Front desk must be open to all firms
While I attend many exhibitions and trade fairs at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre throughout the year, I rarely have reason to approach its information desks.
However, one day last month clients wanted some tourist information, so I took them to the desk at the main entrance. While waiting, I glanced at the leaflets displayed on the counter.
Imagine my surprise to find cards encouraging members of the public to sign up to receive information on New World Development's latest news and offers. The information provided by people can be used for a multitude of purposes and shared with the company's partners.
According to its website the convention centre is owned by the Trade Development Council (TDC) and the Hong Kong government. It says that the 'TDC is entrusted by government to be responsible for the centre's development, design and management. The TDC has contracted with Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Management) Limited (HML) for management and operation of the centre. HML is a wholly owned subsidiary of NWS Holdings Ltd.'
As the management company, HML is entrusted with the daily management of the convention centre. Therefore, it should be promoting only the interests of its employer the TDC and ultimately the Hong Kong government. It is certainly not appropriate for it to take advantage of its position to promote the business of the New World group.
Senior management of both the TDC and convention centre justify its quasi-monopoly status by declaring that they are working primarily to benefit local small and medium-sized businesses. However, the facts speak for themselves in an open promotion of one of the largest conglomerates in the city.
The convention centre's chief executive should explain, through these columns, if he is aware that New World is taking advantage of its management role to promote inter-group business and, if so, whether New World has been paying for the privilege? There are many SMEs that would like to use this information front desk during trade fairs representing their sectors.
In the spirit of equal opportunity can I display some leaflets at the convention centre to promote my projects?
Candy Tam, Wan Chai
Welfare debate can get emotional
I refer to the letter by Frank G. Sterle (''Welfare' has become a dirty word', June 13).
It does not help the debate on 'welfare' if emotion overrules reason and logic.
All societies and cultures practise welfare in one form or another. People within a community understand their obligation to those most in need.
What people are fed up with is the seemingly endless abuse of the system, particularly in the West. Reasonable debate on the subject has been hijacked by irrational political correctness.
What has made the debate on welfare more difficult is the hijacking by political parties using welfare for political gain. It is politicisation of welfare and blatant abuse of the system that has made welfare a dirty word.
Stephen Anderson, Macau
Long wait for MTR's poor response
The MTR Corporation proclaims commitment to 'a high standard of business ethics and integrity'. Contrast this with my recent encounter with the company.
At the Heng Fa Chuen MTR depot the week before last, construction activities involving heavy machinery emitted noise which was very loud and disturbed residents.
I would like to know if it was within permitted noise control standards. This problem persisted all week, despite complaints to MTR property management at Heng Fa Chuen and the MTR hotline. It took four days for an MTR PR staff member to provide a prosaic reply. One could have shrugged this incident off as trivial, but examining the conduct of a publicly listed company like the MTR at a macro level raises important questions.
Property management is a significant part of the corporation's operation. Why is there no prior consultation with or notice to residents about excessive noise? MTR staff claim construction projects comply with the Environmental Protection Department's noise emission standards. Are standards governing residential areas more rigorous than those at industrial sites?
Why do MTR staff refuse to divulge the contact details of MTR personnel, for example, PR or engineering, and why aren't such details available on the MTR website?
Why did it take four full days to respond to a complaint, subjecting residents to undue stress in the process?
How does the role of the MTR property management - presumably that of safeguarding residents' interests - square with that of the MTR Corp when conflict with the latter arises?
I can't help thinking that similar incidents have occurred but have gone unreported.
The MTR's portrayal of itself as caring and responsive, does not reflect the real situation. This emphasises the necessity to subject its practices and policies to stringent scrutiny.
Juliana Chau, Chai Wan
Dark history of imperial exploitation
The acrid comments in David Howarth's letter ('People get governments they deserve', June 18) are irrelevant to my observation that Queen Elizabeth should apologise for imperial crimes ('Chinese are not obliged to salute jubilee', June 14).
Hong Kong under the government of the special administrative region is in a better position than when it was under British administration.
Supported by China's able government, our people enjoy growing reserves and respectable surplus, in contrast with Britain's intractable debts and reprehensible deficits.
Hong Kong people keep annual vigil for June 4 and take to the street against perceived injustice.
In contrast, British people are beneficiaries of imperial exploitation carried out by an empire which was responsible for many atrocities.
These can be read about through a search on Google.
Cynthia Sze, Quarry Bay
Over-the-top reaction to Tsang's hotel
Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen had to apologise publicly because the government paid for his deluxe hotel suites overseas.
However, as a hotel owner, I would say that most hotels have some kind of presidential or deluxe suite.
If it is not appropriate for the head of a government to stay in it, then who does qualify?
In contrast, US President Barack Obama arranged for his barber to be flown from Chicago to Washington twice a month just to cut his hair. And the US government pays more than HK$1 million for every hour of flight for Air Force One.
China's leaders built an airport terminal in Beijing exclusively for the privileged few.
So where do we draw the line? Suffice to say that our infantile democracy has a long way to go.
Yet we must not forget the basic principle. The purpose of democracy is to establish a procedure for the citizens to choose our leader, not to use them to vent our displeasure.
Guy Lam, Queensway
Dumping problem ignored
There has been no official reply to my letter ('Pristine countryside now a mess', May 23).
I pointed out the illegal dumping of waste and the destruction of greenery near Tai Po.
I asked the relevant government department to explain why the Hong Kong countryside has been allowed to become degraded in such a manner, and I called for the owner of this land to be identified.
Dumping of waste material takes place every day. I strongly urge the remediation of this land and for penalties to be imposed for illegal dumping.
Peter A. Tanner, Tsuen Wan
Welcoming any property price drop
I refer to the report ('How ending the peg could hit property prices', June 14).
The article would like us to believe that a fall in flat prices 'if the currency is depegged from the US dollar' is a bad thing.
It is funny that the people quoted are from Midland Realty and Centaline, given that their only interest is money.
What I and roughly seven million others are interested in is a decent place to live.
I hope that property prices do drop.
Vincent van Gijn, Mid-Levels