were trapped at Tai Po Market station.

Source: Farbois Ciel Nior @ fb

So some poor North District residents tried their luck by taking bus 270A (running between Tsim Sha Tsui to Fanling/Sheung Shui). But even the terminal at Mody Road has a very long line, from indoor to outdoor.

Source: Chun Ning KeiTa @ fb

Source: Billy Wong @ fb

Even if those people can board on the bus quick enough, they faced another disaster: According to the netizen’s report, there was a traffic accident on Route #9 near Shatin Racecourse at the same time. The congestion tail was near the exit of Shing Mun Tunnels at Shatin side.

Source: Sha Tin District @ fb

The service resumed at around 19:45.

[Commentary] This stress test shows that North District becomes isolated when the MTR service is down. The transit system is already overloaded in the normal time. That fragile system is not robust enough to handle any exceptional cases. However, the HKSAR government still wants to add 100,000+ more people to North District with its North East New Territories Development Plan. This is irrational. Even with more infrastructure the traffic system will easily be collapsed. All North District residents suffering from long commute time should stop the development by expressing objection to the Town Planning Board (with my blog as reference) by Feb 20th!

Northeast Villagers Call for Help to defend their Homeland

 (Revision 2014/02/19. Fixed link problems)

The Town Planning Board of Hong Kong SAR government is conducting  a public consultation for North East New Territories New Development Areas Planning project. This is a huge project that involves land as big as Kowloon and forever alter the outlook and the fate of Hong Kong.

The deadline for submission of comments is 20th Feb 2014.

Villagers and residents living in the affected areas persist to stay and do not want to be evicted. They have formed an alliance group and urge Hong Kongers to send opinions to the board before the deadline to help stop this injustice plan.

How to Submit your Opinion?

If you want convenience and know Chinese, you can fill out an eletronic form prepared by a North East New Territories Development Concern group at http://goo.gl/PAXOqA. [They say personal information they collect is solely used for the submission of the opinion and for keeping in touch with you]

Otherwise, you can email your comment to <tpbpd@pland.gov.hk>, attaching the photos about the beautiful scene of North East.

Or, you can use the submission form on the Town Planning Board webpage. Please notice that you need to fill out both the form for Kwu Tung North and for Fanling North:

The alliance group has the following members (* is my translation):

  • Kwu Tung North Development Concern Group (古洞北發展關注組)
  • Joint Committee of Fanling North Villages and Residents: Against North East New Territories New Development Area * (粉嶺北農村及居民聯席:反對新界東北新發展區!)
  • Ping Che/Ta Kwu Ling Homeland Defence Alliance* (打鼓嶺坪輋保衛家園聯盟)
  • Land Justice League (土地正義聯盟)

The Chinese template letter is prepared by the alliance group (translated by me into English. Note: it is better to modify it and add your own words)

To Town Planning Board tpbpd@pland.gov.hk,

For making representations
Draft Plan: S/KTN/1 and S/FLN/1

I am a citizen of Hong Kong. I am firmly against the Northeast New Territories (Kwu Tung North and Fanling North) Development Plan with following reasons:

  1. The plan is not necessary, but induces enormous social cost and ecological cost to Hong Kong. Instead, the government should make good use of existing vacant government land, and fix the housing and land policies that biases towards real estate industry.
  2.  The plan destroys the original living and community networks of local residents. Tens of thousands of villagers will lose their homes. It will be the largest eviction of Hong Kong for the last 30 years.
  3. The plan sets a precedent for more development of more rural areas in New Territories. Real estate developers, operating “destroy first, develop later” development model, have already acquired and cornered lots of rural agricultural land which is precious natural resources of Hong Kong. Those tycoons will be the only and the biggest winner of the plan.
  4. The plan reduces green belt and destroys natural eco-buffer. The Northeast area is the only remaining green belt between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. The plains in Kwu Tung, Sheung Shui, and Fanling, linked by Long Valley, form an important line of defense to prevent the city from over-development. From the planning perspective, Hong Kong should protect this natural ecosystem.

My suggestions are:

  1. Withdraw the Northeast New Territories Development Plan. Maintain the existing planning purposes, and strengthen the protection of green areas and agricultural land.
  2. Protect and develop local industry and agriculture for diversification of industries in Hong Kong. Preserve the heritage of rural lifestyle for rural-urban symbiosis and sustainable development.

