Letters to the Editor, September 02, 2012

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 September, 2012, 2:33am

Collusion with tycoons keeps prices high

There is a great deal of public concern over high property prices and soaring rents in Hong Kong.

The government, in collusion with the property tycoons, has made these prices possible and has no interest in seeing a downward correction.

Market forces should set prices in a society but this does not happen in Hong Kong, where the market is biased. The government curtails land supply in a drip-by-drip fashion, with no appropriate intervention when prices skyrocket.

It is a myth created by the bureaucrats that there is a shortage of land here.

The problem is also exacerbated by the Hong Kong dollar's peg to the US, which, not surprisingly, the administration and the tycoons stoutly defend.

It was introduced because of political uncertainty arising from the transition of power to China, but is no longer needed.

It has enabled bureaucrats and tycoons to rig the property market by keeping interest rates artificially low for so long.

Many senior officials and Exco members are major property owners, so why should they be expected to take action to reduce prices?

Given that they are responsible for land and housing policies, this surely amounts to a conflict of interest.

The wrong message is being sent to young people, which is: forget about becoming a scientist, engineer, or doctor, if you want to make money get involved in property speculation. It is estimated that there are over 250,000 vacant private homes in Hong Kong and nothing is being done about it. I wonder if the mandarins in Beijing can do something about this.

Sanjiv Singh, Mid-Levels


Unfair treaty no cause for celebration

I refer to the article in Post Magazine by Stuart Heaver ("Big deal", August 26).

The Treaty of Nanking was an unfair treaty that the Qing government was forced to sign.

The British Empire did not come to liberate Hong Kong. It built the city for its own purposes.

Early Chinese settlers took advantage of prevailing circumstances and turned Hong Kong into a great city.

Its success is largely attributed to migrants from the mainland, though the contribution of the British should not be ignored. But this unintended success of the city was the outcome of invasion by the British.

It is a shame if anyone waves the colonial flag nowadays. We don't glorify the Communist Party.

I still hope the Mao Zedong portrait in Tiananmen Square will come down and victims of June 4 will be posthumously rehabilitated.

If we do not have a good understanding of history and acknowledge ourselves as part of the nation, how are we going to build a better China tomorrow?

Paul Lee, Causeway Bay 


Very proud of Paralympic athletes

I enjoyed watching the London Olympics and I am sure all Hongkongers were delighted when cyclist Sarah Lee Wai-sze won the bronze medal.

There was also a warm reception for China's gold medallists when they visited Hong Kong.

This is not uncommon with the Games.

We show so much support for the nation's Olympic athletes, but we display less enthusiasm when it comes to the Paralympic Games.

In some cases the training regime for those participating in these Games is harder than for the Olympics.

Hong Kong has had some great results in past Paralympic Games.

Take So Wah-wai, the "the city's most successful Paralympic athlete" ("Paralympian more than a match for 'legend' Bolt", August 14).

He competed in his first Games in 1996.

He set world records in the 100 metres and 200 metres [T36 classification].

He has achieved some wonderful results in the Paralympics.

In Beijing in 2008, he won a gold and a bronze medal. I appreciate his achievements, especially since he trains so hard.

Hong Kong has sent 28 athletes to this year's Games, which started on Wednesday.

I hope Hong Kong citizens will give our team at the Paralympics as much support as they showed to the Hong Kong and China athletes in the London Olympics.

Yolanda Cheung, Ngau Tau Kok


Plans to make greater use of storm water

We refer to the letter by Andrew Maxwell ("Storm water a wasted resource", August 18).

We wish to thank Mr Maxwell for highlighting the importance of conserving or using rainfall as far as possible, especially given Hong Kong's lack of natural water resources.

In fact, securing sufficient water resources for the community is at the top of the government's agenda, and appropriate action has been taken while observing a balance between often competing needs.

Indeed, around one-third of Hong Kong's land area is designated as water gathering ground for the collection of natural precipitation.

The catchments of our two largest reservoirs in the "sea" - Plover Cove Reservoir in Tai Po and High Island Reservoir in Sai Kung - extend as far as Sha Tin and include a complex network of underground tunnels.

We remain vigilant in seeking opportunities for expansion.

There are plans to channel storm water drainage tunnel run-off directly into our reservoirs and to utilise underground storm water storage tanks where local conditions permit.

Limiting factors in many cases are the costs involved in the creation of storage facilities, the overall cost-effectiveness of these schemes, and the need to mitigate risks related to flash flooding.

Pak Kong Au sits outside our existing water gathering grounds and storm water run-off is channelled through storm drains and nullahs expeditiously to avoid flooding.

Taking into account all relevant factors, collection of such run-off and treating it for potable use does not stand out as a preferred option.

However, all matters in this regard will be kept under review and improvements or innovations made as and when required.

Gabriel Pang, senior engineer/public relations, Water Supplies Department


Pussy Riot right to protest against Putin

Rick Martin ("Bible class would be fairer than jail", August 26) is clearly a Christian; this is his right. It is not his right, however, to assume that everyone else is.

There is no point in forcing anyone to attend mass and/or Bible study if they are not and, if so forced, they are hardly likely to do so "faithfully".

Pussy Riot were, perhaps, guilty of insensitivity towards any genuine worshippers in the church at the time of their performance. But they have every right to campaign against Vladimir Putin, who is moving ever nearer to becoming a dictator, and I question why they chose a church in which to do so: is the Russian Orthodox Church a supporter of Mr Putin?

Whatever their reasons, it seems that they were aware of the probable consequences. Such courage is preferable to the bigotry of Mr Martin.

Peter Robertson, Sai Kung 


Bible class will not make bad people good

Rick Martin shot himself in the foot by suggesting that the jailed members of all-girl punk group Pussy Riot should have to attend "Holy mass each day followed by an hour of Bible school" ("Bible class would be fairer than jail", August 26).

Those Catholic priests who were exposed as paedophiles attended mass on a full-time basis for decades. Attending Bible class or mass does not make bad people become good. Even more alarming, religion makes good people do bad things.

So instead of being forced-fed Bible stories about supernatural beings, real-world community service and appropriate jail terms would leave a much more useful impression on troubled people who break the law.

Will Lai, Western


Bin Laden raid cold-blooded assassination

I refer to press reports on a new book by a former SEAL, No Easy Day ("Bin Laden shot on sight, book says", August 31).

The United States has offered no evidence whatsoever to show that Osama bin Laden made even the slightest movement to resist the navy SEAL attack in 2011.

No matter what one thinks of the al-Qaeda leader, this was a cold-blooded plot sanctioned by US President Barack Obama to assassinate bin Laden. This is not justice or democracy in action but the stuff made from movies.

In the end, violence begets only violence.

Paul Kokoski, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


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