Letters to the Editor, July 23, 2013
Poor financial planning in the spotlight
It is most unusual that I find myself supporting the views of a property tycoon.
However, I congratulate Ronnie Chan Chi-chung for taking our financial secretary, John Tsang Chun-wah, to task for his short-sighted and indiscriminate use of our fiscal reserves ("'Foolish' HK$200b giveaway slammed", July 19). His outburst has had the good effect of again bringing the government's poor financial planning into the spotlight.
You quote an unnamed government source, who, in true bureaucratic style, tries to shift the blame and responsibility for these sweetener handouts to political parties. According to him or her, these funds were dished out as "political realities" and on the basis of extensive consultations. Since when did the Hong Kong government listen to political parties or conduct a genuine consultation without having a pre-ordained outcome? It was clear that handing out these goodies was a bid by the Tsangs - both John and his boss, then-chief executive Donald - to stem their cascading popularity as indicated by opinion polls.
If a government source wants to give information to the public, the person should not remain "unnamed". The South China Morning Post should desist from publishing such government quotes unless they are backed by a name and official position.
Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels
Taxpayers' money was squandered
I certainly wholeheartedly agree with Ronnie Chan Chi-chung's criticism of John Tsang Chun-wah and indeed our government.
He wasted billions of Hong Kong taxpayers' money when he decided to indiscriminately give a handout to all adult Hong Kong permanent resident ID card holders, irrespective of whether they paid taxes, irrespective of whether they even lived here, and irrespective of whether they even needed this. While I have no objections to the use of my hard-earned money to subsidise the poor, or to upgrade our education, housing and medical facilities for all our residents, I baulk at the thought that many ex-Hong Kong residents who have now taken citizenship and residency in foreign countries, all came back just for a quick holiday in order that they could pick up HK$6,000.
Many of these would not have even come to visit Hong Kong, but they did, as they had a free or subsidised trip.
Many of these have also never even paid a single cent in tax, having left Hong Kong and not returned for between 20 and 50 years. And let us not also forget how much it cost us taxpayers in terms of labour and administration charges incurred in the issuance of an ID card for these people?
And yet, they quibble about topping up the measly HK$1,090 "fruit money" for the elderly? The mind boggles.
Barbara Winterbourne, Wan Chai
We must try to reduce waste volumes
I refer to the letter by G. Chan ("Look at waste-to-energy option", July 17).
Your correspondent suggests that our government should give more support concerning waste management. However, it is not only our government's responsibility to manage waste, it is the duty of all Hong Kong people. If every Hong Kong citizen was aware of the importance of reducing waste, our landfills would not fill up so quickly.
It is great to see that more Hongkongers are willing to recycle plastic bottles and even glass bottles. However, it is difficult to find a way to recycle old furniture or other large items that could still be used by people.
One solution is to ask friends or relatives if they would like to have old furniture, but that can prove to be too much trouble. There are actually some organisations that will take such items and pass them on to someone who needs them. One example is Oh Yes It's Free, which matches unwanted furniture with photographs on the internet and gives it to someone who wants that thing for free. It is run as a non-profit organisation. It promotes the principle of good value, that is, how much use is it rather than the cost. This organisation has saved a lot of furniture and helped stop such items ending up in a landfill.
A little creativity helps people in their lives and reduces the volume of waste.
A broken umbrella may be of no use to someone, but components can be taken from 10 broken umbrellas and put to good use.
Many white candles were lit during the June 4 vigil in Victoria Park.
In Chinese society, people will sometimes have misgivings about taking them. But someone else could surely find some use for them. Melting them with coloured candles could produce new candles.
I would like to see the government showing more support for these non-profit groups that help to reduce waste volumes in Hong Kong. As I said, we all have a responsibility not to waste things.
Alice Tam Yee-ching, Kwai Chung
Resistance to new charges inevitable
The Hong Kong government has announced plans to cut 40 per cent of rubbish dumped by each person in landfills by 2022.
These plans include the construction of incinerators, implementation of a waste charge, expansion of landfills and carbon reduction campaigns.
I believe some of the plans will meet with resistance.
One of the main controversies surrounding any incinerator is location. Residents whose homes might be near a plant fear pollution problems that could pose a threat to their health.
A lot of assessments have been undertaken to find the most suitable site.
Our landfills are nearing capacity so I can recognise the need to construct incinerators.
The residue after burning can also be used, for example, as fertiliser. But, of course, officials will also have to monitor pollution levels, especially if they pose a risk to health.
A waste charge will also be opposed by some Hong Kong citizens.
It has been estimated that each person could have to pay HK$20 a month and this would drop if waste volumes were reduced.
Clearly, under the government's proposed strategy, citizens will have to bear a greater financial burden in the future for the disposal of waste. I think waste charges for citizens will lead to a more well-developed waste reduction strategy.
We have seen this already with the charge of 50 cents for plastic bags. Now, more people are bringing their own bags when they go shopping and this is a good habit to adopt. However, I think some Hong Kong people might be more resistant to being charged for waste.
Carbon reduction requires co-operation from different parties and I hope that there will be more education so more people recognise the need to save the earth.
Daniel Hui Yin-hang, Sha Tin
Marches over verdict to be welcomed
I refer to the report ("George Zimmerman not guilty verdict sparks protests in US", July 16).
People should be entitled to protest against court verdicts they disagree with and it is good that they can do this in the United States.
These marches illustrate the importance of genuine judicial independence and that such independence is a public property.
People should not fear expressing their honest opinions for fear there will be legal repercussions.
There are some countries where individuals who protest over a court verdict will be held in contempt.
This is wrong and it means that individuals in those nations feel gagged.
Thanks to these nationwide protests, the US Justice Department is investigating the "facts and circumstances" surrounding the shooting and would take "appropriate action" at its inquiry's conclusion.
The right to public protests over judicial verdicts should be recognised as a fundamental right.
Judicial respect needs to be earned and not demanded, as happens in some nations.
The protesters in America should be commended.
Also, what this case illustrates is that the US has to tighten gun control laws.
Deendayal M. Lulla, Mumbai, India
Tycoons can make a real difference
Even if Peter [formerly Tony] Chan Chun-chuen felt he had the right to all of Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum's wealth, he should realise now, if he is a true Christian convert, that money used to help humanity is worth more then the money he would have used for amassing his properties, shares and other self-centered wants.
Why was this man so foolish as to claim a fortune that was supposed to finance a charity?
He should have been a grateful Christian and accepted whatever God had already given him and smiled about what was to be used for charitable purposes.
Every tycoon in this city needs to realise that their wealth is a gift of God and that it will not travel with them to heaven. So, it would be wise to make sure it is utilised for the betterment of society and not simply transferred down a family hierarchy.
Excess money can make a man turn from being holy to a sinner.
If tycoons fail God's biggest test to be charitable, then they have to live with guilt. No man, rich or poor, is spared the final journey of life.
The wealth of the richest in this city can help lift people from poverty and give them hope. I hope all billionaires will realise this.
Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels