Letters to the Editor, July 27, 2013

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 July, 2013, 3:41am

Encouraged by large protests on mainland

China has made incredible advances in recent years, in economics, technology and militarily.

This is what I would call hard power, but what about soft power, what about listening to and meeting the needs of the Chinese people?

In the past, any demonstrations and opposition to the government were suppressed. People were told that the priority was the development of the country.

In the past few weeks, we have seen protests in Guangdong against a uranium processing plant and an incinerator. People were angry that they had not been consulted. Thousands of citizens were involved and I feel what happened was a significant breakthrough for mainland people. It seemed that, for the first time, they were having an impact on the authorities' decision-making.

I am sure many were afraid that they might be punished, but they still went ahead with their actions.

A wise government listens to the voices of its people. If their views are ignored, they will lose confidence in their government and this can lead to growing calls for more democracy.

I hope China will become known as a country that has not just made great strides in "hard" power, but which also has a leadership that listens to the people and admits its mistakes.

With democratic reforms, the country can raise its international status.

Helen Chan Hoi-yin, Tai Kok Tsui


HK$6,000 handout not worst offence

Ronnie Chan Chi-chung's comments about Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah are just about on the mark.

The HK$6,000 handout for all adult permanent residents wasn't the worst offence - at least everybody, including the needy, received it.

The electricity and rates rebates in Tsang's budget were the real travesties.

Annual electricity rebates send a negative message about how much the government really cares about conservation and sustainability. The "per tenement" rates rebates lowered the cost of property ownership, and thus universally benefited the property-owning classes and partly fuelled the exact bubble that Tsang would later prick with his special stamp duty.

Of course, Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, joint chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties, would defend Tsang. What the public would want to know is why Li Ka-shing and Kwok, and their web of companies benefit from these sweeteners so disproportionately. As if it was a correct and popular thing to do, Tsang reaffirms it each year while the HK$6,000 handout became a one-off, adding insult to injury.

Lawrence Cheung, Mid-Levels


Air-traffic controllers the key element

How refreshing to read Albert Cheng King-hon's opinion on the third runway proposal for Hong Kong International Airport ("Hong Kong must exhaust all other options before building third runway", July 19).

Mr Cheng highlighted that the airport has issues with its airspace constraints, particularly through Chinese airspace and also with weather. However, I believe air traffic control to be the prime constraint on movements. I am not apportioning blame on the air-traffic controllers, but the limitations imposed on them; 64 flights an hour is too low a limit.

I operate regularly in and out of Hong Kong and other worldwide major airports. London Heathrow would be at the pinnacle of efficiency in terms of utilisation of its two runways.

This is primarily down to the exceptional air traffic control in the area. Hong Kong has the latent talent in air-traffic control to replicate Heathrow's success. I would recommend training a group of officers in Britain, exchange programmes, sharing knowledge and practices and further recruitment, locally and from overseas. This would go a long way towards improving the air-traffic control efficiency at our airport. This is only possible with the Civil Aviation Department's backing and financial commitment.

By taking this bold step, the department could position itself as the Asian authority on air-traffic control and create opportunities for the training of local and regional air-traffic control officers, regaining some of the costs incurred.

The department should focus on air-traffic control first to improve efficiency with the current runways because if it is not possible with two runways, then it certainly won't be with three.

Keith Moran, Discovery Bay


BMX facility has so much potential

I refer to the letters from Donna MacIntosh, of the International BMX HK Association ("City's only BMX track in poor state", July 15) and Nigel Lam ("BMX cyclists want to ride on track at night", July 17) about how to keep the International BMX Park at Gin Drinker's Bay open to the public as a sustainable operation.

The park is a first-rate facility, but under the stewardship of the Hong Kong Cycling Association it has been losing about HK$2 million a year.

Given operating costs, it was doomed to fail from a commercial perspective.

Ms MacIntosh suggested the Leisure and Cultural Services Department take over the park, allowing it to be a subsidised venue, open for public use. That may help keep it open, but I have concerns considering how the department's watersports and rock climbing facilities are run. These require long certification courses booked months in advance, prohibiting spontaneous interest from youths who may want to try it out. Mountain bikers are another key group of cyclists who desperately need a dedicated venue.

We share an extremely limited number of trails in the country parks with hikers and trail runners, and it is unsafe to train at full speed. The paths are extremely difficult for beginners, although in recent years we have worked with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department to build some novice trails.

In 2011, the Home Affairs Bureau and Environmental Protection Department suggested the Hong Kong Mountain Bike Association explore the idea of using the land adjacent to the BMX park as such a venue. A trail specialist inspected the site and estimated biking trails could be built.

Combining BMX and mountain bike venues into a single park, and sharing the existing facilities, would make the venue far more viable.

The association estimates there are tens of thousands of people riding mountain bikes regularly, who would appreciate a dedicated park for off-road bikers of all abilities.

While teenage drug abuse and adults' sedentary lifestyles reach epidemic levels, it would be a shame to see this great facility go to waste. We encourage the government and concerned groups to maximise the park's potential for the overall interests of the public.

Tom McGuinness, acting chairman, Hong Kong Mountain Bike Association


Refuse-filled streets a real possibility

I could not agree more with Eva Yau Tsz-yan's letter ("Consultation crucial to find waste solution", July 18).

The implementation of a polluter-pay principle can certainly help to reduce the burden on our landfills.

If a charge for domestic waste had been introduced decades earlier, our landfills would not have been saturated so quickly.

The government has not shown any foresight when it comes to waste management. If nothing is done soon, we will see rubbish piled up in the streets.

Apart from the waste charge, the government should provide more subsidies to the recycling industry as it is the main driving force towards developing a sustainable city.

More than 50 per cent of our waste is recyclable.

Although economic incentives are important, education is more effective.

People are ignorant about the extent of our waste problem. More city-wide recycling campaigns and waste reduction programmes are needed to change people's perceptions.

Leung Kit-yan, Diamond Hill


Angered over loss of best channel

I would like to vent my anger at Now TV's arbitrary decision to take away ITV Choice from our screens with effect from August 30.

In my opinion, ITV Choice is the best channel on television, as I think Now TV would have discovered if it had taken the time to conduct a poll on the subject.

I was certainly never consulted nor were any of my equally angry friends, work colleagues and neighbours.

I have only recently renewed my Now TV contract, which naturally includes ITV Choice, but as the company has broken its side of our contract, I feel honour-bound to do likewise and will cancel my subscription with immediate effect.

I have asked Now TV to arrange for one of its engineers to collect its equipment from my home on August 31.

Sandra MacDonald, Lantau


Wrong royal named in news report

What's with TVB?

On Pearl channel's evening news on Tuesday, of course, about the royal birth, it showed a picture of Prince Charles with well-wishers and the local commentary called him Prince Philip. Can't it get anything right?

What with this and the Rugby Sevens fiasco, one wonders why it has a licence to keep broadcasting.

Jenny May, Tsim Sha Tsui