致 : 城規會tpbpd@pland.gov.hk

就草圖作出申述

圖則編號 : S/KTN/1 及 S/FLN/1

我是香港市民,我堅決反對新界東北(古洞北及粉嶺北)發展計劃。

原因如下 :

1. 計劃根本沒有必要,卻為全港帶來巨大的社會成本及生態代價。政府應善用現有空置官地,並修正向地產業傾斜的房屋及土地政策。

2. 反對摧毀當地居民原有的生活方式及社區網絡。計劃將令近萬名村民痛失家園,將會是本港近30年最大規模的迫遷。

3. 東北計劃先例一開,恐成骨牌效應,令新界鄉郊逐處淪陷。反對官商勾結,地產商圈佔農地,先破壞、後發展的盲目開發模式,已經壟斷了港人寶貴的自然資源。中港兩地財團,可見是計劃的最大獲益者。

4. 反對減少綠化地帶、破壞自然生態緩衝區。東北是香港與深圳之間僅存的綠化地帶,而與塱原濕地相連的古洞及上水粉嶺平原,是防止城市過度發展的重要防線,從規劃上,香港理應保護自然生態僅有的生存空間。

本人建議:

1. 撤回東北計劃。保持現有規劃用途,並加強保護綠化地帶及農地。
2. 保護及發展本土工業、農業,承傳鄉郊生活模式,讓本港重拾多元化產業,城鄉共生,永續發展。

Commentary

All words after this line are my comments and are unrelated to the villagers’ groups above.

The project has many cons. For example:

  • It eradicates a large piece of green belt that separate Shenzhen from Hong Kong.
  • It eradicates homes of many villagers who do not want to be moved at all.
  • It kills primary industry in Hong Kong, forcing Hong Kongers to depend more on imported food.
  • It kills many living beings.
  • It increases the load of already-overloaded public transportation that operates between New Territories and the downtown.
  • It creates wall effects to old districts.
  • It is a major step on accelerating the weakening of one-country-two-system and the assimilation of Hong Kongers, and should be stopped, localists predict.

More Template Letter

In addition to the opinions in the template letter, here is a template letter which I have copied from the Internet (sorry, I do not have the source for credit) and have added more reasons for Sheung Shui residents for the last consultation conducted in Sept 2012:

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to oppose to the future direction and decision made by your department and the Hong Kong Government on the North East New Territory New Development Areas Planning and Engineering Study.

I do NOT want my living style to be forced. The development is against the living style of the North District which is long a quiet community in harmony. I grew up in Sheung Shui and have been living in Sheung Shui for over twenty years. It was once a peaceful and quiet community. But in recent, the increasing number of mainland Chinese travelers and ruthless parallel importers has already disrupted the harmony in this district. A further development of the North District into a metropolis will substantially change the living style of the North District residents. I stay in Sheung Shui because I want a quiet life after work. If I want a city life and economic activities I would choose to live in the urban area.

2) I do NOT want Shek Wu Hui to be surrounded and trapped by tall buildings in Fanling North. First, this neighbourhood relies on wind coming from Sheung Shui Wa Shan in order to breath. According to the proposal, tall buildings will be built along Ng Tung River, which is on the path of the wind. Thus, the tall buildings can more or less cause wall effect to Shek Wu Hui. Given that many places in Hong Kong, such as Wan Chai old district, already suffer from the wall effect, I suspect that whether if the solution in the proposal that leaving gaps between buildings can avoid wall effect. Besides, the proposal fails to provide a case in Hong Kong where the wall effect has successfully been avoided. Second, in the proposal, a highway will be constructed along the mentioned tall buildings. Assuming that the mentioned wall effect can be avoided, wind from Shui Wa Shan will bring pollution produced by the highway traffic to Shek Wu Hui. Lastly, the tall buildings block Shek Wu Hui residents from having the mountain viewof Wa Shan. The proposal again fails to mention possible bad impacts to this neighbourhood. A resident of Wah Fu Estate personally told me his experience about the wall effect from Bel Air on him. He said, before Bel Air existed, during summer time, when he opened the flat door wind blew into his flat so that he did not need to turn on air conditioner most of the time. Now, the wind blowing into his flat during summer has been weaken after Bel Air has been constructed. Even there is a hole in the building of Bel Air, and there are no other buildings besides Bel Air, the wall effect still affect Wah Fu Estate. The proposal tall buildings group in Fanling North, from the point of view of Shek Wu Hui, is located between Tsui Lai Garden and Woodland Crest. Together they work as a wall that block the wind and the mountain view from Wa Shan. Therefore, it is best not to carry out the proposal.

