Letters to the Editor, April 19, 2013

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 April, 2013, 2:48am

Lee on right track over election reform

I refer to the report ("Martin Lee in U-turn over C.E. poll reform", April 12).

In recent months we have heard a lot of discussion on the election of the chief executive by universal suffrage that was long on principles, ideals and passion but short on concrete details.

Although I do not fully agree with Martin Lee Chu-ming's [now-withdrawn] proposal, for example his proposed five candidates, I must thank him because this was the first proposal that came with concrete details.

Since Hong Kong has already been returned to China, we have to strive to achieve the best democracy that is allowed within the bounds of the Chinese constitution and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR. Personally, I agree with the screening of chief executive candidates by a nominating committee.

Instead of the five candidates selected by the nominating committee, as proposed by Mr Lee, I propose a maximum of 10 candidates.

Any candidate who receives a minimum of 10 per cent of the vote by the nominating committee will be eligible to run in the election. Too lax a requirement will allow too many candidates to run. Too stringent a requirement will severely limit the number of candidates to run.

Therefore, a maximum of 10 candidates and a minimum of five is a good balance.

As a Christian, I would like to see more discussions on this important issue of universal suffrage within the local churches, for example on the pulpits and in cell groups. Remember that we are not only hearers of the Word of God but also doers of His Word by, for example, caring for the needy in our community and by participating in the discussion of important issues in our society.

Hopefully we could come up with a Christian response to universal suffrage in time for consideration by the authorities.

Joseph Lam Wing-kau, Quarry Bay


Thatcher not to blame for 2008 crisis

I found it quite amusing to read articles and letters to editors in various newspapers that claimed Margaret Thatcher was responsible for the financial crisis in 2008 because of the introduction of financial deregulation during her term in office.

To be fair, Thatcher stepped down as prime minister in 1990.

If any big mistake was made during her period in power, surely there was enough time to fix or lessen the problem by her Tory successor and the Labour governments that followed.

Being regarded as the "Iron Lady", Thatcher probably could withstand all the harsh criticism and defend herself while she was still alive. But now she is dead, I don't think it is right to start throwing stones and blame her for things that went wrong years after she had left the office of prime minister.

Alice Li, Wan Chai


Island-based incinerator a poor option

There is considerable room for debate about whether or not the proposed incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau is in fact as "modern" as Oliver Lam contends in his letter ("Why we now need modern incinerators", April 16).

Either way, if it is as pollution-free as he claims, why is it necessary to locate it miles from the sources of waste and in the middle of one of Hong Kong's few remaining unspoiled recreation spots?

It is hard to imagine a less economical or more anti-social approach.

If we accept, momentarily, that incineration is unavoidable because of the government's abysmal failure over several decades to discourage the escalating generation of waste in Hong Kong and to install proper waste separation and recycling facilities (as other modern societies have done), there is a much simpler and more efficient solution. That is to install smaller incinerators (say, a capacity of 1,000-plus tonnes per day) at each of the strategic landfill sites, thus slotting straight into the existing transport and waste infrastructure on brownfield sites.

These incinerators would be in service much earlier than the monolith at Shek Kwu Chau, with all its destructive reclamation and high construction costs, and also avoid the need to expand the landfills any further. Above all, they would provide greater flexibility for the future.

The facilities could be upgraded or phased out as future technologies and developments in waste management permit. I would call this a win-win solution for all parties.

John Schofield, Lantau


Disappointing lack of outrage over smog

I am a bit disappointed in the way the South China Morning Post addresses the issue of air pollution.

In 2003, when you couldn't see across Victoria Harbour, there were large front-page headlines almost every time the air pollution was bad.

Now it seems to be considered the norm. Even on Monday when the pollution was severe, still you did not seem to consider it to be that important.

I don't understand how Hong Kong people cope with and accept the air pollution coming from the mainland.

Also, the fact that our indecisive government believes the idling engine law is effective is a joke.

The government plan being discussed to improve air quality will likely end up sidelined, or being controlled by a polluting lobby group.

Anders Ejendal, Repulse Bay


All sides share duty to solve Korean crisis

It is essential that a peaceful solution is found in the Korean Peninsula, one that involves all players, including the United States and North and South Korea. They are all responsible for resolving the contentious issues.

North Korea's leaders need to calm down and seek practical solutions. There can be no justification for them using the threat of nuclear weapons.

Given North Korea's problems with underdevelopment, its supreme leader Kim Jong-un should be focusing on internal economic and social issues rather than spending money on nuclear weapons.

He should also be trying to maintain good relations with his neighbours.

I would also question the wisdom of South Korea conducting military exercises with the US at such a sensitive time. Therefore, Seoul must take some responsibility for this crisis.

If they want to prevent a serious conflict, all countries involved will need to sit down at the negotiating table and discuss all the contentious issues.

Issac Lee Ka-kiu, Kwai Chung


Telecoms prices falling in real terms

I refer to the letter by Peter Cawthorne regarding HKT's broadband service ("PCCW price rise raises big questions", April 12).

As your readers will be aware, costs have risen dramatically in Hong Kong over the past 10 years. Indeed rents were 65 per cent higher in 2012 compared to 2002, electricity charges were up to 29 per cent higher, while petrol was up by 54 per cent on 2002 levels.

Labour costs have also increased, as reflected in a 20 per cent rise in median personal income in Hong Kong.

These are just a small sample of the considerable cost inflation faced by HKT.

Despite higher operational costs, the average price of HKT's broadband service was in fact 21 per cent lower over the same period.

On a per-megabit basis, the drop was a staggering 98 per cent. In other words, customers actually pay a lot less now than they did 10 years ago for HKT's broadband service.

To keep Hong Kong at the forefront, HKT also continuously upgrades its services and invests in the latest technologies such as 4G and fibre networks.

This is against a background of continuously rising costs and government charges including licence and spectrum fees.

It is inevitable that HKT cannot simply absorb cost increases and ultimately we need to adjust prices in line with costs and also to fund our extensive network investment programmes.

Nevertheless, compared to prices overseas, HKT customers should recognise that they are paying just a fraction of what overseas users have to pay for their telecoms services, even though the services provided by HKT in Hong Kong are much more attractive, technically superior, and much faster.

C. K. Chan, head of group communications, HKT


HK's unsung heroes deserve to take a bow

I refer to the letter by Mike Rowse ("Rescue pair shine bright at end of tunnel", April 14), a stranded motorist who wanted to thank Tate's Cairn Tunnel staff for helping him when he had a flat tyre.

It prompted me to follow suit and, belatedly, write to record my own thanks for a good deed done for me.

I was stranded high on a mountain in the New Territories with some injuries in August last year.

I called 999 and was rescued by 20 ambulance men, fire services personnel and members of the Government Flying Service who winched me up in the dark and rain and flew me to safety.

All of my rescuers were very competent and they treated me with good humour and sympathy.

What a great city we live in.

Des Greenwood, Lantau