Letters to the Editor, November 17, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 November, 2013, 3:20am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 November, 2013, 3:20am

Village 'land rights' should be addressed

I have been following, with some sadness and much foreboding, the arguments about Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po's comments on building flats in country parks to solve the housing shortage in Hong Kong.

Chan's comments touched so many nerves because of the deeper perception of Hong Kong people becoming second-class citizens in their own city.

The easiest option to free up more land for development is obvious to anyone with no vested interest: address the ridiculous situation of "ding rights" in the New Territories. Why should the so-called sons of the land be granted a plot in their home village to build a house that they will never live in? The government seems toothless when it comes to confronting the Heung Yee Kuk and finally removing this blight on Hong Kong society.

The second issue is: does Hong Kong actually need more housing?

It appears to me that the housing boom, and along with it the pressure to build more houses, is solely driven by mainland property investors and local tycoons who wish to build and sell more houses to rich mainlanders wanting to reap the benefits that Hong Kong has to offer.

To add salt to the wound, the property tycoons then bring in cheap labour from the mainland to work on these building sites.

Finally, the people who seem most in favour of building in the country parks are those who can afford to spend time abroad and have no real grasp that, for many Hongkongers, these parks are the only chance they will ever get to enjoy some peace and solitude in the city they call home.

Stuart Brookes, Shek Tong Tsui


Officials must think carefully about courses

I refer to the letter by Solomon Lam Chun-yin ("No justification for keeping golf courses", November 7), in which he disagreed that the Hong Kong Golf Club's Fanling courses should be preserved for a small group of golfers.

He wants to see the government redevelop the courses to ease the housing shortage.

In this way he thinks the administration can sacrifice the interests of rich people to help the tens of thousands of citizens who have to endure poor living conditions. But surely we do have to consider and respect the rights of these golfers. With these old courses we would be removing a part of Hong Kong's traditional past.

Also, if they were turned into land for homes, a lot of mature trees which now grace these courses would be removed to build roads.

This would damage the environment, upsetting the ecological balance in the area, and create tonnes of construction refuse. Does that meet the requirements of a sustainable development policy?

Officials must think very carefully and look at all aspects of this issue before deciding on such a redevelopment project.

Cherry Lam, Sham Shui Po


Cenotaph looks forlorn and lifeless

Walking past the Cenotaph in the heart of Hong Kong's commercial hub earlier this month, I could not fail to notice how forlorn this impressive granite memorial appears.

The monumentally simple "vacant tomb" by Edwin Lutyens honours those who fell in war, yet it stands lifeless and abandoned, as if mourning its own demise.

Only on one day of the year are the traditional colours flown in tribute as a reminder of the debt Hong Kong owes those who gave their lives in its defence. The Cenotaph commemorates both world wars and especially those, of many nationalities, who gave their lives defending Hong Kong.

Would it be feasible to extend its role by recommending that the national flags of countries represented by consulates in Hong Kong be flown on their respective national days - or even for a week, depending on demand - and that these flags be flanked by the national flag of China and the Hong Kong flag?

A plinth at the northern and southern aspects of the square could explain to passers-by the elements that make up the national flag of the day.

This simple gesture would return colour, dignity and a sense of history to our most enduring monument.

Frank Fischbeck, Central


Wearing burqa is a question of freedom

José Pacho ("Burqa is a symbol of suppression", November 10) seems to be confusing the issue of what the burqa is perceived to symbolise, with a woman having the freedom to wear one if she so chooses.

The issue is not whether cultures all over the world should clean up their ancient practices.

The issue is: should a visitor to Hong Kong be condemned for wearing a burqa?

Hong Kong is very tolerant towards cultural diversity, and the society here does not ridicule sartorial preferences of visitors.

Let us leave it this way. To force a woman to not wear the burqa - as has been done in some countries - is as much a violation of her civil rights as is forcing her to wear one.

To insist that the burqa can be seen solely as a symbol of female subjugation, and force women not to wear it regardless of their personal cultural, social or religious dispositions, may be heading, ironically and dangerously, down the very path which we were trying to avoid - that of violating civil liberties, and oppression.

What the burqa represents is debatable; to force a woman as to what she can or cannot wear is unacceptable.

Does Mr Pacho personally know some women who wears a burqa? I do, among my relatives.

They do not consider themselves to be oppressed as, in their social circles, it is not considered so. Let people evolve at their own pace.

Remarks that are sanctimonious and condescending are only insulting to her "possible" individuality.

Let us continue to keep Hong Kong free from all this.

Ali M. Khan, Mid-Levels


Mainland's elderly must be cared for

I think there are problems with the mainland's one-child policy which the central government has to examine.

Of course, the policy can control increases in population, but China still has an ageing population.

I saw a photo recently of an elderly woman crying because she does not see her children often and does not get any welfare from government.

The government must ensure that the elderly poor who are not helped by their families can receive welfare payments.

Leung Hoi-ying, Tseung Kwan O


Vindictive attitude to Philippines

Many thanks to Jim Rice for putting everything in clear perspective ("Calls for Manila penalties smack of revenge, not justice", November 13).

It's time someone called a spade a spade, especially at this time when the Philippines is reeling from nature's destructive forces.

The level of vindictiveness shown by some local politicians and from certain quarters is unconscionable.

One would expect that, because countless Hongkongers have had Filipinos caring for their households for over three decades, they could muster some humane considerations over the controversy involving the three-year-old Manila bus hijacking.

Isabel Escoda, Lantau