PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 June, 2012, 12:00am

Tsang has taken his eye off the ball

I refer to the letter by Sister Margaret Fung Sui-fun ('Show some compassion to Tsang', June 13) and agree with her that 'no one is perfect' and that Christian principles demand compassion.

However, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen is not simply an individual lay member of a congregation. He has held high political office for many years and during his tenure as the chief executive the playing field has been sloped in favour of the richest members of our society.

He has taken his eye off the ball and allowed the poorest members of society to slide into deprivation.

Now that he has scored some own goals, it may be fully expected that the many who have suffered will pour scorn on him and cheer.

He housed himself in a brand new, trophy office on the harbourside, while failing to tackle the plight of citizens who live in cages and cubicles. So who really is in need of compassion in this case?

In this context I find the letter by chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying encouraging ('Tackling the rich-poor gap a top priority', June 13) and I hope that Mr Leung continues to engage with the wider community rather than just the tycoons.

K. Y. Leung, Shouson Hill

Blame peg for high inflation

In his column ('Dollar peg has its drawbacks, but we have no alternative', June 14) Jake van der Kamp says that if 'the monetary authority decides to drop the peg, it has to do it as a surprise'.

Therefore, the more the likes of Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah pontificate that it won't happen any time soon, the more it seems imminent the peg will be dropped.

The logic of several experts is skewed. They argue that because Singapore does not have its currency pegged to the US dollar and still experienced high inflation, that the Hong Kong dollar being pegged to the greenback is not the reason for our high inflation.

The fact that Singapore has high inflation for other reasons does not prove that our high inflation is not due to the peg. It is a fact that, because of the peg, the price of staple foods, mostly imported from the mainland, has gone up by leaps and bounds.

These experts have failed to explain why it is that China has pegged and unpegged the yuan to the US dollar a number of times and no harm has come to it, but Hong Kong must not do so.

Is it that, as Andy Xie said ('Pegged out?' June 15) that 'a small economy can never have a truly flexible currency'?

It is possible to be pegged to a basket of major currencies. Why can't the Hong Kong dollar be pegged to the yuan as well as the US dollar?

In the meantime please stop rehearsing the mantra 'it has served us well'. When did it, apart from in 1983?

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Summit must avoid empty rhetoric

It is 20 years since the Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro and, a commemorative summit aptly named Rio+20 is now under way in the same city.

There were several related events in the host city and elsewhere in the run-up to the summit. Expectations have been high, but if past experience is anything to go by it is unclear what will be delivered.

The focus of the summit is to ensure sustainability, while providing water, food and energy security to all the earth's inhabitants. The goal is to forge a global agreement by establishing a set of sustainable development goals acceptable to all parties.

It is noble in principle, but can it be achieved?

The crux of the problem is how to manage the earth's resources in a sustainable and equitable manner.

It is impractical to look for a solution that will appeal to the entire world because the world is full of disparities.

Imposition of any kind of constraints that make an individual's life worse will not work, because it is human nature to aspire to a better life. National interests and the needs of respective countries far outweigh a common global interest.

After all, there is no global government and no global citizen. We do not live in a homogeneous world.

Let us cautiously hope that the outcome of this summit will not be the same empty rhetoric that has been the case with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was an international environmental treaty made at the Earth Summit in Rio, 20 years ago.

A. W. Jayawardena, Tsukuba, Japan

New building better than west wing

For me the west wing represents another old and boring building with little or no historical value or important architectural features.

It will cost millions of dollars to upgrade it to the necessary standards.

The new proposed green design building looks much more appealing to me and offers more open public green space.

Peter Ortmann, Clear Water Bay

Low-rise solution may be feasible

As an architect, I believe that the 'public leisure space' in the government's tower scheme for the redevelopment of the west wing, could be given up.

The additional upgraded floor areas that officials seek can be mainly accommodated in a low-rise redevelopment, which would have to optimise building coverage over the site.

The redevelopment could maintain the existing west wing building height, particularly at its eastern end where it faces the small plaza that is flanked on the opposite side by the conserved east wing. By retaining the existing plaza with the same building heights on both sides, the ambience at the heart of Government Hill may be better preserved where it matters most.

Such a scheme would involve give and take from all concerned parties.

Given the inevitable demand for redevelopment, the focus should be on how much of our heritage we want to retain.

J. Ho, Wan Chai

Contractors undermine recycling aim

The government appears to be making the effort to protect the environment by educating the public about the concepts of recycling and sustainable development. But when jobs are outsourced there is a lack of supervision by officials.

The Housing and Food and Environmental Hygiene departments spent huge sums of public money to buy hundreds of thousands of recycling bins located all over Hong Kong. But officials turn a blind eye to what their contractors are doing.

In the Tung Lo Wan Hill Road refuse point near Peak One, Sha Tin, while people have been trying their best to put empty containers made of recyclable material in recycling bins, and teaching their children to do likewise, I saw this material then transferred to ordinary refuse bins.

I was informed that what I saw was not an isolated incident. In fact, it is being done all the time by contractors.

Is there no legislation in place through which these people could be penalised?

What they are doing is no different from the actions of welfare cheats.

Also I am against some public housing tenants being given refuse bags. This goes against the user-pays principle.

Civic education, such as the user-pays system, is most effective if it is a top-down process.

The Housing Department's frontline staff should first educate themselves and then reach out to citizens.

A campaign on public housing estates would be significant given the number of tenants.

Officials must show they have developed a keen sense of the importance of civic duty before asking the public to adopt the same attitude.

J. Tse, Sha Tin

Replace all polluting buses

While driving in Pok Fu Lam recently, I was dismayed to see smoke belching from public transport buses.

I would suggest that the secretary for transport and housing should offer a one-off loan to bus operators.

The companies could then use this sum to replace all their polluting models with more modern, cleaner vehicles.

The operators would benefit financially from making a bulk purchase and because the fleet was now more up to date, they would also save on the high maintenance costs needed for old vehicles.

The interest on the loan could be as low as 1 per cent, but the treasury would still make money. The public would also gain as we would have cleaner roadside air.

P. Gupta, Tai Tam


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