Letters to the Editor, November 19, 2012
State pension trust fund the fairest option
There has been much debate about the appropriate level of "fruit money" that should be paid out of government funds to support the elderly in Hong Kong.
However, let us consider the wider picture.
Unlike the situation in too many other parts of the world, nobody can fairly accuse our Hong Kong officials of raking off public money for themselves. Rather to the contrary, in fact, since successive governments have prudently invested huge sums as reserves, rather than spending the money.
It is all very well having such over-large financial reserves in a city of only seven million souls, but let us recall that this is public money, which could be best used to enhance the lives of Hong Kong citizens.
Holding such vast reserves should not be seen as an end in itself.
The financial success that is Hong Kong's mainstay has not come overnight.
In earlier days it was striven towards by the hard work of countless local citizens, many of whom should now be enjoying the fruits of their lifetime's labours in comfortable retirement.
However, observing the social abomination of having thousands of poor old people living in cage homes, or collecting discarded rubbish on our city's streets to earn a crust, is shameful when this city could immediately end such a sad but commonplace plight.
A state pension trust fund should be set up for all those thousands of over-65 Hongkongers who have no Mandatory Provident Fund or other decent-level pension. They may be deemed to have contributed to this by their lifetime's work.
This fund should pay out a weekly or monthly pension at a level high enough to sustain each pensioner in a dignified retired life, including being able to afford a decent home.
Hong Kong can readily afford to do this.
It should do this, in preference to debating further the relative pittances now being considered as enhanced "fruit money".
Those who have contributed so much to Hong Kong's development, deserve no less.
Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels
Sensible way to ease hostel shortage
Because of the shortage of hostel places for university students, it has been suggested that empty industrial buildings could be converted into student accommodation.
I would support this measure. On the one hand these young people would have somewhere to stay not too far from campus, and owners of these buildings would receive some rent in return.
It is also good that the Education Bureau would allow universities to apply for loans to make the conversions and would have up to 20 years to make repayments. I hope this plan can be implemented as soon as possible.
Yannis Mak Ka-yan, Tai Wai
Chairman wrong to vote for fake beach
It is sad indeed that the ridiculous proposal to create an artificial beach at Lung Mei is to go ahead.
Over the years, an enormous amount of work has been put in by local students, at all times of the day and night, to record the remarkable biodiversity of this stretch of shoreline - all to no avail.
Their efforts, however, will not be forgotten, and can only add to the environmental awareness of Hong Kong citizens.
One aspect of this sorry project that has not received enough attention is the role of the Advisory Council of the Environment (ACE), which approved it in 2008.
That the proposal was controversial and hotly debated can be gleaned from the fact that, unusually for the ACE, it actually went to the vote, and the vote was deadlocked until the chairman at the time, Wong Yuk-shan, cast his tiebreaking vote in favour.
He should not have cast his vote in favour of a proposal on which no consensus could be reached. That the ACE was deadlocked is indication enough that there were grave misgivings; the precautionary principle should have prevailed.
The ACE was emasculated under the previous administration by the appointment of persons with only the most tenuous connection or interest in sustainability and the environment. At the head of the Environmental Protection Department is a director, Anissa Wong Sean-yee, who is no champion of the environment and who is too ready to do the government's bidding.
I hope the new administration will do something about this.
Markus Shaw, co-founder, Designing Hong Kong
Viewers will welcome new TV licences
I refer to the report ( "CY faces heat over TV licence debacle", November 13) regarding the issue of new free-to-air television licences.
Many members of staff of ATV are opposed to the new licences, but I think they should be issued. Hong Kong could do with more television stations so we can have greater variety.
I think ATV staff have expressed opposition because they feel threatened by the prospect of new stations starting up.
Having new licences can only be a good thing for Hong Kong.
Kwok Hiu-yan, Tuen Mun
Undermining laissez-faire capitalism
I do not know whether to label the protest outside the government offices led by major ATV shareholder Wong Ching shameless or arrogant ("ATV makes a song and dance about licences", November 12).
It was not very professional to take this fight to the streets. Imagine if property developers did this every time they lost a bid in a land auction because they considered the process unfair.
ATV argues that a third or even fourth free-to-air station would be disastrous. But, the firms bidding for the new licences are experienced operators.
I am sure they have looked at the potential for failure and success. This is what free enterprise is all about.
ATV's stand highlights the fact that Hong Kong is controlled by strong monopolies and duopolies and the laissez-faire system of economics which is supposed to exist in Hong Kong is being undermined.
ATV's actions run counter to the values of open competition and free enterprise embraced by Hong Kong people.
James Wang, Ma On Shan
Glass ceiling alive and well in the party
It angers me that Beijing's succession and anointing extravaganza shows that Chinese women have no role to play in their country's affairs.
In this day and age, when governments around the world have appointed women to positions in government, Beijing displays its Stone Age mindset.
At the 18th party congress, one saw on TV a few female delegates (mainly wearing colourful minority costumes), but the fact that a woman has never been a member of the Politburo Standing Committee is outrageous.
It was interesting to hear a Chinese academic being interviewed by the BBC about the country's future. He declared it was a good thing the government was showing unity among its officials because that's the way to get things done, unlike in the US where the democratic process produces gridlock.
Indeed, seeing all those Chinese delegates meekly raise their hands and limply clap proved they don't mind letting their Big Brothers run things. But we all know that the unrest among the rest of the population will ensure that the communist behemoth machine will run into lots of roadblocks.
Vandana Marino, Discovery Bay
Given short shrift over cycle parking
It is Friends of Sai Kung's policy to work with government departments as far as possible and we have had a lot of success with a number of departments. We have also discussed matters that concern us with Sai Kung district office.
So I am reluctant to write to these columns about the Transport Department. Apart from responding to our request for car-park signage in the town, it has done little to improve our lot apart from trying to force us to accept a dual carriageway which we do not want. It and the Highways Department continue to do nothing to improve Hiram's Highway which, with minimal expenditure, could be made safer and more efficient.
Another matter going nowhere is the provision of cycle parking. There are no bicycle parking spaces in Sai Kung despite the popularity of cycling as a means of transportation and recreation.
We have proposed cycle racks at, for example, all of Sai Kung's car parks, public buildings, sports facilities and transport terminuses. We have been offered one rack in one location.
Meanwhile, the Lands Department occasionally seizes bikes parked in the town. It does so under a law designed to control squatters and, unlike the police which used to enforce obstruction laws, does not return them to owners when claimed but leaves them to rust until sold for scrap.
So cyclists face a lose-lose situation in Sai Kung.
Guy Shirra, Friends of Sai Kung