Letters to the Editor, June 5, 2013
Adopt land exchange for new town
At long last, after looking at those miles of underdeveloped land between Tuen Mun and Yuen long, it has been decided to develop the area surrounding Hung Shui Kiu which stands athwart the highway between these two towns.
What was shrugged aside as impossible is now the latest white hope. It's about time. It will take time to plan and to overcome the clearance and land acquisition questions.
On the question of land acquisition, some developers, together with some of the village landowners, have suggested a return to the land exchange system which was so successful in overcoming these problems in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and which enabled the development of the new towns to take place with little protest.
The exchange system had its failings. There is no need to repeat them when applied to this new town at Hung Shui Kiu.
I would join with the developers and planners who have suggested a return to this system. Maybe the exchange ratio needs changing and the timing of the development premium payment adjusting (the developers will have to pay a market price and the value of the surrendered land will require settling). However, to obtain the trouble-free surrender of the land required for much-needed housing and other urban needs requires imaginative thinking, otherwise this new town will be stuck in the Town Planning Board and Lands Tribunal and be argued every foot of the way. The years will pass and the hopes of the people for housing will fade into obscurity.
I am always told that things are different now. I understand that, but they were not easy then, in those early years when paddy fields and fishponds and villages were required for the new towns and the land exchange system came to the rescue.
Without it, we would still be arguing to this day.
David Akers-Jones, Yau Ma Tei
Students are under too much pressure
I am concerned about the number of school pupils who take their own lives in Hong Kong.
Some people have argued that this can be caused by the pressure they are put under by their school and parents.
The pressure from the schools can depend on which stream they are in.
Their test results will determine which class they will be put into the following year. Some of them suffer stress because they are told that they must raise the bar academically and they might find they are unable to do so. They also may feel pressure from their peer groups.
Some parents make life difficult for their children with their expectations of what they should achieve in class.
I think parents and schools should try and ease the pressure on youngsters in Hong Kong, because some of them just cannot handle that level of stress.
There also has to be more communication between teachers and pupils. Some students are not getting the guidance they need.
Leo Wong Chun-shing, Tseung Kwan O
Serious threat to freedom in Turkey
I am writing to express concern about the protests in Turkey that have erupted over the past few days.
In Taksim Square, in Istanbul, there have been peaceful protests against the Turkish government's plans to pave over a public park to build a shopping centre.
Protesters were attacked by police with tear gas and water cannons.
The issue goes beyond this park dispute, however. Hong Kong people should be aware that, in Turkey, the current government is making clear steps to limit freedom of speech and democracy, and impose its own version of the Muslim religion on everyone.
People of the world should show solidarity with those wanting freedom and democracy in Turkey.
Please support the Turkish protesters by signing petitions or give other support to them.
Tell the Turkish Consulate in Hong Kong that you oppose the treatment of innocent protesters by the ruling party.
Only through the brave protests in Turkey, and support from the outside, can the great nation of Turkey be saved.
J. Carnett, Lantau
Young and old ignoring diabetes risk
I am concerned over the growing diabetes and obesity rates in Hong Kong.
In fact, the rate is also high on the mainland.
The statistics may seem shocking, but I do not think they are an exaggeration. You see a lot of men from offices in the city eating Chinese barbecue rice and fast food. They are overweight because they are not eating a balanced diet.
The sad fact is that people in Hong Kong are too busy to enjoy a relaxing and healthy meal, let alone exercise regularly.
If they have any free time, they would rather rest at home. Without a balanced diet or exercise, there is always the risk of getting diabetes.
Many people do seem to lack awareness about their personal health.
They put on more weight and neglect the need to have an annual medical check-up. And, as they get older, this places them at greater risk, especially once they are in their 50s.
They could end up with an illness that has become terminal, because they tried to ignore the symptoms.
I am also concerned about the health of teenagers and even young children. Hong Kong is a prosperous city and parents want to provide the best for their children. But I often see them in a restaurant refusing to eat their vegetables. Young people nowadays appear to lead a much less active lifestyle and this is contributing to childhood obesity and in some cases can result in diabetes.
Also, because of the need to do well at school, they are enrolled in tutorial classes, leaving them less time to take part in exercise.
If we continue to under-estimate this crisis, the health of future generations will be undermined and it will place an extra financial burden on our health-care system.
Every effort must be made by parents, schools and other citizens to reverse the current situation.
Children should be given balanced meals and taught from an early age about the importance of having a healthy lifestyle. Schools should also have anti-obesity campaigns.
It is up to all of us to try and keep ourselves in the best physical condition. Instead of working long hours at our desks, we need to give ourselves a necessary break.
We should all aim to do some form of exercise at least once a week.
Tiffany Yeung Sin-yee, Tsuen Wan
Relieve tension with regular yoga sessions
Given the pressure that people face in the workplace, at school and even in the family, they need to find ways to relax.
This can be done through exercise and yoga - a form of exercise that is free and is perfectly suited to the lifestyles of Hongkongers.
If people practise properly and do it regularly, it can help them maintain a good standard of health.
You can do it any time you want in your flat and it can help to improve your mental outlook.
Also people can do their yoga exercises accompanied by music and this makes it even more relaxing.
It is the perfect form of exercise for people who feel tense and dissatisfied with their lives.
Through regularly practising yoga, they can improve their mental outlook and also enjoy yoga sessions with family and friends.
Lina Lai, Sheung Shui