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Archive for February, 2007

Today’s South China Morning Post ran a prominent article on the health concerns of running in this Sunday’s annual Standard Chartered Marathon

A prominent health expert has warned athletes that they “run at their peril” and cited the case of the 53-year-old runner that died last year as a case in point.

However, I have a suggestion: why don’t the organisers change the race date to coincide with the Chinese New Year holiday? If you were in HK last Sunday, you probably were awestruck, as I was, with the crystal clear skies that revealed islands previously cloaked by smog. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the holiday closings of factories across the border result in the cleanest air days of the year.

Perhaps the marathon could become part of Hong Kong’s Chinese New Year tradition?

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I have to give credit where it’s due: The South China Morning Post put the issue of the impending death of the market on Peel Street in Soho, where it belongs: as the headline story on the front page of Sunday’s paper. They even backed it up with a companion piece on the failure of the ‘updated’ wet market in Stanley and how the re-development there has been a complete failure. Well done.

I am so disheartened that the market in Soho will soon fall victim to redevelopment. Visit the market anytime during the day and you will find a vibrant, busy neighbourhood full of colour and life. It not only provides a much needed place to buy fresh produce, meat, poultry and fish, as well as gourmet ingredients and fresh cult flowers, it also provides tourists with an “authentic” Hong Kong experience. Tourists love the market – it is one of the few original features in our city which is becoming crowded with mass-franchised shopping and “re-created” historical sites.

In my opinion, the market is part of Hong Kong heritage and it’s survival deserves to be preserved with the same passion as was given to the Star Ferry clocktower.

But let’s not make the same mistake twice. Don’t wait until the market is being swept away to show the government how much you care. Let’s speak up now while there is still hope.

My one criticism (today) of the SCMP is that they didn’t include an “action list” of how the public can make their voices heard. I would like to have seen a list of names, emails or phone numbers of those we can contact.

I hope the media will continue to champion the cause of saving the market. I, for one, am planning to figure out how I can make a difference.

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coco.JPGThe Peak Lookout deserves a big thank you from all the dog owners who, thanks to the management there, can enjoy a civilised lunch or breakfast in the company of their canine. But some dog owners are taking advantage of the restaurant’s largesse by forcing diners to tolerate the behavior of their poorly-trained dogs.

We hiked up The Peak on Sunday and enjoyed a leisurely lunch on The Lookout’s back patio. I was thrilled we could bring our dog in with us to the “dog section”. However, I soon wished we had tied her up outside so we could sit further away from the cacophony of dog barking and whining that we had to listen from the other dogs, throughout the meal. It was anarchy.

If the dog barking wasn’t bad enough, one dog had urinated under one of the tables. My advice to the restaurant would be to advise owners that if their dogs didn’t behave, they would be asked to remove the dog.

But I guess once you do that, you open the floodgate to other restrictions. “Sorry ma’am, your baby is too noisy — can you please leave it outside?”

But really, having a restaurant that allows dogs is a great thing in a city that is, for the most part, completely dog un-friendly. But even in The Peak piazza area, dogs were barking, and running around out of control. If this keeps up, it won’t be long before dogs won’t be allowed in there either.

As my husband often says “all good things in Hong Kong eventually come to an end” and I’m afraid that if this continues, it will spoil it for those of us with well-behaved dogs.

I’m not talking Lassies here, but dogs in public should at least be under control and not be nuisance to others.

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This morning I was saddened to read about a car crash resulting in the death of the young driver as well as his passengers – his wife and 3 month old son. According to the article, the car was speeding along Tuen Mun Highway, when it “lost control” and crashed.

I have come to the conclusion, after reading many such stories over the years, that “losing control of the vehicle” must be the cause of the majority of Hong Kong’s fatal car accidents. But I would replace “lost control” with “fallen asleep”.

Falling asleep at the wheel is a common occurence in Hong Kong judging by my experiences in taxi cabs and even, most recently in a minibus (traveling at 70km/h no less). Of course, proving my theory is impossible — few witness would ever be able to confirm it and the driver, if he survived, is hardly going to admit it. But how else can you explain a double decker bus mounting the curb and smashing into a store front as happened last year? Or the wreckages you sometimes witness of vehicles smashed into barricades placed on straight, non-treacherous roads?

In the case of this young family, we will never know why the driver lost control of his car. But I do think more should be done to prevent professional drivers from causing similiar tragedies.

There should be some type of regulation controlling the length of taxi and bus drivers’  shifts, for example.

If you don’t believe me, then next time you are in a cab late in the afternoon or really early in the morning (the “drowsy driver” time – end of shifts) keep an eye on your driver in the rear-view mirror.

Even dropping off for a few seconds can result in tragedy.

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The Hong Kong Tennis Assiociation and the Hong Kong Amateur Athletics Association both appeared before the sports bureaucrats yesterday to plead their cases to remain in the elite sports category and retain the funding that comes with it.

Both associations had failed to attain the the points criteria necessary to remain in the program and face being kicked out in April. This news comes only two years before we host the East Asian Games, and one year before the Olympics. Without the funding that the elite status provides, neither of these association can hope to make a strong showing. This will come as a huge disappointment to all the young athletes and their families who have sacrificed their time to train and compete with the hope to be fully prepared for the most important events of their careers.

Sport programs in Hong Kong are under constant pressure to justify themselves. This contrasts sharply with what is needed to successfully grow and support an internationally competitive athletic program. The tennis association has seen some very promising young talent come through the program, but this talent soon leaves Hong Kong for countries that have better-funded and committed programs to develop their talent.

Sports programs cannot be judged in two-year cycles. Developing promising athletes and comprehensive training programs takes years. The British government implemented their elite athletic program and its funding to prepare for the 2012 Olympics, six years prior to the event. This full commitment of funding and support will see a young athlete straight through to the games. That is why their athletes stay in the UK and not go looking for greener pastures to fulfill their potential.

A wise woman once told me, “You can’t grow an elephant by measuring it.” If the government wants to see Hong Kong athletes give their best performances in the EAG and the 2008 Olympics, now is the time to put away the measuring sticks and give these athletes the funds and support they need to prepare.

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