I lived in southern Hong Kong Island when I was a child and took the bus to school in Sai Ying Pun.
I would kill time on the journey by looking out the window, enjoying the scenery, particularly the Chinese banyan trees in Bonham Road.
Now those giant banyan trees are under threat from the Highways Department after the government decided to cut them down in the name of public safety.
After recent accidents caused by falling trees, the decision sounds sensible.
But there are other ways to ensure safety around them if the government wants to consider them.
For instance, the trees could be trimmed and the soil reinforced.
Also, iron frames could be used to support vulnerable trees to prevent them toppling over.
Some citizens would argue that it’s not worthwhile to waste taxpayers’ money on these trees.
But the truth is human beings must learn to live with other creatures.
It’s easier to chop down trees than go through the trouble and expense of saving them.
But this sort of attitude utterly lacks common sense.
These days, it’s hotter in the summer in downtown areas. This month, Hong Kong had its hottest weekend in recorded history. And the air is hazy.
There are more high-rise buildings and fewer trees as the government continues to sacrifice them in favor of development.
Yet, we know that trees can lower temperatures by blocking sunlight and a tree is a natural air-conditioner.
Trees can provide shade and save the government up to HK$200,000 to build a waiting shed.
Also, trees reduce carbon dioxide and improve air quality.
Criminal or not?
We have the case of a senior police officer who has been accused of assault.
The Independent Police Complaints Council has accepted the complaint.
However, police authorities say the officer was on duty and had no specific target, hence no criminal offense was committed.
How about a terrorist attack that has no specific target? How should our police authorities treat it?
In the ongoing lead-in-water crisis, the government says it will take water samples after turning on the tap for five minutes, which it says is closer to “daily water use habit”.
However, we were taught as children to save water, so we wonder how many people have such a habit.
Many Hong Kong people have fallen prey to scammers posing as mainland government officials or staff from a courier company.
The police estimate that the victims have lost more than HK$100 million (US$12.9 million).
Hong Kong people don’t lack common sense or education but they tend to go with the crowd without a second thought and often fail to act or think independently.
Some fraudulent e-mails reportedly came from the Inland Revenue Department.
It’s interesting that some netizens have circulated the e-mails and some media outlets have reported the news without checking.
In the end, the department was forced to clarify that it sent the e-mails.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 21 under the pen name Bittermelon.
Translation by Julie Zhu
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