HK's dignity abroad must be preserved
Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has come in for criticism regarding his overseas visits and is now under fire over the choice of his hotel room during a visit to Brazil this month ('Tsang stayed in US$6,900 presidential suite', April 25).
I think the media and those politicians who have raised objections are being oversensitive and do not fully understand the nature of these visits.
They should appreciate that when he makes these trips, he does so as head of the SAR government. In this respect, he is no different from the prime minister or a president representing a government.
Mr Tsang has a duty to promote Hong Kong to the rest of the world and lobby for co-operation with the country he visits in various areas, such as the economy and the environment.
Hong Kong has a comparatively small economy, and given that it is heavily dependent on international trade, these visits are important. We still rely on tourism, the re-export trade and foreign investment for growth.
Critics do not appreciate this, and it is wrong for them to compare him to the mayor of a city. When he is greeted by presidents and prime ministers in the country he visits, he is not seen as simply a 'mayor'.
While I am in no position to say whether a presidential suite was appropriate, surely as the head of our government, he deserves high-quality accommodation. After all, he was not visiting Brazil as a tourist.
Do people really expect him to check into a budget hotel and meet business leaders and the local media sitting on a bed?
Surely that would send the wrong signals and give the mistaken impression to our foreign friends that Hong Kong was in dire financial straits. It is about preserving the city's dignity.
Of course a practical approach should always be adopted, but the choice of accommodation must not damage the image of Hong Kong abroad, and the correct protocol must be observed when choosing a suitable hotel room for the head of our administration.
The government should always take note of public opinion, but we must allow our leaders and officials to be able to carry out their responsibilities when abroad and do what they can to benefit the city.
Sunny Hor Tsz-ching, Tsuen Wan
Chief's perks of office well deserved
I refer to the report ('Tsang stayed in US$6,900 presidential suite', April 25).
Actually, I do not see anything wrong with the choice of hotel accommodation. As chief executive of the Hong Kong SAR, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen deserved to stay in the presidential suite during his visit to Brazil.
These are the perks due to someone holding the top post, and, besides, the coffers are not being bled dry.
It is about time the people of Hong Kong and those legislators who have been critical reflected on the good decisions that Mr Tsang has made during his term in office.
Robert Lang, Pok Fu Lam
Job No 1 for Leung: replace Yau
Now that the Legislative Council's environment panel has voted down funding for the proposed incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau, one of Leung Chun-ying's first tasks as chief executive should be to remove Edward Yau Tang-wah from the position of environment minister.
The name of the Environmental Protection Department is inappropriate.
It has allowed our air quality to deteriorate and wasted millions planning a giant incinerator that would have worsened air pollution and trashed an area of unspoilt countryside.
There has been much talk about how Mr Leung needs to earn the support of the civil service and the public. Hong Kong has lacked leadership in recent years, and a leader gains support by earning respect. He must very publicly replace the under-achievers who are at present cluttering up our civil service.
This would put much needed accountability and fear of retribution into our cosseted bureaucrats and, at the same time, win instant support from the city's frustrated citizens.
Mr Yau, in particular, has wasted years dithering over an unenforceable ban on idling engines while ignoring pollution, environmental degradation and waste disposal.
We have become a laughing stock, with stories running in the international press portraying the SAR as the world's dirtiest financial centre, which produces more rubbish per capita than anywhere on earth.
Yau and others remind me of the department head in the British comedy television series Yes Minister: 'My department is not expected to do things; we are just here to explain why things cannot be done.'
R. E. J. Bunker, Lantau
Some simply don't want any children
In recent years, more couples in Hong Kong have chosen not to start a family.
Some people have suggested that the government should introduce child-friendly employment policies and tax exemptions to raise the birth rate.
I have reservations about whether such a strategy would have the desired result.
Money and time constraints are not the only factors that discourage people from wanting to raise children.
Financial issues would hardly be important for high-income couples, in particular.
And when it comes to the commitment needed to bring up a son or daughter, these couples could easily afford to hire a domestic helper, which would enable them to take breaks from their parenting duties.
The real obstacle in Hong Kong seems to be that some young people simply do not want to start a family.
They regard the role of being parents as too difficult and want things to remain as they are in their lives.
This pervading culture of resistance to having children is certainly a problem, given that Hong Kong has an ageing population. I think the key to dealing with this is through education, trying to change the culture and current attitudes.
Paul Yuen, Sha Tin
Consumers, stand up for your rights
Hongkongers have learned through experience that the city is infamous for unscrupulous businessmen who try hard to make more profits while depriving citizens of all their rights as consumers.
Since our Consumer Council is toothless, and the government holds a couldn't-care-less attitude on this issue, it is up to individual citizens to act and take measures to ensure that they are not ripped off.
For example, I would advise people to refuse to buy expensive items from supermarkets or chain stores.
When the price of something increases, they should refrain from buying it at that store.
As a car owner, I now use my car less often.
Viewers of television can also take positive action. When they decide that the quality of the programmes on a particular station is deplorable, they can switch off that channel and watch DVDs or listen to music.
It is high time a consumer rights group was set up to guard against malpractices in this city.
Lawrence Choi, Sham Shui Po
Water taxis might edge out ferries
I am against the proposals to introduce a water taxi service in Victoria Harbour.
I am concerned that it could eventually replace our ferries. They are part of the collective memory of Hong Kong. We all have precious recollections of these vessels.
The water taxis might be faster and more frequent than ferries. But if people are looking for a convenient way to cross the harbour, it already exists in the form of the MTR.
Jasmine Tai, Mong Kok
Relocate base of official helicopters
It seems odd to me that our fleet of government helicopters, the Government Flying Service, is based at the far end of the SAR.
Why not relocate the fleet to a more central location, say on Tsing Yi or Stonecutters Island?
Operating costs could be reduced with shorter flight times, less fuel burned and reduced wear and tear on the aircraft.
The present space at Chek Lap Kok could be freed up and used by private aviation and, of course, the government's fixed-wing aircraft.
Could someone from the government comment?
Craig Sanderson, Tung Chung