Green benefits for community not apparent
Louis Loong Hon-biu, secretary general, the Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong, is quite right that developers will maximise a site's potential and that this is 'simply a matter of reality and sound business' ('Developer must set priorities under new floor area rules', January 24). It would be naive for anyone to expect anything different.
Mr Loong makes the point that 'the existing policy was put together to encourage green features for a reason'. A decade after this policy was implemented, that reason appears opaque, as the green benefits for the general community are not apparent. The policy concessions have been exploited to maximise gross floor area and this has greatly boosted developers' profits. It has also swollen the Land Department's revenue, which ludicrously will not be used for the general community's direct benefit, but will be recycled for capital works.
Mr Loong suggests that the government should work closely with the property sector to draft a new plan. However, in 2001, the government worked closely with the sector when the existing concessions were formulated and the results are now clear.
The perception is that whenever officials work closely with the property tycoons, it is at the expense of the public.
Competition in the marketplace, without the need for government incentives or subsidies, should ensure that Hongkongers are offered a full choice of product by the property sector. However, another perception is that the handful of major developers operate a cartel to offer Hobson's choice.
Mr Loong is correct that policy changes should be for the better and should be aimed at improving (not only maintaining) living conditions. History has shown that the product on offer gets smaller and poorer, while prices and profit escalate. I will be happy to see a fully comprehensive competition law implemented as soon as possible. Will Mr Loong agree?
Christian Rogers, Wan Chai
New projects a waste of money
I refer to the article by David Eimer on the shortcomings of the mainland's high-speed rail network ('Train drain', January 20). It left me wondering whether our government is a collection of mindless bureaucrats who love the game of following the leaders up north.
Instead of counting pennies and working out how not to distribute handouts or clean up our city, it should spend more time assessing the worthiness of two money-sucking projects - the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and the high-speed rail link to the mainland.
There are much better ways to spend our reserves. For example, I now follow Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's advice by walking more and driving less. But as I strolled up Garden Road earlier this month, I soon realised he is paying lip service to his proposal. The pollution ensured I did not benefit from my walk.
To truly leave a legacy demands both originality and sensitivity which are lacking in our government.
Peter Lau, Central
Concert hall bashing unfair
What is going on? First we get a lengthy article clearly intending to justify the Leisure and Cultural Services Department's decision to investigate the acoustics of the Cultural Centre concert hall with a view to making improvements ('Expert action at last to tackle concert hall sound barriers', January 19).
Then we have an editorial ('Beauty of concert venues should be heard, not seen', January 23) which comes up with statements about the hall, saying things like 'infamous acoustics', 'reputation that diminishes with every concert held there', comments which are not completely true.
Why are these attacks coming more than 20 years after the centre was opened? During that period, I have experienced pretty ecstatic audience responses to many concerts, including Mahler's Second and Bruckner's Eighth.
Could it be that the ground is being prepared now for justifications later for the ultimate demolition of the accessible, convenient and popular Cultural Centre, justifications needed when people ask again why on earth West Kowloon Cultural Centre needs yet another one?
The Cultural Centre was designed, constructed and opened in less than 10 years, a period somewhat shorter than that in which so far the cultural district has failed to establish even a chief executive.
The Cultural Centre was designed by experts about 30 years ago and expertise develops.
The centre is not at all perfect. Nor is the Berlin Philharmonic, Sydney Opera House or the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Halls seating more than 2,000 people do not present easy design problems, and we should expect differences of opinion, expert and otherwise.
David Booth, Causeway Bay
More to school than exams
Education is supposed to be a process of teaching and learning.
Education should not just be to impart knowledge, but also to help students develop their talents and shape their personality and moral codes. However, it seems that the values of education have changed.
Many students now place a lot of emphasis on exams. They equate getting good academic results with achieving success. Some of them try to take shortcuts because they do not want to make the effort. They go to tutorial classes and pay for condensed notes. Parents and students who follow this path ignore the importance of whole-person development and the process of learning. They just focus on exam grades. Education is treated like a commodity.
Should it only be about doing well in exams?
These people are not learning about the importance of respect and caring for others. Parents should think about how they want their children to develop when they grow up, what sort of personalities they want them to have.
They should help them learn about life and not just focus on exams.
Chow Lau-mui, Wong Tai Sin
Citizens still let down by courts
I read Caixin View with slight amusement ('Eviction rules are but a first step', January 27). The protection referred to is already in place for people.
It is just that the mainland courts often throw out these eviction cases. Politically motivated judges make wrong and unjust judgments. So unless mainland courts follow Hong Kong's standards, and agree to consider all cases, then whatever rules are introduced will remain useless.
Citizens would benefit from having an independent judiciary and fair-minded judges. Then there could be fair hearings of cases under the new eviction rules.
China is a world power, yet its judicial system is a disgrace, except maybe in the arena of commercial disputes. The improvements at the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission over the past 10 years are worthy of praise.
Nigel Lam, Kowloon Tong
Ban smoking outside offices
I back calls in Hong Kong for the ban on smoking being extended to the entrances of buildings.
It is unfair for non-smokers to have to inhale toxic secondary smoke when they walk past.
Like other non-smokers I try to go quickly past these smokers, but that can be difficult when the area is crowded. Smokers have rights, but should not be allowed to put the health of others at risk.
I also think the government should consider amending no-smoking rules to prohibit smokers from lighting up while they are walking along the street. It is very unpleasant if you are walking right behind them and the smoke wafts into your face.
Smokers should show some consideration. We can build a harmonious society by showing respect for each other.
Chris Ho Ka-kui, Lam Tin
HK's finest deserve better
The new police commissioner has urged the public not to take out its frustrations on officers, after five were injured in two incidents ('Don't vent anger on us, police chief urges', January 21). The same week as that report appeared, Amina Bokhary was released from prison. Her punishment was not for striking an officer, but for violating parole.
Does magistrate Anthony Yuen Wai-ming still think his judgment on Bokhary [given probation and fined for slapping a police officer] was appropriate?
The court failed the police and the public. The signal this ruling sent was evident: if you disrespect officers and offices of the law, nothing happens to you. The rapid descent into cases of a more grievous, anarchic nature is assured unless stiffer penalties are meted out.
Everyone needs to know there are consequences for attacks of any kind. You only need to look at Australia, Britain and the US to see what happens when the police are not protected to the same extent as their citizens.
Hong Kong's finest and its citizens deserve better.
Richard Tunbridge, North Point
Why is it that so many people are in a hurry to get to the exit on a bus before it has even got close to their stop?
One morning earlier this month I saw some passengers making their way to the exit with a turn and a traffic light to go before they reached their stop. One of the passengers was a lady carrying a baby down the stairs.
As so often happens, the driver had to hit the brakes to avoid a car in front.
Fortunately the mother and child were OK, but a young boy fell and hit his head against a metal pole. Why are people in such a hurry in this city?
Ken Chan, Tai Po