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  • Apr 18, 2014
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CommentLetters

We don't have to ditch our heritage to be a modern, vibrant city

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 January, 2014, 4:07am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 January, 2014, 4:07am

I refer to Peter Kammerer's column ("Hong Kong must give up the ghost of its faded past", January 21) where he says "Old-fashioned thinking is holding us back".

Holding us back from what, from becoming another clone mainland metropolis, with gridlock and completely unbreathable air? From becoming an unlivable, gigantic gambling brothel, paving over wetlands to create a pseudo Las Vegas?

We have one of the most vibrant economies on the planet, budget surpluses, full employment, an international city which a friend once called "New York City on speed".

Kammerer criticises the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for "clinging onto its colonial past". I don't speak for the club, but Article 149 of the Basic Law sets out a right to maintain international sporting and cultural ties. It's the members' choice whether to maintain those ties.

He implies that an internationally recognised club, contributing immeasurably to the development of sailing and rowing in the region, and fostering global ties with similar clubs, has "held us back"? "Royal" is good international PR both for the club and for Asia's world city.

Calling our civil service "overstaffed and bloated with fiefdoms that do not co-operate" is also off the mark. Certainly there are competing goals and priorities but administrative means are in place to resolve these conflicts and they largely work. Eventually the buck (mostly) stops at Tamar. In many overseas jurisdictions no one has any idea who has the buck, nor even how many there are.

As to being bloated, let's look overseas again - take Canada with four levels of government, conflicting and overlapping responsibilities, vague, non-transparent administrative and political regimes, often wasting resources suing each other and tying up the courts for lawyers' benefit. The result - outrageous tax levels, secretive and ineffective decision-making and by some estimates over half the workforce employed one way or another on the taxpayer's dime.

I've moved back here after seven years tearing my hair out at the vagaries, conflicts and corruption in Canada, not to mention the weather and - oh - did I mention taxes?

Kammerer raises valid points - special-interest cartels indeed and certainly the small-house policy must go. However, the thesis that we are heading in the wrong direction by maintaining our multicultural, international outlook and some aspects of our colonial heritage is absurd. As a very rich friend once said to me: "No one ever made any money by shorting Hong Kong".

Ian Dubin, Central

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johnyuan
To Ian,
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I don’t know what shorting Hong Kong is that a very rich friend had said to you. But I surmise if one refrains from shorting Hong Kong one makes lot money by creating a lot poor and working poor. It is simply exploitation to enrich oneself. Hong Kong has plenty of that. Hong Kong is no exception to zero sum reality so unruly by government when comes to social-economic equality. I hope you will bring some sense of that from your native Canada to Hong Kong for this around staying in Hong Kong. But I have no confidence you will since you ran away from Canada complaining about your tax obligation there. Hong Kong is a backwater place and it is marvelous because it suits you and others who legally can exploit others happily.
iandubin
You seem to be attaching your own agenda to what I wrote. I haven't made any comments about exploitation. I did not comment on the plight of the working poor (which is quite appalling). That was not the subject but they certainly won't benefit if everyone else in HK goes broke. You know what 'selling short' is (or you should if you live in HK), which is what the article I was originally commenting on did. HK is not a backwater - I have been promoting the place for 33 years since having the good luck to come here for work in 1981. As to 'socio-economic equality', while it is a nice idea in socialist theory in practice it generally means dragging everyone down to the same level. That's what they do in Canada and one reason I have left to come back here. I am a pensioner, not rich, but I got sick of seeing my tax dollars go to support welfare bludgers. The social safety net here was not the question, and yes, it is not sufficient.
johnyuan
To Ian,
.
As one knows more and more how Hong Kong functions as a society, one learns that many social-economic-political issues are intricately interrelated. I hold many agendas in my view of Hong Kong as a result. But I will try not to misplace my agenda losing my bearing in the cobweb. I still stand by my comment on your initial comment.
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I have great respect for Canada and its people. They are generous and forthright. Any Canadian who leaves Canada because of disagreement is none of my business. Choose where you want to live or retire. For your long acquaintance with Hong Kong you must realize that Hong Kong’s economy runs on exploitation of people. We have working poor and office workers being exploited. If you are using a maid paying at official rate, you are exploiting people too. It is difficult for anyone living in Hong Kong not being exploited and/or exploiting others. It is the social-economic- political system that inherited from its colonial days.
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The shorting probably is one of the stock market games. It is another issue which I have an agenda on. I personally despise stock market as we have it today. It has lost its validity as an instrument to help industries to subsist and grow.
.
Hong Kong is a backwater place. The refugee culture is still strong holding its people back from any evolution in human development. Money still talks the loudest when comes to survival which everything is seen as survival. Again, you must know.
iandubin
You are talking through your hat. Hong Kong's economy does not depend on 'exploitation'. According to the HKTDC, the most important economic sectors last years were:
The four pillar economic sectors of Hong Kong are: trading and logistics (25.5% of GDP in terms of value-added in 2011), tourism (4.5%), financial services (16.1%), and professional services and other producer services (12.4%). On the other hand, the six industries which Hong Kong has clear advantages for further development are cultural and creative, medical services, education services, innovation and technology, testing and certification services and environmental industries, which together accounted for 8.5% of GDP in terms of value-added in 2011. - See more at: ****hong-kong-economy-research.hktdc.com/business-news/article/Market-Environment/Economic-and-Trade-Information-on-Hong-Kong/etihk/en/1/1X000000/1X09OVUL.htm#sthash.s8e40vno.dpuf
Except for arguably tourism there is no 'exploitation' there.
HK needs to pay a better wage to helpers and the lower levels, or raise economic safety nets. You are welcome to 'greatly respect' Canada and Canadians but you clearly know nothing about the politics and ineffective government. Spouting off-topic socialist platitudes is of no interest to me.
This conversation is over.
johnyuan
To Ian,
.
Hong Kong is a backwater place. The refugee culture is still strong holding its people back from any evolution in human development. Money still talks the loudest when comes to survival which everything is seen as survival. Again, you must know.
.
I shall stop responding to your view of Hong Kong by repeating the above with my hat off this time to your apparently a very good life in Hong Kong. You are blinded by numbers.
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