Fans and bar owners getting raw deal
The writer of your February 28 article headlined 'Let Nellie eat her words' is playing an important role in helping me achieve one of my objectives in appearing February 24 on RTHK's Hong Kong Letter.
That objective is stimulating a strong and ongoing dialogue within our community regarding what everyone - the private sector, the non-governmental sector and Government - can do to ensure Hong Kong is able to recreate the spirit we will need to take advantage of the opportunities generated by China's entry into the World Trade Organisation and by the continued economic growth of the Asia-Pacific region.
Hong Kong's past success has been due in great part to the hard work, dedication and even sacrifice of its people. Although the spirit of Hong Kong is famous around the world, as I have said on many occasions, I am concerned our community might have lost some of that spirit at a time when globalisation requires we be more competitive than ever.
I am optimistic about Hong Kong's prospects, but we won't be able to meet the many challenges we face if our community looks just to Government for solutions or if Government is blamed every time a solution to a challenge is slow in coming.
The people of Hong Kong chose long ago to create a government with a small 'g', a government that provides the infrastructure and the environment for the people of Hong Kong to capitalise on our courage, resilience and entrepreneurship. Our free society gives all sectors of our community the opportunity to play a role in ensuring Hong Kong capitalises on its unique position as Asia's business centre.
Let the dialogue now shift to a positive discussion of what everyone can contribute to Hong Kong's success, because there are many others, outside our community, who will capitalise on Hong Kong's opportunities instead if we are preoccupied with issues not focused on the endgame.
I refer to the report headlined 'Critics hit out at commercial census' (South China Morning Post, February 27) about the collection of data on mortgage payments in the coming Population Census.
Information on rental payments has been collected in many rounds of censuses and has been recognised as an important data topic.
Over the years, there have been discussions on whether rental payments alone reflect housing costs.
The questioning approach adopted for the topic on mortgage payment is basically as follows. First, we ask whether the accommodation is rented or owner-occupied. If the latter, then we ask whether there is any outstanding mortgage. Finally, if there is, then we ask the amount of the mortgage payment and the outstanding period of payment.
The questions on mortgage payments are parallel to those on rent. The questions are limited to the living unit occupied by the household.
Mortgage payments are a topic recommended by the United Nations for inclusion in population censuses. The topic is covered in the censuses of the United States, Canada and Australia, among others. There is also considerable demand for the data locally.
In the several pre-tests conducted for our census, some 97 per cent of the relevant respondents found no problem with the questions on mortgage payments.
The criteria for inclusion of a data topic in the census include: use of the data, world standard, ability of interviewers to communicate questions to respondents, ability and willingness of respondents to answer, existence and relevance of other data sources or data-collection channels, and total questionnaire length.
Inclusion of the data topic on mortgage payments meets the above criteria, just as the inclusion of other data topics does.
I can understand that some people find mortgage questions sensitive. We hope they will appreciate that it is a civic responsibility to respond in the census.
After all, statistics from the census contribute greatly to the planning of facilities and services which will be available to every citizen of Hong Kong.
People need not worry that the information they supply will be mishandled. All such information will be treated in strict confidence and will not be passed on to any government department.
Only statistics in aggregate form will be released by the Census and Statistics Department.
In the Post report, it was suggested that the information would be collected with the specific purpose of helping property developers.
Let me emphasise that all statistics from the census will be in the public domain and will become a public asset, that is, open for all interested members of the community to deploy.
FREDERICK W H HO
Census and Statistics
ESPN has made a successful bid for the rights to broadcast the English Premier League from next season.
As a dedicated soccer fan, it disappoints me to learn that the top football matches in England might disappear from our screens in August.
If this really happens, there will be no legal means to enjoy such matches in Hong Kong.
It is not uncommon to hear the argument that 'competition generates progress'; however, in this case, this will not be seen as progressive by members of the public.
First of all, if ESPN cannot come to an agreement with any Hong Kong channel, bar owners will be the biggest losers.
One of the reasons people go to pubs is to have a drink while watching a football match.
There is a good atmosphere in the pub, so you can enjoy watching the game. However, once the matches go, the patrons will stop coming.
This is why some bar owners might be considering resorting to illegal methods in order to show matches.
The other big losers will be the soccer fans.
We lost the FA Cup, and now we stand to lose the Premier League.
It saddens me that Cable TV does not seem capable of fighting for our right to see these matches.