Old age allowance

Letters to the Editor, October 26, 2012

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 October, 2012, 2:10am


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Work together to keep HK a world city

I refer to Rachel Chan's letter ("HK should be trying to attract top-class international experts", October 24) concerning Hong Kong's international status.

The chief executive and the Hong Kong SAR Government strive to reinforce our city's strengths as an international metropolis and to forge stronger ties with our international partners around the world.

Hong Kong is very active and enjoys a wide scope in dealing with external affairs, participating in more than 200 international organisations such as Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum, World Trade Organisation and the Bank for International Settlements. We have also on our own signed more than 300 agreements with overseas and international organisations.

Besides maintaining a close relationship with our international partners through the above, the chief executive has personally met leaders of many foreign governments, international organisations and multi-national business corporations to keep abreast of the latest international developments since taking office in July.

The government recognises the contribution made by expatriates in Hong Kong, and is more than willing to work together to enhance the city's international profile. For example, the chief executive met the European Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong last week to explore the possibilities of further supporting their operation. We will make sure that the SAR remains attractive to professionals, talent and investors from abroad.

As Hong Kong is an externally-oriented economy, we should all work to remove the rigidities that affect the development of our overseas relations, and our relations with the mainland.

Nick Au Yeung, assistant director (media), Chief Executive's Office


Accurate insight into teen expat life

It was nice of Kelly Yang to show such concern for 17-year-old rapper Lucas Scibetta's career prospects ("Shared ignorance", October 17), asking how he expects to get into university or get a job if his rapping falls through.

Did she expect this "kid" to film himself sipping Ribena while rapping about China's ability to interpret the Basic Law? To some people the mood of the youth might as well be written in braille. This is simply a teenager expressing himself and shedding light on a culture that would exist in Hong Kong with or without this music video. There is more to life than curricula vitae and university applications.

Who is to say that a future employer might not see a bit of character, enthusiasm and creativity behind this "kid" who likely provided one of the most accurate insights into teenage expat life today in Hong Kong.

Culture is all things ugly, beautiful and everything in between. It is an inability to understand others that is one of the many nooses around the neck of society.

Sometimes life needs a bit of colour and we don't get that when everyone is a Grade 8 piano player. Live a little bit Kelly Yang.

Tommy Martin, Sai Kung


High-rise lobby a threat to villages

Quite apart from statutory, government lease, town planning and engineering considerations involved in building village houses of six storeys, have indigenous villagers stopped to think of the consequences of going higher ("Backing for taller village houses rises", October 21)?

In a rural setting, a village house of six storeys would look so out of place, it would be an object of ridicule. If a whole bunch of houses are built to six storeys, without considering a proper layout plan, in a village such as Ho Chung New Village in Sai Kung district, the effect would be disastrous.

It would not be a village, it would be an urban township of sorts.

With houses crowded together because of the irregular shape and distribution of lots, there would be a wall effect, not to mention ground floors hardly seeing the light of day.

With more storeys, you would get more people coming to live in these villages. That would immediately place demands on infrastructure such as drainage, water supply, roads, public transport, and that perennial problem in villages, car-parking spaces.

Based on previous experience, it is likely these new houses would simply be sold or rented to outsiders.

More outsiders would mean their presence would increase in a village such that they would then form the majority while the indigenous villagers would be in the minority. This would have knock-on effects for village representative elections.

With a growing population, you could see greater commercial activity as some village house ground floor units changed to commercial purposes such as an estate agents or restaurants, which would cause a nuisance. And then there are property management problems in multi-storey buildings with no owners' corporation. Who would pay to fix the lifts? After all, six-storey buildings will need lifts.

There's an old proverb: "Be careful what you wish for, you may get it."

Danny Chung, Tai Po


Fruit money debate reveals creative void

To have or not to have a means test for the elderly's fruit money is yet another typical example of the way we think in black and white. The same goes for all the proposals from the government in the past three months. In fact, this type of thinking has been prevalent in government for years.

There is no process of community involvement in which properly facilitated gatherings could try to find alternative ideas that satisfy all the conditions.

For example, a solution that readily comes to mind is that all senior citizens would get the Old Age Living Allowance but, at the same time, a Bauhinia medal, of a new colour, would be created that would be awarded to all those who passed on the allowance to a central fund for further distribution.

One could even have a number of levels of this medal so that those wishing to increase their contribution would receive more colourful Bauhinias.

Of course, some people might think this type of creative thinking is ridiculous. Perhaps so, but a well-conducted gathering will almost certainly lead from ideas like this to other ideas, out of which it is highly possible that a workable solution will emerge.

This must be obvious to any open-minded person. If we don't become more creative in seeking solutions, we will continue to lose opportunities. And the more of those we lose, the further we sink into mediocrity.

S.P. Li, Lantau


Keep country parks inviolate at all costs

The Leung Chun-ying administration puts out broadcasts telling us to keep healthy by exercising more.

At the same time it signals that it might reduce opportunities for exercise by cancelling the sports complex on the Kai Tak site and allowing new construction in country parks ("Double number of flats at Kai Tak, says adviser", October 22).

The country parks are the only refuge from traffic pollution in Hong Kong, and are well used. Local people of all ages and both sexes come out in large numbers to enjoy the fresh air and natural scenery.

Of course the administration will say that the construction will be selective and limited - but only fools would take that on face value.

Maintaining the integrity of the country parks is the only way to preserve a tolerable environment in Hong Kong.

To build anywhere and everywhere is the prevailing practice on the mainland, and we can see the horrors that has produced.

It would be tragic if the Leung administration drowned Hong Kong in the same tide.

David Pollard, Tai Po


Absurd to say MPF needs higher fees

I find absurd the statement by lawmaker Chan Kin-por that a capping of Mandatory Provident Fund fees "will limit the choice of employees as some may not mind paying a higher fee for a higher return" ("MPF firms say fee cap does not fit free-market image", October 20).

I would love to see where he comes up with the belief that higher fees equate to higher returns.

Actually higher fees by a wide margin mean lower returns.

Higher fees simply enrich fund managers.

The MPF needs lower fees and more choice given to employees if it is ever going to meet what it was designed for, but, as usual, nothing has been done to rectify this since its inception 12 years ago.

Terry Scott, Sha Tin


Contributions should go to good causes

I refer to the letter from Jeffry Kuperus ("Another bad year for MPF fund", October 18).

One solution is for the government to allow us to donate our Mandatory Provident Fund contributions to the charity of our choice instead of being forced to give them to companies like HSBC.

At least we would know our money was going to a worthwhile cause.

David Larmer, Sai Kung