Letters to the Editor, November 8, 2013
Development in green belt needs balance
We refer to the letter by Ho Chi-wing ("Green belt fringes hold key to supplying building land shortage", October 27). The Development Bureau welcomes Mr Ho's constructive views and wishes also to elaborate upon why we are looking at green belt sites.
Increasing land supply to meet the housing needs of our community and to sustain Hong Kong's continued economic development tops the government's agenda. We adopt a multi-pronged approach to make better use of existing land and create new land.
Green belt zones are mainly areas between development and mountains. Sites zoned green belt vary in location and state, ranging from ones "devegetated" and those with some vegetation but right next to existing developments, to densely vegetated areas serving as buffers for country parks or conservation areas.
In our green belt review to identify suitable sites for development, we do bear in mind these differences.
Our first-stage review focused on deserted, devegetated or formed green belt sites, and some 57 hectares has been identified for rezoning to produce 23,000 public and private housing units.
We are now progressing to the next stage and looking at sites near existing developments and infrastructure.
With these green belt sites at the fringe of urban and new town areas, it is only natural that we should be exploring their suitability for development.
In the process, we would, of course, not lose sight of the importance of relevant planning and environmental considerations.
The mission is to strike an appropriate balance between leaving green belt sites suitable for development lying idle, and serving the community's housing needs.
Kevin Choi, principal assistant secretary for development, Development Bureau
Racist views unbefitting of world city
I could not agree more with Alex Lo in his column ("Our education apartheid must stop", October 31).
He has quite rightly said that our colonial ancestors have left a stain on our education system, leaving us today with the now troubled English Schools Foundation, extortionate international schools, local schools reserved only for Chinese pupils, and then wedged in between we have substandard schools for underprivileged minorities.
Sadly, our government appears to be turning a blind eye to this issue.
The latest study, conducted by the Institute of Education ("Minorities 'kept poor by school woes'", October 30) clearly shows that minorities fare far worse academically than Chinese overall, with a considerably lower proportion being enrolled in kindergartens and university.
Some bigoted government officials have argued that this is because ethnic minorities are lazy and not willing to assimilate into local society.
It is this very attitude that is feeding the apartheid education and other forms of ugly racism present in this city. Instead of being chastised, minorities ought to be given a fair trial.
It is completely unfair to label someone as being lazy and reluctant to learn and fit in, when that person is being denied the same opportunities to learn as other people.
Even our mainland neighbours appear to be better at integrating minority pupils into mainstream schools, so why is Hong Kong, a city that still boasts it is more international and cosmopolitan than its northern rivals, failing to achieve this?
Lo is spot on when suggesting that those "racist bureaucrats" who are responsible for promoting the whole "us and them" attitude in Hong Kong should be shown the door and replaced by people with more sense and know-how.
Until this happens, however, do we really deserve the title of being Asia's world city? I think not.
Andrew Nunn, Tai Po
Schmidt future vision is HK's way forward
I fully agree with what Eric Schmidt, the Google chairman, has said ("'Lure more software engineers, not bankers'", November 5).
We need more technical and engineering students in Hong Kong, we need our start-up environment to flourish. We Hong Kong people are natural entrepreneurs, we do everything on our own.
Let's make our society and infrastructure more hospitable to young entrepreneurs.
There is no reason Hong Kong should not be the Silicon Valley of the East, connecting more than half of civilisation.
One of the challenges entrepreneurs in Hong Kong face is the high rental costs of offices.
I would like to urge our more successful citizens to help.
Why can't people such as Richard Li Tzar-kai and others chip in and create a fund to support entrepreneurs? And the government could help create the infrastructure.
It is possible that some day not far away we will become the premier breeding ground for young, high-growth companies.
Javed Rahman, Central
University life enhanced by outsiders
Some Hongkongers have said that non-local students who are given places at our universities are taking away opportunities from local students.
I do not agree and believe that they bring benefits to tertiary education in the city. The young people who are coming from abroad are very diligent and often get higher grades than students from Hong Kong. This can encourage locals to try harder in their studies in their effort to catch up.
It helps to make them more competitive and learn to face challenges that they will encounter at college and later in the workplace.
It also helps them with their communication skills when they are talking to students from abroad who cannot converse in Cantonese.
It is quite natural that Hong Kong should seek to attract young people to come here from different countries, such as Korea, Japan and Pakistan, to pursue their academic studies, given our reputation as an international city.
The experience helps to widen the horizons of our local undergraduates. Meeting so many people from different parts of the world widens their cultural awareness. They learn more about these countries and may even pick up some of the language. Again, this can be an advantage when they are working in a competitive environment.
As a student, I am grateful for this cross-cultural experience and how I have gained from it.
Agnes Tam, To Kwa Wan
Action crucial to secure risky neon signs
I do not agree with those who say that the Buildings Department needs to increase the number of inspectors assigned to check neon signs and order the removal of those that pose a risk to pedestrians.
I do not think this is the right way to speed up the process of removing dangerous signs on buildings.
The problem lies with inspectors failing to take concrete action. I have read of some citizens making complaints about signs and nothing was done.
Rather than increasing manpower, I think it would be better to provide more training to inspectors.
I do not think the wholesale removal of these signs would be the right policy.
They are a distinctive characteristic in Hong Kong and important from a commercial point of view. Businesses use them to enhance brand awareness.
However, something must be done to ensure they are securely attached to buildings.
The department has to strike the right balance between the needs of different stakeholders.
It has to allay pedestrians' fears so they feel safe when walking under these signs and also ensure companies' right to advertise is respected.
Scarlet Wong, Sha Tin
Rising tide of poverty must be turned back
It is estimated that one-fifth of Hongkongers live in poverty. This problem has become a major public issue.
I agree with those who argue that the government has to deal with a situation that is getting worse. For people living below the poverty line quality of life is poor and the chances of upward social mobility are limited.
Enduring these conditions also affects people's mental health. Because they cannot make ends meet, they are constantly worrying about the future and their stress levels rise if they feel they are not getting sufficient help.
There is an urgent need for the administration to deal with this problem effectively.
Polly Tsang Po-shan, Kowloon Bay
Is US 'aid' a loan from China?
It is encouraging to note the warming of relations between the United States and Pakistan resulting in the release to Pakistan last month of US$1.6 billion in [mostly] military aid funds.
As a matter of interest, could the US ambassador advise us if the US Treasury borrowed this US$1.6 billion from China or Japan?
Alastair Foulkes, Happy Valley