Giveaway has exposed real incompetence
My wife and I returned to Hong Kong in 1996 from Britain.
Like other professional couples in this wonderful city, we work hard and enjoy ourselves, pay top-level tax and raise our family in a manner of responsibility, accountability, meritocracy and mutual respect. Since 1997, we have observed the inevitable changes in the government of Hong Kong. We do not oppose the 'one country, two systems' as we are now part of China and this is an irreversible fact. We also acknowledge that the 'one country' is bigger than the 'two systems' but these have to be seamlessly integrated in order to generate desirable outcomes. Democracy must be a way of life in Hong Kong, yet Hongkongers have to respect our motherland as our ultimate government body.
With Tung Chee-hwa's policy errors in the early years of this decade, and the top officials who succeeded him led by Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, we have observed the decline in the quality of government leaders as well as their behaviour and attitude in the execution of policies. The recent 180-degree flip in the budget was ridiculous. However, this is just one of the many mistakes the government has made. There are others such as the West Kowloon arts hub, the high-speed rail link, the brain drain of public hospital doctors, and having fewer classes in schools.
My wife and I paid close to HK$1 million in taxes last year and we have no problem if the tax contribution is deployed for the needy and for building long-term sustainable advantages for Hong Kong such as better education, health care and social services and a better environment.
Yet the idiotic giveaway of HK$6,000 is pathetic in its nature, and ascended to a level of crazy stupidity the way the government has handled it. How dare the administration use our hard-earned money in this way. This has really angered us.
Good government is about vision, articulation and execution of that vision. Yet the leaders in Hong Kong lack that vision. This bunch of ex-civil servants under British rule might have been good and obedient to their masters in the past. They are now completely out of their depth when it comes to governing Hong Kong.
As we are pondering whether we should continue to make Hong Kong our home, we wonder how many other professional couples are having similar thoughts.
Bruce Yung, Discovery Bay
Demos should remain peaceful
I think [some] demonstrators in Hong Kong will have to learn about the importance of demonstrating peacefully.
If you occupy a major intersection in the middle of the city, than you are basically asking for the police to move you out.
Whether this will be done by force or not is up to the demonstrators. If they do not leave peacefully, than the police will use force. If demonstrators do not like force or pepper spray, than I suggest they only hold peaceful demonstrations or stay at home.
To ask the police to apologise for their actions I find absurd.
I am also concerned that a mother took her eight-year-old son to a demonstration in order to learn what demonstrations are about.
J. Arkesteijn, Tuen Mun
Productive lunch break
I refer to Enoch Yiu's report ('Those were the days - long lunch kissed goodbye', March 7).
As a stock trader, I back the lengthening of trading hours to bring Hong Kong more into line with mainland stock markets. This helps to strengthen Hong Kong's position in the world financial market. However, I don't think that there is any room to cut the current lunch break further to one hour.
The 11/2-hour lunch break is just enough time for us to rush into the street and then sit down after queuing for 10 to 20 minutes for a 45-minute lunch. Everything has to be finished in a hurry.
We often used to host trading briefings focusing on the afternoon trading strategy and get back to our clients during our lunch break. Now, we don't have any spare time to be briefed and cannot squeeze any time to get back to clients about their orders placed in the morning. I cannot imagine the situation if the lunch break is cut back to only one hour.
While it sounds good to extend the trading hours to maintain international competitiveness, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing should not neglect the importance of the lunch break to traders and clients.
Jimmy Chan Ka-ho, Tsz Wan Shan
We must cut pollution levels
According to a study of government statistics by Friends of the Earth, people who live in poor areas of Hong Kong are breathing the worst air ('Air pollution worst in city's poor areas', March 8). It found that Sham Shui Po had the most polluted air because of the narrow roads and the high number of old vehicles.
It is not hard for us to notice the deteriorating air problems in Hong Kong. The air pollution index shows that we are suffering from alarming levels of environmental pollution.
Breathing in polluted air is bad for our health.
All citizens should take an active role in trying to remedy this problem. Schools can organise exhibitions and talks so students know more about air pollution and its consequences. They could also set up an environmental club and arrange some activities like tree planting to enhance students' awareness.
Students should try to conserve energy and use air conditioners sensibly. Many of us overuse these electrical appliances.
People who own cars should wherever possible try to travel by public transport.
They should switch off electronic appliances when they do not need them. The government should make greater use of the mass media to get across to people the importance of reducing air pollution.
I believe that if we take concerted action, we can alleviate our pollution problems.
Viki Leung Wai-kei, Kowloon City
Green bus on wrong route
A fancy new Citybus - the least polluting one - is being deployed on the Central-to-Stanley No 260 route. This route is for tourists and rich commuters to Central.
You can tell because it costs more than other routes. Well over half the route is on a wide open road with a full sea view where pollution is not trapped.
Compare this to many other routes that mostly serve urban canyons. The conglomerate that owns Citybus buys a paltry 150 new buses a year - the minimum required - out of a fleet of more than 1,600. Using a new, low-polluting bus on this route shows the company's contempt for the real Hong Kong people who suffer from horrid pollution from the ageing Citybus fleet. I am ashamed every time I see this new bus in Stanley. It should be moved to one of the urban canyon routes running through poorer neighbourhoods.
As a public service, air quality would be improved by putting the dirtiest buses on the well-ventilated Stanley tourist routes, and give the families trapped in the urban canyons the cleanest bus.
Annelise Connell, Stanley
Japan was really well prepared
Although Japan was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami which occurred on March 11, there are two lessons which other countries can take away from it. First, education plays an important role in preparing the population for disasters.
The Japanese government has trained its citizens through disaster education and evacuation drills, and its efforts paid off when disaster struck on Friday. Within minutes of the tsunami warning sirens sounded in towns and cities along the northeastern coast, many people evacuated to higher ground. Second, strict construction rules for buildings are essential in saving lives.
In stark contrast with the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, where many buildings collapsed due to shoddy construction, the earthquake in Japan did not cause as much damage to the infrastructure in Japan because many of the buildings are built to withstand quakes. Being prepared helped save many lives.
Magdalene Tan, Pok Fu Lam
Nation showed great resilience
I was shocked by the news reports on the disaster in Japan. I am sure people all over the world will have felt the same emotions.
It only took seconds for the wave to cause such total destruction. I feel the deepest sympathy for the Japanese citizens in the affected areas.
I have been impressed by the unity that has been shown by the nation. They are determined to deal with this terrible disaster.
I have also been moved by the fact that so many countries, including Australia, China and the US, have come forward with offers of help. They have sent rescue teams with up-to-date equipment and this will speed up the rescue process.
It shows that many people of different nationalities realise that we share the same planet and need to help each other when things like this happen.
Albert Chan Ka-hin, Tsuen Wan
I refer to the report ('Yemen's president blames US for Arab world's revolt', March 3).
I blame the president of Yemen and the foolish leaders of the Arab world for not appreciating that the US and its allies are always there when it comes to sending humanitarian aid to any nation affected by a natural disaster.
It is a blessing for the whole of the Arab world and for citizens of the free world that corrupt leaders are being removed from their posts permanently.
K. M. Nasir, Mid-Levels