Letters to the Editor, November 1, 2013
Make the most of China's generosity
Anson Chan Fang On-sang says "Universal suffrage is not an end but an essential prerequisite to protect our freedoms" ("Seeking solutions for a democratic future", October 30).
However, it was a non-democratic system of government that gave Mrs Chan the platform and profile to expound her views, views that were not expressed when she was part of and benefiting from that administration.
Mrs Chan is misleading the people of Hong Kong, giving them unrealistic hopes and encouraging them to pursue a dangerous path by making general statements that are not substantiated by fact. For example, universal suffrage did not protect the freedoms of the Egyptian people. There are many other examples of this.
What is underlying Mrs Chan's statement are the non- spoken words "to protect our freedoms against China". But is this even valid?
The freedoms which we enjoy today are a result of China's munificence.
Does anyone really think that if at some time in the future China wanted to take away our freedoms, that a chief executive and legislature elected by universal suffrage is going to stop that? A dose of reality is needed here.
And what if Mrs Chan and friends are wrong? Little if anything medium-term for them, but Hong Kong people could suffer from an overambitious step. Is it not better to take a small further step towards the ultimate goal, consolidate and show our readiness for the next step?
What Hong Kong people need to do is to consider how to take advantage of the opportunity which is being granted to them by the mainland in such a way so as to continue to enjoy the high quality of life we have today, a large part of which is the result of our being part of China and the mainland's benevolence towards us.
Alan Johnson, Mid-Levels
Clear the air on TV licence controversy
The letter by John Pang ("Free-to-air licence bid was doomed", October 30) was inaccurate and without substance.
The rejection of a licence for Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV) was a decision made by the Hong Kong government. Its reasons for doing this are still unknown under the grounds of confidentiality.
Until the truth is revealed as to why the licence bid was turned down, we should not politicise the matter and insinuate the central government's involvement, be it through direct or indirect control and its implied effect on press freedom.
Assumptions without substantiated evidence will only lead to more mistrust between Hong Kong residents and mainland China nationals.
Let's not all be blinkered with the thoughts that the central government is respon- sible for all decisions regarding the less-than-well-managed work of the Hong Kong administration.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying should clear the air before the matter becomes unnecessarily politicised.
L. B. Saw, Ma On Shan
Dangerous signs costly to taxpayers
On Monday traffic in Mong Kok was severely disrupted due to the risk of a signboard falling onto the street ("Swinging sign causes traffic chaos in Mong Kok", October 29).
To remove it [on Nathan Road], cranes were used. This must have cost a lot of money, which usually ends up being paid by the government as the owner of the signboard is long gone, and in the end by all of us.
Abandoned, not maintained, or otherwise unsafe, advertising signs are a major danger in our streets. Regular typhoons take care of most of the weak ones, but there still is the risk that one comes crashing down on a crowd of unsuspecting shoppers.
The government should take measures to improve this situation. On top of the current safety rules on erecting larger signs, all signs attached to the outside of a building should be licensed, the requirement being a cash deposit of the estimated removal cost of that sign. Or rather, double this cost, to give the owner an incentive to remove it when the business closes.
Whenever the government has to step in to remove the sign for safety reasons, the owner has to refund the cost, or the deposit is forfeited.
These signs are a major way for businesses to let passers-by know their presence. I have no objection to having them around, as long as they are safe and the cost of removal after a business closes does not have to be borne by taxpayers.
Wouter van Marle, Tai Po
Bring jobs and the workforce closer together
I could not agree more with Ben Chun Ka-wai ("People want flats near workplaces", October 29).
The government's future town planning strategies should seek to help more Hongkongers live in or near the areas where they work. Although Hong Kong is on a much smaller geographical scale than the mainland, many large corporations there have quarters and kitchens for their staff.
Since moving to the Sha Tin area in 1985, I have had to put up with a long commute.
The Labour Department is encouraging employers to hire more middle-aged workers.
It should also urge companies to consider taking on suitable candidates who live in the neighbourhood.
Pang Chi-ming, Fanling
No ruder than other big and busy cities
Oh dear, poor Chris Embery of Adelaide, Australia, is obviously shocked by the rudeness of the people of Hong Kong ("Disgraceful 'me, me, me' attitude in HK", October 29).
Well, I am a Hongkonger of some 45 years and also an Australian.
It's true we can sometimes appear pushy, but there are more than seven million of us and space is a bit tight in places. Adelaide, on the other hand, is a gentle small city, and so is another world entirely from the bustle of Hong Kong.
Perhaps this is a poor excuse for our occasional lapse in manners, but I wonder if Mr Embery has recently travelled on the underground in London, Paris, Rome or Tokyo? Or how about if he tried walking down London's Oxford Street any day of the week, or strolled through Leicester Square after the theatre most nights?
And I do wonder if Mr Embery has ventured into parts of Sydney and Melbourne in some areas at night. It may also come as a bit of a shock.
Adelaide is charming city and I think he should stay there and enjoy it.
Peter Thompson, Clear Water Bay
Tsang must be decisive over Alibaba
I refer to Tom Holland's Monitor column ("Shareholders must have right to hold managers to account", October 28).
As an individual shareholder, I could not agree more with his comments on matters related to the controversy of Alibaba's request for a preferred share structure - it is a "lousy idea".
Our Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah is now muddying the water by stating that he is "open-minded" on the issue ("Tsang calls for debate on IPO rules", October 29).
He is thereby giving licence to Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing chief executive Charles Li Xiaojia to canvas for non-standard shareholding structures for "innovative companies". This will open the door to all, and particularly mainland companies.
I am astonished that our man in charge of Hong Kong's economic and financial matters can be so ambivalent on such an important issue.
Surely the job of financial secretary requires strong professional leadership and opinions, rather than weakly wavering on the need for public consultation.
It is absolutely impossible to imagine that previous esteemed financial secretaries, John Cowperthwaite, Philip Haddon-Cave, John Bremridge, Piers Jacobs and Hamish Macleod could make such wishy-washy statements on vital financial matters.
The late rock legend Frank Zappa once said that "the mind is like a parachute, it works best when open".
However John Tsang should also consider that a parachute follows the prevailing wind and has strings attached.
Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels
First-class air fares should be reviewed
Barry Girling's letter ("Economy-class passengers paying more", October 24) prompts me to ask if economy class is more expensive than business and first class in terms of cost per floor area the passenger occupies on the aircraft.
To work out the cost for a like-with-like comparison, the cost of food and servicing from the flight attendants must be separated first since the economy class gets lower quality and less service, and see how the remaining cost compares among the three classes.
My rough estimate is that the space occupied by a first-class seat is at least 10 times that of the "cattle class" and, based on Girling's figures, the first class fare should be HK$73,000.
However, this has not taken into account the higher quality of food and more pampered service from flight attendants.
It's only fair that the price of first-class and perhaps business class tickets should be reviewed to reflect the extra benefits.
Hubert Hiew, Sheung Shui