The influx of parallel traders who buy their stock tax-free in Hong Kong to resell it in mainland China at a profit is causing growing unrest. Residents of Sheung Shui, a town close to China's border, say the increase in parallel importers has pushed up retail prices and causes a general nuisance. Importers argue that their trade benefits the Hong Kong economy.
Letters to the Editor, January 25, 2013
Blitz will not deter parallel trading tide
The arrest of 90 people "on suspicion of parallel trading" will do very little to ease the nightmare at the border as more mainlanders are lured by easy money ("Over 90 arrested in parallel trading blitz near border", January 22).
Building security personnel and other low-paid mainland workers with multiple travel permits can double and sometimes triple their wages by becoming parallel traders or smugglers.
These traders are now organised and work in large teams to get the goods across. They also know how and when to cross to lessen the chances of having goods weighed or X-rayed by customs.
Correspondents have suggested ways to slow or decrease the trade and many of the ideas would more than likely work but there is a problem with the will of the authorities to tackle the issue, and with providing the people to enforce the measures put in place.
The MTR weight limit is a joke as the traders have simply purchased large backpacks and these are carried across on their backs while their trolleys meet weight requirements.
The biggest flaw is the poor enforcement by the private security company that employs people who seem too timid to properly tackle the problem.
The only solution will come when the authorities stop their wishy-washy policies and act in unison and ensure they consistently enforce the rules they make. Otherwise the only message being sent to the traders is, wait a day or two and the clampdown will end.
Thomas Beckett, Tai Po
Third-world workers taken for granted
Your front-page photograph of the injured Filipino worker at a hospital in Algeria should have been very poignant for many of us migrant workers, but we are used to reading about our compatriots who toil in countless corners of the world ("Gas field hostage-takers demand prisoner swap", January 19).
What is disturbing is to have the media mainly highlight the Western nationalities of the hostages and casualties, while not mentioning the countries of the third-world workers who were surely also maimed and killed.
But that's par for the course since most of the media belongs to the Western nations which too often take their foreign workers for granted.
Renata Lopez, Wan Chai
Policy address reveals lack of leadership
The chief executive's first policy address has disappointed many Hongkongers.
Some of the promises he made to get elected were not even mentioned in these lacklustre plans announced on January 16.
He has blown this key chance to show the people of Hong Kong that he has any real leadership qualities.
So far, as our third chief executive of the SAR, he has shown even less leadership than the much-maligned first two.
We can look at his background to understand that he wants power, but without being any type of a leader.
He was for 12 years an appointed convenor of the Executive Council.
What did he ever achieve over that period as a member of the "cabinet"?
His faceless contributions to Hong Kong in that role, introducing nothing new of note, meant that he was almost unknown when he ran for election to the high-profile chief executive post he now holds.
In truth, he is more cut out to be a faceless bureaucrat than to be the political leader of a vibrant place like Hong Kong.
He should return, swiftly, to the shadows.
Rob Leung, Wan Chai
Lacklustre Leung has folk pining for past
Hong Kong's chief executive has many of the city's seven million residents missing the former British colony's autonomy, which ended when Britain's rule expired in 1997.
Although efforts on the part of pro-democracy lawmakers to impeach Leung Chun-ying have failed, according to The Wall Street Journal, there is little sympathy from residents for the chief executive's aspirations to implement closer ties with Beijing. Those of us who lived in the former colony a few decades ago would concur that life was better under the British.
Apparently, Mr Leung has not convinced the majority of Hong Kong's teeming population to believe otherwise.
Brian Stuckey, Denver, Colorado, US
Development of islands must be last resort
Exploring new land resources in Hong Kong is a much more difficult task than it was a few decades ago.
Over that period, new towns have been developed in places such as Tin Shui Wai and North District.
At the same time, parts of Victoria Harbour have been reclaimed.
Our coastlines between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon peninsula have drawn closer.
In order to protect our wonderful harbour, further reclamation at Victoria Harbour has been banned.
That is why Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying proposed reclaiming thousands of hectares at a number of locations, including the outlying islands, in his maiden policy address. The purpose of this measure is to boost housing supply in the city.
It is one of the many ways to make land available for building homes, which is a very thorny issue in Hong Kong.
Some citizens will welcome his proposal.
However, Mr Leung must strike the right balance between preserving natural resources and development, given that marine life will be affected. Some green groups have already expressed opposition to his plans.
It is true there is overcrowding and yet there are some areas of Hong Kong that should remain undeveloped and quiet, so citizens have somewhere to go to relax on their days off.
The government talks about needing more land, but it continues to allow private developers to keep land in the New Territories on which nothing is being built.
They are given the freedom to decide when they wish to develop this land.
At the very least, the administration should urge them to build or charge them a levy as long as they fail to do so.
I hope any reclamation outside Victoria Harbour will be seen as a last resort, given that there is still available land in the New Territories.
R. Hau, Kowloon Bay
No justification for airlines' hidden pricing
I support the sentiment expressed by Chris Stubbs ("Taxed out and not leaving on a jet plane", January 19) on the matter of taxes and other fees charged by airline operators, although at the end of the day I don't believe that these extras are likely to stop people from flying.
It is frustrating and misleading when airlines quote a "fare" only for the intending customer to later discover that this is a lot less than the actual amount to be paid.
Cathay Pacific is really good at this - book a flight on their website and the first thing you see is the so-called fare. When you get to the payment page, all the extras are thrown in and it has suddenly become a lot more expensive than the competition.
I believe some of the so-called budget airlines are even worse. It's like getting on the bus and being asked to pay the fare and then a bit more for the fuel tax and some more for the bus licence fee, or the MTR asking for a top-up on the basic fare every trip to help to pay the electricity bill.
These ground transport operators include all their costs in their fare calculations, so why can't the airlines be as honest with their customers and disclose right up front the total amount they are asking for a seat in a given section of the plane, on a given flight, so that the travelling public can do its comparisons quickly and easily?
David Sorton, Discovery Bay
Time to seek law protecting gay rights
I appreciate that in his policy address, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's priorities were major issues such as, for instance, poverty and housing.
However, I found it disappointing that he rejected a proposed consultation on whether to create laws to protect sexual minorities.
I believe that Hongkongers have become more aware of the need for sexual minorities to be given equal opportunities.
Moreover, there has been serious discrimination against these individuals.
People have organised demonstrations on this issue and differing views have been expressed.
The fact that citizens have strong feelings about such proposed legislation is something that should not be ignored by the government. Leung should not just be focusing on, for example, housing problems. He should recognise that there are other controversial issues in the city that need to be dealt with.
We cannot expect the policy address to cover everything, but Leung should at least be considering the implementation of appropriate legislation which will give better protection to sexual minorities.
Valerie Suen, Tai Po