Letters to the Editor, October 22, 2013
Explanation needed for HKTV snub
A long-time resident of Hong Kong, I have been engaged in commercial film production here for over 40 years.
In that time I witnessed Hong Kong emerge from being a total backwater in this industry to become a vibrant creative centre servicing the production and post-production needs of many countries across Southeast Asia, especially during the golden years from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Unfortunately, local television production never kept pace with these advances and I agree with the popular view that the standard of Hong Kong's free-to-air television, and cable TV as well for that matter, is woefully behind the times.
Like many, I am astounded when a new and potentially innovative company, having been invited to apply for a licence, is then rejected in favour of the same old big-business conglomerates which already control so much of what is available on local TV.
This flies in the face of everything that the competitive entrepreneurial spirit of Hong Kong stands for, and what this city was built on.
Without a viable explanation from those officials behind this decision, it leaves open the same old question of government collusion with the powers that be.
Surely it is not the government's place to be concerned with the commercial success or failure of an independent business enterprise.
If, as alluded to, it is to protect the interests of existing licence holders, then why issue any new licences at all? And if it is to protect jobs, it seems to have had precisely the opposite effect with regard to HKTV.
HKTV appears intent on injecting some originality and fresh ideas into an otherwise moribund media.
They and the seven million TV viewers in Hong Kong deserve to know the reason behind this decision to stifle creativity and inhibit the development of an industry which can do so much to promote and enhance Hong Kong's image as Asia's world-class city.
Russell Jones, Mid-Levels
Decision on licence was disappointing
There has been a great deal of debate about the issuing of free-to-air television licences.
I recall having a choice of only two television stations during my childhood.
Ricky Wong Wai-kay established a new station, HKTV. I looked at his high-quality video clips on the internet promoting HKTV and I found them very creative and original.
They were very different from the usual fare presented by TVB and I could see he was trying to do something innovative.
I realised that Wong was trying to provide opportunities to artists, directors and screenwriters.
However, the government has not given it a licence and a lot of Hongkongers will be disappointed by this. Viewers want to have more choices.
I think it is a great pity that officials have made this decision and I would just like to know why.
Rita Cheung, Kowloon City
Smartphones can become addictive
With higher living standards, most citizens in Hong Kong now own a mobile phone, laptop or other IT device.
Many of us use them in our working lives and also for entertainment.
They are very convenient tools. But while I accept that children have become very proficient at using them, it saddens me that often they prefer playing computer games rather than getting involved in healthier pursuits such as riding a bicycle.
The cost of raising a child in Hong Kong has risen dramatically, and in most families both parents have to go out to work. They try to compensate for their absence at home by buying a smartphone or computer so their children will not be bored.
As a consequence, some children have become addicted to these devices.
There is nothing wrong with using a computer or phone as long as children don't become obsessed and start neglecting their studies, which can hinder the development of communication skills.
They need to have the opportunity to interact with other young people, through, for example, playing, learning music and getting involved in artistic activities.
Parents need to recognise the importance of spending more time with their sons and daughters and that having that quality time matters more than spending a lot of money on them.
Christine Ng, Kwun Tong
Not deserving preferential treatment
I refer to the report ("SFC gets official backing over Alibaba IPO row", October 10).
I congratulate officials for standing firm against giving preferential treatment to this dominant mainland e-commerce company in the face of strong lobbying, especially from the information technology sector.
Ordinary shareholders need to be protected from dubious dual-class company share structures.
Legislator Charles Mok [representing the information technology sector] appears to think that technology firms need special, less rigorous treatment, but if anything these companies need to be regulated more tightly as they operate in a high-risk environment.
I was not aware that Alibaba is in the bakery business, so it cannot expect to have its cake and eat it.
Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels
Urgent need for more public housing
Hongkongers are very concerned about the city's housing problems.
With real estates prices skyrocketing, many citizens cannot afford to buy a flat and others struggle to pay the rent.
Many people who are on low incomes are forced to live in subdivided flats. Living conditions in these tiny spaces are very bad.
Apartment and building owners will create many of these tiny units and flout fire and other safety regulations. As a consequence there have been fires, with some tenants being injured and others killed.
There have been calls for the government to end the use of subdivided flats as soon as possible, but where would these residents go if that happened? They know conditions are unsafe, but feel they do not have a choice. For some, the only other option is a cage home or they might even become homeless.
The administration must speed up its public housing construction programme and take further measures to lower property prices.
Even if only small public housing flats could be provided, officials could shut down the subdivided apartments.
Sandy Li Hiu-yi, Sha Tin
Poverty gap will create social unrest
The problem of poverty is becoming more serious in Hong Kong. I accept that the government had to define an official poverty line and come up with policies which will render financial aid to poor citizens.
According to a report commissioned by the chief executive released last month, 19.6 per cent of the population can be classified as poor. This indicates that the wealth gap between rich and poor in the city is growing wider.
Poverty does not just lead to hardship for people on low incomes, it adversely affects the harmony and stability of our society and this can be bad for our long-term competitiveness.
Most people who are poor have a low educational level and can only get low-skilled jobs. The government needs to offer more courses so they can retrain and learn new skills.
I also believe the administration has to raise the allowances that are available to children so they can have a better learning environment. If they can enjoy a higher level of education, future generations will have a better chance to leave poverty.
Officials need to come up with proposals for a universal retirement protection scheme. If this is not in place, life will only become more difficult for some people after they have retired from their jobs.
We need long-term policies rather than trying to come up with quick-fix solutions.
If we do not address this issue, we could see greater intergenerational poverty and social unrest and this could hurt Hong Kong's international image.
Miki Fung, Kwun Tong
Lower taxes for electric vehicles
Lynn Cheng ("HK not ready for electric car revolution", October 4) is wrong to argue that Hong Kong is not a good place for electric vehicles.
Electric motors have plenty of torque, so power up steep hills easily. Also, Hong Kong is small, so range is not a problem.
Electric vehicles are currently more expensive to manufacture than combustion engine vehicles, but, the government has waived first registration tax and charges a much lower effective annual tax, thus making them very competitively priced here.
Charging points are widely available in many public and private car parks and usually free of charge. Perhaps, as electric vehicle charging points become even more widely available, the next (and probably final) generation of combustion engine cars will be able to plug in to run air conditioning without running their engines.
Having driven an electric car in Hong Kong for the past year, I can see electric is the future.
Jason Brockwell, Tuen Mun