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Fund health and schools, not runway

South China Morning Post – 7 Feb 2012

I hope honesty and common sense will prevail when the government decides on whether to go ahead with a third runway at the airport, amid many doubts about whether it is really needed.

There is a fear that Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, in the last days of his lame-duck administration, will make another hasty decision to build a monument for himself, just as he rushed into the Tamar project.

With the central government’s wish for closer integration of the Pearl River Delta, we do not need the third runway.

Already, billions of dollars of our money is being spent on the most expensive railway project per kilometre in the world, to link Hong Kong to China’s high-speed rail network, not to mention bridges to Macau and Zhuhai from here while there is another one being built from Shenzhen to Zhuhai.

Residents, especially those of us at Tung Chung, are suffering every day from the bad air caused by air traffic. We do not need a third runway, more air traffic or more pollution.

Except for maybe Guangzhou, the five airports in our vicinity are using only about 10 per cent of their capacity. They could do more.

Much of the cargo passing through Chek Lap Kok (which incidentally has begun to show falls) is hauled here by trucks from Shenzhen, causing yet more pollution on the roads. They should be put on planes in Shenzhen to be shipped to their destinations.

A third runway will see more trucks, more planes and much more pollution.

If people in the administration have any brains at all, they will see we do not need to spend more than HK$100 billion to benefit Hong Kong-based airlines and the airport business.

Instead of throwing away billions and giving HK$6,000 to people who do not need it, the money could be better spent building hospitals and schools, and helping those in need.

The needy and elderly who go to Hospital Authority clinics for their heart disease treatment are given generic drugs that have unpleasant side effects like coughing fits. If they want to stop that, they have to pay more.

Welcome to Asia’s World City!

Lester Liu, Tung Chung

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