Letters to the Editor, September 10, 2013
Civil servants' favouritism towards cars
I agree with J. F. Kay ("Officials' lack of vision means priority still given to cars", September 4) and Philip Bowring ("Stop coddling private car users", September 8). Our officials urgently need to get to grips with the totally disproportionate benefits that government grants to private car users at the expense of the vast majority of public transport travellers.
I have the impression that the service road that harmfully dissects the new Central waterfront area was built principally for civil servants at the new government headquarters at Tamar.
I recommend that for one week all civil servants leave their cars parked at home and travel to and from work by public transport. This will have two benefits. Firstly, the Transport Department can understand the impact on public transport travel times that reducing private car journeys will make.
Secondly, the increased interaction with the public may give our mollycoddled job-for-life bureaucrats a better understanding of how difficult life for many people in Hong Kong has become.
It is apparent that our civil servants do not see the realities of community life because they either have their heads in the clouds or in the sand, and they particularly have a blind spot on the damage that cars cause to society.
Frank Lee, Mid-Levels
Do territories belong to Spain?
I refer to the letter from the consul-general of Spain, Juan Manuel López-Nadal ("British bias shows in colonial tussle over Gibraltar, says Spain", September 6).
I would be intrigued as to his views on how to handle two more "colonial remnants", both quite close to Gibraltar, Ceuta and Melilla. Specifically whether in his opinion either of these two Spanish enclaves, both surrounded by sovereign Moroccan territory, might in any way violate Morocco's territorial integrity?
I also note that his letter completely omitted mention of the population of Gibraltar, their wishes and presumed rights regarding their own self-determination. Consequently, should he reply through these columns, could he confirm that it is the position of the Spanish government that the wishes of long-settled (multi-generation) resident populations have no place whatsoever in considerations of self-determination, be it in Gibraltar, Ceuta, Melilla or wherever?
Richard Di Bona, Mid-Levels
City needs law that protects homosexuals
Many Hongkongers are arguing the case for a law protecting homosexuals, while Russian president Vladimir Putin has introduced an anti-gay law.
Legislation, as it stands in Hong Kong, is inadequate.
In fact, there are a lot of developed countries and cities which allow same-sex marriage such as Norway, Spain, Iceland and the Netherlands.
Hong Kong does not have a law which protects homosexuals and yet we claim to be a developed city. We should prevent discrimination in Hong Kong.
Some people wrongly argue that it is not necessary to have such legislation. A law will not only protect homosexuals, but also teach our children how to respect different people from all walks of life.
The Oxford, Macmillan and Collins dictionaries have changed the meaning of "marriage". The definition is no longer limited to a man and a woman.
Therefore, clearly it is time for the law to be changed.
Alan Yu, Tseung Kwan O
Police must curb speeding on island
I refer to the sane and sensible letter by Ralf Weiss ("Careful drivers can avoid accidents", September 4) regarding the coexistence in our country areas between motorists and other road users, in this case the local cattle.
On Lantau we have one of the most enviable natural environments in which to live and a wide variety of animal life to share it with.
However, we also have the most appalling "speedsters", who apparently see none of the majestic beauty but only the road taking them from A to B, which must be travelled at a perilous rate. In June a fatal accident claimed the lives of eight feral cows only days after a motorcyclist was killed.
At the request of a number of local concern groups, a meeting was held with the Transport Department and the police to try to seek improvements to the existing traffic conditions and improve road safety.
Since then, despite repeated e-mails to both departments, there has been a resounding silence regarding any possible action that may be taken, such as additional speed cameras, closed-circuit television, traffic calming measures - as adopted in some countries - and additional police patrols to curb driving offences.
It is as if the tragic loss of life is a matter of little concern to our government bureaucrats, who cannot bestir themselves to ensure that due care and attention is practised by those behind the wheels of South Lantau vehicles.
Jacqueline Green, Protection of Animals Lantau South
More public housing can cut waiting list
Property prices and rents for private apartments have been soaring in Hong Kong, making it difficult for some people to pay for a flat. Some of them are only able to pay for a subdivided unit and therefore have to endure very poor living conditions.
The government should be finding ways to solve this problem.
It needs to ensure that it provides more public housing with reasonable and affordable rents for those citizens who are on low incomes.
Many people who live in these subdivided flats are on the waiting list for public housing and many face a waiting time of, on average, three years.
Providing more public housing will help to reduce that waiting period.
Also, officials must find ways to regulate these subdivided units.
They can compromise the structure of a building, especially if it is old and the resultant overcrowding can pose a fire risk.
The government needs to have a system of subsidies in place.
They could be offered to people who are living in subdivided apartments, which would help them to pay for better-quality accommodation and therefore improve their overall living conditions.
Housing problems need to be solved by the administration and the problem of high property prices should be addressed, so that people's living conditions can improve.
Chan Wing-ki, Ngau Tau Kok
Officials could launch glass recycling
Hong Kong is a developed city and many people come here to live and do business.
However, there is clearly a need to improve policies regarding the recycling of waste. There are only a limited number of recycling bins in Hong Kong and they are only for some waste, such as paper and plastic, not for glass bottles.
This is a pity, because these bottles can be recycled and turned into bricks which could help to cut down on construction costs.
I saw a TV programme about April Lai [of Green Glass Green]. She and other volunteers have taken the initiative to collect empty glass bottles from Lan Kwai Fong in the early morning for recycling purposes.
Why can't the recycling of glass bottles be extended to every area of Hong Kong? This is a policy decision that should be implemented by the Hong Kong SAR government. Why is the recycling process so primitive in what is a fully developed and modern city?
It would not be difficult for the relevant civil servants to ensure that a sufficient number of recycling bins were placed throughout Hong Kong so that it was simple for citizens to deposit their empty glass bottles.
However, calls of this kind from various groups and citizens are being ignored.
Officials should listen to those people who genuinely care about the environment and take the necessary action.
Tracy Wong, Sham Shui Po
Cathay did not object to application
I would like to correct two errors in the reporting of Cathay Pacific's objection to Jetstar Hong Kong's application to the Air Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA) ("Cathay stirs up storm over Jetstar HK bid to take off", September 6).
The report says that Cathay Pacific, in 2002, objected to an application made by Dragonair to the ATLA. That is not correct, as we did not object to Dragonair's application.
The article also says that Cathay Pacific, in 2005, objected to a licence application made by Oasis Hong Kong Airlines.
Again, as a matter of record, Cathay Pacific did not object to the licence application.
Cathay Pacific specifically noted in a submission to the ATLA, regarding Oasis, that Cathay Pacific did not question the applicant's right to apply for a licence once it had obtained an Air Operator's Certificate from the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department.
The record will show that, once the ATLA decided to license Oasis before it obtained an Air Operator's Certificate, Cathay Pacific did not object to the licence being granted.
Arnold Cheng, general manager international affairs, Cathay Pacific Airways