Be realistic about old structures

Be realistic about old structures

By Kylie Lee, Heep Yunn School

Recent days have been tough for the government, as it has had to handle a series of controversial issues in a row.

First the deadly collapse of a To Kwa Wan building made the news, then a 70-year-old pine outside Maryknoll Convent School was removed. While the former resulted from illegal structural changes that took place over the years, the latter was decided on without much public consultation, and possibly accelerated by the former incident.

The two consecutive incidents have given us plenty of reason to reflect on historical preservation.

From Queen's Pier to the Lower Ngau Tau Kok public housing complex, people have protested via different means - complaining through the media, staying put on the site or starving themselves. I believe we are all concerned out of a love for our hometown.

Every monument has its own significance in people's hearts, and together they form a Hong Kong story.

As a firm supporter of preservation, I ache whenever buildings are torn down to make way for more shopping malls. We blame the government for failing to safeguard 'antiques'. But aren't we asking for a bit too much?

Yes, we ant to save old buildings for nostalgia's sake - the pine was a symbol of the school - but what if accidents occur because of wear and tear?

Preservation is like collecting antiques - there are conditions. You need the funds to buy them, the space to keep them, and the strength to cope if you lose them. I wonder if Hong Kong is prepared in this way.

We can't keep everything, as the To Kwa Wan tragedy showed. But if we persists in voicing our views, we can find a way to find a balance between keeping what we've got, and ensuring our 'antiques' are worth saving.

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