Letters to the Editor, February 9, 2013
Mortgage squeeze hits wrong target
Runaway prices of Hong Kong properties are making things increasingly difficult for people living and working in the city.
However, it is not just prices that make it hard for the "real" people to buy their homes.
It is also the government's thoughtless policy of tightening mortgage standards ("New mortgage squeeze likely, warns HKMA", February 5).
Yes, loose liquidity from outside Hong Kong pushes up prices, but investors from overseas pay cash, rather than getting a mortgage.
A mortgage squeeze hits people here directly and makes it difficult for them to buy anything at all as the price goes beyond the lending limit.
Mortgage takers are the people who are willing to pay over time and who will live here, and they are the ones for whom the Hong Kong government needs to provide liquidity.
If there are to be any tightening measures, they should be directed at cash investors from overseas who come and go with this money.
A high capital gains tax on short-term property flipping should be the target of any controls, not long-term mortgages.
The government's policy is affecting the very people who need help if they are to stay here and continue to support Hong Kong.
Yukiko Nozaki Quilkey, Lantau
The prophet of loss is wrong again
How is it possible for Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah to be off the mark again with his budget expectations ("John Tsang misses budget surplus again", February 1).
He seems to be the most pessimistic finance minister and keeps getting it wrong, which is good for Hong Kong.
A good indicator of our city's economic performance is when he sounds at his most negative, and it is probably best to hold back expectations when he gets too positive. But does he ever take a positive approach? He does not seem to have any control over the hot money that floods into our financial system and fuels inflation.
If, in his next budget speech later this month, he comes up with measures that are able to bring inflation under control, I will hail him as a true financial genius. Hong Kong citizens need the government to do something about our rising rate of inflation. And broader measures must be used to calculate that rate.
Citizens do not want to be told that the city's prosperity benefits them. If inflation cannot be controlled, then everybody will suffer.
Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels
Action, not talk, needed on gay rights
Demands for yet another consultation about the rights of sexual minorities are ill advised.
We already had a consultation in 1996, which the government used to attain its objective - do nothing.
Like our consultations about constitutional development, another consultation about equality on grounds of sexual orientation will achieve nothing other than to have tired arguments repeated ad nauseam. The government almost certainly will conclude there is no consensus for legislation.
Legal reform could then be stonewalled for another two decades. Effective legal reforms - and understanding and acceptance within society - do not take place through perennial consultations, but through meaningful actions.
The government or the Legislative Council is entirely able to bring forward legislation immediately.
After all, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying quite decisively stopped mainland women coming to Hong Kong to give birth. Hong Kong being cosmopolitan is not an argument either way. We still do not have universal suffrage.
Phil C.W. Chan, Mid-Levels
Ladies' nights are harmless and help bars
Christopher Bone ("Bars must do away with ladies' nights", February 4) writes that the "ladies' nights" common in Hong Kong bars are a "dumb" ploy that objectify women and therefore, predictably, "should be banned".
One of the many great things about living in Hong Kong is the atmosphere of personal freedom unavailable in other jurisdictions. So long as your actions don't interfere with the rights of others, in Hong Kong you are largely free to go about your business as you choose, free from the intrusions of state authorities or finger-waving do-gooders.
This stems from a core tenet of the free society; that citizens are able to choose which activities they will or won't participate in or which businesses they will or will not transact with.
Simply put, if you don't like the way a business operates, you are free to take your money elsewhere.
Banning lawful, harmless activities or transactions undertaken by consenting adults simply to salve the hurt feelings of the oversensitive is an unnecessary and intrusive step against the right of citizens to live their lives as they choose.
Such restrictions on liberty are what make life significantly less enjoyable in many parts of the developed world.
Ladies' nights generate business for bars on otherwise quiet nights, provide work opportunities for bar staff, and ultimately harm no one.
If you don't like it, you're free to amuse yourself in other ways without selfishly spoiling the fun for others. Such is the nature of freedom.
Corey Hine, Kennedy Town
School ban on troublemakers helps no one
Some adults have expressed concern over what they see as escalating violence in secondary schools in Hong Kong.
They feel the best way to deal with this problem is for the education authorities to get tough with the youngsters causing the trouble.
Some teachers and parents have suggested that the best way to deal with these unruly teenagers is through suspension.
However, I have to ask how such an extreme form of action as suspension helps these problem students?
If they are suspended and barred from school, they will start roaming the streets. The problem of their anti-social behaviour is then transferred from the school grounds to the streets of Hong Kong. We could then see escalating levels of violence in the city.
I am not saying the school authorities should just have to put up with these youngsters' bad behaviour. But, they should recognise that these students are at risk and try to help them with the problems they are having that cause this kind of behaviour.
Sunny Cheung Yin-laam, Tseung Kwan O
Old empire allies a better bet for Brits
I strongly echo the views expressed by Scott Davies ("Britain will be better off outside EU", February 5).
I am not British. However, a lot of people who were born in Hong Kong during the colonial period did not and still do not view Britain as a foreign country.
People still take a lot of interest in what is happening there and get regular updates on UK news.
Ever since it has been part of the European Union, it has been slowly but surely distancing itself from other countries in the Commonwealth.
In 2010, the right of non-UK residents who were Commonwealth citizens to claim UK personal tax allowances was abolished by HM Revenue and Customs (equivalent to Hong Kong's Inland Revenue Department).
I understand this was done because granting such allowances apparently breached EU human rights laws, as it discriminated against people who were not from Commonwealth countries.
If it left the EU, Britain would most likely win back its alliance with many Commonwealth countries.
This would be good for Britain as well as other members of the Commonwealth.
Britain would have affluent friends in different continents, including, but not limited to, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India and Singapore.
I am not sure how well the average Brit speaks some of the languages spoken in the EU.
He would find things far easier communicating and trading with Commonwealth citizens and companies given the widespread use of English.
Ferdinand Chu, Happy Valley
Wong film fans lost for words (in English)
Did I miss a news item, explaining why Wong Kar-wai's latest film is being screened in many locations without English subtitles?
Around half of the cinemas listed in the Going Out page on February 1, showed that The Grandmaster could be seen "with Chinese subtitles only". This is unusual in a city where, for decades, local films have always had Chinese and English subtitles. It appears the distributors decided to provide English subtitles for only a few locations. That is bad luck, and a marketing disincentive, for non-Chinese-reading filmgoers in Mong Kok, part of Causeway Bay, Tung Chung, Kowloon Bay, Tuen Mun, Cyberport and Kowloon Tong.
Would audiences in those locations object to having English subtitles for a Wong Kar-wai movie? Is there any additional cost arising from their usage?
Can someone in the movie business explain why a new system of subtitling discrimination has been introduced here?
Barry Girling, Tung Chung