Letters to the Editor, February 17, 2014

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 February, 2014, 3:05am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 February, 2014, 5:36pm

Time for the government to stop hoarding

The Financial Secretary, John Tsang Chun-wah, has been crying wolf yet again and implying that the SAR will run out of money in 20 years because of welfare spending and the ageing population.

He says this despite  getting budget figure forecasts wrong. 

Most recently, in 2012 he forecast a deficit and we ended up with a budget surplus of [almost] HK$65 billion for that financial year. So much for accuracy.

He seems so worried about running out of money even when the SAR government is drowning in its surplus of riches. 

Hardly any other government in the world has this dubious distinction of getting so rich to the detriment of its citizens. It controls all the land for development in Hong Kong, which it sells drip by drip to keep prices high.

The high property prices represent a major tax on  citizens that has made the government so rich. In last year’s budget he categorised himself as middle class, yet he earns a substantial salary.  

The only sensible thing he ever did was to grant HK$6,000 cash to each Hong Kong permanent resident over 18 in 2011, for which he was criticised unfairly by a minority of people.

After all, he was just returning taxpayers’ money to the public. Macau has been doing it for years without anyone complaining.

Most Hong Kong residents appreciated the extra money. Now he plans to cut back on benefits and hoard even more money.

Mr Tsang should stop being so parsimonious.

Yes, he might be able to please his masters but he will surely alienate the Hong Kong public, not a wise move.

The only way the Hong Kong government will benefit its citizens is when it becomes accountable to the public.  Will that be possible after 2017?

Sanjiv Singh, Mid-Levels


Officials must react to impact of mainlanders

I refer to the letter by Desmond Decker (“Tung Chung swamped by mainlanders”, February 7).

I have found that Tung Chung is not the only place in Hong Kong that is swamped by mainlanders. There are large numbers of mainland people in Ma On Shan.

I recently took an MTR train from Wu Kai Sha station.

When it stopped at Ma On Shan station, a lot of mainland passengers boarded, speaking Putonghua in various accents.

Once they were in the carriage they all scrambled for available seats and most of them ignored the fact that the benches have room for only four people and as many of them as possible were packed together on the seats.

A passenger sitting next to me pointed out the four-person capacity and they stared at her disapprovingly.

Because most visitors from north of the border ignore this regulation, the MTR Corporation should keep repeating the message in its stations in the same way that it keeps broadcasting the announcement asking people not to use their mobile phones when on a moving escalator.

I totally agree with Mr Decker that the senior officials he mentioned should visit different places in Hong Kong to see if the situation with crowds of mainland visitors is undesirable. If they then agree that it is, they should deal with the situation. 

They and the MTR Corp need to recognise that there are some negative effects from having so many mainland visitors and that some effective measures are needed. 

Icarus Chan, Sha Tin


Ethics of MTR staff set good example for all

I would like to comment on the differing ethics between Hongkongers and mainlanders.

I spent at least 15 minutes at a customer services booth in Central MTR station trying to report a lost Octopus card.

The customer services member of staff was extremely helpful, despite many rude customers trying to butt in during our  conversation.

At the end of our transaction I wished the staff member kung hei fat choi and gave him a lai see packet.

Imagine my surprise when he looked shocked and handed it back to me, stating that he was most definitely not allowed to accept gifts from customers.

Can you imagine this scene ever happening on the mainland? 

Good on you, MTR employees, for being so ethical.

Charlotte Cochrane, Central


Considering other names for bird flu

Here is a modest proposal regarding the report (“China’s poultry industry wants to hush up bird flu news in damage control bid”, February 5). 

I see that the National Animal Husbandry Association website calls for eliminating the word “bird” from media coverage of the H7N9 avian influenza virus.

The association suggests that officials and the media use the terms “H7N9 flu” or “H7N9 virus,” without the use of the word bird.

I have a slightly different proposal, to reduce an unjustified stigma while still encouraging appropriate precautionary behaviour by the public.

I propose that instead of calling it “H7N9 bird flu”, the media should refer to it as “H7N9 poultry flu”.

After all, this dangerous-to-humans avian influenza virus has not been found in wild birds – it has only been found in poultry and pigeons. So it is not correct to stigmatise all birds.

Perhaps another name that would be useful would be “H7N9 live animal market flu”, since exposure to such markets are most strongly associated with the human cases.

Additionally, your article cites Xinhua as reporting that Guangdong has stopped sharing unsolicited reports of human cases in recent days.

In the absence of specific information about cases from Guangdong, it might be useful to the public if the media refer to this second wave of human H7N9 poultry influenza cases as the “Guangdong-Zhejiang Wave”, since most of the second wave cases are from those two provinces, so far.

In April 2013, one week after reports of the first human H7N9 bird flu cases in China, Xinhua published an astonishing editorial, “Ten years after Sars, what has China learned?” 

The very last line of that editorial bears repeating:

“If there is anything that Sars has taught China and its government, it’s that one cannot be too careful or too honest when it comes to deadly pandemics. The last 10 years have taught the government a lot, but it is far from enough.” 

Jody Lanard M. D., risk communication consultant, The Peter Sandman Risk Communication Website, New York, US


Hong Kong can learn from Singapore

I refer to the letter by Jacky Foo, Singapore’s consul general in Hong Kong (“Singapore not claiming superiority”, February 10). 

Although Hong Kong is much larger than Singapore the two cities face similar challenges, that is, trying to stay competitive in an evolving global economy.

Hong Kong can learn from the policies being adopted in the Lion City. 

There is certainly more our government could do to boost our economy. There needs to be more public consultation through surveys and we need to seek advice from the relevant experts.

Only through deeper analysis can the administration come up with policies that can lead to an improved economic performance. 

The main problem that we face is an uneven distribution of resources. The gap between the rich and poor is getting wider as those on high incomes become even wealthier.

We need to have government policies that can help to reverse that trend. 

Natalie Fong Wing-yin, Tseung Kwan O


Query over community use change

If ever there were a compelling, overriding and present need for housing, it is now.

The latest proposal to meet this need is to raid the sites of land reserved for future government, institution and community use.

Have the planners who drew up these plans and reservations now admitted that they got it wrong, or will those  who live in the tower blocks erected on these sites no longer have any need for the amenities planned for them? Let’s have an answer.

David Akers-Jones, Yau Ma Tei


Taking regular exercise beats one-off event

I agree with your editorial (“Runners need to go the extra mile”, February 10). 

Many participants for the Hong Kong Marathon, half marathon and 10-kilometre run are not fully prepared for the events, because of an inadequate training schedule.

Without a proper training programme, they run the risk of injury. I appreciate the argument that organising these races can encourage more Hongkongers to adopt healthier lifestyles. But the races are of little help to those who fail to prepare properly.

I would like to see more events being organised so that people exercise regularly, instead of just depending on this single annual event. 

Cindy Yuen Wing-sze, Kwun Tong