Letters to the Editor, October 17, 2013
City sites may become white elephants
The recent grand developments in Singapore and Shanghai have got people wondering about the development and progress of Hong Kong's prime city centre sites at West Kowloon and at old Kai Tak airport.
Both of those sites could have been Hong Kong's new "garden city centres", like those proposed by Singapore, to fuel economic growth and provide employment opportunities.
While Singapore will move its military airport and container terminals to make way for the development of new city centres, Hong Kong has decided to use the two huge vacant sites for, amongst other things, an ultra-expensive cultural complex, two huge parks far away from densely populated districts, a mega sports complex and a cruise terminal.
Many wonder whether they may turn into white elephants, when Hong Kong people are crying out for more housing, more hotels, more office premises and better employment opportunities.
People wonder why there is the need for such a huge park at West Kowloon when it is surrounded on two sides by the harbour which is already a huge open space with fresh sea breeze.
People also wonder why there is the need for a 50,000-seat stadium complex at Kai Tak when the current 36,000-seat stadium is hardly filled. People wonder why we don't locate the cruise terminal at West Kowloon, which is convenient for cruise passengers.
There must be ways to keep Hong Kong abreast of its competition and boost its citizens' morale.
Richard Ho, Central
Recycling could use a bit of education
The debate on the waste levy and how much to charge doesn't really help reduce the increasing amount of waste we are generating. In any case, the waste levy is a very small amount, in the face of a shopping spree mentality deep rooted in our psyche.
Although I see more people recycling waste and there are many volunteers and Facebook groups organising used item exchanges, there is a lot we should know and learn in order to make a real difference.
To nurture a robust recycling habit, we need better and clearer information and instructions on what can be recycled. An education and promotion campaign led by the government in collaboration with environmental groups can remind every citizen not to waste. This would be a better tactic for the long-term benefit of Hong Kong.
Ann Wong, Aberdeen
Make English learning open to the needy
In the past couple of months, a programme has been carried out to promote English to underprivileged students.
English is so important today that many people regard it as the major world language. It is an important tool for communication between people from different countries.
Due to the importance of speaking, reading, writing and listening to English, the English after-school programme for the underprivileged is meaningful. Children who were in the programme recorded a 10 per cent improvement in their English skills, which is a great success.
With such a wide wealth gap in society, the government should do something to support these families. For example, the government can provide subsidies for English lessons and students can receive refunds of the tuition fee.
I hope more poor students can benefit from the English programme and the government can really do something to help the needy.
Claudia Ng, Sha Tin
Long-term view needed on housing
I disagree with Ben Chun Ka-wai ("Measures to supply more flats needed", September 25). From his point of view, living in subdivided flats and having a long waiting list for public housing can be attributed to unaffordable apartments.
We can't deny that there are many cheaper and more affordable flats in rural areas, like Tin Shui Wai and Yuen Long, to name but a few. They are always neglected silently as some may claim they are too far away from their workplace. I admit there is a shortage of flats for the middle class, but does that justify building more public housing in the short term? Indeed, it is easy for the government to churn out lots of extra subsidised or public housing estates. Instead, a long-term housing policy should be developed after much thought.
Jeff Chan, Sha Tin
More police will help with drug problem
I refer to the column by Alex Lo ("Police don't need more drugs powers", September 28).
Although the number of drug abusers is decreasing, there are still many hidden drug abusers who also need help.
From numerous surveys and the people who join the residential drug rehabilitation programmes, it is not difficult to know that a lot of drugs are taken at home.
After the law is implemented, the police can forcibly test people without any evidence. However, I believe they will not misuse the authority.
It is urgent to identify drug addicts as soon as possible in order to help them leave behind the habit and have a healthy life.
Eleanor Liu, Mei Foo
Xenophobia forced closure of 'happy pub'
It sparked an outcry when residents in Happy Valley learnt that the Liquor Licensing Board declined to renew the liquor licence of the extremely popular Happy Valley Bar & Grill in early September, knowing the bar cannot survive without it.
I witnessed the licensing board hearing on September 3 and was truly shocked by the xenophobic accusations made about the general state of havoc which was apparently caused by patrons of the bar, including dogs barking, rude and noisy patrons blocking the pavement with their hockey sticks and sport bags. I live in Happy Valley and generally go to the bar every day. I have yet to see any of the dramatic war-like scenes described.
In 2013, the world has become a global village and the small park outside the bar is a fine example of how people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds enjoy their leisure time together.
Xenophobic views as expressed by the accusers are not only against the trend, it is simply not a signal Hong Kong - Asia's world city - should send to the world.
Kjeld Dissing, Happy Valley
Camp lottery discriminated against all
Hong Kong can no longer be accused of unfairness and bias against mainlanders on trifling matters. Asia's world city can proudly proclaim that it discriminates against everybody.
After Hong Kong residents' complaints about camping places at Pui O Beach, Lantau, being taken by mainland visitors, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department replaced the "first come, first served" booking system. To book in the National Day holiday period required an application by September 18, with winners being selected through a lottery. First priority was to Hong Kong residents, then mainland citizens, then foreigners.
The complex and uncertain lottery achieved the goal of removing the campers, whatever their place of origin. This left the campsite half empty instead of completely full during the holiday period.
The camping majority did not bother to apply or come. Those who came ignored the official site and camped on the beach or grass. For the first time, the non-campsite side of Pui O beach was full of tents.
Peter Reid, Pui O
Time signal missing from HK airwaves
Hong Kong is one of the only major cities in the world where it is virtually impossible to receive a time signal.
These broadcasts are accurate within several milliseconds and the overwhelming majority of timepieces, scientific instruments, traffic signals, and anything else dependent on accurate time are now designed to receive these signals.
Virtually nowhere in Hong Kong can you receive China's 68.5 kHz co-ordinated time signal. This may not seem like a big deal, but it does interfere with fire and police communications, and the dispatch system for emergency services.
Shouldn't the Hong Kong Observatory get a repeater set to operate at 68.5 kHz and ensure Hong Kong receives China's coordinated standard time ?
Tobias Brown, Central
Poverty line prompts deep reflection
As I read about Hong Kong's 1.3 million people below the poverty threshold, I think deeper into life and existence. How is one born into a rich family, while others are born in poverty?
At the end of the day I feel everybody should start to develop their consciousness in a way that makes the world a better place. We must learn to see others as our own. We must treat each other with love regardless of our skin colour. This must be the goal of humanity.
Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels