No leadership on housing or other issues
I wish to congratulate Philip Bowring on his excellent column ("Who can lead on land policy?" September 22).
It would appear obvious to anyone of modest intelligence that the current small-house policy for the sons of indigenous villagers is unsustainable and has to be scrapped.
Recent comments, including those of the Heung Yee Kuk's Lau Wong-fat, have suggested building land should be extended into country parks and the like. What a disaster that would ultimately be.
As Bowring points out so clearly, the current shortage of affordable public housing is largely due to the inaction of the previous administration.
If the 33 per cent of misused agricultural land were used to provide more affordable public housing, together with the redevelopment of outdated factory and housing estates, it would be a big step in the right direction.
It would appear that, together with a more pragmatic approach to the problem of insufficient public housing, limiting the number of daily migrants into Hong Kong would make sense.
I agree with Bowring that Hong Kong badly needs firm leadership on the issue of housing, not to mention other pressing issues such as care of the elderly, education and a properly funded health service.
As he states, now is the time for our chief executive to take up the challenge and show that leadership.
James Dyer, Clear Water Bay
New towns can also meet villager needs
Villagers and green groups claim the government is not heeding their opinions over the development of the northeast New Territories.
They believe the plans should be abandoned and that the government should focus on redevelopment rather that building new towns. I think their complaints are unreasonable and I hope that people will come to understand that the government, in fact, has made changes in response to villagers' views. Developing new towns is the best way to meet the housing demands in Hong Kong.
The government has provided a special ex-gratia compensation package for the affected villagers as well as offering public housing opportunities. For the villagers to claim they are being deprived of their right to live in the villages shows how selfish they are since so many others are waiting for a home to live in.
In fact, developing new towns is the best way to make use of land for housing.
In the past people also left their villages and moved to public housing estates to provide land for the development of new towns such as Sha Tin. Furthermore, green groups should not keep seeking bans for all sorts of housing projects because sustainable developments also brings social and economic benefits.
Developing new towns in the northeast New Territories provides more job opportunities for the villagers, which may improve their living standards.
Some people think that the government should focus on urban redevelopment rather than constructing new towns in order to conserve the farmland in the northeast. This is unreasonable because looking back, redevelopment which has taken place in Kwun Tong or Sham Shui Po was not that successful. Pulling down old buildings also means a loss of heritage and cultural identity which may be lost forever. Therefore, redevelopment seems not to be the solution.
Developing the northeast New Territories is a more comprehensive plan to solve the impending housing shortage in Hong Kong and the government is prepared to devote resources to take care of the affected villagers.
Claudia Ng, Sha Tin
Tokyo was best choice to host Olympics
As one of the world's most affluent and creative cities, I believe Tokyo will be able to host a wonderful Olympic Games when it is held there in the summer of 2020.
In my opinion, this will be the best Olympic Games ever held in Asia.
I think there are several reasons why Tokyo was chosen over Istanbul in Turkey and Madrid in Spain to host the summer Games.
The financial situation and political environment of the three candidate cities affected the result greatly.
First of all, the Japanese government has reserved US$4.5 billion to be spent on holding the Olympic Games. Contrast this with the financial crisis in Spain and the level of debt, which is also affecting Madrid. The city may not have sufficient funds to host such a massive global event.
I think this is why Tokyo gained more support from the International Olympic Committee members.
The second reason for the success of Tokyo is because of the security of the city. Syria, which is a neighbouring country of Turkey, is in a state of civil war now. Furthermore, there were recently anti-government demonstrations in Istanbul.
However, the Japanese government still has some work to do before it can celebrate its success. The problem of radioactive leakage from the Fukushima nuclear plant hasn't been solved yet. They should solve the Fukushima crisis as soon as possible to gain the confidence of other countries.
The government should call in experts in nuclear energy from all over the world to show the sincerity of Japan to hold a safe Olympics.
Jack Ng, Sha Tin
MPF charges line pockets of fund managers
I recently received my Mandatory Provident Fund statement from HSBC and an advisory on interest rates paid and management fee charges.
For my guaranteed fund - I do not like to play/gamble with pension money unless I have full control over it - they will pay me a whopping 0.125 per cent interest per annum and for the difficult task of adding that interest to my fund they charge me a generous fee of 1.75 per cent per annum.
Can anyone explain why we allow this highway robbery? If we want a pension scheme then we should have a proper one set up and run by the government for the people who work.
The whole MPF scheme is just another way of pushing people to gamble with their pension savings in the stock market so that the rip-off artists from the bank can rip us off once more. The returns which I have with my own very safe investments are far higher than what these so-called safe funds can do for me. The whole MPF is a disgrace and is just there to make money for the fund managers.
Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay
Loss of trust in governments led to suicides
I strongly believe that our world governments are to blame for the 2008 crisis due to their poor oversight of banks.
But I also want to blame them for all those who committed suicide due to the crisis ("2008 crisis 'led to surge in suicides'", September 18).
Human beings by nature believe in trust and when the system failed, many people lost trust in the world governments and felt their life would come to an end.
Five years on, the world has progressed with governments stepping in.
We are bound to see many more crises in future but it is important to ensure they do not lead to another surge in suicides.
We need to fix the economic system so that people realise money isn't everything in their life.
Does the world really want to progress as one humanity or continue to see such victims in every crisis?
Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels