Affluence not tied to growth in population
The government is sending out conflicting signals. On the one hand, we face a shortage of everything: we compete for hospital beds, milk powder, school places, housing, and even when we die, we compete for a place for our ashes.
The entire policy address was devoted to how we attempt to address these problems. Then all of a sudden, the government says we need more people. More people means more shortages.
I always sympathise with the younger generation, who will be competing for water, energy, food and, moreover, jobs.
In my generation, we started to work at age 20, retired at 60, and hopefully would live to 80. That means we can have 40 years to prepare ourselves for retirement.
The younger generation would have to study more, so they are likely to start work at 25, and they will be fortunate to be able to work up to 55. Medical advances mean they will likely live to 90 or beyond. So they have only 30 years to prepare themselves for 35 years of retired life.
If we expect them to be supported by the working population, it would make the life of the future generation even more miserable.
There is a myth that we need people for future economic development. This is simply wrong. The law of large numbers does not apply.
There are 1.3 billion people in China, but we cannot get 11 good footballers to form a team. In Hong Kong, factories are gone, probably forever. Yet we have seen the productivity of individuals rise due to technological development.
We cannot plan for the future by simple extrapolation. Think of the number of office boys being employed in the 1960s and 1970s in Central. Given the current level of economic activity, the entire district would have been cluttered with office boys. That did not happen; faxes and e-mails displaced office boys in Central.
We are achieving much more with fewer and fewer people. We need people who work smarter. We need to contain population growth in the future if we want to maintain our standard of living or live better.
Dennis Li, Mid-Levels
Make island beach safe from feral dogs
As we enter the Year of the Snake, a creature associated with the wilder environs of Hong Kong, I would like to draw your attention to a more serious and more frequent danger to our citizenry: wild dogs.
While dogs have enjoyed favoured status as "man's best friend", we should not forget that this depends on their domesticity.
Abandoned by their owners, they return quickly to their wild past, creating a nuisance through incessant barking and occasional biting.
This problem is particularly felt on Cheung Chau, where packs of feral canines hold sway over several areas of the beach, ruining an otherwise pleasant day out for many of the visitors welcomed to the island this week.
If Cheung Chau is to remain one of Hong Kong's foremost tourist attractions, the relevant authorities should take the lead in creating a safe environment for man and beast.
Carl Geraghty, Cheung Chau
Intolerance of animal rights needs to stop
I am writing in response to the letter ("No sympathy for noisy dogs in village", February 19) . Greg Knowler states that the defendant who burned a dog to death is not the one we should blame, but the owner who refused to do anything about the incessant barking.
I cannot agree with him.
Obviously, the writer knows nothing about dogs. They are not as clever as people think. The smartest of them has only the intelligence level of a three-year-old child.
Making dogs obedient involves months of professional training. The barking dogs, in fact, do not know their acts will annoy some people. So don't expect them to show self-control. Dogs need to be taught with patience, not violence.
If we assume the defendant is not the only guilty party, it's also the owner's fault. But how about the dog?
The dog is innocent. The one neglecting neighbours' complaints is the owner, not the pet. It is unfair to ask the lovely animal to take its owner's responsibility. It actually didn't even know what was happening. It was not told that its noise would bring it misfortune and doom. What happened was totally unjust.
Although the writer claims that the man who set the dog on fire was the "victim", he's wrong. The poor creature is.
The man needs only to face eight months in prison, but the dog's life came to an end.
I really can't see the writer's points. What if the one making the loud noise was not a dog, but a newborn baby? Will he still feel that spontaneous combustion of the baby serves him right simply because his noise was disturbing his neighbours? If not, then why did he regard the dog that way?
Dogs are always man's best friend. There is no doubt at all that their right to life needs to be respected.
The government should do something to raise public awareness of animal rights, such as education and imposing heavier penalties on animal abusers.
Leung Po-Sum, To Kwa Wan
Pope who quit did not change church morals
I refer to the letter from Paul Kokoski lauding Pope Benedict as a "shepherd of truth constantly guarding his flock" and an "uncompromising defender of the dignity of human life" ("Pope a humble champion of the poor", February 14).
Is he talking about the same person who was (forced to be) a member of the Hitler Youth and who, it is claimed, did not do enough to weed out paedophile priests when in a position to do so?
We still hear of cases all over the world of child abuse by priests that were covered up by the likes of Benedict. Recently, stories emerged from Ireland of abuse of girls by the church and nuns, such as the inaptly named Sisters of Mercy, which were taking place up until 1996.
These scandals, plus the continuing financial scandals in the Catholic Church, mean that, under his watch, the church has not changed one iota in terms of morals or reaching out to the confused members of "the flock".
The pope's stance on married priests, women in the church, contraception and homosexuality has not changed with the passing of the years. (The latter being very strange when considering the number of homosexual priests that he and his ilk protected.)
One can only speculate on why such a man as this pope has resigned, as the true reason will never be published.
Michael Jenkins, Central
Body to police travel agents long overdue
In light of the astonishing treatment of mainland tourists by our city's travel agencies, the promised regulatory body for the travel industry needs to be established as soon as possible.
Right now, our society is embroiled in a raging conflict of interests regarding travellers both to and from the mainland, involving parallel trading.
This has hurt Hong Kong-mainland ties and tied up government resources.
This is precisely why we need stricter oversight of travel agencies, as their astonishing negligence in welcoming mainland tourists, such as forcing a tour group to spend a night on a coach, is adding oil to an already raging fire.
Resentment on both sides of the border will likely rise due to fiascos like this, wasting time and making a satisfactory resolution even more difficult.
The proposed regulatory body will defuse tension and free up resources for other pressing social problems.
William McCorkindale, Ma On Shan
Let's hear it for unsung heroes - bus drivers
It is common for people to express their gratitude to professionals who fight crimes and save lives (the police and firefighters), but there are lots of unsung heroes who also deserve credit.
I am talking about the bus drivers in Hong Kong - be they from Citybus, New World First Bus or Kowloon Motor Bus. They are the least mentioned public service providers, yet they face challenging situations every day, given the crowded and narrow roads in Hong Kong. They bear the big responsibility and huge pressure not only of transporting people from point A to point B, but also of ensuring their safety on the road. They also need to watch out for traffic and unexpected situations. I salute these unsung heroes on the road.
Pamela Chan, Quarry Bay
Surplus should go to those who earn it
Again we have a huge budget surplus and again all kinds of groups want the money to come their way. Many of these groups have never contributed a penny towards these tax surpluses.
I suggest that the government start teaching people how to fish instead of handing them a dinner plate with fish. That way, they can provide (better) for themselves in future. If then there is still money left, hand it back to the people who contributed it. That is the fairest way instead of picking single groups, like homeowners.
Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay