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, February 13, 2013
Traders will be put off by long wait at border
The numbers of parallel traders at the border have been causing problems for businessmen, Hong Kong people living in Shenzhen, and tourists, yet the authorities have not been able to solve the problem.
Everything officials have tried, such as installing weighing machines, have failed. Trader numbers will increase because it is highly lucrative.
The financial gain to be made by two or three cross-border trips is too much of an inducement for many people as they can make more money doing this than working in low-paid jobs in Shenzhen.
The only way is to make it less financially attractive.
The recent changes made regarding border crossings ("Shenzhen sets limits for frequent visitors", February 7) and restrictions on people crossing ("Two-can limit to stop trade in milk powder", February 2) are other ideas that will fail.
This will increase the workload on border staff and will, like most changes previously announced, not be enforced.
The weight limits were not enforced as angry traders totally ignored directions given by the security guards, who appeared intimidated by aggressive individuals.
If the immigration sections were to set up special lanes for businessmen, tourists and foreigners they would alleviate most of the problems.
Traders who have already made one crossing during the day should be directed to a special line or two.
This is likely to result in a long line that would stretch the length of the Lo Wu station but would free up other channels for people not involved in the trading.
This would be simple to introduce by immigration officials not allowing people who had already made one crossing to have access to the other lines.
The number of crossings would be reduced as traders would have long waits to get across.
It would also mean that the highly dangerous trolleys and large backpacks no longer posed a threat to other border users, including small children.
It's time for changes to be made that work.
Yunmei Wang, Shenzhen
Committee can weed out baseless claims
I refer to the report ("ICAC 'used' to taint political opponents", February 3).
A former No 2 in the Independent Commission Against Corruption said that people with political motives may seek to use graft complaints to smear their foes.
At a time when our own chief executive, along with his predecessor Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and his rival during the election Henry Tang Ying-yen, are all under ICAC investigation, it certainly seems as if lawmakers have not been holding back with making graft complaints.
Add to that the increasingly polarising political atmosphere in Hong Kong, with radical parties gaining traction, there is a legitimate concern that the ICAC may be abused by political players to attack their enemies, wielding the anti-graft agency as a weapon in their political feuds.
Reviewing history shows that time and time again, law enforcement agencies have been used as political tools at some point from ancient Rome to modern Europe.
If we are to avoid repeating the mistakes of history, the government must set up a vigilant, balanced committee to review major graft allegations against political players, especially if said complaints were made by another politician.
They must be able to determine if the complaints have substance, and hence prevent the conversion of a government agency into a political weapon by filtering baseless, outlandish claims by trigger-happy politicians.
If nothing is done, I fear that lawmakers and government officials will become tied down in meaningless graft investigations, wasting time and resources and bringing us nowhere closer to solving pressing issues in our city.
William McCorkindale, Ma On Shan
Get it right with air quality readings in city
I refer to the report ("Sham Shui Po air dirtier than official monitoring shows", January 26).
The Clean Air Network says roadside air pollution in Sham Shui Po is significantly worse than official readings suggest.
It conducted its own air quality monitoring study in the district and found that the amount of fine particulates in the air - known as PM2.5 - exceeded official figures in "eight of the 12 locations" tested and were well above World Health Organisation safety guidelines.
This is a serious problem as poor air quality affects ecosystems, the climate and people's health.
Bad air can lead to people developing respiratory problems or make things worse for those who already have a chronic condition.
It can lead to more visits to doctors and hospitals and even result in cases of premature death.
Pollutants in the atmosphere, such as ozone, nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide, can kill crops, plants and trees.
They pollute rivers and that can destroy marine life.
However, Hong Kong citizens appear oblivious to media reports highlighting these dangers. It is important that they should realise that this is a serious problem.
The government must ensure all its readings are accurate. Citizens have a right to know the correct readings.
Hopefully, that knowledge will raise their level of awareness and help them appreciate the need to improve their lifestyles and this city's environment.
Jane Leung, Tseung Kwan O
Cleaner fuel can help clear Beijing's smog
I support the central government's call on refiners to upgrade the quality of fuel to cut pollution levels which have caused problems in Beijing.
This is an extremely serious problem as it directly affects the health of citizens. Vehicles produce a lot of smog through exhaust emissions and make air quality a lot worse.
The problem with producing cleaner fuel is that it inevitably costs more and that increases petrol bills at the pumps for drivers.
This could lead to citizens protesting against government measures and result in social discontent.
While this could create difficulties in the capital city, the authorities have to recognise that the most serious problem that they face and must address is the air pollution and the smog it is producing.
Citizens should recognise that they have a shared responsibility to protect their city and they therefore should not complain about having to use cleaner fuel despite the additional cost.
The government must consider all the health issues involved before making decisions on how to ensure the city is better protected.
David Lam Hiu-fung, Tsuen Wan
Reclamation threatens environment
Over many years, the government has reclaimed land outside Victoria Harbour in order to boost land supply for residential and commercial use.
In his policy address, the chief executive announced a proposal to reclaim 2,000 to 3,000 hectares outside the harbour. One of the possible sites is north Lantau, which is controversial, and I would not support such a proposal.
Some of the reclamation areas, although outside the harbour, could still adversely affect it.
Marine life near the harbour could be put at risk and the reclamation work could lower general water quality. Is reclamation the only way to increase land supply?
Of course, it is important to solve the housing shortage problem in Hong Kong, but officials must try to prevent irreversible damage to the environment.
William Chan, Sha Tin