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Letters

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 February, 2012, 12:00am

Few have chance to 'catch mice'

Since Deng Xiaoping's 1992 southern tour of 1992, the most important axioms of Deng Xiaoping Theory have been: 'to get rich is glorious' and 'it doesn't matter whether a cat is white or black, as long as it catches mice'. The approach unleashed a wave of personal entrepreneurship that continues to drive China's economy today.

We do not think that today's resentment among Hong Kong people is pointedly directed at mainlanders per se. The metaphorical 'locust' is a surface symptom of deeper problems, especially the disparity of wealth between mainlanders and ordinary Hongkongers.

While trying to protect our freedom post-1997 under the 'one country, two systems' concept, Hong Kong has lagged behind in terms of the creation of wealth, especially among the middle class, and in uplifting those from poverty. But in China, wealth has trickled down in society, even to migrant workers.

The people of Hong Kong are not envious of the rise of China and the wealth of her citizens but rather frustrated that our authorities have not created similar opportunities for the city.

The twenty-something generation lament the unbridled capitalistic and monopolistic control of practically every industry by Hong Kong's big conglomerates an obvious hegemony. Since 1997, the process of policymaking has further strengthened big business, killing opportunities for the man on the street.

The present administration may take pride in Hong Kong's Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement but most ordinary people cannot participate in this cross-border programme riddled with bureaucracy and red tape.

We, the Hong Kong people, desire more opportunities for the creation of wealth. Our subsistence should not rely on government handouts but be based on our own ability and purchasing power. In other words, we too 'want to catch mice'.

James Wang, Ma On Shan

Misguided plan in Soho's destruction

I read with interest the article about the destruction of Shanghai's courtyard homes ('Despair as old Shanghai feels the wrecker's ball,' February 4).

I do hope it is the beginning of a rethink regarding the value society places on old neighbourhoods in cities like Shanghai - and Hong Kong - and offers some hope for those who recognise their unique value.

One thing that struck me was the reference to district authorities and developers adopting a systematic approach to undermining lane communities to prepare them for destruction.

I have seen a similar strategy used by the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) in Hong Kong to pursue its objective of killing old neighbourhoods. In Soho, the URA has bought as many of the old buildings as they can and then let the buildings fall into disrepair. They use this as an example to the Town Planning Board of how there is no other choice but to demolish all the old buildings in the area because no one will take care of them.

Nothing could be further from the truth. There are scores of people who would gladly buy and maintain the buildings if they could buy them from the URA or were sure that the URA would not redevelop the area via demolition.

One can only hope that the Town Planning Board recognises the URA's strategy and does not become complicit in its misguided plan to demolish the few remaining tong lau in Soho.

Dare Koslow, Central

Spectators squeezed at marathon

Last weekend I decided to go out to cheer the athletes and my friends taking part in the Hong Kong marathon, only to find out that along the whole 42-kilometre course there were only a few short sections where spectators could to stay on the pavement to watch and cheer participants on.

There was nowhere on the West Kowloon Highway or in Central where spectators were allowed. Everywhere from the Star Ferry Pier to the convention centre was blocked off, including the pavement along the course.

When I walked on the footbridge from the pier in the direction of the post office, the side where you could have a glimpse of the athletes had been sealed off.

One police officer told me that it was to prevent people throwing rubbish from the bridge onto the course and another officer informed me that they were used for police emergency exits.

I walked along Tung Lo Road but the path that we were allowed to use was on the opposite side of the four-lane road to the racers' course. The road was heavily barricaded.

Has anyone seen this at other international sporting events? Compare the Hong Kong marathon with those in Tokyo, London and elsewhere. Here, you hardly see any supporters cheering athletes on the road,

but elsewhere lines and lines of spectators will cheer the athletes along the road as they run past. Successful international sporting events always meet with great spectator support.

Well done to all the athletes, but boos and whistles to the police and marathon organisers.

Kairiya Yiu, Happy Valley

Volcanic chill went through Hong Kong

I refer to Dan Waters' letter ('Cold weather isn't what it used to be', January 27).

The 0 degrees Celsius recorded at the Royal Observatory in Hong Kong on January 18, 1893 may be explained by cooling caused by a succession of volcanic eruptions in the northern hemisphere during 1892.

The volcanic eruptions included Sorikmarapi in Sumatra on May 21, Awu in northeastern Indonesia on June 7 and Mt Etna in Italy on July 17.

Since records began at the Observatory in 1884, the mean annual temperature of 21.3 degrees recorded in 1884 is the lowest.

This is best explained by cooling caused by the Krakatoa eruption in Indonesia in 1883.

Cold weather is becoming rarer at the Observatory because of the runaway urban heat island effect since the end of the second world war.

We can blame our heat generation on this.

Wyss Yim, Pok Fu Lam

Day of fiscal reckoning is coming

Remember 2011? For a moment it seemed that governments in Europe and the United States would actually try to balance their budgets and instil fiscal discipline.

What we now know is that, governments, which fear voter revolt more than inflation, would rather cheapen their currencies than balance their budgets.

Today's political reality is that politicians in the West can't cut debt and entitlements, so they will just have to make the debt and entitlements worth less.

Europe illustrates the case. Germany's proposal that an EU 'budget commissioner' enforce Greek tax and spending was quickly rejected. In deficit-plagued Britain, the Welfare Reform Bill, which would have limited out-of-work benefits to no more than the average working wage, was also defeated.

But the European Central Bank has responded. In December, the ECB injected Euro480 billion into the banks. A second, similar effort this month will provide them an estimated Euro400 billion.

Likewise, the US has responded through the Fed, not Congress. Concerned about unemployment and the sluggish economy, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has signalled that yet another round of quantitative easing is likely this summer.

Europe and America will continue to live beyond their means, with spending that exceeds its tax revenues. Voting citizens simply want the impossible: low taxes with high entitlements.

With their pandering politicians, governments predictably resort to expansionary policies which devalue existing debt and entitlements. And it's not just Western governments; central bank balance sheets have grown in China and Japan as well.

Of course, there will be a day of reckoning - inflation. And when that day arrives, it is important to be an owner of assets that can adjust to inflationary pressure, such as income-producing real estate or equities, because global fiat currencies are being devalued through monetary expansion.

William Fong, Mid-Levels

Stuff lifelong memories are made of

Many thanks to the people of Hong Kong for the privilege we experienced in sharing your Lunar New Year with you. The fireworks and the parade created lifelong memories.

The courtesies of all the people extended to us wherever we went - by hotel staff, tour guides, bus, tram and taxi operators, shopkeepers, the people in the street - have left us with the knowledge that you are all wonderful and kind people.

Maree and Michael O'Callaghan, Mildura, Australia

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