Letters to the Editor, July 15, 2013

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 July, 2013, 3:14am

Opposition groups fail to see big picture

It surprises me how prejudiced some Hongkongers can be against the government. This concerns me because it can be damaging to our society.

Some people tend to disagree with every proposal from the administration without assessing all aspects of it. They are guided by self-interest and think only in the short term.

Those who adopt radical tactics comprise small opposition groups and their aim is to catch the spotlight.

The government tries to take the opinions of different stakeholders into account.

We must look at the whole picture when examining an issue.

Take the case of the proposed development of the northeast New Territories. Have the small number of villagers who disagree with the plan considered the views of those who want to leave?

People talk about the building of a second "city of sadness", but will that happen? Will people living in these new towns turn down the chance of a job just because it is some distance away and they have to pay a few hundred dollars to use public transport? Are critics of this new town proposal saying that jobs must be virtually on the doorstep for residents?

And regarding the proposed incinerator, if we do not go ahead with it and landfill extensions are blocked, how do we deal with the city's waste - dump it in the ocean?

I am neither a supporter nor opponent of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

However, I am a supporter of my town and I want the best for Hongkongers. This is only possible if we look at the whole picture when considering an issue.

Christina Kwok, Yuen Long


Co-operation with Beijing is important

The format for the 2017 election of the chief executive is the subject of heated debate in Hong Kong, with calls for all citizens to be given the right to vote.

However, China's leaders appear to have concerns about a chief executive being elected who may not be pro-Beijing and might be unco-operative.

They fear such a person might have a different vision of democracy that would see local citizens constantly at loggerhead with the mainland.

We have "one country, two systems", and yet Beijing still wants to have the right to rule us.

There has to be some compromise from the central government so we all can vote. Also, all the candidates standing should pledge that they will be willing to try to co-operate with Beijing, as long as it is not unreasonable.

Angel Hui, Tsuen Wan


City's only BMX track in poor state

Concern is mounting over the continued mismanagement at the Jockey Club International BMX Park in Kwai Chung which is operated by the Hong Kong Cycling Association.

The association suddenly closed the park in January and fired park staff.

Thankfully, the riding community staged a public protest and Hong Kong's only BMX track reopened.

The association selected three new staff, all inexperienced in BMX riding, to manage the track.

This is the fourth year we have seen a decline in regular grass-roots riders at the track and it is due to mismanagement.

The Cycling Association continues to allow mountain biking at the park even though the existing contract stipulates that the track can only be used for "BMXing". This year, it is in the worst state we have seen in four years.

Staff are on full-time salaries so why are they failing in their duty to properly maintain the BMX track?

They have also stopped running regular BMX races that used to attract riders to the park.

Available funds are not being used for the necessary upkeep and maintenance of the track.

There are riders in Hong Kong with the experience to advise on what repairs and maintenance should be done, but they are being continually knocked back by the cycling association.

The BMX HK Association has suggested to the cycling association that riders should be allowed free access so they can run and maintain the track, but this suggestion has been ignored.

We need to see transparency and accountability.

The BMX park has huge potential to help develop a sport that is growing in popularity among children.

Given the problems I have described, I believe the Leisure and Cultural Services Department should take over management of the park.

Donna MacIntosh, chairwoman, BMX HK Association


High luxury goods tax will lower rents

I refer to the report ("Foreign workers needed to curb wage rises: industry", July 6).

The concerns of the new chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, Stanley Lau Chin-ho, reflect a somewhat narrow-minded approach to this problem.

The last thing Hong Kong needs is an influx of cheap labour putting more pressure on housing and infrastructure.

Mr Lau's reply to the suggestion that dishwashers be paid HK$60 an hour is that this will result in buns costing HK$80 each.

I am not sure how he makes this calculation but it seems to me that the main factor driving up costs of buns in restaurants is high rents, not labour costs.

If rents were to fall by say 50 per cent, restaurant owners could afford to pay dishwashers HK$60 an hour and keep the price of buns at their current levels.

The constituency that Mr Lau represents seems to be hell- bent on keeping Hong Kong's poorest in their place.

God forbid that we give them any more than the miserable HK$30 an hour that the law prescribes. And even that is too much by some accounts.

A hefty tax on luxury goods as suggested some weeks ago in The Big Lychee, a blog on Hong Kong affairs, might be the way out of this dilemma.

This would have the following effects:

  • Closure of hundreds if not thousands of luxury goods shops catering to mainland tourists as the latter would be able to buy these goods for the same price back home;
  • A fall in commercial rents;
  • Reopening of shops serving the needs of locals;
  • Lower overheads for restaurant owners allowing them to pay higher wages;
  • Fewer mainland tourists; and
  • More room on the MTR.

Of course, the luxury brands and landlords would lose out but I am sure that their social consciences would inform them that such a move would be for the greater good.

Mark Medwecki, Sai Kung


Bank no help at all for trip to Europe

HSBC, the world's increasingly insular and incompetent bank, continues to push the boundaries of credibility.

It is fast overtaking PCCW as the choice example of failure in customer service on the lips of expatriates.

Given that HSBC ATM cards don't work any more in Europe, and as I and my wife were going to Italy, I followed the bank's advice to use credit card cash advances in Europe and thus get around the problem, albeit having to pay the bank's cash advance charges for the privilege.

After three weeks and several inquiries, my new credit card and my wife's supplementary card had still not arrived. I was told that the bank could not make a decision for at least a month even though it appears to be able to increase credit card limits at a whim. This is despite us previously having HSBC credit cards.

My wife has already gone to Italy with a bag stuffed full of euros and I depart tomorrow with my shiny new Standard Chartered ATM card in hand. This bank does not appear to rely solely on UnionPay.

This latest insult from HSBC is on top of being charged HK$190 for a local interbank payment for an air ticket. Interestingly, the other bank only charged HK$40 for its part of the transaction.

You can pull euros out of an HSBC ATM here in Hong Kong, but sadly, perhaps, only in Hong Kong.

Most of the bank's business may be conducted in China, but plenty of Hong Kong Chinese travel elsewhere. I wonder if, like a lot of non-Chinese customers, they are changing banks.

Neil Stewart, Sai Kung


Too many cars allowed into country park

On June 30, I should have been shocked to find more than 100 cars parked illegally along the road to Wong Shek Pier in Sai Kung Country Park.

However, as a resident of the park I have become used to this weekly festival of madness.

What angers me most is that the Sai Kung country park authorities process applications for each of these cars, despite knowing full well that there are nowhere near enough parking facilities for them all.

They are showing a wilful and reckless disregard for the implications of their actions.

When the day comes that a pedestrian is knocked down by a car on this stretch of road as a result of being unable to walk on the footpath itself, I hope that the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has the common decency to put its hand up and accept its share of the responsibility.

Either that or perhaps department officers would like to do something about it now, before somebody gets hurt?

Richard Gerrish, Sai Kung