Letters to the Editor, January 12, 2013
HK$1m flats not that simple a solution
Hong Kong has a number of different problems. We face political divisions, a widening wealth gap and the need to provide more flats for our citizens.
Property prices keep rising. One of the main reasons for this situation is that many mainlanders are coming here to purchase property.
Although they mainly buy luxury apartments, there is a ripple affect and so the prices of smaller, less expensive apartments also go up.
The other reason for rising prices is that increased demand outstrips supply.
The government has introduced a number of measures to curb speculation on the property market. Although real estate transactions have decreased, we have yet to see the full effects of these measures.
The administration is also trying to find ways to make more land available for residential projects.
Property tycoon Lee Shau-kee, who is chairman of Henderson Land Development, has suggested the possibility of building cheaper apartments in remote areas of the New Territories. ("Henderson Land considers building HK$1m flats", January 7).
However, he says the government would have to waive land charges.
Given the current problems faced in Hong Kong, it does sound like a great idea.
This is because it is more difficult for the government to implement a property development project than it is for private developers.
However, the government will have to tread carefully if it wants to go ahead with Mr Lee's proposals.
For example, if after these HK$1 million flats are constructed, owners want to resell them, some conditions will have to be imposed to prevent the flats being used for property speculation.
Also, there are still other options, such as putting old buildings in Hong Kong to better use. Increasing the rate of redevelopment of older areas in Hong Kong is an important policy.
The government must see the construction of more public estates and subsidised housing for Hongkongers as a long-term policy.
W.H. Chan, Kwun Tong
Lee housing plan channels bad old days
I refer to the idea of Lee Shau-kee to build flats of 300 square feet for HK$1 million in the New Territories.
One feels as if one has gone back 50 years to the era of Hong Kong's resettlement estates.
It is to no surprise that it is one of the property tycoons who is making such a proposal.
He is probably dreaming of gross floor area and calculation of window sills.
What I found really troubling were the comments of two Hong Kong academics ("Flats for HK$1m sound good, but there are snags", January 9). They talked about such subjects as construction, farmland and infrastructure, but made no mention of the human factor involved, that is, the needs of society as a whole.
We need affordable flats that are large enough to encourage citizens to start families. In view of Hong Kong's ageing population the issue is a rather important one.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's predecessor urged Hongkongers to have more children. Donald Tsang Yam-kuen [when chief secretary] encouraged people to have three children. Who was he kidding?
Hong Kong people do not want to and should not have to live in pigeon holes.
C.Y. Leung should bear this in mind when drafting a new housing policy for Hong Kong. It should be a policy which will make Hong Kong a proud, world-class city.
Thomas Gebauer, Discovery Bay
Critical period looming for CY as leader
It was claimed by organisers of a protest march in Central on January 1 that 130,000 people had turned out, although the police figure was 27,000.
The tensions between the pro-government and the anti-Leung Chun-ying rallies were obvious on the day.
Those against the chief executive wanted him to step down because they said he had an integrity problem over illegal structures in his home.
Some of the more radical protesters stayed on after the main march and were disruptive, which led to arrests.
It is understandable that the government wants protests to be conducted in a peaceful, rational and tolerant manner. And pro-government supporters want the chief executive to be free to devise policies in a stable environment.
Next week's policy address and next month's budget will be decisive. More people will be calling on C.Y. to resign if they are not satisfied with the policy address. The number of people attending the traditional pro-democracy rally on July 1 will also greatly increase.
For these reasons, C.Y. will face a great deal of pressure in the coming months. He must plan carefully and place emphasis on livelihood issues and the economy.
I hope he can repair his damaged reputation and win back the trust of Hong Kong citizens.
Berlin Chu Chim-ying, Tai Wai
Negativity unfair on scorned MPF
I am a contributor to the Mandatory Provident Fund.
I was a contributor to an Occupational Retirement Schemes Ordinance (Orso) scheme for 10 years and did not benefit from it because of its shortcomings.
Before the MPF's implementation, there were basically no statutory retirement schemes for employees in the private sector. Some companies offered Orso schemes, but there were some conditions attached.
Employees usually had to work at least three years before being entitled to a percentage of the employers' contributions and 10 years for full entitlements. When the economy was bad and lay-offs were frequent, an employee who had worked 10 years at various companies might end up with nothing.
The MPF is not perfect; no retirement protection scheme is. It does, however, fill a gap and it provides employees with an amount of money upon retirement.
To balance the negative comments about the MPF, the government and MPF Schemes Authority should promote the importance of managing the scheme during one's working life, instead of focusing on the returns at one particular moment in time.
While there are different views in society about the way forward for retirement protection, the MPF remains a valuable pillar of retirement protection and concerted efforts should be made to improve it, not to throw the baby out with the bath water.
Susan Chan, Wan Chai
Strict fines can turn back tide of street waste
It may be of some interest to your correspondent Jessie Tsoi ("Why proposed waste charges are worth a try", January 4) that the horse has already bolted in Luen Wo Hui, Fanling.
I see tonnes of household rubbish already being left at street bins and in the gutters. If not for the heroic efforts of our local street cleaners, we would be drowning in it.
Cutting the number of street rubbish bins will not reduce waste. Household rubbish will keep being dumped on streets and street cleaners will keep collecting it.
Through these columns, I wish to ask the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department two questions, as e-mail requests for this information are met with a stony silence:
- How many prosecutions were there in 2012 for illegal dumping of household waste around street litter bins?
- How many enforcement officers does the department employ to ensure compliance with the anti-dumping law?
The penalty for dumping household waste around street bins is clearly stated on the bins (HK$1,500), yet apparently never enforced. The problem is getting worse. Last week in my neighbourhood, household rubbish in plastic bags appeared on footpaths hundreds of metres from bins.
On any given morning dozens of citizens can be seen depositing their household rubbish at street bins on their way to work.
Surely the prospect of a HK$1,500 fine would focus the mind on waste reduction?
Actions speak louder than words when it comes to an anti-pollution mindset.
With most citizens ambivalent towards environmental issues, it is time for the government to adopt a more punitive approach to save us from ourselves.
Paul Brownlie, Fanling
Truly needy protected in Liberal plan
I refer to the report ("C.Y. urged to deliver on housing and labour in address", January 4). It says that the Liberal Party has "renewed its call for a limit on how long people can receive welfare". For your readers' sake, I would like to give a more detailed description of this proposed measure.
We are asking the government to impose a two-year cap, specifically, on able-bodied unemployed recipients of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance. After this period, continued assistance would require vetting by an independent review committee.
We have made it clear that the three groups of CSSA recipients who are truly in need - the elderly, single parents and the disabled - shall be exempted from any cap.
Frankie Yick Chi-ming, Liberal Party, legislative councillor (transport)