Fair play must apply to public bodies
We pride ourselves on being an international city that is one of the freest economies in the world, but what would we be signalling to the world if we have a competition bill that goes against fundamental fair competition and level-playing-field principles? There are more than 500 statutory bodies, some engaged in economic activities that could distort the competitive landscape if not subject to the bill.
In some sectors, the degree of competition is already reduced as a result of governmental intervention. This situation should not be made worse by excluding statutory bodies from the competition bill altogether.
For example, the MTR Corporation dominates the public transport sector. Its overall market share of the franchised public transport market is nearly 45 per cent, and 65 per cent in the cross-harbour-traffic segment. The government's transport policy facilitates the expansion of railway networks at the expense of other means of public transport. Minibus operators are prohibited from operating routes between city centres and new towns like Tseung Kwan O. Less competition means more room for MTR fare hikes.
The exhibition industry is dominated by the Trade Development Council (TDC), a statutory body that conducts commercial activities. The TDC is the biggest organiser in the exhibition industry, with 45 per cent market share. Receiving about HK$300 million in government subvention a year, the TDC plays three conflicting roles: as a trade show organiser, as an export-promotion organ of Hong Kong and as owner of the Convention and Exhibition Centre. Private exhibition organisers have always had a hard time competing with the TDC.
If the competition bill is not amended to remove exclusion of statutory bodies, Hong Kong as a whole will suffer from a distorted competitive landscape and a competition law that is far from fair.
Monica Chan, Pok Fu Lam
Higher passport fees hard to bear
I refer to Bryan Carter's letter ('Renewing UK passport a costly chore', November 28), about renewing a passport at the British consulate.
The dramatic increase in price is explicable.
The British government had to bail out several banks following the banking crisis in 2008 and now faces a huge deficit as a direct result.
It is now charging more for all those services that it considers practicable to do so. Passports fall into this category.
I'm afraid it looks as though we all have to bear the costs caused by the bankers' avarice for quite some years to come.
Angus Hardern, Kowloon
Low bag levy proves a thin deterrent
I refer to the letter from Howie Lee ('Bag levy must have no exemptions', November 29). If my memory serves me right, the number of disposable plastic bags was reduced by around 7 per cent after the 50 HK cent levy was introduced. That's not really a dramatic reduction, is it?
But the number of bags is hardly the issue here, but rather the weight. Cast your mind back to the time before the levy.
Back then, the bags were hardly any bigger or thicker than the levy-free wafer-thin bags that we still put our apples in when picking them at the supermarket vegetable counter.
Assuming that today's 50 HK cent bags are three or four times as heavy as the free ones used to be, it means that the weight of the bags we throw away has more than tripled. And the number of reusable bags discarded has doubled.
So why was the levy introduced? To make it seem like the politicians were actually doing something about the ever-increasing mountain of rubbish in our city.
Much tougher sanctions are needed to get any results. HK$100 per gram of plastic in your bag might do the trick.
But who would dare to do something so deeply unpopular?
Sven Topp, Lantau
Hong Kong in no position to cast stones
In your editorial ''Good Samaritan' law can be a model' (December 6), Shenzhen's draft 'Good Samaritan' law is labelled as something to be used as an example across the mainland.
Hong Kong doesn't have any such law and its residents are not much better than those across the border when it comes to helping others in need. Let's get one here before commenting on another place for not having one.
Ken Chan, Tai Po
Tang takes heat over MTR sips
As the Hong Kong chief executive race heats up, I can understand why Henry Tang Ying-yen was rather hot on Saturday, especially as he tried to announce his bid for the leadership role of Hong Kong from the depths of Sham Shui Po. But, it is obvious his grass-roots knowledge of the territory is lacking, as is his knowledge of MTR bylaws.
The South China Morning Post picture on November 27 shows Mr Tang apparently drinking water on the MTR.
I do find it rather incongruous that someone who lives in Hong Kong is not aware that consuming food or drink on the MTR is against the by-laws of its corporation.
We expect a chief executive to know the day-to-day issues of the people of Hong Kong, and by that token, the laws of the most-used transport system in Hong Kong.
Callan Anderson, Taikoo Shing
Candidates overlook student view
The two chief executive hopefuls, Henry Tang and Leung Chun-ying, have been visiting different sectors to gain support.
It is encouraging that both of them endeavour to win support from different sectors. Yet, they seem to be neglecting students, who have suffered from the stressful and endless education reforms and cannot cast a vote.
Education reforms have been carried out for years, affecting a large number of people, not only the students, but also the teachers and parents. Most of the stakeholders have been under great pressure in confronting the ever-changing reforms.
The candidates are not being asked to order a halt to every reform, but it is imperative that they take the students' feelings into deep consideration before devising any new policy.
Raymond Yang, Sai Wan Ho
Repel tourist assault on Repulse Bay
Now that everyone is applauding the swift, decisive action taken by the government to give our beach facilities back to 'ordinary beachgoers' ('Keep things simple at the beach', December 2), I wonder if we shall see an equally efficient action plan executed when it comes to the completely out-of-control tourism assault on Repulse Bay beach and Beach Road.
Week in, week out, convoys of monstrous, smoke-billowing tourist buses descend on the small area of Beach Road. They completely clog up traffic for everyone else as they stop to unload hordes of equally smoke-billowing passengers to crowd the beach to grab some photos.
The gigantic coaches then clog up the road further, parking anywhere, including the tiny pavements, which are being crushed.
The parking practice also forces pedestrians into the path of traffic, while their drivers sit with engines idling constantly - even in this cooler weather - to make the whole area a polluted, no-breathing zone.
This once-tranquil beach area was designed for the enjoyment of ordinary beachgoers, not as a tourist mass-crowd hotspot.
The rampant abuse we now see is causing all manner of damage to both the local environment and the health of residents, making the whole area unpleasant to visit.
Yet, it all seems to go completely unchecked. Why?
Are we going to see the same enthusiasm to do something about this in the name of ordinary beachgoers? Or is this all deemed more acceptable than a few people enjoying cappuccinos and music on a rooftop miles from anywhere?
Chris Kyme, Repulse Bay