Letters

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 November, 2010, 12:00am
 

Place high taxes on luxuries to close wealth gap

I have reservations about J. Garner's suggestion to reform our tax laws so that the rich have to pay a higher tax ('Time to end our wealth-coddling colonial heritage', November 19).

We cannot rule out the possibility that diligence plays a pivotal role in the success of rich people.

As such, we could not justify imposing a high tax on them, simply because they work hard to earn more money than other people.

The government should, instead, do more to help the poor, and charge luxuries. There is no doubt that shop rents are high. Therefore, shopkeepers have no choice but to charge higher prices. This causes problems for people on low incomes. The government should impose controls on rent increases.

Also, Hong Kong is a very competitive society, so it is important that more university places are offered. This will help young people to climb the career ladder.

Most poor people live in public housing on the outskirts of the city, and business hubs are in the city centre.

Those people have to waste a lot of time and money travelling to and from work, and a vicious circle is created. To break this, the government should build commercial centres with competitive rents in the New Territories.

This would boost employment prospects and mean that people did not have far to travel to work. As for the rich, the government should raise taxes on luxuries. Yachts are definitely a case in point. In addition, an extra tax could be imposed on the second car of each household.

A similar tax could be applied to high-end sports cars like Ferraris. Hong Kong people are known to be wine connoisseurs. It would be justifiable to impose a high tax on those people who have accumulated a stock of expensive wine.

It is oversimplistic to blame the government for the problems that exist. We all have a role to play in narrowing the wealth gap.

People on low incomes should work hard to acquire more knowledge and learn the skills that can help them improve themselves. Rich people must be willing to give a lot of their fortune to help society.

Ho Kam-tong, Yuen Long

Stop interfering with property

When will the Hong Kong government stop trying to intervene in the property market?

Like many other Hong Kong citizens, the majority of my savings are tied up in my property here in Hong Kong. I am fed up reading the latest reports of what the government wants to do to try to cool this area or that area. Leave it to the market to dictate, it is rarely wrong.

Rather than focusing on imposing new taxes or whatever, focus on providing improved alternatives. These could include improved government assistance or interest-free loans to help those who may not be able to afford a house to be able to do so. With the billions it has in reserves, the government could easily set up a means-tested fund to provide low-income families with the ability to get on the housing ladder.

Please stop trying to mess up my livelihood and that of thousands of others in Hong Kong.

James Griffiths, Kennedy Town

New licensing rules needed

I am very happy with the launch of the citizenmap.scmp.com website.

It could prove to be a great way to keep development under control, and a great help to law enforcers.

Enlisting citizens to keep their eyes open is a normal thing to do. Even the police ask citizens to be vigilant and to report anything they think is suspect.

One of the developments I spotted was the Ma Shi Chau columbarium.

Once, hiking around the area, I noticed that the area had been cleared of vegetation.

At the time, I assumed it was authorised, but it was not.

It is not easy to find out whether such activities are authorised or legal.

As this kind of work normally requires a licence, especially in country park areas, I would suggest a small change to licensing regulations.

The developer of a site must post the letter from the government granting it permission to do the work on the site, so that passers-by are assured that it is authorised.

The absence of such a licence would act as red flag, making it easier to recognise work that has not been given a licence and is illegal.

Also, it may be necessary to improve staffing levels at the relevant departments so that reports of unauthorised work passed on by citizens can be reported in a timely manner.

The government has a surplus, so money should not be a problem.

Our country parks are certainly worth the expenditure.

Wouter van Marle, Tai Po

Facebook can be addictive

I refer to the letter by Kan Man-ki ('Facebook has many advantages', November 17).

Facebook is used by a great many people and some go to Facebook to make new friends and exchange photos.

However, I am concerned that many young people spend a lot of time on Facebook.

This can end up being very time-wasting.

Also, it is easy for strangers to get the personal information of young people.

They might even find out which school a young person studies in.

When information about a teenager is obtained by a stranger it can make that young person very vulnerable and they could actually be at risk.

Also, if some young people spend too much time on Facebook it can become addictive.

They should be careful who they communicate with and not acquire too many new friends.

The fact is that Facebook is an imaginary world and it can put young people at risk.

Young people have to be careful about what information they decide to give out on Facebook and what to keep back.

Mak Lee, Hung Hom

Jail sentence is far too harsh

I do not see that Zhao Lianhai has done anything wrong ('Outrage as tainted milk 'hero' goes to jail', November 11). He just wants to get fair treatment, but a court on the mainland sentenced him to 2? years in prison.

I cannot see the justice in that. Everyone must recognise that this is unreasonable, and many people have voiced their protests.

I think the central government has been very tough, but it seems to feel it can do as it pleases.

Have the country's leaders given any thought to Zhao's wife and son? The little boy does not understand why his father has gone. Although China has grown in power, there is still no democracy.

Even if China becomes strong, the citizens of the country will still not enjoy fair treatment. I hope this kind of behaviour in the country can change.

Annie Lam Ying-on, Sham Shui Po

Nation is no longer a victim

Clearly, Stephen Anderson ('China must avoid tension', November 10) and Andrew Li ('Bullying tactics will not work', November 2) have been going back to different depths of Chinese history - respectively, the 1840s and the 1950s.

From the 1840s China was invaded from all directions.

From the 1950s onwards China has been only trying to prevent history repeating itself.

The world may not want to contain China but those countries that invaded it in the past are not happy they can no longer keep the country under their thumb.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Transparency is what matters

Blaming property developers for sharp selling practices is like blaming icebergs for rising sea levels.

They are both just reacting to the environment they are in. In the case of icebergs it is global warming, and for Hong Kong property developers it is the regulatory framework that has been developed from the policies created by Eva Cheng in her role as the secretary for transport and housing. Surely more effort should be spent on making regulations to improve the transparency of the process of buying and selling properties to ensure a fair market for all.

Allowing potential buyers to know what they are actually buying in terms of area seems a very simple and straightforward piece of legislation but a little too difficult for the current administration with its small government, big business approach.

As well as a clear indication of the size of the unit, potential buyers in this era of rising energy prices also should know the thermal efficiency of the units they are reviewing and probably a number of other factors to understand the ongoing running costs.

Creating a more informed market for the biggest purchase in most people's lives would be a positive step to reducing the suggestion of collusion between property developers and the transport and housing departments.

Edward Rossiter, Kowloon Tong

Diets are risky

Some people go on diets where they virtually stop eating and put themselves at risk. If they want to be thin, there are safe ways of doing that, such as working out.

They put themselves at risk if they try to get by just by drinking water. Apart from anything else, people need food to give them the necessary energy.

Dieting too much can be a serious problem among adolescents. Some of them blindly follow fads. They need to learn to make their own decisions and strike the right balance so they can stay healthy.

Keith Wong Tsz-ting, Lai Chi Kok

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