3) I do NOT think the current transportation and the public utility have sufficient capacity to support the increased population. The proposed project only provides traffic solution for the North District. But it ignores the fact that the majority of job positions are in the urban areas. Every working day, Tolo Highwayis jammed with cars going to Hong KongIsland. Every day, the train is jammed not only with local Hong Kongpeople going to work but also mainland Chinese travelers and ruthless smugglers. The traffic system between the North District and the urban area is already overloaded. Adding more people to the North District will further overload the traffic system. Even one third of the proposal population travel to Hong Kong Island to work, it is already 15000/3 = 3000 more people. The proposed plan fails to address this problem.  Recently, CY Leung, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, has mentioned that it is possible to increase public housing and its population density. This will further increase the burden of the current transportation. Obviously, even the Chief Executive does not consider the plan thoroughly. Therefore, it is best not to carry out the proposal.

4) I do NOT want the proposed area to be developed with facilities that focus on the needs of mainland Chinese people. Reading from an article from the mainland newspaper “南方都市”, there is a plan to build a mega mall with cinemas, high-class franchise stores, restaurants in Kwu Tung, mostly to serve mainland Chinese travelers and Shenzhen residents. Hong Kong already has many shopping and leisure places in the urban areas, such Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok, Causeway Bay, and will have more shopping and leisure places in West Kowloonand in Kai Tak Airport. There should be sufficient places for mainland travelers to fulfill their shopping desires. However, for local residents living in the North District, we rather want a quiet and peaceful life, not another mega mall that is nothing to do with daily living and drive up the price of consumer prices.

5) I do NOT want the proposed area to be developed into a luxury housing district, where ordinary Hong Kong people will NOT be able to afford. By building such luxury housing district, the resident who lives there will be forced to move out of the area inevitably. This follows that the local agricultural, food production and restaurant industries will be destroyed for the people who are running them are forcibly removed. I would like the territories to develop and remain a more localized and sustainable area.

6) I do NOT want the natural environment of the North East Territories to be destroyed in order to make space for such real estate project which does NOT serve the general interest of the Hong Kong people and see the right of the wild lives in the area to be robbed by this unnecessary project.

7) I do NOT think it is worth to dislocate the Hong Kong people who have already lived there for a long time. They can make an honest and decent living without the help of the government. And at the same time, they have contributed enormously to the unique identity of Hong Kongas a city. The consequence to that is these people will need government’s social welfare support because it will be difficult for them to find the same kind of jobs they have been doing. Therefore, they will become unemployed. And the next stop, they will be at the office of the Social Welfare Department.

8) I do NOT think the proposed plan has the robust argument to suggest reserving a large amount of land for building new schools for the people from mainland Chinese who will be living in the luxury housing district. I do NOT think our taxes and resources should be used to subsidize the mainland Chinese who have no rights to use or benefit from our taxes and resources. The plan obviously aims at attracting and catering the area to the mainland Chinese professionals who are already privileged socially, economically and politically. At the same time, the forced closure of many schools in the surrounding areas. It proves that the large reserved land for future schools is unnecessary and without logical basis.

9) I DO think Hong Kong government should take the route of supporting the localized economy rather than the route of Hong Kong-Shenzhen economic integration. This is because, in order for Hong Kong to have a competitive edge over other cities in the world, we have to remain unique. The uniqueness and differences are the key to make Hong Kong stand out from other cities, in our case, other Chinese cities, and thus attract investment from China and from all over the world. The sources that supply such uniqueness and differences are the localized business and economies. If we consent to integration, we will kill our uniqueness and differences. This is already happening in Hong Kong. Please look around you when you go out with your families. All you see are the same shopping malls which do not help Hong Kong to create its own uniqueness because anyone can see those same stores anywhere in the world.

In conclusion, the proposal strives for economic development for sake of economic development without considering the bad impacts on the North District. It is bias toward the need of the mainland Chinese travelers and sacrifices the interest of Hong Kong people. For the above reasons, I urge you to give up the North East New Territory New Development Areas Planning and Engineering Study immediately.

Thank you very much for your time and attention.

Sincerely,

XXX
Sheung Shui Resident

Photos of the Northeast area on the Internet / Facebook

Location: Ng Tung River, Fanling North. This photo illustrates the potential change if the development plan can be carried out. / Source: Bear Photo Production

The upper part of the photo shows the current outlook of Ng Tong River at Tin Ping Shan Village in Sheung Shui / Fanling North, viewing from Shek Wu Market, Sheung Shui. It is a pleasant country scene with green hills and clear waters. Local people enjoy cycling and fishing there. However, it is part of the proposed North East Development Plan. Once the North East Area has been developed, like the scenario in lower part of the photo, what people see will be walled buildings, more shopping malls of similar looks, more public houses to fill more new immigrants, more shoppers and smugglers from China.

