PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 September, 2007, 12:00am

Stock market boom does not help the poor

The rise in the stock market index has exceeded the expectations of many people.

The impression is created in some news reports that this is good news for Hong Kong.

However, I think there is a need for a sober evaluation of the markets. A rise in the Hang Seng Index is not necessarily good news for our poorer citizens.

We should ask ourselves what proportion of people invest in stocks.

How many people living on moderate or low incomes never go near stocks? A large number of Hong Kong residents are struggling to make a living.

Not only do stocks bring no benefits to the poor, but what happens on the stock market can make the rate of inflation worse.

Look at the appreciation of the yuan.

It is affecting the daily lives of people. A relatively small appreciation can lead to a substantial increase in the price of some mainland products, for instance, vegetables and meat.

This causes people on low incomes to complain.

A close watch must be kept on the stock market and we must ensure it does not trigger a price rise in consumer goods. This has happened in some overseas markets, where skyrocketing stocks have brought about high inflation. And this has a devastating effect on the poor in those countries.

We should back a healthy stock market. However, our top priority at the moment should be to control inflation.

Johny Tam, To Kwa Wan

So much talent goes to waste

As an artist who has lived and worked in Hong Kong for more than 30 years, I know very well the difficulties in finding suitable venues for exhibition and studio space.

The West Kowloon project, laudable as it may be, does not address some of the major problems the arts community faces.

First of all, this huge investment in hardware does not answer significant software problems.

The majority of parents in Hong Kong will not encourage their children to embark on a career in the arts.

It is very much a profession of last resort.

I have met a brick wall on many occasions when trying to help very talented young people get to art college, with scholarships to prestigious art schools spurned more than once. The arts need to be part and parcel of our education system right from the start.

I cannot understand why outstanding buildings like the Central Police Station and Wan Chai Market, if it survives, cannot be used as centres for arts development.

They would be ideal spaces for a whole spectrum of artists, musicians, performers and budding curators to cut their teeth at very little cost to the public purse.

The interaction between established and up-and-coming artists in great locations must be of benefit to everybody.

It is not more hotels at West Kowloon we need, it is the creation of an arts culture that begins at school and does not end after university.

Norman de Brackinghe, Pok Fu Lam

Dual nationals by default

Following Stanley Ho Hung-sun's comments ('HK 'not ready for full vote' ', September 21) on the lack of patriotism and lack of love for Hong Kong displayed by its residents, I would like to bring up a very serious point for all Hong Kong residents to consider.

China does not recognise dual nationality. In spite of this, there are more than 2 million Hong Kong residents who hold a foreign and Chinese nationality.

They have returned to Hong Kong from places such as Australia and Canada after acquiring nationality there and do not declare their foreign nationality on entry into Hong Kong, because they can use their Hong Kong identity cards.

These people then apply for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region travel documents and compatriot return documents - documents that are reserved for Chinese nationals only.

These people effectively enjoy dual nationality by flouting Chinese nationality laws.

This is not a satisfactory situation, especially when seen in terms of the right to vote and universal suffrage.

To help Hong Kong move towards universal suffrage, these people should either proudly declare their foreign nationality, or officially renounce such nationalities, so they can legally hold SAR travel documents and Chinese nationality. Declaring a foreign nationality does not affect their SAR residency status.

This is something which the Hong Kong authorities and the holders of dual nationality will have to face, sooner or later.

P. K. Lee, Tung Chung

Plastic bag levy not the solution

You don't start a green revolution by penalising the poor consumer for accepting plastic bags from vendors, which are provided as a service, a form of gratitude for the sale of their merchandise.

Slapping a tax on plastic bags will only inconvenience the consumer, increase the government's surplus and the livelihoods of plastic bag manufacturers.

We should instead target the vendors and make it compulsory for them to provide customers with biodegradable bags.

This requirement should be expanded to lunch boxes, plastic bottles for water, plastic wrappers for magazines and the plastic covers provided at shopping malls for your umbrella when it is raining.

This will be a giant leap towards a cleaner Hong Kong.

It will also help to promote the eco-friendly manufacture of disposable plastic products.

Nalini Daswani, Tsim Sha Tsui

We must listen to monks' views

I refer to the work taking place at Po Lin Monastery ('Monastery destroys oldest stone houses', September 21).

This is private land. The monks are the stakeholders.

They say they don't see too much value in the old houses, which limited them in their routine activities.

I think they would rather have the proposed five-storey 'Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas'.

The Antiquities Advisory Board and the relevant officials have to satisfy the monks' need for development before calling for the preservation of the old houses.

Pang Chi-ming, Sheung Shui

Registration nightmare

I am concerned about the performance of the Construction Industry Training Authority (Cita).

There seems to be no statutory authority, not even the Ombudsman, to whom you can make a complaint.

Following new legislation, workers were required to be registered by September 1 if they wanted to work on construction sites in Hong Kong.

However, whenever you make inquiries to Cita regarding this matter, you hardly ever get through and, when you do, you get a voicemail system. And staff can take up to three weeks to get back to you.

It is my understanding that there is only one member of staff at the Cita call centre who is unable to give clear answers to relevant queries.

There is no watchdog overlooking Cita and I think the Ombudsman should take a look at the problems I have described.

Lee Wing-tat, Kwai Chung