03 August 2006


03 August 2006. Hong Kong. Rained like cats and dogs. Many trees down. Streets blocked. Typhoon signal no 3 was hoisted.

Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) maintained typhoon signal number 3 although typhoon Prapiroon has caused chaos on the roads. The reason of HKO's decision was that the typhoon signal is determined by the average wind speed among districts, but not by individual district. HKO will not take into account the fact that the wind speed of some districts has already fulfilled the requirement of number 8 signal. People who were in districts which had gale force wind, or equivalent to number 8 signal, were told that it was still only strong wind, or number 3 signal. It's like telling them they're safe but in fact there's war going on. This is not only negative information experience, but also bad and irresponsible judgment. Did they not predict the wind speed and evaluate the consequences? Did they not care lives at all?

There were reports on fallen trees caused by Prapiroon. People walking on the street were knocked off by flying rubbish bins. Although there's no serious injury, people in the danger zone might have already suffered if they had put their faith in HKO.

Being a governmental organization, it should protect every resident from any possible harm. Safety of each citizen should be top priority and of utmost concern. Who cares about how the signal is being determined? People only believe in their instinct when they encounter crisis. HKO should further understand that its decision can cost lives. Accurate information should be given to everyone for his or her reference, but definitely not the guesstimate.

This is not the first time that HKO made bad judgments, which had caused significant inconvenience and damages to the residents of Hong Kong. HKO just never learns from experience, and it never will.

There is this rumor that HKO won't hoist number 8 signal during workdays and office hours, because this will affect the stock market operations. When number 8 is hoisted, it is just like another holiday. Everyone in the work force can call the day off. Students return home. Everything just shuts down. Nobody can blame anyone for the slackness.

A fact is a fact. HKO has no right to withhold true information. No excuses allowed. Which is more important? Daily stock turnover of HK$15 billion, or people's lives?

Only HKO knows!

To learn more about what's on the mind of HKO, please visit http://www.hko.gov.hk/

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