Letters to the Editor, August 16, 2012

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 August, 2012, 2:45am


Extend law to secondary flat market

I agree with those who argue that the law forcing developers to use saleable rather than the gross floor area as the basis for quoting prices and sizes of new properties should be extended to cover the secondary home market.

Accurate descriptions of floor areas are very important to prospective buyers. This is why the Legislative Council passed the Residential Properties (First-hand Sales) Ordinance in June, although it will not come into force until next year.

The legislation should be extended to the secondary market so people have a clearer idea of what they are buying.

Gross floor area means the saleable area plus a share of the common areas and facilities. So it is overestimating the apartment's actual floor area.

This means that potential buyers are being misled by any publicity material they read.

Of course, with the secondary market, they are entitled to inspect a property, but they should still be given an accurate size, that is, the saleable area.

This legislation would also create a level playing field for sellers in the secondary market.

At present, developers can choose what proportion of common areas they want to include in the gross floor area and this can be confusing.

The only problem I can see with having this ordinance cover the secondary market relates to older properties.

Blueprints and plans for old properties are probably not available so sellers will have to hire surveyors to measure their units.

Using saleable area in all sales material as a basis for quoting prices of apartments, rather than gross floor area, will ensure a fair and open transaction process for buyers and sellers of property.

Crystal Chan, Sha Tin

Squatter huts are a serious fire hazard

Many squatter huts were damaged by Severe Typhoon Vicente last month. Clearly the government has to address safety issues with regard to these squatter settlements and come up with a strategy to phase them out.

Many of these huts were constructed in the 1960s and 1970s and the material and construction methods were sub-standard. Obviously they deteriorate over time and such flimsy, badly built structures cannot withstand strong winds or flooding. There is also a fire risk as the huts are so close together.

Also, there are serious hygiene problems in these settlements. The residents are underprivileged and could not afford to move to an apartment block. They cannot make improvements to their properties because of government regulations.

The administration must deal with the safety issues connected with squatter huts, but any measures should be implemented gradually.

It should also come up with a strategy for getting rid of squatter huts, but first it will have to construct more public housing in order to accommodate the squatter hut residents.

Wong Tik-san, Sha Tin

Opportunity for greater co-operation

The Philippines Bloomberry Manila Bay Casino resort is reported to be scouring the casinos of Singapore and particularly Macau for the best and brightest of the expat Filipino casino workers. They are all suitably qualified, thanks to excellent American-run in-house training systems.

Filipinos are in high demand in the hotel, hospitality and casino sector because they have a positive attitude, friendly personality and work hard. They have proved to be popular employees and I am sure the Manila Bay resort will be an exciting addition to the region's casino industry.

The departure of some of them from Macau presents an opportunity for Hong Kong and could enable the city to strengthen its working relationship with Macau.

A decision to come to a mutual agreement between the two SARs is long overdue. They must discuss how best to implement an arrangement which enables permanent residents of Macau and Hong Kong to work in either city without restrictions. Both SARs will benefit and it will be a step forward in Pearl River Delta co-operation.

Stephen Anderson, Macau

Arrogance also reeks of racism

Michael Chugani hit the nail on the head by saying that when a country rids itself of an inferiority complex, it doesn't mean it must replace it with a superiority complex ("Fire within", August 13).

Everything China has done even before it hosted the Olympics in 2008 has been to proclaim to the world that it can do things better than Western countries. It's the kind of triumphalism that leaves a bad taste in the mouth, also reeking as it does of racism towards the lesser countries.

It's in line with what Beijing has been doing lately to alienate its neighbours along the South China Sea by claiming territory that's not even close to its own shores.

Beatriz Taylor, Cheung Chau

Puzzled by snub over nationality

I refer to the report ("Businessman born in HK can't be naturalised", August 14).

Something is not adding up here. A quick check on the internet reveals that Allan Zeman was born in Germany, raised in Canada, and moved to Hong Kong in 1975 at the age of 26. According to Wikipedia, he also speaks "some Cantonese".

As a holder of right of abode and a permanent Hong Kong identity card, in 2008 he renounced his Canadian citizenship and successfully became a naturalised Chinese national. Now consider the case of Philip Khan, who was born and raised in Hong Kong, speaks fluent Cantonese and has a family history of a century here.

I know the authorities won't comment on "individual cases" but I would really like to know why Mr Khan cannot be recognised as a Chinese national.

Does he not have enough money, or is it his South Asian ethnic background?

Nina Cheung, Sha Tin

Allow chief executive to govern

I agree with correspondents who argue that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying must be given a chance to govern.

He should be given the opportunity to fulfil the election promises he has made.

However, Mr Leung is going to need time to implement policies which can improve the lives of Hong Kong people.

If citizens oppose him, it will be difficult for him to make progress. We should not be criticising him before he has had a chance to implement his policies.

Some politicians have tried to inflict damage on the new administration, but the attacks have often been irrational and do not do anything to deal with social and livelihood issues in Hong Kong.

Mr Leung apologised over the unauthorised structures in his home and we should put that matter behind us. He has acknowledged his mistakes and after all no one is perfect.

The role of a leader is to make positive changes in a society and C.Y. Leung must be allowed to get on with the job of governing Hong Kong so he can make those changes.

Karen Wong, Fanling

Minister's position is untenable

I have read with both increasing mirth and despair the saga of the divided flats of development minister Paul Chan Mo-po and his wife.

His farcical explanations and refusal to resign are now, however, beyond amusement. In any other (near) democracy, he would have gone a long time ago - if even to retain a shred of personal dignity. And, if he had not, the head of government would have removed him.

So, if Mr Chan is unwilling to resign, why is it that our new chief executive and the rest of the Executive Council do not force him to do so?

Do they really want their administration to be forever stained by this affair, coming so soon after the debacle of the graft scandal involving Mak Chai-kwong and the scandals in the chief executive election?

If Mr Chan is not guilty of either lying or poor judgment, he is certainly guilty of being completely out of touch with the people of Hong Kong and their need for officials to be not only people of integrity but to be seen to be so. He is also guilty of not being able to communicate in an effective and open manner. Surely just for this last one he should be sent on his way.

But perhaps the new government does not really care about integrity or the semblance of any democratic norms.

Anthony Pearson, Pok Fu Lam