Letters to the Editor, January 27, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 January, 2013, 1:53am

Naysayers threaten city's development

The government has limited land resources and finds it hard to allocate land to alleviate Hong Kong's housing shortage.

This is partly because of the amount of land designated "green zone", where development is not allowed.

More land has to be reserved for building grants for small-house development in the New Territories.

So it is a daunting task for the government to be able to find available land for building.

Besides housing issues, there is also not enough space for people to place the remains of their relatives after cremation.

As a result, some unscrupulous businessmen run illegal columbariums in residential and industrial buildings that are not approved for this kind of use, increasing fire hazards and other dangers.

Even so, and even though these illegal places are expensive to use, it is still not easy to find a niche to place a relative's urn.

To tackle this illegal use and help alleviate the space problem, a former chief executive suggested having columbariums in all Hong Kong's 18 districts.

However, there was strong opposition from district councillors and others.

Some said it was not practical to have the columbariums situated in every district, for example the crowded financial hub of Central.

Although there are sound reasons to oppose the idea, a not-in-my-backyard mentality is the main cause to reject the scheme.

The government should give more details on this proposal, such as in which exact locations it would seek to build these columbariums.

It would be impractical to have one next to the International Finance Centre, but it would likely be easier for more people to accept if it was built next to a temple in an older area like Hollywood Road.

People must be more flexible and accept some structures that might be unpopular near their homes.

If Hongkongers keep rejecting these ideas, our city will no longer be able to sustain long-term development.

W.H. Chan, Kwun Tong


Grim step on path to all-out propaganda

There seems to be a disturbing new trend in the media, with the government using it as an opportunity to promote only its side of contested issues.

While officials loudly protested there would be no brainwashing in national education, they launched a blitz on the Old Age Living Allowance, with announcements in the public interest or APIs ("Think tank chief defends PR campaign", November 18).

In the past APIs promoted only established law and policy.

The media has never before been used to promote only one side of a yet unresolved policy debate. What the government has done is therefore attempted brainwashing.

Taxpayers' funds cannot be used to present only the government's side of an on-going debate in Legco.

All sides and all arguments must be presented in such controversial matters. Otherwise taxpayers' money is being used to present only one side of the argument to the public, not to properly inform it of the whole picture.

The Leung Chun-ying administration should ensure it is fair and balanced, and be careful not to mimic China in its use of propaganda.

It is disturbing that it cannot distinguish biased presentation of views from public education. Maybe the opponents of national education were right after all.

We must be vigilant not to end up with a communist-style propaganda-filled media in Hong Kong, incessantly drumming one-sided government messages into us.

Margaret Wong, Tai Po


Elitist culture thriving over democracy

I cannot begin to count the number of advisory bodies in Hong Kong. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying wants more it seems.

These were largely a colonial mechanism in lieu of democracy: the people can't say what they want directly (through the ballot box), but so-called elites can.

Jennifer Eagleton, Tai Po


Bureaucrats making a mess of Mid-Levels

Hikers who climb the hillside from Mid-Levels will come across a trash belt of mainly glass and plastic bottles several metres before reaching Lugard Road, hidden in the bushes alongside the loop road.

One recent weekend, I unwittingly approached the road through a particularly foul spot. In disgust, I took some pictures of torn rubbish bags and spilled refuse.

Then, suddenly, a black object rushed down the slope in the bushes. I thought it was a boar. When movement stopped and calm returned, I discovered it was a bag of rubbish that had missed me by just a few metres.

Withdrawing, I found nearby a cleaner sweeping the road. Despite the lack of a common language, she understood my complaint and went down the slope into the bushes to retrieve the bag.

I am not writing to complain about this cleaner, who recognised and rectified her mistake.

In a similar previous incident, when I complained, the cleaner, a man whom I had seen throwing rubbish downhill, just ignored me. When I called the responsible department, I was told it could be just some misunderstanding or misperception. I didn't have time to pursue that cleaner, who thought nothing of dumping rubbish downhill.

Some cleaners in upper Mid-Levels are habitual loafers oblivious of even the most prominent litter before them. Some cleaners, especially those in the more populous districts, are responsible and respectable. I won't blame cleaners for dirty streets. To blame the operatives is to indulge bureaucrats in the practice of downward delegation of responsibilities.

My complaint is against supervisors and responsible officers dawdling in the office. They have failed to devise an effective control system to ensure satisfactory performance of operatives. Supervisors apparently are not doing their job.

I can't remember the number of complaints I have lodged against the rubbish belt of Lugard Road, the western section of Conduit Road, where cleaners selectively sweep once or twice a week; and against recycling firms illegally occupying public areas in Central for private use to store waste. The government has never replied. Perhaps no department regards these as its direct responsibilities.

Thus, the problems persist and the situation deteriorates.

Pierce Lam, Central


Shame on the pusillanimous policymakers

The chief executive's refusal to allow even consultation on a bill to outlaw discrimination against sexual minorities shows that he and his administration have abandoned their duty to protect their own vulnerable citizens.

Usual estimates are that 5 per cent of the population is of diverse sexuality, so we are talking here of about 300,000 people who are suffering discrimination in the workplace and in their day-to-day lives.

These people have no legal protection against dismissal or ill-treatment.

The government long ago publicly recognised it had a duty to protect the sexually diverse, and that it would one day have to pass a bill. Rather than have the courage of its convictions, however, it continues to hide behind the lie of "lack of public consensus", and has now folded before a tiny minority of Christians who oppose all rights for sexual minorities. For the sake of an easy life, the strident voices of 5,000 Christians have overridden the safety and well-being of 300,000 citizens.

The government should be ashamed of its pusillanimity.

As for Christians who interpret the Bible as a book of hate, and bleat about being discriminated against because they might no longer be able to ill-treat their fellow citizens, one can only feel sorrow.

Nigel Collett, Central


Placing vexed viewer back in the picture

I refer to the letter by W.J. Morrison regarding HKT's broadband service to his home ("Broadband failure poses key questions", January 20). We apologise for the delay in providing his broadband service - we understand his frustration.

We encountered localised difficulties accessing his building. Unfortunately, such problems often take more time than we would like to resolve, and require various approvals and consent from parties beyond HKT's control, such as incorporated owners' committees, building management offices, and related government departments such as the Highways Department. We apologise for not having kept Mr Morrison better informed.

We have now told him of the good news that his fibre broadband service will be connected a few days after the required construction work to bring a fibre cable into his building is approved by his building's incorporated owners' committee. Meanwhile, all other approvals have been granted and work arranged or completed.

We trust that Mr Morrison will find our superior fibre broadband service has been worth the unfortunate wait.

C.K. Chan, head, group communications, HKT