Location: Kwu Tong, the grassland on the right hand side / Source: Tai Ngai Lung @ fb

[Translation of the original description] This is an advertisement of the super luxury house Valais in Kwu Tong. The grassland on the right hand side, with a reserved spot for the MTR station, is the area proposed to be developed in the plan. The white things on the upper left are buildings in Huanggang, China. The selling point is: It only takes 3 minutes to go to Huanggang, China, and 15 minutes to Futian, China. Ok. That’s it. Then what’s up with the North East Development Project is so obvious.

Which side has more countryside for people to relax (North: China; South: Hong Kong)? One man called Lau Ping-Cheung, said in public, that they should develop all countrysides into buildings. He said, if you want to go to countryside, you can go to China. The green area is the heritage of the British. Even Japanese comes here hiking. But they just want to ruin it.
/ Source: Kay Lam

The plains in Kwu Tung, Sheung Shui, and Fanling, linked by Long Valley, form an important line of defense to prevent the city from over-development. It is the only remaining green belt between Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

Lunar New Year’s Eve vs Lunar New Year’s Day [Translation]

Gong Hey Fat Choi! I wish everyone healthy and lucky in the year of Horse.

The North District especially Sheung Shui goes back to a quiet and peaceful place on the first day of Lunar New Year as smugglers and Chinese tourists are having vacation. As I am about to write a few words on the difference between the days with smugglers and the days without smugglers in North District by collecting the photos found on Facebook, VJ Media has released an article “Lunar New Year’s Eve vs Lunar New Year’s Day” with lots of photos. This saves my time. Let me translate it in English.

[Translation] Real Scenes of Sheung Shui: Lunar New Year’s Eve vs Lunar New Year’s Day
2014/02/01: Tsui Wing Leung

[San Hong Street, Sheung Shui]

During public holiday, San Hong Street will be restricted for pedestrians only. Thus, hawkers all came out to the street at the evening of Lunar New Year’s Eve (above 1). In the first day of Lunar New Year, there is no hawkers, no walkers, and even no road closure sign (above 2).

Translator’s note: Tak Ming Book Store Ltd. has been in Sheung Shui for over 30 years. This is the second branch. The first branch is on Tsun Fu Street.

Translator’s note: So Kee Grocery and Seasonings has been here since your grandparants’ or grand-grandparents’ day.

Old small shops take the chance to do more business on Lunar New Year’s Eve.
Even the most profitable drugstores have closed for Lunar New Year. Of course smuggler swarms are gone too.

[Tsun Fu Street, Sheung Shui]

I remember as a child someone would sell handwritten Fai Chun. There’s still a market for it!
(Translator’s note: they can’t do it in new district. Only old community can tolerate this artistic business)

In the first day of Lunar New Year, the street returns to calmness. One year has 365 days. Only today Sheung Shui can go back to what Sheung Shui is like in my childhood memory: no smugglers, no trolleys, no littering on the street, only tranquility.

[Outside Sheung Shui Market]

I agree that Hong Kong should give some room for hawkers to do business. In the past, Hong Kongers could be able to raise a family with a fish ball stall, which reflects the true Lion Rock Spirit. However, “a man must despise himself before others will.” If you mess up the area, will people support you?

When Lunar New Year approaches, the related government departments will turn a blind eye to illegal hawking so you can do business and have a fat New Year. But making a living is not the only core value. You have freedom. But please show your civic virtues. Sweeper ladies still work till 10 o’clock on New Year’s Eve. Their hourly wage without OT is $30 only. They sacrifice their family-gathering-dinner time to clean up your left-behind. Do you feel sorry about that?

Last night a sweeper lady said, after 10 pm there would be no more sweepers until 7 am. When I passed the market in the afternoon, it is very clean.

[Sheung Shui Train Station]

Streets full of smugglers can not been seen, especially the area from the train station exit to Choi Yuen Estate. In the past there was full of cigarette butts, cardboard boxes, straps, trolleys, and Mandarin. It is rare quiet for Sheung Shui residents today.

[Lung Sum Avenue, Sheung Shui]

After the Eve (above), everything turns back to serenity (below). In fact, Sheung Shui was originally a quiet little town.

