Letters to the Editor, September 15, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 September, 2013, 1:50am


Reject free market and restore values

The Humanist Association of Hong Kong fully agrees with David Akers-Jones ("Correcting lever needed to tackle poverty", September 5) and finds the response from Nick Au Yeung, of the chief executive's office, ("Government doing all it can to help relieve plight of poor in HK", September 10) lamentable.

The term 'free market' is a misnomer. The property market is controlled by corporations and landlords who want more cash for themselves. This is neither ethical nor sustainable capitalism. It is self-seeking and against the public good.

The Occupy movement is well named, even if only coincidentally. A place to live is a fundamental need for any family or individual. The protest is about striving for a decent way of life.

Governments should handle all essential industries and services and can do it more than adequately. Private enterprises have been undermining public services and the government has to fight back. In particular we must protect public utilities: energy; transport; shipping and ports; security and prisons; resources of sea and land such as agriculture and fisheries; and country parks management.

This will take political will and power and bipartisan support, in which the common aim is the betterment of the lives of the majority.

Other steps should include introducing rent controls; giving financial support to public and not private institutions; and encouraging cross-border integration to open up jobs and housing opportunities.

Developed economies are in crisis and there is no solution under their disintegrating system of blinkered privatisation. That's because the moneyed are calling the shots. Our humanist proposals point in a new direction, returning us, rearmed with technology, to "old-fashioned", wholesome values.

Tony Henderson, chairman, Humanist Association of Hong Kong


Policy failure exposed by act of charity

Recently there have been councillors complaining that charitable organisations, by providing the homeless with food and other supplies in Sham Shui Po, will make them unwilling to help themselves and also attract more homeless people onto the streets for handouts.

It is ridiculous to say the homeless will not live a normal life again just because they are given a few lunch boxes.

It is clear to see that the government is leaving its responsibility to charitable organisations. Did it ever wonder why there are numerous homeless people on the street?

Housing policy is failing to help the poor find a place to live, despite many having had to spend years waiting. The government should figure out a way to provide more public housing as soon as possible.

The shortage of public housing is not the only factor in the rise of homelessness. Economic inequality is also forcing more people into a life on the streets and they will not be able to overcome poverty unless circumstances change.

These people cannot even bear the rental of a subdivided flat, but the government does not seem to understand their plight and makes it worse.

The charitable organisations seem to know and care more about the needs of homeless people. Although they merely give away lunch boxes that cost only HK$20, even this shows they care more than the government does.

It is unbelievable that they are criticised for showing their love to the poor and homeless.

Sam Fung, Tseung Kwan O


School car ban brings relief to residents

I fully support the mandatory busing policy for pupils introduced by Hong Kong International School at its Repulse Bay campus.

Residents living near the school in South Bay Close have all been suffering in silence.

Before the bus policy was imposed, traffic congestion was so bad between 1.30 and 3.30 pm Monday to Friday I had to decide not to use the car if I planned to return home during those periods. Then I would have to climb up steps or walk uphill to reach home - a problem if I was carrying heavy bags.

One of the parents has referred to his freedom to allow his daughter not use the bus scheme being denied.

This gentleman is trying to satisfy his own right to freedom (convenience to drop off pupils by private car) but in the process the basic right of South Bay Close residents to be able to drive in and out of their homes is being sacrificed.

A. Kwok, Repulse Bay


Golf critics risk great leap backwards 

It has surprised me the extent to which criticism has reverberated through these columns, out to undermine Hong Kong Golf Club.

I, too, chose to contribute to this debate, in favour of respecting the assets of the people of Hong Kong - those of the rich and the poor without discrimination - and not dismantling them like a revolutionary regime. My message was: let the golf club be.

Yet again we have someone attacking the club. Trevor Hughes ("Let's curb golf club elitism, then tackle real land issues", September 7) admits to being a member of a golf society and a golfer here for 18 years, so that was a good start.

However, the tone of his letter was to grab a piece of the club for himself, with reduced admission charges, fatten the coffers of Hong Kong with economic rent charges, and run clinics for the young from any background of life. The club must yield to some sort of charity by coercion and blackmail.

I am not a golfer, and I am not a member of the club. But I do recognise that the anomalous evolution of Hong Kong has afforded certain time-honoured traditions protecting the interests of its stability, such as the special law of New Territories land owners and their land development. Also included was that the government provided land at a nominal rent for private clubs, especially for its international workforce seeking a home away from home, and such club land not being threatened by any ruinous vagaries of economic rent.

This club privilege extends not only to the international community, but to minority citizens like descendants of the Indian sub-continent and to long-serving Caucasian residents and overseas Chinese. Without it, examples such as the Hong Kong Football Club, Kowloon Cricket Club and the India Club might well fold.

If that happened, there would be an exodus of many internationally facilitating people - and then what? A one-race state so preoccupied with egalitarianism that a political vacuum would open up to devour everyone under an anarchical or tyrannical regime? I wouldn't want Hong Kong people to start having to go backwards, and end up wearing their Mao Zedong boiler suits. Would you?

Mike Ashton, Sha Tin


Rural idyll lost in China's rush to progress

I am writing about China's urbanisation drive.

I worked on a massive property development in Nanjing , where land was taken from small farmers. Most of the displaced farmers were relocated to a huge residential estate. It is good by Nanjing's standards, with better facilities than the farmers were used to.

But the end result is a social disaster, as most of the displaced residents have nothing to do. They cannot grow crops any more and do not know what else to do.

Their sole occupation seems to be playing the stock market, having invested their "compensation" money. I dread to think what will happen when China's stock market crashes.

Located in a thriving new town, their flats will likely rise in value. So maybe all will be well in the end, except that the country has lost farmers and farmland to urbanisation.

Nigel Lam, Tin Shui Wai