Letters to the Editor, October 28, 2013
Stop this outrageous adventure
Citizen advocacy group, the Hong Kong Alternatives, shares the view of the vast majority of the Hong Kong public that any proposal to build residential blocks in country parks is shocking.
If unchecked, it will do irreplaceable damage to our most treasured and picturesque areas of land. Preserving the country parks is in everybody's interest and in harmony with nature.
We expect that our city planners have the vision of a "Greater Hong Kong", one in which, years from now, residents from Hong Kong and the other lower Pearl River municipalities will be integrated into a mega metropolis, like Shanghai, New York, Los Angeles and other global cities. So, please, stop this outrageous adventure into the country parks that exist for the enjoyment of the general public.
I believe the Town Planning Board will support these ill-conceived plans to develop in the country parks. After all, last year it railroaded through a devastating residential development at West Kowloon Cultural District.
This is contrary to the public's wishes for a cultural green park free of any speculative development, and is the final straw, destroying the symmetry of the panoramic harbourfront.
Interested groups should join together to stop this plan and the spurious claim that it is needed to finance facilities in the arts hub.
K. N. Wai, on behalf of the Hong Kong Alternatives
Country park flats no help to poor citizens
I disagree with those correspondents who think our policymakers should build in our country parks because it will benefit the poor.
There is no doubt that the number of flats in Hong Kong would increase if this measure was adopted. But people on low incomes would be disconnected from urban areas and to get work they would face high transport costs which they could not afford.
In effect, building in country parks would widen the gap between rich and poor.
I also expect that such flats would be too expensive for the poor as they would still be controlled by large developers.
At the end of the day, citizens on low incomes would not benefit in any way from the apartments. These homes would have been built in vain.
If the proposal is being put forward to help the poor in society, it will not achieve its aim.
It will also reduce the green areas available for citizens to enjoy and will exacerbate our pollution problems.
Society as a whole will not benefit from a building programme in the country parks.
Edwin Chan, Tuen Mun
More green areas will be needed in HK
With Hong Kong's population rising steadily, and projected to increase from the current seven million to 8.5 million within 30 years, it is obvious that there will be greatly increased demand for recreational space in the future.
Is it not time for the government to consider extending the country parks in order to anticipate this vital need?
Rod Parkes, Tai Po
A rare treat for all the city's art lovers
All credit to the combined efforts of the Italian consulate, University of Hong Kong's Museum and Art Gallery, and the Italian Cultural Institute (generously supported, also, by Pansy Ho Chiu-king) in bringing one of Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli's masterpieces, Venus, to the city until mid-December.
For Hong Kong art lovers, this is a rare treat.
I was lucky enough to be able to revisit Italy recently, to view more artistic treasures there; but not all Hongkongers can get there. Therefore, bringing selected masterworks to a wider audience here is to be gratefully applauded.
This just shows what great things international co-operation can achieve.
May it lead to the loan to Hong Kong of many more artistic treasures, from other holding countries.
Paul Surtees, founder, Hong Kong branch, Royal Over-Seas League
Simple way to register as organ donor
Catherine Fung raises a valid point about making the organ donation procedure easier ("Organ donor awareness can save lives", October 20).
I had to search for quite a while before I discovered a site address.
It is in the Hong Kong Public Libraries site.
Once you have found that, then the forms for registering are quite simple to fill in.
Please can I stress that making the procedure easy will attract more donors, which we need.
Sara Rennison, Fanling
Banks learned nothing from 2008 crisis
I refer to the report, "JPMorgan close to US$13b settlement" (October 21), and am appalled by the quote from bank analyst Nancy Bush that "to not get the waiver from criminal prosecution is not good".
US banking giant JPMorgan Chase is set for this record fine to settle investigations into its mortgage-backed securities.
The sale of these securities based on home loans led to the near-collapse of the world banking system in 2007. This toxic-loan financial earthquake created tragic situations to countless people worldwide.
For Bush to say "What we're looking for in a settlement of this size is certainty from things like criminal prosecution of a company" and "The Street wants certainty", shows that the navel-gazing money men of Wall Street have learned nothing from the 2008 crisis.
Conversely, "Main Street" wants the certainty that these bankers should be held legally responsible for their outrageous and cavalier actions.
If a common pickpocket continually stole wallets, he would serve jail time.
Since 2008, no individual US bank executive has been before the law courts to answer to society for the shenanigans that pervaded this most important industry.
It should be noted that it is the shareholders who will bear the costs of paying such a massive fine, not the executives who were responsible for creating and selling these deviant derivatives.
It is surely a sign of the times that Bush thinks that the size of the money settlement has a bearing on liability to criminal law enforcement.
That said, there are many people who feel that money now has a massively overbearing influence in the American system.
Christian Rogers, Wan Chai
Clarifying law on beach camping
I refer to the letter from Wing Leung expressing concern over illegal camping activities at Hung Shing Yeh Beach on Lamma Island during the National Day holiday ("Camping on Lamma beach is unlawful", October 18).
According to the Bathing Beaches Regulation, no person shall erect or maintain any tent or other structure on any gazetted bathing beach without the consent of the director of leisure and cultural services.
As part of the daily operation in managing gazetted beaches, our staff will first issue verbal advice to users setting up tents within the beach boundary.
Prosecution actions will be considered if the advice is not heeded.
The daily service hours of the beach are from 9am to 6pm in October. During the National Day holiday, no camping activities were found on the beach during its service hours.
Based on the information gathered, we suspect that the tents might have been erected when our staff were off duty, that is, between 6pm and 9am the next day.
We have thus put up additional notices at prominent locations of the beach to inform users that camping is not permitted within the beach boundary.
We are closely monitoring the situation and will consider conducting special inspections after the service hours should the situation warrant.
Dilys Cheung, chief leisure manager (New Territories West), Leisure and Cultural Services Department
Peaceful protests have more clout
Nowadays, people often resort to organising and joining protests to express their objections to government policies and these demonstrations are rapidly increasing.
They seldom have the desired effect of actually changing the minds of officials, but they do attract a lot of attention, and I am sure there are some citizens who are influenced by them and the message they are trying to get across.
However, when there are so many demonstrations, I think there are those who get sick and tired of them and stop paying attention.
Also, people's views are hardened when marches turn unpleasant and you see clashes between protesters and police. When the situation gets nasty and chaotic, then the activists are undermining their own cause.
I urge those involved in demonstrations to ensure that they remain orderly and peaceful, otherwise they could adversely affect the stability of society.
They also have to understand that it is important to inculcate the right values in our young people.
Tsoi Yuk-yan, Kwai Chung