Letters to the Editor, December 31, 2012
Flats initiative a short-term measure
I was delighted by the government's announcement on Monday, December 24, that it planned to boost land supply [in the coming quarter] for the construction of 3,000 new apartments.
This is a welcome gift for the new year. This joint initiative of boosting land supply and building the additional flats can help to cool the overheating property market.
I appreciate the measures that Hong Kong administrations have taken over the past few years to curb rising housing prices.
I think this latest move, with 3,000 new flats, can help ease housing shortages in the short term.
What was also good news was that two of the six land plots will be for building apartments that can only be sold to Hong Kong citizens.
Given the scarcity of housing supply they must be given priority in this crowded city.
I think these measures are valid and can become a good launching point for the government's housing policies in the future.
In spite of the fact that this latest move can help to tackle Hong Kong's housing problem in the short run, the administration still has to come up with long-term policies that help deal with other serious problems that exist in Hong Kong.
If it does not act, there will be public unrest.
Victoria Ling, Tai Wai
Stamp duty has helped cool market
I refer to Albert Cheng King-hon's column ("Does the government's housing plan really care about trying to cool market?" December 21).
He questions the sincerity of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's administration in addressing Hong Kong's housing problem. He also raises doubts about the calibre of C.Y. Leung.
I think the extra 15 per cent buyers' stamp duty aimed at curbing overheated speculation activities by mainlanders has already cooled the private property market. Apart from stabilising property prices, the swift opposition from major developers is proof that the measure is effective.
This initiative best exemplifies Leung's determination to cope with this daunting problem and so I do not agree with Cheng that Leung "doesn't want to offend the property developers".
I appreciate what Leung has done in this regard. I am also bewildered by Cheng's comments regarding the upsurge of parking space prices. Every measure has its side-effects and a trade-off is inevitable. And I assume that if Leung acted against car-park space speculation, Cheng would criticise him again.
It seems the blame game culture is rampant in Hong Kong.
I believe there is a clear consensus among the public that dealing with the city's housing problem should be the chief executive's priority.
C.Y. has outlined his blueprint for government in Hong Kong. He must be given the opportunity to try and implement it.
David Cheng, Yau Tong
Sending bill on Christmas Day insensitive
On Christmas Day, I received my monthly mobile telephone bill from Three.
I would never dream of sending out invoices to my clients on Christmas Day, even if I was owed a substantial sum of money.
I will pay the bill to Three, on time, as usual.
In fact, I recently paid them in advance because I knew that I would be away when the bill became payable.
Why do they have to send me a bill on Christmas Day?
Maybe they will blame their "computer system".
However, computer systems do what they are told to do, and they can be told not to do things that are insensitive. Therefore, Three should instruct its computers not to send out bills on Christmas Day.
Peter Robertson, Sai Kung
Surprised by good news on clean air
When a government study revealed in October that Hong Kong had achieved its overall clean-air targets in 2010, I was pleased, but surprised.
Before I read the press reports I had always thought that the problem of air pollution in the city was getting worse.
However, even if this study is correct and there has been an improvement in the air quality, it is clearly not enough.
Many people in Hong Kong are still affected by the poor air quality, so the government must do more to strike the right balance between encouraging development projects and protecting the environment.
Jodie Lau, Tseung Kwan O
Radical change in US gun laws long overdue
I understand why so many Americans feel the need to carry a gun, arguing that they need it to protect themselves in their society.
However, the gun culture in the United States now poses a threat to society as a whole and to the safety of citizens. This has been borne out by shooting tragedies this year, most recently, the attack on the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, where 26 people died, including 20 children.
In July, there was a mass shooting in a cinema in Colorado, where The Dark Knight Rises was being screened, which left 12 dead and 58 injured.
How could the victims have imagined they were at risk simply by going to the cinema?
America's high crime rate scares many people. I would not be surprised if some Hong Kong schools choose not to include student exchange programmes to the US for that very reason.
It is crucial that the US government finally admits that it must consider legislation that prohibits its ordinary citizens from carrying weapons.
The frequency of the mass shootings should raise alarm bells. If the law is not changed, I fear this problem can only get worse. A firearms ban is essential for the country.
Veronica Leung Sze-kan, Tze Wan Shan
Beach will damage fragile ecosystem
The government had good intentions when it proposed the creation of an artificial beach at Lung Mei, Tai Po. It wanted to offer another facility that improves the lives of Hongkongers.
However, given the damage that will be done to the local environment, the project cannot be justified.
The beach will pose a threat to the marine life that exists at Lung Mei.
I do not think it is possible to move so many species from Lung Mei to nearby Ting Kok east coast. They will have difficulty adapting to a new environment and a mass relocation will damage the fragile marine ecosystem.
It is not necessary to build this beach and, besides, the water is not suitable for swimming. Lung Mei should be preserved for future generations.
Iris Cheung Yuen, Sheung Shui
Give subsidy to students with impairment
Many students with hearing impairments are just as capable as their fellow students who have normal hearing and can do just as well academically if they are given the right opportunities.
However, some of them face obstacles that impede their progress in school as they cannot afford the cost of external hearing aids [after having cochlear implants].
Without these implants many of these young people will find it difficult to get a proper education.
They will struggle to grasp what teachers are saying in the classroom and this is an integral part of any lesson.
This may make it difficult for them to realise their potential and make use of the talent they possess.
Why should academically brilliant students be prevented from realising their ambitions just because they cannot afford one of these external devices [which can cost as much as HK$60,000]?
In the interests of maintaining a harmonious society, the government has a responsibility to ensure that all students in Hong Kong, including those with impaired hearing, are provided with equal opportunities and access to education.
Therefore, the government should provide the necessary subsidies to students with severe hearing difficulties, so that they can pay for the maintenance of their hearing aids, enabling them to receive a proper education.
William Chan, Sha Tin
Outside party can help end islands dispute
The impasse between Japan and China over the disputed Diaoyu Islands is a cause for concern and it is difficult to predict what will happen.
We are not even in a position to know whether or not it might lead at some point to open conflict between the mainland and Japan.
The argument comes down to who has the right to call these islands their territory.
Discussions continue with no obvious conclusion in sight.
Holding talks would appear to be the best way to resolve this disagreements, yet the two countries appear to be some way from reaching a consensus.
The other options would appear to be war or intervention by other parties.
Any conflict would be disastrous for the economies of Japan and China.
I would like to see the United States step in and try to help resolve the differences that exist. As a world superpower, I believe it can help to resolve this issue, just as it has done with other crises around the world, thus ensuring stability.
It will have to respect the different positions of both nations in trying to broker a lasting agreement.
Edmond Poon , Sai Kung