Letters to the Editor, July 31, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 4:23am

It is only right for rich to pay higher taxes

Jake van der Kamp hit the nail on the head in his column ("Action plan on tax an impossible task", July 23), as income and profits can circulate the globe and circumvent tax nets at the stroke of a pen.

However, this is a bad situation, as the rich and powerful - individuals and corporations - avoid paying their dues to the public that they often exploit. Their avoidance places the tax burden onto others in society who are far less capable of shouldering this load.

It is unfair and one of the root causes of the wealth gap between rich and poor. This rapidly widening gap and the perception of gross unfairness that this engenders within a majority of the population may destabilise the system.

Reining in unbridled greed would not be such a bad thing. Government revenue collection authorities should concentrate on "user-pays" tax methods within their geographical jurisdiction. The two areas most "used" are land and the local population (as consumers).

Tax rates should be progressive so that the rich and large pay more to offset the advantages of financial and political influence that their wealth and size presently affords.

Van der Kamp says "keep the money in private hands and it will generally be well invested".

While I generally agree, the price of inequality is too high when the top 1 per cent of income earners are getting an ever larger share of the money, and control an excessive proportion of the community's wealth.

Most of the money paid to the poor and middle classes is spent on goods in the real economy, whereas much of the rich's money is shuffled into the investment banking industry. It then gyrates to products that have little positive effect for society apart from creating jobs and bonuses for the "boys".

The much-lauded trickle-down effect is but a self-serving myth.

I. M. Wright, Happy Valley


Far too many advisers for government

I refer to the letter by Nick Au Yeung, assistant director (media) for the Chief Executive's Office ("Chief executive seeks to appoint best person for each position", July 25).

He proudly informs us that 3,707 appointments/reappointments have already been made to government advisory and statutory bodies. I am astonished; as Hong Kong is a small place, why do we need this multitude of advisers and consultants?

Before the handover it was perhaps understandable that the British used these bodies to give the impression of having strong local input and support.

However, as the government here is now all local, why do we still need these bastions of favouritism and vested interest?

It is no wonder policy responsibility and decision-making are now so onerous, and that government acts as though wallowing in a quagmire.

K. Y. Leung, Shouson Hill


Government kowtowing to developers

Hong Kong's conservation policy for built heritage is a sham and a shame, as in actuality it is disguised development.

While the Lui Seng Chun building in Mong Kok may be viewed as a successful heritage conservation project, I invite anyone to visit the sites of the former Wan Chai market, the marine police headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui, and the munitions store in Admiralty to see the reality of preservation in Hong Kong.

The government is kowtowing to developers and architects, while giving the false impression to the public that it is genuinely interested in preservation.

Our conservation policy is not about preserving the past but preserving money-making.

Our Town Planning Board, which maintains that it is a paragon of independence, is also in on the act, as its recent ruling to allow a relaxation of the height restriction imposed on the Central Market project clears the way for a massive and dominating glass structure to be erected on top. This makes a complete mockery of the original Bauhaus structure.

This kind of opaque dishonesty becomes endemic within government. The administration should decide clearly either to preserve or demolish for development, but do not try to deceive the public.

Mainland officials should think twice before they copy Hong Kong's approach to built heritage.

P. C. Law, Quarry Bay


Standing up for air-traffic controllers

I refer to the letter by Keith Moran ("Air-traffic controllers the key element", July 27).

Your correspondent was responding to Albert Cheng King-hon's column ("Hong Kong must exhaust all other options before building third runway", July 19).

I had an in-depth discussion with a senior air-traffic controller. He said that because of the mountainous terrain of the eastern and western approaches to Chek Lap Kok and with the airport being close to the Chinese border, the maximum number of movements (take-off and landing) at the airport is 68 per hour. He said air-traffic controllers at the airport were of international standard.

Mr Moran seemed to imply that 64 movements an hour was too low a figure and that the air-traffic controllers were slow and could do with training in Britain and exchange programmes. He felt that, through shared knowledge, air-traffic control efficiency could be improved at our airport. I spoke to the chief pilot for the CEO of a software firm. He said that, even without mountainous terrain, 64 movements per hour from eastern and western approaches with two parallel runways, as we have in Hong Kong, is a sufficient number.

Eugene Li, Deep Water Bay


Bright lights are putting citizens at risk

The light pollution problem in Hong Kong has become more serious and research earlier this year revealed areas where it is particularly bad, such as Tsim Sha Tsui. This is harming our health and environment.

With so many companies and brands in Hong Kong, they want to promote themselves and use brightly lit banners and billboards. Hongkongers should all do their bit, such as switching off lights when they do not need them.

The government must also introduce laws to curb light pollution, limiting the number of billboards in use and adjusting the brightness of lights.

Debby Wong Sin-kwan, Tseung Kwan O


Firearms laws in US must be tightened

Gun control has long been among the most controversial issues in American politics. In April the Senate rejected new gun control legislation.

US President Barack Obama pledged to keep fighting for stricter control of firearms.

Instances of gun violence are far higher in the United States than in many other countries.

The tragedy in December, in which a gunman killed 20 children and six teachers at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, highlights the problem.

Gun control laws are too weak. It is a fairly straightforward process for a citizen aged 21 or over to purchase one from a firearm shops.

The obvious solution to deal with the problem is to ban the private ownership of guns in the United States. Only this could bring an end to gun violence and prevent tragedies happening again.

Senators should really reconsider their views.

Flora Cheng, Tsuen Wan