Letters to the Editor, October 17, 2012

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2012, 3:14am

Short-term policies bring limited success

There seems to be no end in sight to the rise in property prices in Hong Kong.

Even a 500 sq ft flat somewhere like Kwun Tong is beyond the budget of many Hong Kong citizens.

People are encouraged to work within the rules of society, to study hard at school, get a university degree, find a job and eventually buy a flat. But that last goal is so difficult to achieve, especially for those who are having to repay a bank loan they were given to complete their university studies.

It is astonishing to see the rising number of young people between 18 and 25 who are applying for a flat on a public housing estate. Should we be blaming them for trying to exploit government resources?

With the rapid pace of economic development in the city, the rich are becoming more wealthy and people in poverty are becoming worse off.

We are all suffering from the effects of inflation, as we see the prices of basic commodities continuing to increase. Also, the hourly minimum wage rate remains fixed at HK$28.

The government must deal with these problems. Measures such as the HK$6,000 handout, which was given to permanent residents, can help in the short-term, but long-term policies must be drawn up.

Housing and commodity prices must be stabilised, with, for example, tighter controls on parallel traders.

A society that is divided and damaged prevents public unity and leads to discontent with governments.

Chu Ming-yin, Kwun Tong 

Melting ice causes more typhoons

For decades, people have been discussing the problem of ice melting in regions such as the North Pole and yet, despite the efforts of some scientists, we appear to be unable to stop this happening.

Clearly, this problem is getting worse and we must all try to do more to save our planet in the face of global warming.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Centre, in the US, the Arctic sea ice extent fell to 4.1 million square kilometres on August 26. This result breaks the 2007 record and reaches the lowest daily extent in the satellite era.

Not only is the Arctic Circle affected, this large-scale melting of ice also affects the climates of countries such as the US and Canada which have experienced drought this summer.

Even small places like Hong Kong are affected by climate change, with more typhoons. The presence of ice acts as a huge air conditioner for our earth. Once the ice has gone, sea temperatures will increase.

The ocean current will also change and cause more natural disasters.

Governments need to take the initiative and lead by example with more green policies. For years, countries like Korea and Japan have promoted recycling schemes. The Hong Kong government must follow suit and pay greater attention to environmental issues.

There must be more public education to encourage citizens to be eco-friendly and ensure the next generation has a future.

Cherry Chen, Tsuen Wan

Officials must share blame for structures

I have been brought up with the concept that every person's house is his castle. Therefore, I have been puzzled and concerned about the recent farce over minor illegal structures such as canopies, flower stands and efforts made to maximise enjoyment of usable space in the basement within your own home.

I think there was implied permission given when the government department which sets building regulations allowed all those areas under whatever description to be approved in building plans in the first place.

The government turned a blind eye to such alterations and is only now taking action against owners or occupants for political reasons. The blame for what has happened must lie with the department which colluded with or yielded to the demands of pressure groups and architects employed by large developers. Often the officials were themselves qualified architects and well connected to the profession.

They devised regulations which allowed so-called exempted and environmental areas.

This increased bidding prices at land auctions and led to bigger profits for developers. It would be surprising if property owners did not make use of available space after a building was completed.

If anyone is at fault, I would say the government is as guilty as the offenders [who built unauthorised structures].

I believe that only those alterations which it is thought could endanger public safety should be demolished. Otherwise, what you do in your own home is your business.

Officials should not object now if, at the time of construction, certain concessions were granted to developers.

David K.K. Tang, Central

City already has enough visitors

Concern has been expressed by many people about the rapid increase in the number of mainland visitors coming into Hong Kong, since the introduction of visas allowing independent travellers from across the border.

Figures show that last year mainland visitors comprised the largest visitor source market, with 28.1 million arrivals, accounting for 67 per cent of all arrivals.

In terms of visitors, Hong Kong has reached capacity and could not cope with any more people coming in through any proposed extension of multiple-entry visitor permits.

At weekends, I often see groups of mainland visitors in Tsim Sha Tsui, Central and Causeway Bay.

These areas are crowded now with tourists, business people and locals. If more visitors are allowed in, it will be increasingly difficult for local residents to use public spaces. This will adversely affect their quality of life.

Also, mainland citizens have different moral codes and value systems from Hongkongers and this can lead to the outbreak of tensions between the two groups, which is bad for everyone involved.

If these tensions get worse, then it is hard to see local and mainland citizens enjoying harmonious relations.

While these visitors can stimulate economic growth, it also has to be accepted that they bring other problems such as parallel trading and illegal workers.

Mainlanders' continued investment here contributes to rising property prices.

The government has to take appropriate measures to deal with the problems caused by so many mainland tourists.

Jessie Shing, Aberdeen

Angered by plan to relocate fine school

As a concerned parent, I am disappointed to read about another ill-conceived, poorly thought-through government policy driving down the competitiveness of Hong Kong ("Parents fight to halt school relocation", October 8).

The International Montessori School is one of the most diverse and supportive bi- lingual education environments in Hong Kong.

It is a home-grown school of which we should be proud.

Bringing in international school brands while ensuring our own community struggles when it tries to meet the needs of its children seems like a step in the wrong direction.

Diana David, Central