PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 October, 2011, 12:00am

Make owners more aware of rights

I refer to the letter by Winnie So, for the secretary for development ('Free inquiry service available to property owners facing compulsory sale', October 9), in reply to my letter ('Time to revisit law and consider minority property owners' rights', September 25).

Having read Ms So's reply, I was astonished by the logic behind the purpose of lowering to 80 per cent the proportion of flats a buyer must own in order to trigger the compulsory sale of the remainder - a threshold applying to three classes of lot which cover the vast majority of cases under application.

If the Urban Renewal Authority, carrying out redevelopment of old buildings for the purpose of urban renewal, is abiding by the URA Ordinance and the Urban Renewal Strategy, what is the purpose of lowering the application threshold to 80 per cent [ownership of a lot]? People should understand that the introduction of the lower threshold was influenced by property giants to facilitate their acquisition of land for development.

I am sure many citizens know little about the free inquiry service provided by the Housing Society to which Ms So refers. The administration should try to raise public awareness of the rights of minority owners of properties on such lots. This is an example of an area where the interplay between the legislation and aware- ness of minority owners' rights is crucial.

Lam Wai-leung, Ma On Shan

Mental health care so important

Reflecting on World Mental Health Week, which occurred earlier this month, I would like to urge the Hong Kong government and the central government to continue to invest in mental health services.

Every year one in six of us will experience mental ill health, yet only a quarter will seek treatment. The social cost of mental ill health in England is over GBP100 billion (HK$1.2 trillion), more than the entire National Health Service budget. Half of all mental health problems begin before the age of 15.

The British government's recent mental health strategy 'No Health without Mental Health' sets out how important mental well-being is to every one of us and how much still needs to be done to ensure that people affected by mental ill health enjoy the same chances in life as everyone else.

People with mental health problems tell us they require services that meet both their mental health and social needs.

Yet the current reductions in social care and support to the voluntary sector are having a significant impact on the lives of those who are already marginalized and living in poverty.

The British Psychological Society and a number of other professional organisations, wrote an open letter to the health secretary to call for action to coincide with World Mental Health Day (on October 10).

As well as continued investment in mental health services, they want to see an emphasis on recovery, job opportunities and fighting discrimination, and call for service users and carers to be involved at the outset in planning, delivering and evaluating mental health services.

Kathleen Tait, associate professor of disability studies and mental health, faculty of social sciences, Baptist University

Solar panel subsidy a good idea

As Hong Kong is a member of the global village we should be endeavouring to take environmentally friendly measures to protect our precious planet.

Therefore, I agree with a proposal for the government to provide subsidies to taxi and minibus drivers so that they can install solar-powered air conditioning in their vehicles after the idling- engine ban comes into force.

There is no doubt that they will hot and stuffy inside their stationary vehicles during the summer months without an air con. But we have to accept that idling engines cause serious air pollution.

A solar-powered system has been developed which will regulate the vehicle's temperature when the engine is turned off.

I am convinced that this system can help lead to a reduction in global warming.

Opponents of the proposal might argue that providing a subsidy to all taxis and minibuses will prove costly.

The cost of installing the system on taxis and minibuses will be be HK$40,000 and up to HK$120,000 respectively. A subsidy scheme would cost the government at most about HK$1.16 billion.

Given the government's surplus last financial year this is a small amount.

A decision will have to be made about what proportion of the cost should be borne by the government.

Isaac Au, Sha Tin

Warm praise for PLA runners

When the PLA's two teams came first and second on their Oxfam Trailwalker debut in 2009, the South China Morning Post ran an article questioning the size of their support crew and accusing them of a 'win at all costs' attitude. The reaction to this article in the local trail running community was a mixture of disappointment that the PLA's impressive achievement was not acknowledged and hilarity that the accusations made were baseless.

These accusations were referred to again in the paper when the PLA repeated its winning performance in 2010 and again in John Carney's otherwise enjoyable article on the history of Trailwalker ('The trail that goes from strength to strength', October 16).

To set the record straight, our sense is that the local trail running community welcomes the PLA's involvement in Oxfam Trailwalker, applauds its superb performances and its unbeaten record and would like to see it take part in more local races.

To meet the PLA runners in training on the trails at the weekends is a delight.

They share their food, offer medical help with cuts and grazes if you've taken a tumble and generally exude goodwill and bonhomie.

We wish them all the best as they seek a hat-trick of wins on November 18.

Janet Ng and Steve Brammar, Hong Kong Trail Racing Limited

Third runway is essential

I strongly support the proposed expansion of Hong Kong International Airport.

It will be an immense step forward, will help with the economic development of the city and will ensure a better future.

Since it was built it has been widely admired as one of the world's top airports, with world-class, hi-tech facilities. But it will soon reach saturation point and Hong Kong faces challenges as a leading international finance centre and competition from elsewhere in Asia.

Also, demand for air travel is increasing and we must meet that demand and deal with other issues such as air traffic being diverted to neighbouring airports.

With a larger capacity at Chek Lap Kok we will attract more tourists and investors.

A larger airport with a third runway will offer many more job opportunities for Hong Kong citizens.

We will need thousands of construction workers for the project and they will be employed for a number of years.

Operating the runway once it the construction work is finished will also require a great many qualified personnel.

Critics argue that it would be a waste of money and would pollute our environment, but we have to look at the returns and the need to help with the development of this financial hub.

It is important that the government try to strike a balance between the need for economic progress and environmental conservation and it should formulate more environmentally friendly measures.

However, we cannot avoid the fact that expansion of Hong Kong airport is essential.

Kimberly Lu, Wan Chai

Welcoming improved relations

Given the problems in the past between Taiwan and the mainland, I am pleased to see that relations have improved.

Many Chinese paid a heavy price for this separation and bear heavy emotional burdens.

Many books have been written about the separation of families, lovers and friends. So it is good that Taiwan now permits tourists and students from the mainland to visit for holidays or to study.

Getting the tourist industry and educational institutions involved is a good way of breaking down walls without having to get into politics.

I believe if people try to interact with each other across the strait, the great divide can be reduced gradually. Little by little a better future can be made for citizens on both sides of the strait.

Yoyo Leung Yui-yan, Tsuen Wan



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