Letters to the Editor, February 3, 2013
Convert old sites to boost land supply
I wonder how many people are really happy with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's first policy address last month.
Leung's failure to address Hong Kong's housing problem has caused his popularity to drop to a new low.
Although Leung understands fully that the housing problem is a matter of the greatest public concern, he does so little to tackle it. Consequently, both the chief executive and his government have been sternly criticised and are considered by many to be incapable of doing what really needs to be done.
To be fair, we saw a number of long-term plans proposed in Leung's policy address, but they cannot meet the pressing needs of the public now.
As a result, the policy address has aroused a great deal of social discontent.
In response, Leung has begun talking tough with the developers and has threatened to slap a tax on their unsold flats left vacant. According to top officials and political critics, however, such a tax would be difficult to implement.
Such a move would push developers to sell their stock of vacant flats, a move that would infringe upon the principles of a free-market economy. To do this would be detrimental to the running of Hong Kong and to its reputation.
In my opinion, the key to tackle the housing problem is to increase land supply. However, we all understand that land is extremely limited. Therefore, we should make better use of the space we do have by redeveloping previously developed land.
In other words, we should convert usable old industrial buildings to residential blocks so as to increase the supply of public housing estates.
Although the housing problem is difficult to solve, I strongly believe that if the government is determined to take the bull by the horns, it can surely be overcome.
Evelyn Ho, Lam Tin
Statistics show HK has too many vets
I refer to the report ("Experts give wings to HK vet school plan", January 27).
I would like to point out that Hong Kong is currently experiencing an oversupply of veterinarians, especially among new graduates.
The government's census figures from the 2005/06 and 2010/11 surveys and the number of registered veterinarians recorded on the Hong Kong Veterinary Surgeons Board's website show that the number of pets (cats and dogs) per registered vet has dropped from 721 in 2006 to 691 in 2011.
This, coupled with the fact that salaries offered to new graduates have dropped by up to HK$10,000 per month, indicates an oversupply rather than a shortage of vets in this city.
Tom Mangan, president, Hong Kong Veterinary Association
Sport's malaise symptomatic of social ills
The Lance Armstrong scandal has highlighted how sport has changed over the years.
Historically, sport was considered to be a virtue-making machine. The values that correspond with sport were considered to go hand in hand with those that go into being a person of integrity and faith.
Today, however, sport is increasingly associated with violence, drugs, sex, racism, cheating and money.
Athletes are worshipped today for the money they make, for their on-field violence, off-field partying, egos, bravado, brawling, and posturing.
Technical and athletic excellence in certain sports has given way to steroid physiques, tattoos and various forms of intimidation.
At one time only sailors and bikers wore tattoos. Today footballers have helped bring these crude images of a decadent society into the mainstream.
Our media helps promote and legitimise this mentality by glorifying fighting in sport. Vince Lombardi, former coach of the Green Bay Packers American football team, spoke for a generation when he said: "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing."
Ultimately, sport should be a vehicle to develop good character, to make people courageous, loyal, generous losers, and gracious victors.
We have to recover these original principles of sport so that we can work together to forge greater bonds between people and help overcome the real and terrible social problems of our time.
Paul Kokoski, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Immigration boss should disclose goals
Having read that the Immigration Department is seeking a HK$912 million grant to complete a facelift of its checkpoint facilities ("HK$912m sought to renew checkpoints", January 19), I would like to ask the authorities how this money will be spent.
Hong Kong immigration officials are currently on the receiving end of much comment from citizens both here and on the mainland, whose people remain ever eager to visit Hong Kong (sometimes more than once a day).
Would the immigration director care to share his views on how he is looking to spend this money and on what measures he is looking to impose so as to meet all current and expected future demands of his department?
David Lai, Tsim Sha Tsui
Incinerator not the answer to waste crisis
Hong Kong's landfills will be filled up in the coming years, but I do not think the government should build an incinerator to cope with the future overflow of waste.
The excessive amount of waste we produce is the main problem, and building an incinerator will not change that.
As citizens we should all take steps to reduce the waste we produce. The government should do more to raise public awareness of environmental protection, by education and publicity, encouraging people to reduce their waste.
Burning waste in an incinerator will further damage the environment. The public has been concerned about this proposal since it was first raised. Incineration produces high levels of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, and toxic ash. It would surely worsen air pollution and risk public health.
Not surprisingly, given these effects, no one would want to live close to any such waste plant, and so deciding where one would be built would give rise to still more problems.
Angel Cheung Kin-yi, Sha Tin
NT left behind on information superhighway
I read the report about Hong Kong having the fastest peak internet speed in the world and how the competitive environment is in part responsible for this achievement ("HK tops in survey of internet speeds", January 25).
But there is no such competitive environment where I live.
PCCW enjoys a virtual monopoly in much of the New Territories and its service maxes out at an advertised 8 megabits per second (actual speed is usually at least 25 per cent slower).
PCCW feels no push to upgrade the service because it has no competition. So five years ago in Shan Liu I had 8Mbps; two years ago when I moved to Kai Ham I got 8Mbps.
Now that I'm moving to Lam Tsuen, I'm again told the maximum I can get is 8Mbps. All these years with no upgrade in service.
I know this is related to the profit margins it thinks it can get due to the lower housing density, but it does a major disservice to residents.
I work from home more than 50 per cent of the time and slow internet speeds cut into how effectively I can work.
Some might suggest that the answer could be wireless internet now that the mobile companies have started rolling out 4G LTE. But where I live I cannot even get a 3G signal and the mobile companies all start to throttle your speed if your usage is more than five gigabytes per month, which isn't very useful for many. And yes, I know, Hong Kong has many pressing issues.
However, the time is overdue for PCCW to either upgrade its service in the New Territories or for a competitor to step in so that residents there can also enjoy the enhanced service that comes when there is true competition.
Steve Schechter, Sai Kung
Some people prefer proper airline meal
I refer to the letter by Beatriz Taylor ("Sandwich is enough on short flights'', January 21).
She says she has often wondered why Cathay Pacific and other Asian-based airlines usually serve full meals during flights which take less than two hours.
Cathay Pacific does its best to please its passengers and many of them prefer to sample traditional airline food, whether in economy, business or first class, especially those who have never flown before.
Your correspondent also referred to budget airlines in the West which give sandwiches and water.
I have yet to travel on budget airlines because pilot proficiency is a concern to me. Some of these airlines in the United States do not offer sandwiches or drinks unless the passenger pays for them.
Eugene Li, Deep Water Bay