Large-scale relocation needed
I refer to the report ('Planners think big for Kowloon East', October 14).
The government will relocate 11 of its departments to Kowloon East.
This is a bold, but tiny, step in the right direction.
Keeping government offices in premier sites in Central, Admiralty and Wan Chai is not a proper use of resources.
The buildings could be vacated by departments then sold, and the money could be used to benefit citizens.
Government offices were located on Hong Kong Island when it was first ceded to the British. But this historical reason is no longer valid following the handover.
Besides, given the advancement of telecommunication technology, locating government departments in the central business district is no longer essential.
The public and businesses can reach the departments by electronic means such as e-mails.
To look at it on a larger scale a nation's financial centre (for example Sydney and New York) need not be its political capital (Canberra and Washington).
Our government is not going that far.
It is falling short of taking its administrative headquarters out of the financial district and finding a separate 'capital' in another part of Hong Kong. However, the present plan regarding Kowloon East is still better than the status quo with departments in offices that are not cost-effective.
The government should not be competing with the business sector for premier office sites, which is why relocation is such a good idea.
Leung Ka-kit, Yau Tsim Mong
Shops should quit noisy Central
I refer to your leader bemoaning the end of the tenancy of Shanghai Tang in Central district ('Lack of sentiment damaging our city', October 18).
While I share your views in promoting home brands and the heartless attitudes of greedy landlords, I welcome further moves by the company to utilise its entrepreneurial instincts by relocating elsewhere apart from Central.
This district is overcrowded, polluted and extremely noisy.
If the products are what make the brand so famous, visitors and locals will not be deterred to continue shopping at a new venue that is reasonably close to public transport.
The management should be encouraged to lead shoppers away from this part of Hong Kong which has outlived its snob appeal and is really an unpleasant spot.
I am hoping that this home brand can lead the pack and show some verve.
Evelyn Ng, Tai Po
Sceptical about bold claims
I refer to the report ('Rebuilding 99pc done, officials declare', October 15).
This refers to central government claims over reconstruction work in Sichuan's earthquake zone.
However, a number of political analysts have voiced scepticism.
Firstly, there has been no proof of quality assurance by the authorities. This reconstruction programme has proved costly but concerns remain that if there is a future quake, the damage will still be extensive.
I am concerned that Beijing has seen this rebuilding process as an opportunity to show how powerful the nation has become and that it was able to do this work without outside help.
This is not an acceptable attitude.
The victims need social care and psychological help, not a house that is unsafe.
We have no way of knowing if people were given the proper counselling.
Beijing should be more concerned with the victims than with its widespread pronouncements of what it has achieved in terms of reconstruction in Sichuan.
Beijing has to face the problems that exist in an honest way. It must produce an official report which looks at the positive and negative aspects of what has been done.
Fung Chun-ting, Tsuen Wan
Mutual respect important
Legislators 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung and Wong Yuk-man were expelled from Legco during the question and answer session on the policy address.
I agree with those legislators who walked out afterwards claiming the chief executive had used offensive words regarding Mr Wong, talking of 'thug-like behaviour' and the chamber not being 'a place for triad societies'.
I can understand someone being insulted by these words, but what about the behaviour of the two expelled lawmakers? Did they show the proper respect for the chief executive?
The Legislative Council is a solemn place. Lawmakers can use various methods to get their opinions across, but not aggressive behaviour. It is important to show respect in any debate.
Li Po-yee, Sha Tin
Give firms paternity leave subsidy
I would support the introduction of statutory paternity leave in Hong Kong.
Mothers are often weak after giving birth and need time to convalesce. At this time fathers play a vital role. If they were allowed to take some time off work, they could look after their wife and child.
Being forced to stay in the office during this difficult period is not helpful and they might not be very productive.
If they were given the time off, their company would actually benefit. They would return to work with more energy and be able to concentrate on their duties. It would also build a better relationship between workers and their employers.
Opponents are concerned about the effect on small and medium-sized firms.
The government could set up a department offering these companies subsidies so they could get part-time staff temporarily.
Octavia Hung Sai-sai, Tseung Kwan O
Off-peak option for special fare
I refer to the report ('Cost of HK$2 ride will soar, academics say', October 14).
The government (as usual) is finding it difficult to use common sense in the implementation of a good idea.
The fare concession, whereby the old and the disabled have unrestricted travel on buses, ferries and the MTR at the flat rate of HK$2, will definitely give warranted social benefits to these elderly and disadvantaged citizens.
However, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen (displaying his true colours) places the cart before the horse when stating that he doesn't know the cost but that listed transport companies must be reimbursed (for the fare difference) because the concession will affect their profits.
Our public transport is already overcrowded during peak hours, so do we really want to encourage old people and the disabled to travel at such often chaotic times? It makes sense to limit the concessions to off-peak periods.
This scheme, in addition to the social benefits, will definitely enhance patronage and allow more efficient use of company assets. Therefore profits may blossom rather than wither.
The impact of this HK$2 concessionary scheme on the transport companies can only be gauged by experience, so we should go ahead without making preconceived commitments that would work against the public purse but for the tycoons' pockets.
Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng will be responsible for the implementation of this policy, so in the light of the cross-harbour tunnel fee structure (which remains a conundrum for her bureau even after so many years) we cannot expect a sensible realisation any time soon.
Frank Lee, Mid-Levels
Poster in stations not appropriate
I am writing about a promotion poster [for a play] which appeared in MTR stations [without the asterisks] Love is S**t.
Is this the type of English word (s**t) that we wish local children to be using?
Advertising in English helps these children to practise their reading and lets them pick up additional vocabulary, but foul language should not be promoted in English, especially by big corporations which have a responsibility to the public.
What will English-speaking tourists think when they see this poster? Not a good promotion for the English language ability of Hong Kong, methinks.
Margaret Gibson, Sham Tseng