Letters to the Editor, September 28, 2013

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 September, 2013, 12:21am


Property sector barking up wrong tree

There has been much pressure on the government to water down or eliminate its property cooling measures, from individuals like Abraham Razack, the real estate sector's man in the Legislative Council, Shih Wing-ching, co-founder of Centaline Property Agency, property agents and decorators, and even conveyancing law firms.

No doubt property transactions have plummeted since the measures were announced but aren't these people barking up the wrong tree?

Where were they when then chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen suspended land sales for years, when prices kept going up and up.

Why weren't they complaining about free market principles then? So, it's free market principles when land sales are suspended and not so when cooling measures are announced.

Neither Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying nor Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung is responsible for the current situation. If these people have a gripe, it should be with Donald Tsang and the Hong Kong property developers.

If land had been supplied on a regular basis, we wouldn't have had a runaway property market (driven by a shortage of supply, ultra-low interest rates and mainlanders flooding into Hong Kong) and the need to impose cooling measures.

The government is right to stand by these cooling measures in the absence of supply or much lower prices.

Hold steadfast C. Y. and Professor Cheung, do not buckle under pressure or be sure to lose the next election in 2017.

Sanjiv Singh, Mid-Levels


Meeting of minds on native flora

I refer to the letter by Paul Melsom, Sharon Kwok and Martin Williams ("Unique green haven in heart of city should showcase native flora", September 22).

They may wish to know that from where I live I can see a nursery of saplings in the northwest corner of the West Kowloon cultural park. Whether they are natives I cannot see; they don't look of arboretum quality.

Their ideas cross with some of my own for the South Lantau parkland city, which has caused such rage in some quarters, without those concerned having looked at it in detail.

I share your correspondents' disappointment that the arboretum in Shing Mun is so far away and, now that we know of our rich heritage of Hong Kong orchids through Gloria d'Almada Barretto's magnificent volume, their wish to create something for all to enjoy.

I have always thought, too, that it is a pity that there is no display of the rich variety of bamboo that is so much part of our Chinese heritage.

By the way, the housing in the "parkland" could be situated in the littoral area, without disturbing villagers or annexing private land.

David Akers-Jones, Yau Ma Tei


Electric buses offer relief from fumes

Some people have expressed concerns about having electric vehicles on our roads after an accident last year in Shenzhen when an electric taxi crashed into a tree and caught fire, killing all three passengers.

However, I think electric buses in Hong Kong will be safe and well maintained. As long as they are checked regularly, I do not foresee a problem and I am happy that with these buses there will be no emissions.

When I go out, I have to cover my nose because of the unpleasant exhaust fumes from buses on Hong Kong's roads.

I do hope that we will soon see these environmentally friendly electric buses replacing the older vehicles.

Chan Ngai-yu, Sha Tin


No reason to ban under-16s from race

The theme of the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon is "Run for a Reason". However, I cannot fathom a reason for the organiser, the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA), to bar youngsters under 16 from joining the 10-kilometre race starting next year.

While the association aims to increase the overall number of participants in the 2014 race by 1,000, it will also reduce the quota for the 10km race by 1,500. One of the easiest ways the HKAAA uses to help achieve these two objectives is to completely bar youngsters under 16 from joining the 10km race. Surely this is a contradiction of its objectives:

  • To provide a broad development spectrum for athletes from the grass roots to elite level;
  • Select athletes to represent Hong Kong in the Olympic, Asian and World games, Asian and regional championships, and overseas international competitions; and
  • To provide systematic training for a national squad of athletes, at junior and senior levels.

Youngsters should form the base from which the HKAAA selects its athletes to groom and develop. It makes no sense to bar them from a race it organises. Sports associations globally are lowering age limits.

Youngsters below 16 have been allowed to join the 10km race for years; they only needed to be certified by a doctor as medically fit. Many were sponsored by their schools and often had HKAAA-certified trainers. Some raised money for charities. Being so well prepared, there was little chance of them being involved in any incidents, so there can no valid safety reason for the rule change.

Why should the HKAAA sacrifice these youngsters?

Daniel Mak, Tsing Yi


NZ same-sex unions show the way for HK

I refer to the report ("Hong Kong gay couple marry in NZ", September 21).

The couple went to New Zealand because a new gay marriage law took effect last month.

The country has been praised for this change in the law, which has attracted worldwide attention.

It has been welcomed by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Hong Kong.

LGBT groups have been repeatedly calling for similar legislation to be enacted here.

I think it will be hard to get such a law passed in the city as it is still a very conservative society.

Traditional Chinese culture sees a same-sex union as outrageous and immoral.

However, this may change once the government has formulated and then enacted an anti-discrimination law protecting the rights of sexual minorities.

I believe that once such a law is passed, people will gradually become more open-minded towards issues such as same-sex marriage.

Kammy Lo Wing-lam, Kwai Chung


In layman's terms, Jetstar is local airline

I refer to the esoteric letter from W. S. H. Peng ("Valid doubts over 'local' Jetstar", September 18).

In more layman terms, the business of an airline is the provision of air service for the carriage of passengers, cargo and mail, charging a fee known respectively as airfare and cargo rate, collectively known as tariff.

If the airline provides such air service principally into and out of Hong Kong, Hong Kong is its principal place of business.

It does not matter where else in the world, say Qantas in Australia, the technical management in the provision of this service is done or is contracted out to.

The Air Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA) would have issued the airline with a route licence for the provision of scheduled air service, called permit, specifying the point of origin, the intermediate point(s), the destination and the beyond point(s).

A round trip going out of and returning to the point of origin constitutes the completion of a service.

So, to Jetstar, the ATLA would be issuing a permit specifying Hong Kong as the point of origin, from and to which passengers, cargo and mail would be principally carried, along the specified route, known as third- and fourth-freedom traffic.

It follows that Hong Kong must be its principal place of business, not Qantas in Australia where the technical management is intended to be provided.

If it is then discovered that on each round-trip service, traffic is principally carried by Jetstar other than from and to the point of origin, called fifth-freedom traffic, which would not have been approved by the ATLA, the permit could be rescinded. But I do not see how the other two shareholders besides Qantas would allow this to happen, nor would the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, if it is worth its salt.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan


Spend what it takes to clean up Fukushima

Japan still has to overcome concerns people have about radiation leaking from the stricken nuclear plant at Fukushima, especially with it now having won the right to host the 2020 summer Olympics.

The government has pledged to spend US$500 million to stem the flow of contaminated water.

It should spend whatever is needed to solve this lingering Fukushima crisis once and for all, but I wonder if this might lead to a funding shortage for the Games.

On a positive note, I think the 2020 Olympics will boost tourism in the country and therefore help its economy.

I do hope that the country can host a successful Olympics.

Cheng Po-wing, Tsuen Wan