PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 August, 2010, 12:00am

Government should follow example set by tycoons' survey

I read the very interesting report ('Property tycoons' club pays to find out what we think of them', August 1).

I thought that irrespective of their past mistakes it was very commendable of this extremely wealthy and powerful consortium to perform this undertaking without (presumably) any external prompting.

Then I wondered what would happen if the government were to repeat the same exercise and what the results would be.

I can only think that it would be very beneficial to both the government and its public image, and to the public at large; it could only have a positive outcome.

Regardless of the findings, the administration could work on its weak points and create a stronger more dependable, trustworthy, transparent, happier and helpful government.

Then, I re-read the paragraph where Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun was reported as saying that 'the survey was yet more proof that the developers had a serious image problem'. I couldn't help but laugh at this comment.

There seem to me to be a lot of similarities between the property tycoons' club and how the government operates - behind closed doors, secret deals and a sort of old boys' network.

The government and politicians alike are responsible for their own blunders aplenty. They are very secretive, extremely defensive and very reluctant to face direct questioning or confrontation from the public. And I suspect that there is a huge amount of back-room dealing going on.

For officials and politicians to deny this would, in my opinion, be futile.

So, if the government wants to improve its public image (and let's face it, there's plenty of room for improvement) and those that wield the power have nothing to hide then why should they not consider an exercise similar to that being adopted by the tycoons?

Andrew Maxwell, Sai Kung

Interest and usury are clearly different

I refer to the letter by Muhammad Arshad, chief imam of Hong Kong ('Why HK banks should offer facilities for Muslim residents', August 1). He was replying to Peter Forsythe's letter ('It is radical sharia law which has ruled against interest for Muslims', July 11).

I agree with Mr Forsythe that there is a day and night difference between the terms usury and interest. However, I do not agree that sharia law rules against the concept of bank interest. It is just that some people have narrowed the differences between these terms to make sharia law applicable to simple bank interest.

Before banks and interest, you only had moneylenders and usury. Farmers handed over the title deeds of their land to moneylenders to borrow a pittance so they could buy cattle or seeds. They would be in debt for several generations. The Prophet [Mohammed] having seen this evil concept destroy people's livelihoods, banned usury, which is now being interpreted as common bank interest.

If the Prophet were alive today he would not be bothered by the negligible interest banks give to clients. But he would caution Muslims against borrowing from credit card companies and being sucked into paying usury.

D. Kamlesh, Tsim Sha Tsui

Bad driving on the increase in HK

There was a traffic accident outside my block of flats on Conduit Road early one morning last month. I don't know what happened exactly but the two vehicles ended up on one side of the road; very fortunately, nobody was injured.

This accident came as no surprise to me because in recent months, the standard of driving by taxi and private car drivers and other commercial drivers has gone rapidly downhill.

More and more drivers overtake just before bends in the road, cross double white lines to overtake and completely ignore traffic signs.

On one occasion I was on a minibus, approaching a bend in the road, and I looked to my right and saw a large yellow truck trying to overtake the bus.

It failed to do so and the driver then had to brake on the wrong side of the road before getting back onto the left-hand side.

I really do believe it is time to crack down on this type of driving, with much stiffer penalties for drivers who break the law. I would also like to see a greater police presence in Mid-Levels because if people are going to drive like this, there will certainly be more serious accidents in the future.

Steve Thomas, Mid-Levels

Good intentions, but still a bad idea

I refer to the report ('The quest for English comes at a price', August 2). Apart from the hassle of toddlers' bilingual capability, another question has been raised over the phenomenon of Cantonese-speakers talking to their children in English. Do Chinese cherish Chinese?

The colonial culture in Hong Kong causes parents to think that English is the only tool for their offspring to succeed in the future. That implies that parents do not see the value of Chinese. Ironically, these parents are usually Cantonese Chinese speakers.

As Chinese, we have the responsibility to preserve our language, but what people are doing now is replacing Chinese with English for the next generation.

If this phenomenon goes on, after several years the new generation may not know how to speak Chinese and it will be lost, and with it the culture, festivals and so on.

I do not doubt the importance of English, but ignoring Chinese to develop an English capability is not advisable. The next generation is our hope.

Parents need to develop their children's Chinese language capability and sense of being Chinese.

Katherine Chan Hoi-tung, Tseung Kwan O

Water problem can spoil that revamp

I refer to the report ('What to watch for to avoid problems', August 1) about people renovating their flats.

You talk about the cost of water leakage and potential illegal structures as things to look for.

I experienced both these problems in my flat.

A lot of residents in Hong Kong apartments experience similar problems. Unfortunately Buildings Department regulations are not tough enough to sort this out.

If someone's flat is damaged by water seepage from another resident's apartment, immediate action should be taken and, if need be, the aggrieved party should be able to appear before a magistrate for swift restitution.

K. M. Nasir, Mid-Levels

Wrong message

Some correspondents have argued that meeting pseudo-models can help reclusive teenagers.

However, I am concerned that young people's values regarding sex have been distorted by the presence of these models.

Teens acquire the wrong perceptions, thinking that this is the way to succeed.

What we need are more social workers to talk to these introverted teens so they can develop a proper attitude to sexual matters and towards life in general. They need to be helped so they can learn to enjoy the outside world.

Cecilia Wong Man-sze, Ngau Tau Kok