Hopes still high for new government
Newly elected Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has not enjoyed the so-called honeymoon period after taking office on July 1. There are numerous issues still plaguing him, from unauthorised building works found in his house to the government officials he appointed.
At the same time, he needed to tackle some thorny matters left behind by his predecessor: for example, the large number of pregnant mainland women giving birth in Hong Kong, and the launching of the controversial national education this school year.
To be fair, he has done his job satisfactorily. He acted to stop mainland mothers having their babies delivered in Hong Kong starting next year. He also halted the policy that required all schools to start national education as a compulsory subject, leaving schools to decide.
He also took concrete steps to reinforce what he promised during his election campaign. The government is rolling out an increased allowance for the elderly, which will soon come before the Legislative Council.
Although several legislators are calling for the government to scrap a proposed means test for the allowance, the government should insist on the test. Hundreds of millions of dollars will be required to pay the allowance if it is scrapped. However, the upgraded policy is intended to help the needy elderly, not every senior, especially those who are well off.
High hopes for our new government still exist and are justified, and I believe the government will do its best to lead our city well.
W.H. Chan, Kwun Tong
HK can't do without mainland
These guys who advocate for Hong Kong independence are sheer morons. Deprived of support from the mainland, Hong Kong will be a dead city. Do they know where the water they are daily drinking comes from?
They probably think they are wiser than the British. Why did the British eventually choose to hand back Hong Kong to China instead of claiming for its independence?
Lu Ping, former director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Beijing
Redistribute wealth to create balance
I am writing to comment on Ms Karen Kwan's letter ("Policies to fight poverty are misguided", September 20).
Because of the increasing number of low-wage workers, rising rents and high inflation, the income gap grows, creating a major social issue that the Hong Kong government must address.
First, it needs to build a fairer wealth distribution system. Increasing taxes on the rich and corporations will produce more funds to subsidise low earners rather than simply increasing the minimum wage.
The government can set up a labour welfare fund and spend the money on retraining and assisting low-income workers. This will not increase the financial burden for small companies while the incomes of low-wage workers increase.
Second, the government should use some of the extra revenue to build more public rental flats and maintain lower rents in government housing to help the poor enjoy a better standard of living. The government could achieve this by not granting land to big property developers and instead use the land for public housing, in the process creating jobs in the construction industry.
Third, to ease inflation by stimulating price competition, the government should provide subsidies for people to operate small businesses.
Also, the government can decrease taxes and offer incentives for companies that provide better salaries or training courses for employees.
The government should thus redistribute wealth by spending on implementing policies to improve the lives of the poor. This will create a more balanced wealth distribution system and reduce the income gap in Hong Kong.
Ling Ka-hong, Tung Chung
Dog dealers' fines don't go far enough
Aiming to protect animals from over-breeding and being traded illegally by unlicensed dog dealers, dog smugglers and puppy farms, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department plans to raise the maximum penalty for illegal trading of animals from HK$2,000 to HK$100,000.
I applaud this big increase but would like to see the government go even further.
The government should make it compulsory for people who trade dogs and puppies to hold permits. Many places breeding animals are unhygienic. The cages some dealers keep their dogs in are extremely small, and the animals generally don't have enough to eat.
Consequently, some become ill and are purchased from pet shops in this state by people unknowingly. I think this sort of behaviour is inhumane. Illegal trading of animals is a serious problem. Precious life is being traded by those without a conscience.
If the government adopts this plan, it must also improve animal welfare and tackle the problem of sickness and disease in puppies.
I suggest the government also sets up a law to protect other animals that have been illegally kept and traded, not only dogs and puppies.
As compassionate human beings, we should cherish the life of every living thing. I hope the government can implement this plan as soon as possible to save more lives.
Kathryn Chan, Sha Tin
Morning-after pill not right for girls of 14
I am writing to respond to the editorial "Wiser solution to teen pregnancy" (October 4).
Even though the editorial claims Hong Kong need not be as anxious over the problem of teen pregnancy as do the citizens of New York, I strongly believe we should not hand out any morning-after birth control pills to high school girls as young as 14.
High school girls are far too young to be engaging in sexual intercourse. They are risking their futures. Accessibility to morning-after birth control pills will lower their wariness towards sex. The number of sexual encounters by teens will increase since they no longer need to worry about the consequences.
I also think Hong Kong schools and parents have done all they can in teaching teenagers proper sexual attitudes. Many schools have organised talks by social workers to teach students about sex. Some parents also teach their children the drawbacks of sexual intercourse. Yet teen pregnancies persist. I don't think anything more can be done.
Cheung Yuet-ching, Tseung Kwan O
Defection shines light on N Korea plight
I was interested to read the article "N Korean soldier defects to South" (October 7).
Things must be really desperate in North Korea for a soldier to kill his superiors and know that his entire family will be interrogated, imprisoned and most likely tortured because of his defection.
The fact that he was able to escape across the most heavily guarded border in the world is remarkable. How many more defections are actually taking place and not being reported?
In the modern world, and with a new leader, surely North Korea should be considering relaxing its border controls and allowing its citizens to live a more normal existence.
Andre Chiang, North Point
Time to curb worst excesses of HK media
I am writing about Alice Wu's comment on the mass media's inappropriate questions and abuse of power ("Hong Kong TV media should be ashamed of its insensitive ferry disaster reporting", October 9).
I totally agree with Ms Wu. Too much of what the media reports is just trying to attract a larger audience, and they take advantage of their privileged status. As Ms Wu stated, they kept blocking the way of the rescuers and ambulances which could have impeded the rescue effort. They also use freedom of press as an excuse to infringe on others' privacy.
As a reader, I don't need information about others' privacy, and I do not want information gained at the expense of others. It is high time the government took action to regulate the media in Hong Kong - not to restrict its rights, but to improve its quality.
Zoe Ngai Suet-yi, Tsuen Wan
Bad case of longing for colonial past
Perhaps Ray Peacock was trying to be humorous when he said "Ms Sze, if you believe so strongly in your motherland's approach to re-educating Hong Kong's politically disorientated youngsters, why on earth are you living in Hong Kong, and not on the mainland, where your love affair with national education might actually have some resonance" ("Values would find resonance across border", October 8).
If I remember correctly, Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997, and was renamed a special administrative region of China.
Therefore, whether Ms Sze is living in Hong Kong or on the mainland makes no difference.
My guess is that Mr Peacock is still suffering from nostalgia for the colonial era.
K.C. Wong, Sha Tin