Letters to the Editor, December 9, 2013

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 5:21am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 5:21am

Singapore is tax haven, just like HK

Hong Kong is welcome to close any tax loopholes with Singapore regarding the sale of Apple's products in the territory ("Firm stance needed on tax loopholes", December 2).

Your correspondent Mr Charlie Chan should, however, remember that, like the Lion City, the SAR is home to many MNCs, including the regional headquarters of some.

Could this also be due to Hong Kong's accommodating tax regime - no sales tax and lower corporate taxes than Singapore?

In a free market, all economies, including Hong Kong, are at liberty to offer multinational corporations a range of perks to compete for investments.

Increasingly, many developing economies are taking a leaf out of Singapore's and Hong Kong's playbook to attract businesses and create jobs.

Those who can't or don't for various reasons are seeking to scapegoat others for their shortcomings.

Mr Chan should therefore give Singapore more credit for running one of the tightest economic ships in the world, instead of concluding flippantly that Apple's decision to helm its regional sales and marketing activities from Singapore is "obviously due to its accommodative tax regime". The fact that the tech giant does not have a retail store in Singapore is no reflection on the city-state's buzzing prime shopping districts, including Orchard Road.

Apple's key local partner and distributor, Epicentre, does a fantastic job selling its products to locals and tourists alike.

Every launch of a new Apple product will see eager fans from the region, including Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and sometimes even China and India, descend on Singapore's shores for a bite.

Mr Charlie Chan would do well to watch out for his own backyard, instead of seeking to squeeze its arch-rival and shooting Hong Kong's own two feet in the process.

John Chan, Singapore


Selfish youth need to be woken up

Heidi Lau ("Excellent role model for young people", November 30) needs to find more successful role models such as the movie star Andy Lau Tak-wah and fashion designer Vivienne Tam Yin-yok to wake up many young people, who are still likely to take more than give to our society.

I recall one ugly scene in a Café de Coral fast food store in Fanling railway station last month, where it was almost a full house because a few young ladies were sitting on the priority seats, which are supposed to be reserved for the elderly. Many young people were putting their belongings on empty seats to make room for themselves, and were lowering their heads pretending not to be aware, so many patrons and elderly people were roaming around looking for a seat.

The in-house staff did nothing to help those patrons looking for seats, nor ask the people taking up extra seats to move their belongings, as is the practice in most Western developed countries.

Hong Kong education may teach morals and ethics in the classroom, but maybe the students don't understand clearly.

I don't think young people understand what social responsibility is when connecting with either Andy Lau or Vivienne Tam, unless a policeman comes along at the same time.

Pang Chi-ming, Fanling


Road safety overlooked on busy roads

I'm writing in regard to the deteriorating road and traffic conditions in Hong Kong.

Over the years, I have witnessed an increasing number of vehicles stopping inside the yellow box junctions, which always results in an unnecessary traffic jam.

One example is at the junction of Johnston Road and Fleming Road in Wan Chai. Some of the drivers block the pedestrian crossing with their cars and pedestrians just ignore the traffic signals due to the chaos, making the situation even worse. I have never seen any law enforcement around to correct this.

Another personal experience was a traffic incident that happened on December 2 evening on the Kwun Tong bypass. Being a passenger of a New World First Bus, route 682, I'm disappointed that no technical support was provided by the police or the bus company after a tyre was damaged during the journey along the highway. The bus stopped on the highway for about 10 minutes without any police diverting the traffic, with vehicles passing by and driving in a dangerous way.

I strongly urge the police to enforce the law, and the Highways Department to review their contingency plans for any such incidents happening on highways.

Road safety is important for all road users. I would like to remind fellow citizens to make it their own responsibility to maintain safety standards on roads and in all traffic conditions.

Ka Po Ngai, Quarry Bay


Cross-border schools won't be a draw

It is a good thing that governments on both sides have made a joint effort to provide cross-border children with seven designated schools modelled on Hong Kong's educational system ("Cross-border class conundrum", December 2). However, my suspicion is parents of those cross-border children may not buy into the idea.

To my knowledge, mainland parents are particular about the reputation of the school, the quality of teaching, the culture of the school which is largely determined by its students, and any other criteria that can mould their child's development.

I don't accept that mainland parents will settle for a mainland-based school billed as a Hong Kong equivalent. I think they would feel insecure about the school and upset at being excluded by Hong Kong society.

They take pains to have their children secure a Hong Kong identity card but eventually come full circle back to the mainland for education.

Despite the awkward dilemma, it has not reached a dead end. The most welcome and short-term remedy to ease the dire shortage of schools could be reopening those schools in Hong Kong which have been closed since 2003.

While this proposal has surfaced, it is dismissed by some officials who worry about having to close the schools again if the cross-border trend wanes. But easing the current dearth of school places should be high on the agenda or the situation will get worse in the short term. Those vacant classrooms are a huge waste of resource at the moment.

Perhaps some people are expecting that the cross-border frenzy will die out as parents come to realise that acquiring a Hong Kong identity is no better than living peacefully and comfortably on the mainland.

Jenny Wang Yuke, Tai Wai


Granting more freedom can stem terrorism

Responsibility for the attack in Tiananmen Square on October 28, which killed two tourists along with three terrorist perpetrators, was claimed by an Islamist group called the Turkestan Islamic Party ("Tiananmen attack a 'jihadist operation'", November 25).

The fundamental cause of this act by a terrorist group in China is that the Chinese government is depriving the nation of freedom. People feel dissatisfaction with government policies and, in desperation, have decided to use violence to protest and seek revenge.

In my opinion, the Chinese government should take swift action to prevent the spread of this kind of terrorism by giving its people the freedom they need to fulfil their hopes and aspirations. This would tackle the cause of the problem, before it takes root.

At the same time, however, the government should strengthen counter-terrorism exercises and training, to deter and contain violent terrorist tendencies.

By the two methods mentioned above, terrorism can be prevented from taking hold in China. For society's well-being, the government should act as soon as possible.

Raymond Chan Kwun-hin, Tseung Kwan O


Caucasians also give up seats for needy

I do agree with Ms Monique Dutard ("Hongkongers quick to offer seats to elderly", November 29) in that we should all count our blessings to be living in Hong Kong. The public transport system here is excellent.

She made the comment that she has never noticed any Caucasian person offering their seat on public transport to an elderly or disabled person. She obviously has not travelled in the same carriage as me on the MTR. At all stations I look to see if someone in need of a seat is able to get one; if not, I offer them mine.

There are usually people far younger than I on the MTR who make no effort to get up to offer their seat to someone in need. Nationality is irrelevant, it's a matter of common courtesy.

Denise Giles, Lantau


Basement fine no deterrent to illegal work

Lisa Kuo Yu-chin's fine of HK$110,000 for an illegal basement of 2,400 square feet works out at around HK$45 per square foot. Taking into further consideration that offenders would most likely not get caught (unless running for office) I can see no deterrent to adding on the extra floor here and there. I've already starting digging.

Michelle Han, Kowloon