Letters to the Editor, December 22, 2012
Steps, but no strides, in poverty battle
The problem of poverty in Hong Kong has been in the spotlight again recently, but it has to be asked what our government is doing about it.
The city's Gini coefficient reached "a record high" of 0.537 last year ("One in six people struggling with poverty in city", November 14).
Having an official poverty line can help officials have a clearer idea about the lowest stratum of society. This can make it easier for the government to come up with a comprehensive strategy to deal effectively with the problem. Officials can ensure a better distribution of resources if they have a clearer picture.
However, academics have pointed out that a single poverty line is insufficient.
A set of multiple poverty lines can define people in different sectors with different needs - for example, in-work poverty, old-age poverty and new-migrant poverty.
In its first six months, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's government has been disappointing. Some policies aimed at helping people have failed to get through the Legislative Council.
The government must now take the first steps towards dealing with our poverty problems.
Gloria Wu, Ho Man Tin
Jackie Chan's foolish swipe at free speech
An increasing number of Hongkongers are joining protests, as they are unhappy with issues such as the wealth gap and inadequate retirement protection.
Kung fu film star Jackie Chan has responded to this trend by saying Hong Kong has become "a city of protest" and he even suggested that citizens' right to demonstrate should be limited ("Jackie Chan hits out again at HK liberties", December 13).
I do not support his suggestion about limiting protests.
Freedom of speech is a human right, and we are all entitled to express our opinions. In a civilised society, freedom of expression is respected and should not be limited.
A protest aims to get the government's attention in the hope that it will then change its policies. If such freedom is restricted, how can officials know what the people are thinking?
If the government followed Chan's suggestion, where would it draw the line and decide which freedoms could be restricted and which could not? It is a really bad idea.
Suki Wong Ho-ting, Sha Tin
Some red flags in relations with mainland
Some people have argued that the waving of colonial flags during protests is an expression of their discontent rather than a call for independence.
For example, citizens unhappy with the proposed introduction of national education in Hong Kong schools waved colonial flags because they saw the proposed course as a form of brainwashing.
They were angry because they saw this as an attempt by the central government to gain more control.
I understand their anger; it is not unreasonable. For example, there have been problems with unacceptable behaviour by some mainland tourists in Hong Kong. This has led to arguments between the mainlanders and Hong Kong residents, who feel that their daily lives are being disrupted by the mainlanders' conduct.
I hope the situation will calm down and that we will see a better relationship between Hongkongers and mainland visitors.
Cynthia Ho Chin-tung, Tsuen Wan
Stamp duty does right by homeowners
I refer to the article ("Casualties of HK property levy falling closer to home", December 11), where your reporter Sandy Li seemingly fails to understand the government's purpose in imposing a 15 per cent duty on property purchases by corporate and non-permanent Hong Kong buyers.
The measures are intended to stop short-term offshore speculation in favour of local home ownership.
These measures appear to be working and I hold little sympathy for Li's PR friend who was arranging a junket, for 500 mostly mainland VIPs, [that was eventually postponed].
The wining and dining of these potential non-local buyers appears to be more important to him than supplying affordable and appropriate homes for Hong Kong people.
J.F. Kay, Lai Chi Kok
Hundreds of polluting cars penalised
I refer to John Fleming's letter ("Inaction on pollution paid in lives lost", November 30).
I would like to clarify that the police carry out regular enforcement operations both by ourselves or with other departments against vehicles which do not comply with emission standards.
In the first 10 months of this year, a total of 121 such operations were conducted. Action was taken in relation to a total of 283 vehicles of various types by way of 127 summonses and 156 fixed-penalty tickets during these operations.
Subject to other duty commitments, police officers will continue to take appropriate enforcement action against those vehicles suspected of not complying with emission standards.
Eddie Wong Kwok-wai, chief superintendent, Police Public Relations Branch
Nutcracker still touching despite flaws
Though I agree with Natasha Rogai that Hong Kong Ballet's new production of Nutcracker lacks magic and is dramatically quite a muddle ("New Nutcracker production well danced, but lacks magic", December 17), I think the company was justified in presenting a new show this year, as the old one had been in use for far too long.
Besides, the sets are most pleasing to the eye.
Perhaps both the choreography and stage direction could be improved upon in subsequent years through the ongoing process of artistic creation.
Anyway, ample magic was provided by the dancers at the matinee on December 15 (the show I attended), where the lead roles were all impressively performed, bringing much joy to our family.
These artists, some of them still relatively young, are evidently full of talent and deserve the highest praise. And it was a nice touch to have an autograph session after the show, where we were given the chance to meet and greet them in person.
Clara Choy, Ho Man Tin
Licence row a wake-up call for TVB, ATV
The debate over whether or not to issue new free-to-air licences in Hong Kong has been heated.
The government has been considering this move for more than two years, but it seems reluctant to reach a decision on the matter.
One of the licence applicants, City Telecom's Ricky Wong Wai-kay, has appealed for public support in efforts to speed up the processing and granting of new licences.
TVB and ATV are opposed to the idea of giving more licences now. TVB has asked for a delay in the granting of new licences until 2015, when the current licences expire.
I think most Hongkongers would like to see more free-to-air channels. The quality of programmes on TVB and ATV has been declining for quite some time. Viewers are treated to a lot of reruns, even during prime time.
ATV seems to prefer importing low-cost shows rather than making its own programmes. Shows that discuss current affairs can sometimes run for two hours or more.
There is clearly a lack of incentive for these stations to improve the quality of their output. Hong Kong viewers are entitled to watch better quality, free entertainment in their own homes.
If the government grants new licences, we will see greater competition.
This will encourage the current licence holders to do a better job.
People now have higher expectations of what free-to-air channels should show, and they want more variety and more choice.
Some companies may not survive in such a competitive environment, but the strong ones which deliver will do well.
Yoyo Wan, Tsuen Wan
Competition can raise low standards
Issuing more free-to-air licences will raise the quality of programmes offered to Hong Kong's viewers.
At present there are only two stations with these licences, TVB and ATV, and they are unlikely to raise their game without genuine competition.
For example, the dramas made by TVB lack originality.
Improving the quality of free-to-air television is important because, although there are lots of channels available in Hong Kong, you have to pay for them and this imposes too great a financial burden on many people.
Some argue that if new licences are issued, ATV might shut down. But in a competitive environment, all companies are given the opportunity to provide different services in order to attract customers.
It is up to ATV to improve the quality of its programmes.
Alison Siu Yeung-chun, To Kwa Wan