In my childhood, I feel happy about Lunar New Year because I can collect Lai See. Now I feel happy about Lunar New Year, because I feel that Hong Kong is a real Hong Kong. Sheung Shui is the frontier of Hong Kong China Integration. “One falling leaf heralds the coming of autumn.” Who melts who at last? The answer is so obvious.

Source: VJ Media. 【上水實況】年三十晚 vs 大年初一 By 徐永亮. 2014

Translate’s note

The translation of 一葉知秋 One falling leaf heralds the coming of autumn comes from this site. It covers Cantonese, and it has a better translation than many rubbish simplified Chinese sites which just copy each other and thus has polluted Google Translate.

More photos from Facebook:

[On the first day of Lunar New Year]

San Hong Street. Days without locusts.
From Patrick Wu

San Kung Street Wonder! A day without locust. From Patrick Wu

Drugstores are completely deserted. You can net sparrows at the door (means no customers). From Ken Lee

A city without locust, streets are clean and serene. From Ken Lee [Above: fallen; below: restored]

Restore the Filial Piety Memorial Gazebo! From Ken Lee

The second day of Lunar New Year

Cambridge Plaza temporarily restored. Above: 2014/01/08 Below: 2014/02/01 From Mr Lau Koon Tsuen

The Filial Piety Memorial Gazebo is temporarily restored. Local seniors finally have a chance to sit on the bench. From Mr Lau Koon Tsuen

Also see: The Filial Piety Memorial Gazebo in the past reported by House News.

Evidence of Media Corrupted

[Commentary] How far are you willing to go for maintaining stability?

Sky Post Hong Kong chooses to make up a story.

As reported in my blog, North District Parallel Concern Group has held an award ceremony in Shek Wu Hui, Sheung Shui, on Sunday, Jan 26.  I have attended the event.

The group set up a rather primitive booth to carry out their event on San Kung Street.

During the event, salespersons from one of the staple food wholesalers (aka parallel traders’ specialty shops) exchanged words with a local old passerby, who said he has been offended by smuggling activities in the district in his daily life.

Despite that, the event ran smoothly.

But the editorial of Sky Post Hong Kong on Monday chooses to write its own story. First, it says the concern group besieged the shops because they suspected the shops are selling to parallel traders. Second, it says the blockade breaks the law. It is not legal for the group to enforce the law by containing shops.

Epic fail.

From my observation, only a few members of this group had present. How can a few people, with a tiny booth, surround a specialty shop? Indeed, those members took care of their own business only.

Also, according to the open reply from the group, they have applied for the Letter of No Objection from the police.

In fact, it is Sheung Shui which is under the siege! There are over 200 shops specialized for smuggling activities; half of them are pharmacies and staple food wholesalers. The problem is very serious.

I urge my readers to boycott Sky Post, and persuade others not to read Sky Post for its lack of credibility.

More:

The old folk is so furious about the smuggling activities.

Trash Tax Trash Talk

[Commentary] The Legislative Council holds a public hearing to the opinion on the garbage tax today. They want to hear in which way you would feel more comfortable being robbed.  This includes how much they should rob you before making you pain; in a fixed rate or depending on how much you waste; whether they count it by each household or by each building; and how to collect your tribute, such as through forcing you buying official garbage bags (and other bags are illegal for collecting waste). Anyway, they have decided to rob you $30 – 74 per month. But according to many polls commissioned by environmental groups, it seems that a majority of people are willing to be robbed because they believe that through redemption, waste production can be reduced (and perhaps less guilty shopping and discarding). If you are one of these, please watch the following photos to see how smuggling activities cause serious littering problem in Sheung Shui. Then think again whether garbage tax will stop these littering activities and eventually reduce the garbage problem.

There is always a large pile of garbage outside drugstores every morning.

Garbage can be found every day in the tunnel that leads to the warehouse zone. This tunnel is mostly used by smugglers.

While street cleaners work hard on collecting garbage, smugglers begin their lucrative business and start dumping rubbish.

Smugglers left lots of garbage every night in the open space at Choi Yuen Shopping Plaza, managed by the Link REIT (HKEX: 00823.HK)

Flower bed outside a drugstore. Chinese tourists aka smugglers like to sit on the flower bed. When they left, they also left garbage.

Chinese tourists / smugglers like to dump package to reduce luggage weight & space.

It is a lucrative business for selling goods to Chinese tourists and smugglers. Every night after these shops stock up supplies, they just dump the wooden cargo pallet! No recycle. No reuse. And how to charge them with garbage tax?

Who wants garbage tax while foreigners keep dumping garbage everyday?

Source: Mr. Lau Koon Tsuen, Ken Lee, NDPICG.