Letters to the Editor, October 27, 2012
More housing at Kai Tak site acceptable
In his speech to the Legislative Council on October 17, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying identified building more public housing as one of Hong Kong's most urgent issues.
The large-scale northeastern New Territories new towns plan, covering 533 hectares, will provide 53,800 housing units, with possibly fewer than half being public housing.
I would go further by agreeing with the proposal of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors to follow the standard ratio of about 400 persons per hectare, instead of the proposed 284 per hectare ("Call to boost new towns' populations", October 23).
As the ratio of government lands to private lands is about 50:50 under this large-scale plan, it would be worthwhile to set up earlier rather than later a dedicated working group or department to co-ordinate and expedite all aspects of the plan, including the mass transit railway service and full range of municipal amenities and services, such as markets, schools, playgrounds, job creation, community and cultural centres and public toilets.
To increase public housing supply at a faster rate, there have been suggestions the planned Kai Tak sports complex be moved to Lantau, or the space allotted to the complex cut from 20 to 10 hectares.
Both suggestions are unacceptable because, after many years of consultation and planning, the proposed Kai Tak complex, with its 20 hectares of space intact, will stand a better chance of being built by 2020 as a first-rate accessible sports facility that would give joy and pride to Hong Kong people, young and old.
A third and more acceptable suggestion would be building public housing on 20 of the 100 hectares of land designated as a green zone in Kai Tak.
I support Leung Chun-ying's election manifesto "One Heart, One Vision", in which he backs the "provision of venues and sports for all" in the context of the Kai Tak plan.
Hilton Cheong-Leen, To Kwa Wan
Electrifying vision for city of the future
Environment secretary Wong Kam-sing's proposal to not renew the licences of diesel trucks more than 15 years of age is welcome, but why stop at one class of vehicle?
If boldness is what this new administration is about, then why not boldly go where no city has gone before and give Hong Kong 15 years to remove all combustion-engine vehicles from our roads? The rapid advancement of electric vehicles will easily accommodate the requirements of all traffic users.
Then Hong Kong can truly call itself a world-class city - the world's first all-electric metropolis, a city of the future.
Mark Peaker, The Peak
HK can lead the world on climate change
The burning of fossil fuels is leading to climate change on an unprecedented scale. Global warming is real.
Projections for Hong Kong's climate in the 21st century by the Hong Kong Observatory make for depressing reading.
Extreme weather is expected to increase as a result of rising carbon dioxide emissions, magnifying the threat of flooding and landslides. By mid-century, we will endure 51 very hot days (33 degrees Celsius or above) annually, up from the current average of nine. This is not something we should accept.
Without engaging the public and making each person a part of the solution, we will never see the about-face required to turn our planet and our own circumstances around.
We need not look abroad to recognise that too little is being done to address this situation.
This is a chance for the Hong Kong government to lead by example, to show the world how it can be done. This places a huge responsibility on the administration to bring about permanent changes in the way people live their lives.
Nick Shearman, Lamma
Democracy in Taiwan is a force for good
I refer to the report ("Entering a new home strait", October 18).
As a Taiwanese person living in Hong Kong, I am in favour of maintaining the status quo. Since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May 2008, there has been a huge change in Taiwan's relations with the mainland. The first step to improve cross-strait relations was to engage with the mainland on the basis of the "1992 consensus", and to follow the principles of no independence, no unification and no use of force. This guarantees the status quo will be maintained by peaceful means. It is also entirely in accordance with the majority view in Taiwan and with international expectations.
Furthermore, I believe Taiwan's democracy can affect mainland China and help to bring the two sides closer.
The democratic achievements in Taiwan have garnered the attention of the entire Chinese-speaking world. The election continues a proud democratic tradition started 16 years ago when a direct presidential election was first held in Taiwan.
Nowhere else have the leaders of ethnic Chinese societies won power in such a manner, setting a shining example for nations around the world. Taiwan has proven that democracy can take root and bear fruit within the framework of Chinese culture.
This is why I am convinced that there is more to the relationship between Taiwan and mainland China than economic benefits and cultural exchanges. I think both sides can also have dialogue on democracy and the rule of law in the future.
Sam Hui, Kowloon City
More to real beauty than appearances
Beauty treatments are becoming more popular among teenagers and adults.
Society places too much emphasis now on appearances. Women especially will spend money on, for example, facials.
Some people have even had procedures which turned out to be high-risk, as was the case with a therapy at a salon which led to the death of a woman earlier this month.
I totally agree with medical sector legislator Dr Leung Ka-lau that the government has to tighten laws relating to procedures at beauty salons and to close loopholes that may allow these centres to escape liability if a risky procedure goes wrong.
However, it is also important for individuals to ask themselves if they really need treatment at a beauty salon. They should not think so much about appearances, as real beauty lies with how you are as a person and how you treat other people.
Wendy Cheung, Tung Chung
Malaise not confined to language skills
I read, with great interest, Rachel Chan's letter ("HK should be trying to attract top-class international experts", October 24) in which she suggested Hong Kong has not grown in stature as a world city after the handover, and that the current administration should bring in international experts to reverse the trend.
I think she is absolutely right in that.
Supporting her arguments, I have these recent observations.
Not long ago, I called a local ticket hotline (English language) to buy some concert tickets.
The agent on the phone apologised for her lack of English and told me, in a not-so-friendly tone of voice, if I had spoken Cantonese in the first place, it would have saved her the trouble, and also my time.
In another incident, a shop manager in an upmarket Central boutique brought out three suits made of synthetic blends when I specifically asked for 100 per cent pure linen.
In all fairness, not only have English skills declined over the years, there is visibly a collective lack of steam and spirit among local folks in their daily pursuits. Greed, instant gratification and lack of foresight have resulted in systemic failure to pursue greatness by our people.
Are local bosses and senior politicians willing to commit resources so that members of the public in Hong Kong can leapfrog the survival mode to embrace personal growth?
Philip S.K. Leung, Pok Fu Lam
Corruption claims barking up wrong tree
Michael Jenkins barked up the wrong tree when he alleged that Hong Kong is a conduit for "corrupt officials in the central government and in the People's Liberation Army to launder their ill-gotten gains" ("Hong Kong has much to offer mainland", October 15).
Despite the power of the PLA in the country and of these officials with their supposed "ill-gotten gains" (which presumably would be on a scale proportionate to China's vast economic power), federal and state prosecutors in the United States have failed to find evidence involving China or banks operating in Hong Kong that would render support to Mr Jenkins' allegations.
Anyone interested in money laundering and shady banking practices should pay attention to British banking in London, the principal euro-dollar centre, and not Hong Kong.
For those of us who are tired of reading about the Libor scandal, HSBC's involvement with Mexican drug money and Standard Chartered Bank's laundering of Iranian proceeds, it would be interesting if Mr Jenkins could share with us what he knows about corruption in China that we don't.
Alex Chan, Santa Barbara, California, US