PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 May, 2012, 12:00am


Officials not opening up market yet

I beg to differ with Kelvin Li's letter ('Power imports from Guangdong would unjustly short-circuit rules on fuel mix', May 25).

What Mr Li described in respect of our fuel mix for power generation, is misleading; it is more a guideline than anything else.

It was established to achieve carbon emission reduction targets set by the government. In my opinion that target was too low.

On power imports, every Hongkonger knows that anything that is made on the mainland is cheaper than the same item made here.

This is even more so with power generation, and especially when it is clean and green.

China is the largest manufacturer of wind generation equipment and solar panels, and that gives the mainland added cost advantages in establishing new green and clean power plants.

A quick look at major costs data from publicly listed wind power companies on the mainland and Hong Kong's two power companies' estimated costs for offshore wind farms will provide clear evidence that it is a lot cheaper to generate clean electricity on the mainland.

However, it is my understanding that most prime wind farm sites, both on land and offshore, in Guangdong and Fujian provinces, are already staked out by interested parties.

These parties are either controlled by our two local power companies or they have significant shareholdings. It is this situation which prevents any fair and open competition for power imports - at least for clean electricity.

Your correspondent's points in respect of introducing 'competition from a regulated market to deregulate another one' are far too complex, as even Hong Kong subsidises its two power firms. These subsidies are highly sensitive politically and so far neither the secretary for development nor secretary for the environment seems willing to tackle them.

Until someone, such as the chief executive-elect, decides it is in Hong Kong's best interests to open up the electricity supply market then not much will influence electricity tariffs set by these two monopolies. I can only hope in the next four years the market will open up, with incentives for environmentally friendly power.

Nigel Lam, Kowloon Tong

Rent-relief measure ridiculous

I read with disgust that public housing tenants will get another rent-free month ('Public tenants win rent waiver', May 25).

This is to be the third month they do not pay rent this year. I and other taxpayers have to foot that bill while still paying for our mortgages or our own ridiculously high rents.

May I suggest one thing to our smart leaders at the Housing Authority - start demanding monthly fees of HK$3,000 for every parking space in public housing estates. This is the average everyone else pays for a space in Hong Kong.

The authority will not be hurting those unable to afford the 10 per cent rent increase, as surely they are not the ones driving those expensive cars you see parked at housing estates, or are they?

If these public housing tenants can get three months' rent free, then I want a three-month tax rebate.

Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay

Independent June 4 probe is needed

A letter from Peter Lok ('Allegations have not been proved', May 22) and an article by Eric X. Li ('No limits', May 22), cannot be allowed to pass without comment.

I recall watching the miserable events of June 4, 1989, unfold on my TV screen, listening to the reports and seeing the bodies of students being ferried to hospitals on the backs of three-wheel bikes. Please do not suggest, Mr Lok, that the demonstration in Tiananmen Square was not violently suppressed by the PLA.

That would be a very 'creative' reinterpretation of events, in line with the kind of 'brainwashing' he alleges of those suggesting tanks were 'ordered' to run over students as they slept in their tents. How refreshing it would be if the central government allowed a truly independent inquiry into what happened, interviewing all those involved. Until then, we will not really know what was ordered and what was not. But don't tell me it did not happen.

As regards Mr Li's article ('that creativity can thrive just as well under authoritarianism'), the muddled thinking involved is even more striking. But there are two main points to be made. First, just because something costs a lot of money does not make it good art. Who is to judge what is good art? Is it that which endures, or that which inspires in particular periods of history, and is then forgotten? The answers we get really depend on the questions we ask.

I would suggest that a vibrant artistic community thrives best in an atmosphere of free expression, and that if it thrives in a repressive atmosphere it does so in spite of, not because of, its environment.

We can all learn from adversity, and sometimes great art (inspiring and enduring) can be spawned out of misery and political repression. That is still not an argument for organised misery and political repression.

J. Fearon-Jones, Macau

Monorail best option for Kai Tak

When the new cruise terminal is finished, and blocks of flats are built, there will obviously be increased demand for transport at Kai Tak.

The government wants to build an environmentally-friendly monorail, but some critics have argued that it would be too expensive. They would rather see trams or electric buses.

The monorail will provide a green form of transport. Also, land in Hong Kong is scarce and the construction of the monorail will involve less land use than other forms of public transport. As this would free up more land, this would lead to money actually being saved.

Also, flats and shopping malls can be built on top of the monorail stations. This transport network would attract passengers who would have a wonderful view of Victoria Harbour.

As long as the most advanced technology is used, this is a form of sustainable development that should be supported.

Erica Pang, Sha Tin

Concessions from MTR a smokescreen

Even though it made a net profit of HK$14.7 billion last year, the MTR Corporation still insists on raising fares by 5.4 per cent next month, which it is allowed to do under the agreed fare adjustment mechanism.

It is understandable that it has to ensure it has sufficient revenue so it can deal with the effects of inflation, but given that it has a huge surplus, it is unreasonable for it to transfer this burden to the customers.

It has announced some discount schemes to soothe angry customers.

However, instead of introducing concessions, it would have been better for it to just not raise the fares.

Also, some critics of the company question so-called discounts that have been announced, arguing that in some cases the ticket price, if you use your Octopus card, can be more expensive than buying a single ticket for some journeys.

There are discounts being offered to children, but the MTR will still get the full fare from adults who have to accompany them on their trips.

I don't really believe these concessions are a genuine sign of the MTR Corp giving back to society, but are more of a smokescreen.

Daniel Hui Yin-hang, Sha Tin

Make people register as dog owners

Being a long-time resident of Cheung Chau and involved in animal welfare, it is often heartbreaking to witness the look on the face of an abandoned dog.

Sometimes they are tied up for days without food and water before someone might take pity on them.

Other times you see them around the villages on the island searching in vain for owners that have left them to their own fate.

A timid, distressed and haggard-looking dog, wandering the streets or between the two ferry terminals trying to pick up a familiar scent, is a sure sign of yet another abandoned animal.

The government should implement a mandatory registration process for dog owners and only then can they be allowed to travel with their pets on any outlying island ferries.

This could be easily added on to our Hong Kong smart identity cards.

The ferry operators already charge passengers extra for each animal.

With the system I am suggesting staff would be required to check the dogs are registered.

Dog owners who have positively been identified as having abandoned their dog, should be punished and banned for life from owning a pet.

Hans Wergin, Cheung Chau