Letters to the Editor, August 28, 2012
Dispute will not be resolved in near future
It seems that China is trying its best to press its claim that the Diaoyu Islands are part of its territory.
This was why a group of Hong Kong citizens sailed to the islands earlier this month. I would like to express my opinion about the Diaoyu Islands dispute.
When you look at this territorial dispute, there does appear to be a growing sense of nationalism. It has developed since the dispute began about who has rightful ownership of the islands. Now it appears that the nations involved want to show off their power.
Since the handover, there has been some mistrust between Hong Kong citizens and the ruling communist government in Beijing.
The central government has tried to foster a sense of nationhood here, but this has proved difficult. The Diaoyu Islands dispute is one way to encourage that sense of belonging to the nation. The Japanese government is also finding that its citizens are becoming more sensitive about the disputed territory.
Enmity between the two countries goes back to the first Sino-Japanese war and there is still residual ill-feeling.
China's economic growth and the growing threat of its military have in recent years been perceived by some Japanese as a threat.
Beijing is using the territorial dispute as a way of displaying its more powerful status.
There is also the argument that the islands are important for their natural resources.
I do not see that this dispute will be easily resolved and I do not think, given the various issues involved and the agendas the nations have, that it will end soon.
Christina Yip, Kwai Chung
Over-the-top and pointless attack on West
In his article ("Too smug", August 18), Graeme Maxton goes through the usual set of left-wing talking points bashing the West.
He says the West needs to learn to respect other ways.
It would have been nice if Mr Maxton had described those other real-world examples and explained how they are better. We all know why he didn't provide that perspective - he can't.
I will just respond to a couple of Mr Maxton's more over-the-top statements. At the top of his article he says that since Mitt Romney misspoke the word "Sheik" for "Sikh", he has a "humiliating lack of knowledge of just about everything".
That is the most unbelievably weak inference I have ever seen. Later on, he calls free markets and liberal trade "a system that is not working and that has lost touch with its principles". I've never heard of a legitimate economist who doesn't agree with the long-term global advantages of free trade.
I also think most Hong Kong businessmen would agree that free trade is good.
Again, Mr Maxton doesn't give an example of a better way; he just continues to bash the West.
Joe Watson, Wan Chai
Legislative councillors also to blame
Roadside pollution in Hong Kong is getting worse. This is mainly caused by public buses, by firms' resistance to renewing old fleets and poor management of the transport system.
Officials and district councillors remain blind to the problem. But Legco representatives are also responsible, including self-proclaimed democrats and delegates of the elite constituencies, who have done nothing to improve the situation.
Juan Morales, Causeway Bay
Private cars should face ban in Central
May I offer my humble proposal to the new government of Leung Chun-ying about easing traffic problems on Hong Kong Island?
I would propose closing Central to all private cars and allowing only public vehicles, taxis, bicycles and motorbikes.
Every day, we see our streets clogged by large cars parked by the pavement with the engine running and drivers waiting for the boss, or for the tai-tai returning from shopping expeditions.
This greatly increases the pollution of the urban areas, and the traffic is a nightmare at certain hours.
Trucks for loading and unloading goods should be allowed in the city centre only before or after peak hours.
When similar limitations were imposed in Europe's main cities, at first all shop owners were against them.
Then they discovered that business went up, not down, because potential shoppers can stroll around with greater ease, not worrying about being run over by a car.
Angelo Paratico, Central
There is no need for malls to be so cold
People enjoy strolling through malls, especially when they have a day off during the summer. There are some excellent shopping centres with a wide range of choices for people visiting.
However, many of the individual stores are too cold and are cooler than the public areas. I do not think this is good for business, as many people probably spend less time than they would like, because they feel uncomfortable.
Mall owners and management firms must encourage their tenants to adjust temperatures of air conditioning so it is not as cold in the stores.
Apart from being wasteful, it can also cause health problems. Often, people who have come off the streets during a hot summer day are sweating and, with a very cold temperature, they can easily get a cold.
Store managers should realise that by adjusting the air-con temperature so that it is not as cold, they are also helping their businesses, as shoppers will be willing to stay in the store for a longer period, so they could actually see their profits going up. Apart from providing a comfortable environment, they would be saving energy and following a global trend to become more environmentally friendly. All companies should be trying to reduce their carbon footprint, especially the large chain stores, which should recognise the importance of corporate responsibility.
Mall owners can help by setting a standard temperature for all the shops to adopt.
This would be similar to the Environmental Protection Department [previously] advocating a standard temperature of 25.5 degrees Celsius.
One way of encouraging stores would be for mall owners to offer a rent reduction if they kept their air conditioning at the standard agreed temperature. It would be a win-win situation, as energy bills would be cut and shops' profits would rise.
Tsang Yiu-yeung, Sha Tin
Changes for maids may be step back
Some of your correspondents have said that maids would be better off if they were not living at their employers' home.
If we take the minimum wage into the calculation and the number of hours that maids really work, I truly doubt whether they would be better off.
What everyone seems to forget is that besides the freedom which they get, they also will lose a lot of benefits; there will be no more free meals, no more free insurance, no more free tickets home, and they'll have to pay for rent, gas, electricity and transport to their workplace.
Although in some homes they may work long hours, I also believe that in many homes they do not even do a 40-hour week (that is, if they are efficient). But even with a 40-hour week at the minimum wage, I doubt if living away from the employer's home would be a financial step in the right direction. For me, it would be great if maids lived outside my home and I paid them for the hours they actually work.
That would save me a fortune, but I doubt whether my maid would be happy with it, as she is treated very well, has a reasonable level of freedom and is certainly not overworked.
By the way, in many Western countries, family members themselves are doing what the maids do here, and that might become an increasing trend if the maids only turned up for a few hours a day.
Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay
Developers should adopt fair system
I refer to the letter by Damien Wong Tsun-yin on property sales in the secondary market ("Buyers are used to gross floor area", August 21).
Some property developers have a notorious reputation when it comes to quoting gross floor area, with one company accused of producing flats with a net indoor usable area ratio of less than 70 per cent. Some of the quotes given drive prospective owners crazy.
If the government allows all property developers to market homes based on gross floor area, it appears to be saying that it is OK for companies in our society to practise double standards.
This is not the sort of message that should be seen as acceptable. It protects developers who may be unscrupulous and is not in the public interest. I do not want the law to protect developers and allow them to get off with cheap tricks so they can improve their cash flows and increase profit margins. The government must deal with this gross floor area issue.
Any laws introduced must be enforced, so there is only one definition of net usable area for both the new-home and secondary property markets.
This is fair and it avoids unnecessary arguments.
Pang Chi-ming, Fanling