Green mini-buses operating from Pak Tam Chung to the East Dam of High Island Reservoir on Sundays and public holidays “will happen soon”, according to the new Sai Kung District Officer. David YW Chiu JP arrives at Starbucks for an interview in grey sweater, grey jacket and sporting a black moustache and grey goatee. He has an air of authority. Put him in an army general’s uniform and he would look the part. He turns out to be likeable, smart with a ready smile. David is accompanied by Assistant District Officer Peter CK Kwok.
David said the mini-buses will work at High Island for just a few hours in the afternoons. The idea is to pick up hikers and picnickers who don’t want to do the two-hour walk back, or call a taxi. The District Council has approved a trial run. Demand for the mini-buses will be assessed and service adjusted.
BUZZ asked why at Chinese New Year was Man Yee Square untidy, dirty and apparently unmaintained this century while Waterfront Park was beautiful with flower beds, flowers in newspaper boats and colourful CNY displays. This situation continues. Were the two public areas looked after by different departments? David said no, both are maintained by Leisure and Cultural Services Department. The Food and Environmental Health Department looks after cleanliness. “I don’t have the answer,” he said. “We are in touch with LCSD and FEHD, and will seek improvement.”
Summary of matters discussed with the new District Officer:
- ILLEGAL EXTENSION OF SHOP FRONTS: e.g. when a grocery or vegetable store displays goods on the footpath: The Government has stepped up action. Fixed penalty tickets will now be issued by FEHD officers. Warnings are given first.
- AL FRESCO DINING: This may be permitted by the Lands Department if application is made. A small rent will be charged. The problem was many restaurant owners extend beyond their permitted area.
- ILLEGAL OCCUPATION OF PUBLIC SPACE FOR RECYCLING: This is a common problem, causing pavement mess and obstruction. The black spots are mainly in Tseung Kwan O. Joint operations by departments are going on.
- MUSIC, ARTS AND CULTURE: Annual events are being reviewed to see what is most popular and adaptions will be made. The District Council’s working group meets in April. Programmes to engage youth will be further developed. Plans are afoot to bring top opera stars from the mainland, especially to entertain the elderly.
- SPORTS: The Sai Kung District Sports Association is partially funded by the District Council, is very active. Its biggest annual event is the Dragonboat Festival. The Velodrome at Tseung Kwan O, by far the best public facility in the district, will host the World In-door Cycling Championships at the end of this month.
- HERITAGE PROJECT: About $50 million provided by the former Chief Executive is being spent on a heritage trail and information centre in the refurbished old police station in the hills about Tseung Kwan O. This area was once known as Rennie’s Mill and was home to the last Kuomingtang diehards. Multi-media displays are being prepared with the help of Ling Nan University Elders of Tseung Kwan O will tell their stories through audio-visual displays. The target opening date is in the first half of 2019. Another signature project is the reconstruction of the old Sharp Island pier. Berth spaces will be doubled to cater for the 147,000 visitors a year.
BUZZ said Maureen Siu, David’s personable predecessor, had retired when she finished her term. Would DO Sai Kung be his last job in government? “If I stay in place for four or five years, yes, this job could lead to retirement. ” He smiled in reflection, “I started in a District Office and I may finish in a District Office.”