Letters to the Editor, February 26, 2013
Containers are not suitable living spaces
I do not agree that one way to help young people who are desperately hunting for affordable housing is to accommodate them in shipping containers stacked beneath flyovers.
First, living in such a location could create health problems because of the proximity to exhaust emissions from the vehicles using the flyovers.
They could develop respiratory problems.
Although accommodating young people in shipping containers stacked beneath flyovers is a way to provide affordable housing for them temporarily, the negative side effects could be permanent.
The location is also unsuitable because the volume of traffic using these flyovers will produce serious noise pollution problems for the people living in the containers.
The flyovers are in constant use and so people would have problems trying to sleep, and they would be tired during the day, which would affect their performance at work.
Also, during their days off a shipping container is hardly the best environment for someone to relax and wind down.
This raises quality of life issues.
Using these containers stacked beneath flyovers might appear to offer a short-term solution to the problem of young people finding an affordable place to live, but it would not be a long-term option.
Cherry Yau Wing-yan, Sha Tin
Another form of substandard housing
I do not agree with the pressure group that suggests helping young people by accommodating them in shipping containers stacked beneath flyovers.
It cannot be denied that the housing problem in Hong Kong has become severe and it seems impossible for young people to live in an apartment, given high prices and rents.
Nonetheless, living in shipping containers beneath flyovers would be a humiliating experience and would cause health problems. Such a proposal should not be encouraged.
Many people in Hong Kong already have to endure terrible conditions in cage homes and subdivided units.
In these containers, people will have to put up with fumes from vehicles and the noise of them travelling overhead on the flyover.
Also, the residents will have to use portable toilets and this is not hygienic.
I agree that the government must do something to help young people or we will see more people having no choice but to rent substandard accommodation such as cage homes and containers.
Lau On-yin, Lai Chi Kok
Flawed tax system helps rich citizens
Bernard Lee makes some very valid points in his letter ("Higher property taxes a way to redistribute wealth in the city", February 25).
One way to cool off Hong Kong's property market and make the tax regime more palatable is by levying higher property taxes and a capital gains tax.
Instead, Hong Kong's tax system does the complete opposite. While property owners with a mortgage get a handsome tax rebate, renters get zilch. Other examples of regressive taxation are the local sin taxes.
While duties for tobacco products are horrendous, affecting mostly low-income people, wine (Henry Tang Ying-yen's favourite tipple) sales are duty free.
Granted tobacco can be harmful for one's health, but drunken drivers can kill themselves and other people.
Given that Hong Kong's government is basically governance by the rich for the rich, a regressive taxation system should not be surprising.
Kristiaan Helsen, Sai Kung
Not right way to deal with noise problem
It was horrible to read Greg Knowler's letter ("No sympathy for noisy dogs in village", February 19).
Surely no decent human being could condone dousing a dog in inflammable liquid and burning him alive.
There are avenues to pursue noise pollution like incessantly barking dogs - police can be brought in, and neighbours can jointly deal with the offending owner. Don't make a dog the scapegoat for an irresponsible owner.
It would be the same as condoning throwing a muzzle on a baby crying non-stop on a plane or in a theatre.
Your correspondent's state of mind is the same as people who despise dogs because their lazy owners don't clean up after them.
Bernard Lo, Mid-Levels
Offer more help to middle class citizens
I find Phillip Yeung's article ("John Tsang mustn't kill the middle class dream of upward social mobility", February 20) insightful and truthful.
Being born in Hong Kong in the late 1940s, I, like many of my peers, was justly rewarded for honest hard work.
Hong Kong was a place where many young people, including many from grass-roots backgrounds like myself, had their childhood dream of "a better life" fulfilled. But this is not the case anymore.
Our two sons, who had perfectly good degrees from top Australian universities, had to rely on their parents for a down payment, in order to get a foothold on the property ladder four years ago.
At today's prices, they would have no hope of buying even a studio flat in the private sector market anywhere in Hong Kong.
I would assert that the root of Hong Kong's housing problem is due in no small part to seeing property ownership as a path to riches.
This, encouraged by Hong Kong government policies, has enticed Hong Kong citizens to try to own a property (or three) "at all costs".
Renting an accommodation has never been seen as a long- term option, unless we have major shifts in housing policies where renting (even in the private sector) is encouraged as a viable alternative (as in Germany).
I sincerely hope that our financial secretary would read Philip Yeung's article and seriously consider the three proposed measures of helping middle class families (raising the middle class income tax threshold; an accommodation subsidy and an education subsidy).
This would help revive the middle class dream of upward social mobility.
After all, the middle class is the backbone for stability and prosperity in any society.
Tse Pak-kin, Tai Kok Tsui
Punish people who pollute water supplies
I refer to the report ("China's water still unfit to drink after multibillion-yuan clean-up", February 21).
China aims to spend US$850 billion to improve the quality of mainland water supplies over the next decade. Supplies are overused and polluted.
China, as a rising nation, is planning to spend this enormous amount of money to repair the damage created during its economic development.
I can understand the reasoning behind this plan. It does face serious pollution problems, which adversely affects its environment and therefore the health of many of its citizens. Over decades, water supplies have been polluted by chemicals and untreated sewage.
Take, for example, the country's counterfeit designer handbags which are globally famous. They often look very much like the real thing with a good quality of craftsmanship. But dyes are used in the production process and simply poured into rivers and the sea.
There appears to be no effective legislation on the mainland which can deal with these polluters. Nearby villages are affected, because their supplies are polluted and villagers become sick.
China has been called the world's factory, given its output and cheap labour. Factory managers will do whatever it takes to minimise production costs and maximise profits.
A clean and safe water supply is crucial to sustaining life. Without that, people fall sick and this must affect the nation economically.
It is important for Beijing to ensure that factory managers and owners are made to abide by environmentally friendly regulations and that polluters who do not are punished accordingly. The government must safeguard future generations.
Charmaine Li Wing-huen, Tsing Yi
Solve dispute through peaceful talks
I refer to the report ("Abe fails to win Obama's backing", February 24).
I do not think the US should intervene in the controversial dispute over the Diaoyus Islands between Japan and China.
It is said that the outcome of the talks between Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama did not result in any concrete promises from Washington. I welcome this news since promises from the US would have escalated the dispute.
The disagreement has already cooled relations between Beijing and Tokyo, which has been financially damaging. There has even been talk of a possible open conflict.
Violence never solves problems. This dispute must be resolved through peaceful negotiations.
Kathy Sze Mei-yi, Tsuen Wan