Letters to the Editor, October 30, 2013
Free-to-air licence bid was doomed
Ricky Wong Wai-kay has only himself to blame for failing to get a free-to-air television licence for Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV), because he was insensitive to political reality.
The ability of the Communist Party to control the vast populace of China depends largely on organisation and propaganda.
With the former the party will not accept someone it does not know well, and Wong is an unknown factor. He has no major involvement on the mainland.
The party knows it is losing its grip because of the internet. Strengthening control over television broadcasting could be seen as a last-ditch defence against "Western pollution". It would not be logical for the party to allow a new kid on the block to have access to such a powerful propaganda tool.
Wong might have fared better if he had made a placement of HKTV shares with a state-owned enterprise and appointed a couple of Beijing-nominated directors on the board. That would have provided Beijing with a degree of comfort. However, he was so sure of success he decided to go it alone.
I would advise Wong to reject the judicial review as he cannot win. He should cut his losses and move on.
Also, HKTV staff were right to come out in support of their boss, but enough is enough. They should go home to their families and take a break. They will find work with the new licensees.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will deservedly be made the fall guy in this debacle and it is possibly the last straw.
John Pang, Tai Hang
Viewers just want good programmes
I was surprised that Ricky Wong Wai-kay failed to get a free-to-air licence for HKTV from the government.
It now looks as the though all the efforts of the station's employees were in vain. This is a shame, because HKTV's was the most lively of the three licence applications and it was widely believed that the programmes it would be offering would be of a higher quality.
The refusal to grant it a licence undermined Hong Kong's Under the Lion Rock spirit, which says if we try hard, we can succeed.
I am not surprised so many citizens have protested against the government's decision outside its headquarters. All people want is to be able to watch interesting programmes. The existing stations just broadcast material that sticks to an outdated formula.
Not only is there a lack of entertainment, but the stations are also failing to inform and educate, which are fundamental responsibilities of the mass media.
It is not just that a licence has been refused for HKTV, but the government has failed to provide an explanation. People now suspect that this could be the first step on the part of the administration, and perhaps the central government, to control freedom of speech in Hong Kong.
It is good Hongkongers are still willing to stand up and voice their opinions.
Kevin Lai Hui-pong, Sha Tin
Confidentiality rule in Exco is important
The government's decision on the issuing of free-to-air licences has proved controversial, with large demonstrations outside the government's headquarters at Tamar.
HKTV put a lot of work into its licence bid and had a great deal of public support, so the decision not to grant it a licence shocked many people.
I disagree with those who say details of the discussions in the Executive Council should be disclosed.
The system of confidentiality in Exco must be respected. It allows members to express their views freely and it should not be compromised.
However, some sort of general explanation from the government would be appropriate in this case.
Joanne Shiu, Kwai Chung
Intention of policy entirely subverted
Ian Brownlee's article ("Protection for all", October 22) neatly encapsulates the conservation challenges thrown up by the country park enclaves, but ignores the contradiction and hypocrisy at the heart of the small-house policy.
The original intention of the policy - to provide all male indigenous villagers and their offspring with a place to live in order to preserve village communities - has been entirely subverted.
Many an indigenous villager has long abandoned his village and has no intention of ever moving back, but he has only to prove his lineage to acquire his ding right.
Although there are restrictions on assignment of these rights, the government turns a blind eye to flagrant abuses.
Hence, ding rights are "sold" to developers almost as soon as they are acquired.
Small houses can now command multimillion-dollar price tags.
All talk by the Heung Yee Kuk about ding rights being about preservation of rural communities is pure cant.
Of the 37,000 village houses that have been built, I venture to suggest that only a tiny minority are occupied by indigenous villagers. I challenge the kuk or the government to prove me wrong.
Citizens of Hong Kong are increasingly asking what can justify this enormous economic transfer of a public asset to a small group of people.
I have long been a supporter of rural regeneration, but the trashing of villages and their green environs has left many to doubt that indigenous villagers share this objective.
The small-house policy is a gigantic pork barrel trundling through the countryside, leaving a greasy smear in its wake.
The upshot of new V zoning [village-type development] in the enclaves is that several thousand small houses will be built within the country parks, with a huge impact on streams, wetland and sensitive conservation areas.
Will environmental laws and the proper protections be enforced? Don't count on it.
The Environmental Protection Department and Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department often seem catatonic when up against rural interests.
The Country and Marine Parks Board is chaired by Tang King-shing, an ex-police commissioner. Of the 20 other members, four are associated with the rural lobby, including one member who is on the Heung Yee Kuk's team opposing the country park zoning of Tai Long Sai Wan.
Much has been made of the government's nexus with the commercial sector. The rural nexus is every bit as worrying.
Markus Shaw, co-founder, Designing Hong Kong
No need to approve application
Maybe I am missing something, but my understanding of the small-house policy was that every eligible indigenous male had the right to apply for a plot of land to build a house once he turned 18.
Where does it state that he has the right for that application to be approved?
If the government were to start turning down a few applications, then those thousands of hectares of non-existent development land would not be needed. Problem solved.
Tim Gallagher, Quarry Bay