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Hong Kong Monetary Authority


PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 March, 2012, 12:00am

Feudalism and shoguns still with us

I refer to the article by Lau Nai-keung ('The sway of big business reaches right to the top', March 2).

The word 'tycoon' keeps coming up these days and I was moved to look it up in my dictionary. This revealed that it was a wealthy, powerful person in business or industry and a title applied by foreigners to the shogun of Japan.

Shoguns were hereditary commanders-in-chief in feudal Japan. Because of their power and the consequent weakness of the nominal head of state (the emperor), the shogun were the country's real rulers.

Sounds familiar.

So what about feudalism?

It was the social system in the Middle Ages in Europe.

Monarchs granted land to the nobility, vassals were their tenants and peasants lived on the lands of the lord, pledged loyalty to him and gave their labour.

Sounds even more familiar.

So shoguns are alive and well today, but whither feudalism?

Is it the default condition that so-called free societies regress to when deregulation (that is, games without rules or ethics) becomes the fashion?

S. P. Li, Lantau

Kowloon Bay best home for authority

I refer to the report ('SFC faces more flak over plan to buy property', March 3).

You say, 'In 2001, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority came under fire for spending HK$3.7 billion to buy 14 floors of Two IFC. The property's value doubled in a decade but also saved the HKMA HK$734.4 million in annual rental costs.' This raises certain questions.

First off, is it a prudent use of taxpayer funds to spend HK$3.7 billion to save HK$734 million in rent?

Secondly, where in the HKMA's charter does it state that property speculation is part of its remit? And lastly, why does the HKMA need 14 floors of office space when monetary policy is essentially set by the Federal Reserve in Washington as a result of the US dollar peg?

If, in fact, the value of the floors in Two IFC have doubled in value, the HKMA should sell and release the 14 floors to the market, a market that is sorely lacking in prime office space in Central.

The HKMA can move to a refurbished industrial building in Kowloon Bay as per my earlier letter ('A new life for old industrial buildings?' February 24), with the capital gain put towards increased Comprehensive Social Security Assistance benefits. It is only fit and proper that the high- fliers in the HKMA should help the least affluent amongst us.

Ron Adrianse, Sai Kung

Brain drain can harm economy

The Census and Statistics Department recently revealed that last year emigration exceeded immigration for the second time in three years.

I see this as a structural brain drain, and the government should make a greater effort to retain professionals in Hong Kong.

The more professionals Hong Kong can maintain the more competitive it will be.

Such people are the pillars of a society. They have specialist skills and knowledge that enable them to make significant contributions in their particular field.

For instance, if we can retain more financial experts the city's financial sector will benefit.

This is essential if Hong Kong is to maintain its status as one of the world's leading international finance centres. The development of a city depends on such people.

As well as making Hong Kong more competitive, professionals also help to make it more productive.

With more talented people in the workplace, competition for jobs can be keen.

This kind of competition makes employees (and job-seekers) try harder and perform well and, as a consequence, companies can become more productive. Better-performing companies improve our economic outlook.

The exodus of professionals highlighted by the department's statistics is a rather complex problem and it will not be easy to solve. However, it must and can be addressed by government.

In the first place it should be encouraging companies to try to reduce the working hours of its skilled workforce.

Firms also need to realise that higher salaries and bonuses for good performances are key elements in keeping talented members of staff on board.

The government must do whatever is necessary to stem the flow of professionals leaving Hong Kong, including those local people who are choosing to move elsewhere.

A brain drain can only have a negative effect on Hong Kong's economic development.

Wallace Lau, Ma On Shan

Young people forgetting family values

I refer to the letter by Jacky Wong ('Gender imbalance is serious', February 26).

I agree with your correspondent that the government should take swift action to tackle the problem of a gender imbalance.

The Census and Statistics Department has said that there are 1,000 women for every 876 men in Hong Kong.

Fewer single women in the city are meeting someone who they want to settle down with.

This is a factor in the problem of a decreasing birth rate in the city and obviously this decline is a cause for concern.

If we are unable to reverse this trend and the problem gets more severe, then in the future we will be facing an almost chronic workforce shortage as fewer young people join the workforce.

In the long run this will obviously damage Hong Kong's performance.

The government must come up with new strategy. I would suggest it offers a variety of subsidies to young couples as an incentive for them to start a family. This can help ease the financial burden of bringing up a child.

Education is also important, as young people seem to have forgotten the core values of a family. Unlike previous generations, they seem to have lost the instinct of wanting to be part of a family and understanding the importance of this institution in our society.

Lilith Ng Lee-fu, Tseung Kwan O

Stress levels keep birth rate low

I refer to the letter by Jacky Wong ('Gender imbalance is serious', February 26).

I agree with your correspondent that the government should try harder to encourage more young couples to start a family. This is one obvious way to raise the birth rate in the SAR.

However, I think that the most important thing that has to be dealt with is the amount of pressure people are put under in Hong Kong.

Most Hong Kong people do have to deal with too much pressure and this might actually act as an obstacle for a young couple wanting to have a child.

A woman who is stressed can find that her physical health and state of mind are adversely affected.

This might present problems if she wants to start a family.

If, as a consequence of this stress, a pregnant woman is not feeling well physically, this could have repercussions for her and her unborn child.

If the government really wants to see an increase in the birth rate in Hong Kong, it should recognise these factors.

One way to address these problems is to set a limit on working hours for male and female employees.

There is also a financial consideration, with some young couples feeling they could not afford to bring up a child.

Lowering the tax rates for these couples would be helpful. Also, it would help if they knew that when their child reached school age, they would be entitled to travel allowances and subsidies to help pay the cost of textbooks.

Edwin Lam Wai-ming, Sau Mau Ping

Emergency exit seats not for elderly

The one hour passengers spend on the Hong Kong to Macau ferry is generally smooth and comfortable, and it seems both cities are conscious of the need to improve the piers at their respective ferry terminals.

One point of health and safety which all aircraft, bus and ferry companies must take into consideration is the allocation of seats adjacent to emergency exits.

It may seem reasonable to allocate these important seats to the elderly, but if there is an accident at sea would an elderly person be capable of reacting in a timely manner?

With limited crew members, six exits on the Macau ferry and 300 panicking passengers, do we really want our own Costa Concordia?

These seats should be allocated to the people more likely to perform emergency duty in a timely fashion.

Stephen Anderson, Macau