China as next frontier is not a sure thing
Andrew Leung's column ("The inexorable tilt", October 14) showcases China as the next frontier, but his arguments border more on rhetoric and less on substance.
China is not an open society; it lacks transparency in every field, thus it cannot be said to be truly connected with the rest of the world.
Leung mentions that China is turning out seven million graduates a year and by 2020 it will have 195 million graduates. Well, China cannot compete with the United States either in education or technology, even 50 years down the line.
China can pride itself on numbers, not quality.
Many well-to-do Chinese families are migrating to the US and Europe to give quality education to their children, which is a small indication of the trust they have in their own education system.
China is now rebalancing its economy from investment-led growth to consumer-led growth. Such a shift will see less reliance on exports, shutting down loss-making industries that are plagued with over- capacities.
All this will lower the growth rate of the economy to far below the double-digit rate it has seen over the past 20 years or more. This will have a profound effect on employment and per capita income over the next 10 years.
From all accounts, China is in the process of changing gears and slowing itself down rather than following the path it has so successfully followed in the past.
S. Datta, Pok Fu Lam
Military land may be there for the asking
Lai Tung-kwok, the secretary for security, should not be making misleading statements on the under-use of the Chinese military real estate in Hong Kong. ("No plan to ask Beijing for military sites", October 10).
In a statement attributed to him, he is quoted as saying "the military sites are not lying idle, although some may think that they are not used frequently".
In fact there are hectares of vacant and increasingly derelict buildings on full public display inside some camp boundaries.
He might ask his government driver to take him down Route Twisk, or past the camp at Ngau Tam Mei for example. Clearly there is massive over-capacity in some of the sites inherited by the PLA. Not only are these buildings clearly unwanted, but they occupy road frontage land which is fully serviced and ready to build on.
He dismisses even asking Beijing, citing his belief that re-siting of facilities would be required if land was taken, and implying that this therefore is a zero-sum game. Prior to 1997, there were several cases of un-reprovisioned surrender of military estate - think Queensway and the Admiralty area for example. Why can there not be dialogue on such matters?
Clive Noffke, Lantau
Country parks far from ideal for housing
Should bulldozers be sent to our country parks? Should we replace the natural landscape with a concrete jungle? Facing the housing problem, Hong Kong people are once again caught in a dilemma.
To me, zoning a portion of country park land for residential development is not a wise decision.
First, country parks play a vital role in our water supply system. Even small-scale construction may affect the groundwater. When these areas are used to build houses, we all would have to drink seawater.
Second, it could harm Hong Kong's tourist industry. It takes around half an hour's drive to go from a downtown area to a country park. Country parks contribute to Hong Kong's uniqueness and therefore boost the economy.
Feasibility is another concern. Most of the areas are quite steep, suggesting that only a limited number of flats can be provided, which implies that opening up country parks for development will not relieve the serious housing problem in Hong Kong.
Judy Chow, Kowloon Tong
Think positive about impact of mainlanders
In recent years, quite a number of Hongkongers have taken a dislike to visitors from the mainland. Social resources, including daily necessities and even land use, are being disrupted by them; the latter especially affects residents of northern districts such as Sheung Shui and Tai Po.
Although mainlanders' behaviour is always under the spotlight, we would be better to focus on the long-term impact of their presence here.
As Hong Kong is a multicultural city, the internationalism brings benefits for us in different but in unconnected ways.
Students from the mainland who study in Hong Kong help enhance the social and cultural awareness of local students, which will broaden their horizons and prepare them for globalisation.
Such global readiness is essential for a graduate in Hong Kong.
I truly believe that if the government can strike a balance between internationalisation and providing adequate opportunities for local youngsters, arguments over the mainlanders won't happen any more.
Although the influx of mainlanders has brought some big problems to Hong Kong, we should try our best to co-ordinate with them and teach them.
Do not be too selfish to share resources with others, as Hong Kong is a good place to live. Keep an eye on the future and maybe we can reap a rich harvest.
Lai Ka-hei, Wong Tai Sin
Don't let eating pleasure wipe out sharks
It is commonly known that a massive number of sharks have been sacrificed merely for a bowl of shark's fin soup, which is a symbol of affluence. Is it really worthwhile putting one kind of animal in danger just for our own pleasure?
Shark's fin soup can be found everywhere. The thriving economy is the main culprit, with restaurants using this kind of food to lure the well-heeled.
If the government takes a step forward by reaching consensus with the restaurant trade to cut down on shark fin consumption, the threatened extinction can be avoided.
The general public should work hand in hand with the government too, by avoiding eating food containing shark fin. For weddings, alternative food can be found to maintain a prosperous and noble atmosphere. For instance, shark fin can be replaced by sweet potato noodle. As a consequence, the number of shark fins imported into Hong Kong would effectively be reduced. If you have a liking for shark's fin soup, make a choice - weigh the extinction of sharks against a short-term opulent lifestyle.
Candy So Hoi-ting, Tuen Mun
Dolphins deserve better quality of life
The Chinese white dolphin was the official mascot of the 1997 Hong Kong handover ceremonies, so we have a duty to protect them.
Their numbers have diminished sharply due to reclamation at the Hong Kong International Airport, because the reclamation area near northern Lantau is one of the major habitats of the dolphins.
The Ocean Park show "Sea Dream" attracts many people, but behind the scenes the dolphins need a lot of time to train. Recently, everyone noticed that the dolphins in Ocean Park are being overworked and used as a tool to lure more visitors. They need to perform three to six times a day.
If they were not living in Ocean Park, they could be playing joyfully in the sea.
The quality of life for the dolphins is getting worse, so let's take action to protect these adorable creatures.
Nadia Lam, Kowloon
Spoilt kids are investment for rich parents
Million-dollar babies are not only appearing in Braemar Hill, as Paul Stable wrote ("Braemar Hill gridlock delays thousands", October 15), but also near the Fanling Medical Centre.
The local primary school is built next to a dual carriageway and every morning the street has been full of cars delivering the sons and daughters of rich people.
We can only blame the buoyant property market that has enabled thousands of hard-working Hongkongers to become millionaires. They are actually doing the right job in raising their children because the parents will count on those children to return the favour when they grow old.
I see this as an investment, just like saving money in the Mandatory Provident Fund account until they are 65.
Pang Chi-ming, Fanling
Two sides to boarding school life
Life at boarding school ("Darkest before the dorm", October 15) can be like Harry Potter's Hogwarts, where it's all delicious meals, great friends and thrilling adventures; or like a Roald Dahl story, where slops, beatings and loneliness are the norm. Therefore, parents should consider carefully what's best for their children.
They should do more preparation when choosing a school that suits their child.
Parents should also communicate face to face with their child after sending them away to boarding school because they may not easily become used to this new environment.
Scott Lam, Tseung Kwan O