Letters to the Editor, January 14, 2013
Beauty of New Territories being ruined
I couldn't agree more with Guy Shirra's points ("Scrap unfair small-house policy now", January 9).
I am so disillusioned with this policy and with Hong Kong in general.
The construction of yet more new housing has begun in Tai Tan, Sai Kung Country Park. Dozens of truckloads of sand have already been delivered to level the site.
This will no doubt continue for weeks before the construction proper gets under way, ruining the natural beauty of this location forever.
All objections submitted (such as environmental and increased traffic) have meant nothing.
This is all about greed. The so-called "villager" holders of the titles of these plots do not live there, never will and care for nothing except the final sum in a bank account most likely held overseas.
The New Territories building work, and many other works like it, confirm that the government recognises that "villagers" - anyone with even a remote connection to Hong Kong ancestry - have unassailable building rights allowing them to do anything they want with their land.
However, surely other considerations must be taken into account if sites are in villages within a country park? Country parks in many countries have stringent and well-enforced building and development policies.
After 15 years of residency, I am about to leave Hong Kong. I have been proud to be associated with this fantastic city, but am now sickened by the seemingly inexorable direction towards unfettered housing development anywhere a New Territories plot of land can be purchased.
I am not anti-capitalist, but it appears that the heavy price to be paid as greedy so-called villagers seek only to acquire profit through the manipulation of this small-house policy is the permanent loss of our environment.
It is time this damaging and unfair policy was brought into check, regardless of the inevitable protests from the Heung Yee Kuk, and an environmentally sustainable, long-term policy found.
Richard Peters, Sai Kung
Desecration of country's flag goes too far
I concur with Anthony Tung Kai-cheong's letter ("Appalled by flag-burning protesters", January 5), not so much the specific action he recommended as the general policy thrust of it.
The SAR government has got to stop pussyfooting around when it comes to insolent acts, such as the burning of the national flag to which your correspondent referred.
The waving of the British colonial flag by some protesters was more serious and made worse by the fact that an inscription on a flag read, "We are Hong Kong people, not Chinese people."
This implies Hong Kong is not part of China.
Then there are the notorious lawmakers and other activists venturing outside police-agreed protest routes and causing obstructions on roads.
It raises concerns that some actions may be encouraged by foreign advisers and funding.
Some of the younger generation ape the antics of radical legislators.
This all adds up to a chaotic state of affairs. If it continues, then even when full democracy is in place, good governance will be difficult.
Enough is enough. The Central Policy Unit should come up with timely counter-measures. I am sure most of the people who are doing these things are Chinese nationals and, as such, are under Chinese nationality law.
If they were, in effect, rendered stateless citizens, it would probably suit them. They could always seek foreign citizenship.
Peter Lok, Chai Wan
Recycled water has great potential
In Australia, North America and parts of Europe, water from bath tubs, kitchen sinks, air conditioners and washing machines is being successfully recycled.
This use of what is known as grey water has also been used in agriculture in countries in Africa and South Asia, which suffer from drought.
I think some form of recycling of grey water would also be feasible in Hong Kong.
With plentiful supplies of Dongjiang water, Hong Kong citizens are spoiled and do not see the need to save this precious resource. As a consequence many households are very wasteful.
There could be effective conservation if the use of grey water was introduced in the city.
It could, for example, be collected from roofs and used for flushing toilets and cleaning streets. It could also be used to water plants. The government could take a leading role and thereby encourage more citizens to become involved in water recycling.
It makes financial sense as households could save on water bills and the cost of sewage treatment could be reduced.
Iris Leung Wai-yan, Tsuen Wan
We live in a city completely off-kilter
This society has not only reached, but completely gone over the "dignity cliff".
The government, local developers and well-off landlords have lost their collective minds resulting in first-time buyers giving up their rights to live like humans.
Audaciously, the cartel comes up with the idea of building shoebox apartments in the name of "affordability" ("Henderson Land considers building HK$1m flats", January 7). Still not satisfied with some obscene profit margins, privileged developers sell flats with a floor space efficiency as low as 65 per cent (that is, the difference between gross floor and saleable area calculations).
Shame on them.
Between 2001 and 2011 property prices have skyrocketed. Over the same period [according to the latest government statistics] the median income for men and women aged 15 to 24 [HK$8,000] and for women aged between 25 and 34 [HK$12,000] "remained unchanged" ("Pay outpaced by prices in decade of high inflation", January 11).
Greed has engulfed this city as if there's no tomorrow.
Human decency is no longer in the equation and this goes to describe the super rich and the downcast - willing offenders for the former, meat on the chopping board the latter.
Developers are dark-hearted enough to have you cough up two generations of savings just to go over the first hurdle, the banks then milk you dry for the next 30 years.
All this for the space of a kitchen and a powder room put together in some Mid-Levels apartments.
We live in a city that is totally and completely off -kilter.
Philip S.K. Leung, Pok Fu Lam
Unions keep resisting clean air options
I couldn't resist commenting on the report ("Warning against blanket diesel policy", January 9), regarding the phasing out of old diesel vehicles and the consequence for many small businesses of their removal.
Representatives from the affected transport unions protect the drivers and their small businesses and therefore do not approve of the removal of old polluting vehicles.
However, I assume that there would still be demand for the services of these firms after the old vehicles had been taken off the road, and employers and employees would enjoy better working conditions with newer trucks, which had cleaner engines.
What is more important, sticking with an old polluting bus to protect a company's profits, or switching to a new bus, which provides a healthier environment for drivers and passengers?
The various services that are provided by the transport sector will always be in demand, so it is sensible to make a change towards a cleaner business model. And, I assume that if the government forced these vehicles to be replaced, it would provide subsidies for the purchase of more environmentally friendly vehicles.
Are the transport unions that have complained about these old vehicles the same unions that forced the dilution of the miserable idling engine ban law? Are they going to say no to every new initiative?
Perhaps there is a need to recruit leaders with a more positive and fresh attitude, people who can lead their organisations towards support for more modern and environmentally friendly policies. Surely this is a transition that must be made, even if it is painful.
Anders Ejendal, Repulse Bay
More patrols and cameras best solution
Some women-only train carriages have been introduced in Indonesia and the debate continues here about following suit on the MTR network.
Milly Wong is opposed to the idea on the basis of the high operating costs ("Women-only carriages are impractical", January 8).
I also see this form of segregation as being somewhat anti-social and in contrast to some societies, for example, the US and Europe, where people are more friendly and you often see individuals hugging.
In those countries, you never hear mention of women-only carriages.
If there are security concerns, surely the solution is to have more patrols by police or security personnel and install more CCTV cameras.
On the East Rail Line, I often see two or three police officers board and travel in a carriage for a few stops before getting off again.
Pang Chi-ming, Fanling