Old age allowance

Letters to the Editor, January 31, 2013

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 January, 2013, 1:27am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 January, 2013, 2:27am


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Priority should be to help grass roots

Young sandwich-class couples feel let down by the chief executive’s policy address.

Leung Chun-ying pledged to increase the supply of housing in an effort to bring down Hong Kong’s skyrocketing property prices. But it seems some people think that the government has not done enough for those sandwich-class couples who, because of their financial status, are not eligible for subsidised housing. They complain that the policy address failed to offer these couples cheap home loans to make it easier for them to purchase their first flat.

The government has an obligation to give a helping hand to citizens in need. But it has limited resources and they have to be used to help the grass roots in society. Also, some young sandwich-class couples’ expectations are too high.

I listened to one young married couple on a radio show – a doctor and a lawyer – complaining that property prices on Hong Kong Island were too high. So why not consider moving out to the New Territories, or Kowloon peninsula?

It is up to such citizens to save up for their first flat from their salaries and not depend on the government for help.

So Koon-hei, Sha Tin


Clause barring dogs in estates is archaic

The idea of making residential estates in Hong Kong dog free is way past its sell-by date.

This archaic clause must be deleted by law from all deeds of mutual covenant, which were drafted well before Hong Kong became enlightened and more dog-friendly. Freedom of speech is precious and so is the right of an individual to own or not own a dog.

It is wrong that law-abiding owners can be suddenly told to ditch their dogs by misguided management. This causes terrible stress to the family and lands animal welfare organisations with the headache of trying to rehome them. Permitting owners to keep their pet until it dies is a better option but still infringes on the right to continuous pet ownership.

Some selfish people do give a bad name to everyone else by failing to scoop the poop, and action needs to be taken against them. Ignorant owners need to clean up their act or forfeit their right to dog ownership. Why can’t we have litter wardens giving on-the-spot fines at dog parks and handing out leaflets urging people to “be a responsible dog owner”?

The majority take care of their dogs and cause no trouble at all, but at present all owners are penalised, and this is unfair.

Everyone continues to silently accept this heartless and senseless regulation, which is only supported by prejudiced individuals who regard animals as dirty and to be feared, their upbringing having blinded them to the many benefits of pet ownership.

As any responsible owner will tell you, dogs make a difference, they enrich our lives far beyond our expectations, they make us smile (“Dogs help bedroom hermits regain confidence”, January 27). Change is slow in coming but staying silent changes nothing. 

Joan Miyaoka, Sha Tin


Clinic toilets used by public and patients

I refer to the letter by Barry Dalton (“Kwun Tong health centre in a mess”, January 21).

I would like to reassure the public that the hygiene condition of the clinic has always been one of United Christian Hospital’s prime concerns.

The building of Kwun Tong Jockey Club Health Centre has housed our general outpatient clinic and other government departments’ services and office facilities since the 1960s. There are thousands of users visiting the building every day from early morning to late evening. The toilet Mr Dalton mentioned is located on the ground floor of the building and is quite rightly easily accessible by the general public during the clinic’s hours of operation.

In addition to our patients and their carers, there are also many visitors and pedestrians using the toilet facilities due to their convenient location and the relative lack of public toilets in the vicinity. In view of the high volume usage, frequent cleanings are arranged.

As part of the initiative of the government’s Kwun Tong redevelopment project, a plan to relocate the clinic to a nearby site is in progress and is tentatively earmarked for 2014. This means that a more up-to-date clinic will be available in the near future.

In the meantime, we have requested the cleaning service contractor to further enhance its service to the toilet and the public areas within the clinic.

I would also like to take this opportunity to request and appeal to patients, carers and the public to join us in maintaining the cleanliness and tidiness of the clinic facilities.

More signs and notices will be put up as reminders. We really need a team approach and appreciate the collaboration of the users to make it work. I am grateful to Mr Dalton for highlighting this issue. If he has further suggestions on the cleaning of the clinic, he should not hesitate to bring them to the attention of clinic staff, so they can follow up.

Dr David Chao, chief of service, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, United Christian Hospital


Raise old age allowance to HK$5,000

I am concerned about the government’s plans to give an Old Age Living Allowance of HK$2,200 to those aged over 65 who can show that the assets they have do not exceed HK$186,000.

Irecognise that this new policy is an effective way to help elderly people raise their standard of living. However, it has to be realised that prices of products and property in Hong Kong are quite high.

For those old people with no family to support them and no income if they are no longer able to work, this allowance is set at too low a level. After they have paid their rent, most of the allowance will have been used up and this will leave them with very little left.

Therefore, I think the monthly sum should be raised to HK$5,000.

I also back the means test, which is fair to society and in particular to the taxpayers of Hong Kong. The government always has to balance the needs of pensioners and taxpayers.

Stephanie Mo, Kwai Chung


HMV’s former store in Central always busy

I understand that HMV is in dire straits because people are buying more music online and fewer CDs.

How ironic then that I had to start buying my music online after HMV closed their great store in Central Building, in Central, before reopening in Entertainment Building.

I patronised the Central Building store for many years and I always used to see plenty of customers there. 

G. Cabral, Macau


Residential experience is important

I refer to the letter by Chow Yikming (“No need for more halls of residence”, January 22), who held that the government should not give out more land to build halls of residence for public tertiary institutions.

He argued that there is no need for local students to stay at residential halls because they can get to the campus easily.

However, I wish to point out that residential halls provide more than convenient accommodation for students.

The residential experience is an important part of learning. Through living in halls, students learn to be independent and foster connections with their counterparts from different cultural backgrounds and academic disciplines.

Such an experience cannot be totally replaced by other programmes.

Your correspondent further argued that land should be used to build flats instead.

Perhaps many people share this view even if they acknowledge the benefits of the residential experience. Indeed, Hong Kong is in a desperate need for more affordable homes.

However, in order to ensure people’s quality of life, urban planners must also consider factors such as education, health care, social services, economic vitality and environmental limits.

Costs and benefits of each land-use option should be carefully weighed before decisions are made.

Germaine Lau, senior policy analyst, Savantas Policy Institute


Is anyone fined for misuse of car horn?

I refer to Jon Resnick’s letter (“Crack down on excessive use of car horns”, January 29).

Mr Resnick says that “we need to legislate fines for excessive use of horns”.

There is indeed legislation in force relating to the use of horns, under Chapter 374G of the Road Traffic (Traffic Control) Regulations (Regulation 43). It says, “No person shall use any audible warning device on a vehicle on a road except to warn any person on or near a road of danger.”

Currently, the fine for transgression is HK$2,000. I wonder if anyone has indeed been prosecuted and fined for such an offence.

Our government’s coffers would be overflowing if the police were to take a genuine interest in imposing these fines and the money could be put to good use.

We have nothing to lose and much to gain – lower taxes, better social services or a quieter city. 

I, for one, will join Mr Resnick’s crusade and would be happy to design an appropriate T-shirt to bring greater awareness of the law that we can enforce as remedy. No loud colours of course.

David Richards, Sheung Wan