Officials blind to instability in property market
According to The Economist (in its December 30 edition), properties in Hong Kong are about 50 per cent overvalued based on the ratio of house prices to rents. Although the method it developed to make those estimates may not be perfect, its results do indicate that the housing boom here might just turn into a bubble, sooner or later.
It is a shame that officials often inappropriately compare current property prices with 1997 figures and conclude that current prices are way below 1997 figures and, therefore, no bubble is in sight.
It is absurd that officials use bubble prices as a reference to defend their land supply policies claiming that properties are still quite affordable.
It is like saying since the heaviest person in the world weighs 636kg you do not have a weight problem if you weigh only 200kg.
Local properties do have a weight problem and ample liquidity is dangerously feeding the insatiable appetite of buyers.
When bubbles burst it is not only property owners who are affected but the economy as a whole.
Think about the massive amount of capital diverted into hot properties that suddenly disappears into thin air.
If the government continues to limit land supply and artificially support high property prices to please developers, Hong Kong will experience a repeat of the 1997 crisis with lasting economic consequences.
Dick Young, Mong Kok
Surgery can be a better option
I refer to the letter by Dr Louis Hsu, chairman of the Hong Kong College of Orthopaedic Surgeons' public information committee ('Clarification on bone fractures', January 12)
The surgical technique described in my article ('Management of bone fractures in children: a minimally invasive approach', December 21) is called flexible intramedullary nailing or titanium elastic nailing (TEN).
It was developed by French surgeons in 1988 to specifically address long bone fractures in children.
This method should not be used on adults as the nails are not strong enough for them.
It is now one of the most commonly used methods in the modern management of children's fractures and there is no reason to avoid it if there is a right indication.
There has been extensive coverage of the use of TEN in the management of children's fractures in the medical literature. Surgery is to be used properly, not avoided.
Any surgery has its own complications.
However the complications described by the committee are not the usual ones outlined in the medical literature on TEN.
Like all surgeries it should be done by properly trained surgeons.
I disagree that conservative (non-surgical) treatment is nearly always chosen over surgery. Conservative methods and surgery are complementary.
There are many instances in children's fractures that surgery gives a better outcome than non-operative treatment. Surgery is to be used wisely, not avoided.
The necessity of a child to require surgery also varies a lot depending on whether we are talking about a simple undisplaced fracture or a more complicated one.
Certainly, before the mid-1950s, 'operative procedures usually required large incisions and extensive dissection . . . there has been a trend toward more operative intervention with good results. In the methods currently used, the surgery can be done with only minimal invasiveness, and the fixation often is temporary' (Rockwood and Wilkins' Fractures in Children 6th edition).
The indications for surgery are evolving. Treatment of a certain fracture by a non-operative method decades ago may be better treated by surgery now or vice versa.
One should understand both the benefits and the risks of both conservative treatment and operative method and to keep abreast of recent advances of modern medicine to give our patients the best service.
Dr Li Yun-hoi, specialist in orthopaedics and traumatology, The Hong Kong Adventist Hospital
Cooler wait thanks to fans
I am sorry Kalvin Chao has had such an unpleasant time queuing up for buses alongside the Hennessy Centre redevelopment site ('Having to queue in narrow alley', January 19).
Being mindful of the peak time queuing we have installed fans in the hoarding to improve ventilation. We hope this will provide some relief.
Causeway Bay is one of the most congested transport junctions and the fact that despite route rationalisation, there are still some 23 bus route stops right in front of Hennessy Centre does not help. Meanwhile the Hennessy Centre project is making good construction progress and we look forward to the completion of the building in late 2011.
We hope when it is finished, it will help make shopping and working in Causeway Bay a more enjoyable experience.
Gerry Yim, executive director, Hysan Development Company Limited
We must stay competitive
Legco has been criticised approving the express rail link to Guangzhou.
I do sympathise with residents of Tsoi Yuen village who will be affected by the project.
However this rail line must be built.
As it faces competition from other attractions in the region, such as Disneyland in Shanghai and the Universal Studios theme park in South Korea, Hong Kong is losing its edge.
We have to keep coming up with new ideas so we can remain competitive.
The rail link offers us a golden opportunity and although the price tag is high I still see it as good value for money.
Michelle Chan Yin-ching, To Kwa Wan
Pan-democrats were right
I refer to the letter by Chang Siu-lam ('Rail link will be good for HK', January 19).
Undeniably, from a political aspect, building such an express rail link can show that the authority of the central government can be extended to Hong Kong. However we have to ask, with such a well- developed transport network linking us to the mainland, if it is necessary to spend so much money on this express rail link.
Besides I am dubious about whether the rail link can benefit Hong Kong financially. The government could not guarantee that precast segments would not be made on the mainland.
If the government cannot provide sufficient information to the public why should we allow it to invest so much?
It made exaggerated predictions about Hong Kong Disneyland but the theme park is still suffering losses.
Your correspondent criticised the opposition groups.
However even if you agree in principle to an express rail link, that does not mean you should just accept that such large sums should be spent on it, especially when you have been given such limited information. When you want to purchase something you cannot just ignore the price.
Therefore I can understand why the pan-democratic legislators opposed the scheme because it is their responsibility to ensure public funds are spent in the proper way.
David Lo, Sha Tin
Older citizens stayed silent
As more of a 1960s rather than a 1980s citizen, it saddens me to see yet another catastrophe unfolding.
The protests over the express rail link showed how out of touch our government has become. It is uncommunicative and utterly unapproachable.
How many more historical buildings, street markets and communities have to be sacrificed in the name of progress and prosperity before there is nothing of our heritage left?
Isn't the very bedrock of Hong Kong the eclectic mix of new and old, the gleaming skyscraper rising up from the cacophony of the local wet market?
I am not against building new transport links but the utter refusal to consider alternative routes that avoid demolishing peoples' homes and ruining our environment has simply highlighted the widening gulf between popular opinion and an unpopular government.
All credit to the post-1980s activists. It is a pity more of the post-50s, '60s and '70s citizens cannot get activated enough to make their views heard.
I suspect many of us are not that far removed from the perspective of the so-called rebels, so shame on us for relying on the youth of today to show the government what's right and what's wrong.
Christina Yung, Wan Chai
Classical touch at public toilet
Some of the public toilets in our world city are an unpleasant experience, given the state they are in, but the toilet at Clear Water Bay Beach car park is something special.
You can do what you have to do to the melodies of classical music no less, Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, when I was there.
The music greets you as you arrive outside the premises. Whoever in the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department decided to do this should be promoted to the top as soon as possible.
This sort of innovative approach is exactly what Hong Kong needs to lift itself out of the malaise it currently is in.
To someone in the department, thank you for making New Year's Day a real pleasure.
Allan Hay, Tai Po