Yesterday was the second time this century I switched on the TV news to watch a specific story. The end of the battle of competing narratives draws closer. One day, people will look back at the death-cult Islamist threat to civilization of the early 21st Century in the same way we now see the bomb-throwing Anarchist scares of 100 years earlier.
But the Democratic Party of Hong Kong will still be a bunch of ridiculous idiots. Of all the measures in the budget announced by Financial Secretary John Tsang last February, one of the least dim-witted and objectionable was surely the increase in vehicle First-Registration Tax, the ad valorem levy imposed on each car introduced to the Big Lychee’s choked streets. Not that it was a work of fiscal or governmental genius – it will 99% fail in its declared aim of reducing traffic – but it at least had its heart in the right place. The Democrats, for reasons even they seem unsure about, oppose the increase.
There are numerous ways to reduce traffic and, in so doing, cut air pollution and make the city a distinctly more pleasant place to be in. If it were up to me, I would make the auto-toll system compulsory for all vehicles and place the sensors that trigger payments not just at tunnels but everywhere. You want to drive in a Hollywood Road-Wyndham Street-Queens Road-Wellington Street loop over and over, fine: that’ll add up to HK$10, HK$50, HK$100 a time – whatever it takes to change drivers’ minds. Want to drive down to Stanley in your shiny black Alphard luxury van, that’ll be HK$500, HK$1,000 whatever. Anyone caught cheating or tempering with the sensor gets the vehicle confiscated. All proceeds to go to subsidize public transport.
I would ban vehicles altogether in some urban areas from 8am to 8pm and narrow other streets to one lane to eradicate parking, and tough luck for businesses who have to move or close (and too bad for their landlords, too). I would privatize traffic wardens so they get a commission on every ticket they write. I would raise the main cross-harbour tunnel fee to HK$100 a car, and the others to HK$70 (or HK$1,000 and HK$700 – whatever it takes). Being a nice guy, I would also scrap the First-Registration Tax and the annual licence fees on vehicles; owning a car would be free, but you would pay every time you took it out on the roads.
Until I’m in charge, however, we shouldn’t be afraid to use the First-Registration Tax as a blatant revenue-raising device, exploiting many Hong Kong people’s obsessive need to own a highly expensive car. At one end of the scale, doubling or tripling the price of a gleaming limo will simply make certain types of people want one all the more. At the other end, it seems, a mere HK$12,000 extra seems to dissuade at least one, presumably hard-up, household from squeezing yet another vehicle onto the jam-packed streets. John Tsang is actually onto something here. Even the pro-Communist rogues at the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of HK – even the rapacious cartelizers of the Liberal Party – are fine with the increase. The Democratic Party, however, wants the streets clogged and the air poisonous. This is what years of banging your head against a brick wall over universal suffrage does to you.
LINES ON THE DEATH OF HENRY COOPER AND OSAMA BIN LADEN WITHIN HOURS OF EACH OTHER
One of you was known for his dramatic left hook
Which shook the confidence of the Septics for all time.
Who are we going to put up against them now?
The other never really won anything so the
British made him into a media personality called
I finks I will miss Our Osama a lot more.
E.J. Thribb-Laden, aged 53 and 3/4
Everyday I walk up and down Spring Garden Lane in Wanchai. It is an extremely busy pedestrian conduit, with Hopewell Centre at one end and Johnstone Road/ Wanchai MTR at the other end. It is also a very narrow street. And tons of traffic, of course.
If only ‘they’ would close this stretch of road to traffic -f.e. from 8 AM to 8 PM- it would automatically become a highly convenient foot traffic thoroughfare, pulling in pedestrians from other streets, no doubt, reducing traffic black spots and increasing traffic flow, especially at the Johnstone Road end.
Yes, I know it will never happen, but still…..
If the Democratic Party (or anyone else for that matter) was truly concerned about vehicle emissions then they would lobby for the mandatory implementation of Euro5 emission levels which have been in force in Europe since 2009. Here in Hong Kong the EPD will apparently not mandate these until June 2012 at the earliest. Even then, Light Goods Vehicles (Hiace vans to you or I) which constitute over 11% of the registered vehicles in Hong Kong (and probably a greater percentage of actual road useage) will be exempted indefinately.
Whilst I hate the pollution here and don’t agree with the Democrat’s response, a better solution would be to stop the duplication of bus routes that exist. As to ‘pedestrianising’ HK, it already happens. People, in older districts, often close to a wet market, cross the road randomly wherever they like. Traffic flow is impeded also by selfish fuckers who also park wherever they like, put the hazzards on and block one of two lanes so that they can get some char siu from Tai Hing.
Ah, for a fully pedestrianised Spring Garden Lane … perhaps with spring flowering trees right down the middle, to carry the theme … oops, wake-up call!
Never mind the pollution; there is a far more burning question today. How many virgins will big Al be giving to Osama?
The mighty car rules supreme here and as for ‘pedestrianising HK’ it has not already happened. There are few reasons for owning a car here, especially in urbanised older districts, and I last did in 1994 and it has not been missed.
I couldn’t agree more with you. But in particular I’d levy an additional tax on “drivers” i.e. those a-holes who drive other a-holes around – sometimes, most of the time they seem to be parked randomly blocking access, blocking pavements, blocking entrances and keeping their engines idling.
The whole lot of you are a bunch of petty dictators.
What’s the law regarding the selfish aholes who park on the walkways forcing pedestrians onto the road?
That’s why we need railings between the footpaths and roads (ignoring the fact that they cut-down the width of available pedestrian walkway by 15%). As an additional benefit they also provide free advertising hoardings for our honourable district councilliours with which to beautify the local environs.