Letters to the Editor, July 26, 2013
Right time for Li to offload ParknShop
It appeared from press reports earlier in the week that Li Ka-shing's Hutchison Whampoa was thinking of selling its ParknShop supermarkets.
Some people speculated that this was because of changes to labour legislation and other measures taken by the government.
The parent company has denied a sale, but I think it would be a smart move on the part of Mr Li if he does decide to sell in the near future.
ParknShop is in the retail business. Retail, in general, has small margins although I suspect the margins of this supermarket chain and Wellcome will be much higher than similar players as between them they control 70 per cent of the market.
In Hong Kong's retail sector many shops have closed. This is not due to rising wages but exorbitant rents and short leases that increase massively each time they are renewed.
I suspect Mr Li will try to get the most he can from his fortunate market position, by selling ParknShop and with it any property it owns while it is at its highest market value. If the shops are not owned by ParknShop but by Hutchison then it can just charge an enormous rent to the new owners of the supermarket chain. It is a lot easier to just pick up this rent once a month than to operate a retail chain with a large staff.
I would say to those who fear Mr Li will quit Hong Kong, do not worry.
He will not leave until he and his fellow property tycoons have squeezed every last penny out of the hard-working Hong Kong people through the exorbitant rents or suffocating mortgages on tiny flats.
Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay
Don't let green laws stifle development
Last month Unesco granted World Heritage status to the terraced rice fields of Honghe Hani in Yunnan . It is a spectacular man-made terrain that makes up a unique and integrated ecological system and a living expression of the creativity of our ancestors.
You could never imagine such a marvellous ecological system ever existing in Hong Kong.
If any man-made development was proposed for a rural area, it would be met by local opposition and the government would not allow it without first conducting an environmental impact assessment.
The spectacular traditional farming landscape of Honghe Hani featuring these amazing rice terraces was created to meet the very basic need of the ancient Chinese, that is, to survive by adapting to the existing environment.
I am sure our ancestors did not have to submit slope stability reports and EIAs before felling trees to create these hillside terraces.
Nowadays, we have green groups in Hong Kong opposed to any development within rural areas and demanding "no net loss". We must develop land to meet the needs of a population of seven million.
Should we stay stuck with the environmental laws of the present or move forward to build the city our citizens and expanding population deserve to have?
Lam Wai-leung, Man On Shan
Landfill curse is a legacy of poor planning
The issue of landfills that are nearing capacity has been in the spotlight again.
Citizens in Tseung Kwan O reacted very strongly to government plans to expand the existing landfill in that area with protests including hunger strikes.
It is not hard to understand how unpleasant it can be to live in such a foul-smelling, unhygienic environment. However, we cannot ignore this waste problem.
Apart from the landfill expansion, other suggestions put forward include the imposition of a waste disposal levy on citizens and the use of incinerators to better manage the waste generated.
I agree with those who say that expanding our landfills offers only a short-term solution. We need more visionary ideas such as better land-use zoning.
The problem could have been avoided if the government had put more effort into establishing a minimum distance between sites earmarked for landfills and residential developments.
It is a pity that the government tried too hard to develop new towns without considering the importance of managing the city's waste. However, it is not too late to rectify the problems created, by formulating a method of payment for people who generate waste.
The costs involved and the sustainability of the scheme need to be outlined clearly to the public so as not to cause alarm. Also if they opt for incinerators officials must ensure they are sustainable in environmental terms.
Plants that emit harmful smoke affect citizens' livelihoods just as seriously as the foul smells caused by the landfills.
Disappointingly, the government appears to be indecisive and always takes a short-sighted approach on this issue. It should be seeking solutions to problems before they arise.
William Leung Yuen-lung, Sham Shui Po
Fine those who dumped paint canisters
Large quantities of empty ship paint canisters have been dumped right next to Southern District Shipbuilding Association on Ap Lei Chau Praya Road.
Someone should be prosecuted for doing this.
It is a slap in the face to those of us trying to maintain a clean environment.
Saki Chatzichristidis, Ap Lei Chau
Women still need their voices heard
I refer to the article by Su-Mei Thompson ("Men of action needed for gender equality", July 19).
I think the idea of telling men to change is extraordinary and bold.
They may not hear you or they may turn away.
Still they will think - if, when and how they might change their own actions.
More importantly, however, Su-Mei gives courage to women to adapt to the notion that the ways of men just might change.
Given time, the immediate conditions, and the slower roll of cultural adaptation - change does happen.
This can only be good for all of us.
While I fully support all the points in this article, most women are employed in settings where other women are in charge.
Most working women work in the broadest areas of human service - nursing, teaching, community, social welfare, at small family businesses and in other people's homes.
Still, the voices of women need to be heard and this is a good example of that.
Rosann Santora Kao, Tsim Sha Tsui
Don't make old and disabled solicit funds
I have watched with interest that over several years various charities in Hong Kong have taken to using elderly and often severely handicapped individuals to directly solicit contributions from pedestrians in Central.
These charities appear to be officially sanctioned and operating under a governmentadministered scheme where each charity is allocated a specific day during which they can raise funds.
I have noticed often these people are wheelchair-bound, well into their 70s, appear to suffer multiple severe handicaps and are out soliciting funds in 30 degrees Celsius heat for five or six hours.
Something strikes me as not right about this.
The assumption one makes is these people are beneficiaries of the charities for which they are soliciting.
My heart goes out to them, but I can't help but wonder if they should be protected from the obligation, even if self-perceived, to pound the pavement to help fund their own care.
Can the appropriate authorities look into this?
Tobias Brown, Central
HKDSE exam achievements an inspiration
People often think in terms of stereotypes when it comes to education, believing that the top students always come from elite schools.
However, the results of the this year's Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exam (HKDSE), prove this is not the case.
Two high achievers came from low-income families. I found the story of one of them, Terry Tsz Cho-ho, inspiring ("Results speak volumes for tenacity", July 16).
He lives in a public housing estate in Tin Shui Wai, and he studied at a district school.
This area of northwestern Hong Kong has been dubbed the "city of sadness", because of its high unemployment and suicide rates.
However, Terry has proved that the residents are self-reliant and hard-working. He has shown young people that they can strive to achieve their goals no matter what background they come from.
Another inspiring story was of blind student Tsang Tsz-kwan.
Her result may not be as good as the high achievers. Nevertheless, her resilience helped her succeed.
She could have been exempted from the listening exams, but was determined to accept the challenge, and her efforts were not in vain. She got a 4 in Chinese listening and 5* in English listening.
Her story taught me, as an HKDSE candidate next year, that we must have the courage to overcome whatever difficulties we face.
Chang Hoi-ka, Kwai Chung