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Editorial : Hongkongers should cherish what they have at hand

【明報專訊】THE Cross-Harbour Tunnel (XHT) finally reopened in the early morning (November 27). It was closed for nearly two weeks owing to violent vandalism. One does not realise how valuable a thing is until one loses it. The XHT's closure made citizens' daily traffic and logistics very inconvenient. Its facilities were heavily damaged. Thanks to frontline workers' effort to carry out emergency repairs, its operation resumed earlier than expected.

In mid-November, some netizens called for "three strikes" (a walkout, a class boycott and a boycott by businesses). However, society gave little heed to their call. Some black-clad people then blocked roads by violent means so as to cripple traffic, and thereby to prevent others from going to work or school. Major blockades were set up at Tolo Highway and the XHT, and the CUHK and PolyU were turned into radicals' bridgeheads one after the other. Some black-clad people on the flyover adjacent to PolyU threw objects onto the road. They blocked the XHT's Kowloon entrance and exit, hurling petrol bombs multiple times at its facilities like toll booths. Road facilities nearby suffered serious damage. Control systems inside the administration building, which have to do with the XHT's fire control and ventilation, were wantonly destroyed. All this was too apalling to behold.

Of the three vehicular harbour crossings in the city, the XHT is the busiest. It has a daily traffic of about 114,000 vehicles, accounting for 40% of the total cross-harbour traffic. Hong Kong has limited road space but a large number of vehicles. True, traffic jams at the XHT were common, which occasions much grumbling. But the situation was much worse without the use of the tunnel. The breaking of the trinity of the three harbour crossings caused a domino effect on road traffic on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon. During peak hours, there was serious congestion in the Eastern Harbour Crossing. Tailbacks even stretched along the Kwun Tong Bypass to Lung Cheung Road in Wong Tai Sin, with their back flows reaching Tate's Cairn Tunnel, 7 km from the XHT. To disperse citizens affected by the closure, the authorities had to provide ad hoc free ferry services between Wan Chai and Hung Hom and between Wan Chai and Kowloon City. The routes were closed many years ago owing to low volumes of passengers, but they were "momentarily resurrected". That evidences how the city was forced to put the clock back.

Destroying transport infrastructure wantonly so as to paralyse society does not help achieve one's political demands. That only deprives others of their freedoms and rights and makes their daily life harder.

Over the past few days, Hong Kong's urban areas saw relative calm and peace. The tunnel's reopening is symbolic. It shows that violent rampage has subsided after it hit its peak in mid-November and that society's normal operations have gradually resumed. Is the peaceful situation just a flash in the pan like what happened in late August? We are afraid that this is a question that many citizens would hesitate a lot to answer.

It is easier to destroy than to construct. Although Hong Kong faces quite a lot of problems, there are many things that deserve to be cherished. Hongkongers have enjoyed a long period of ease. Many take for granted the conveniences they have and what is around them. Seldom do they consider what will become of them if they lose all those things. Let us hope that the impact of the two-week tunnel closure caused by violent vandalism will remind more people to cherish what they have at hand and not to talk rashly about "burning together".

明報社評2019.11.27:失去方知可貴 珍惜重要基建

紅磡海底隧道因暴力破壞封閉近兩周,今天清晨終於重開。失去方知可貴,沒有紅隧的日子,對很多市民日常出入和物流運輸,造成諸多不便,紅隧設施損毁嚴重,有賴前線人員努力搶修,總算可以提早恢復通車。

本月中,有網民號召「三罷」(罷工、罷課、罷市),惟未獲社會各方積極響應,有黑衣人遂以暴力堵路癱瘓交通,阻人上班上學,吐露港公路和紅隧成為堵塞重點,中大和理大校園先後成為暴力分子行動據點。理大外的行人天橋,黑衣人高空擲物堵塞紅隧九龍出入口,又多次向收費亭等設施投擲汽油彈,附近路面設施嚴重損毁,位於紅隧行政大樓內的管制系統,包括隧道消防和通風系統等設施亦遭肆意破壞,情况慘不忍睹。

紅隧是3條過海隧道中最繁忙的一條,每日車流量約11.4萬架次,佔過海車輛四成。本港路少車多,紅隧塞車是常態,市民多有怨言,然而沒有紅隧的日子,比起日常塞車過海的歲月,情况來得遠為糟糕。過海隧道「三缺一」,對港九路面交通帶來一連串骨牌效應,繁忙時間東隧交通嚴重擠塞,過海車龍可以沿觀塘繞道塞至黃大仙龍翔道,甚至「倒灌」到約7公里外的大老山隧道。為了疏導受紅隧停用所影響的市民,當局需要提供臨時免費渡輪服務,來回灣仔至紅磡及九龍城的過海航線,因客流稀少停辦多年,今次也得「短暫復活」,見證香港如何被迫「時光倒流」。

肆意破壞交通基建、但求癱瘓社會,除了剝奪他人自由權利、妨礙別人日常生活,看不到對爭取政治訴求有什麼正面幫助。

過去數天,香港市面算是相對和平安寧,紅隧重開有標誌性的意義,反映暴力肆虐狀况,從本月中的「高位」有所回落,社會正常運作得以逐步恢復,然而就像8月下旬所出現過的「短暫祥和」,眼前的和平安寧會否曇花一現,恐怕大多數市民心裏都有很大疑問。

破壞容易建設難,香港縱有不少問題,然而值得珍惜的物事也有很多。長期的安逸生活,令很多人覺得身邊的一切和便利,都是理所當然,鮮有想過一旦失去會是什麼光景,但願紅隧因暴力破壞封閉兩周所帶來的影響,能提醒更多人珍惜眼前所有,不要輕言「攬炒」。

■Glossary

behold : see

a flash in the pan : a sudden success that lasts only a short time and is not likely to be repeated

ease : the state of feeling relaxed or comfortable without worries, problems or pain

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