Letters to the Editor, August 17, 2014
Increased risk of chaos and violence
Hong Kong faces a critical period as it moves towards universal suffrage.
Our society seems to have become more divided over this issue as people take sides - for and against the proposed civil disobedience protest called Occupy Central.
Personally I believe Occupy Central isn't the right way at all to find a solution.
How could it possibly remain peaceful if Central is left paralysed by large numbers of protesters lying in the roads.
The campaign's organisers and supporters insist that genuine universal suffrage that meets international standards will need to be achieved or it will resort to civil disobedience. Yet taking such a rigid stance will never achieve peaceful dialogue.
Hong Kong is a prosperous and civilised place. People should be able to solve this problem through peaceful discussions and public consultation. I fear such civil disobedience will only serve to make things worse, and increase the risk of chaos and violence.
It is wrong for the campaigners to ask for support for actions that will undermine the safety of public.
Perhaps the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress will help to meet the public's democratic aspirations for electing the next chief executive by offering a wider range of eight candidates for the 2017 election.
I do believe Beijing wants to see a prosperous and peaceful Hong Kong in future, so the candidates that it nominates will be chosen carefully.
Kwok Tak-ming, Wong Tai Sin
No consensus while we stay so lopsided
The Hong Kong government and its allies constantly talk about the need for having a "consensus".
No one denies this is crucial since sufficient agreement is required for there to be universal suffrage: it is something that everyone agrees on.
Yet what is critical is that everyone involved believes they have reached the best possible decision.
However, this is where everything immediately falls down: Hong Kong's leaders should be playing a key part in reaching a consensus, but they are not.
First, they've been too zealous in making known early on the system they prefer, which stops any consensus forming.
Then they've excluded certain stakeholder groups from the process, and held "discussions" with pan-democrats that were monologues, rather than dialogues.
This is why the "consensus petition", initiated by moderate Beijing loyalists, will go nowhere ("Democrats won't join 'consensus' petition" August 11).
Consensus needs a balance, but we know in Hong Kong that the power is severely lopsided to one side - so how can agreement be reached?
Jennifer Eagleton, Tai Po
Peak practice of greedy taxis needs to stop
Hong Kong is known for being a safe place, its rule of law and excellent public transport.
So it surprises me that the taxis that "service" The Peak Tram station, in Garden Road, are still being able to flout - not only the law - but their licences by touting for business.
Generally they are there with their fare flag down and the meter running - and the usual figure starting negotiations with weary tourists wanting to get to The Peak is HK$450.
I work above The Peak Tram, and would urge the commissioner of police and the Transport Department to do something to clamp down on this unsavoury new trend. In my view it puts Hong Kong in the same category as a developing nation.
Hong Kong police would certainly have no trouble arresting many taxi drivers each evening, based on the nightly challenge I have when trying to find a taxi to get to Quarry Bay.
Although there are policemen on permanent duty at St John's Building, I would recommend greater direct police engagement to put an end to this unlawful behaviour.
This kind of behaviour is also despised by law-abiding taxi drivers, who are there legitimately dropping off and picking up passengers.
Callan Anderson, Taikoo Shing
City's failure to recycle food was total waste
How could the Environmental Protection Department, with all its in-house expertise, allow the Centre for Food Safety to commit such an environmental crime - of dumping 1,000 boxes of meat and vegetable products at the West New Territories Landfill, which were supplied to McDonald's by a Shanghai factory under investigation for reprocessing rotten meat and selling it to restaurants ("Suspect food buried", July 30).
We all know such perishable foods will quickly decompose and emit foul smells after being left at the dump site, grow mould and attract insects, rats and other vermin.
Although these 110 tonnes of foodstuffs were condemned because of fears over the lack of proper quality control during production, they would certainly have been of high enough quality to be used as a foodstuff for animals.
Furthermore, our government has proudly announced the launch of an intensive programme for the recycling of kitchen waste. Surely it missed a perfect opportunity: one of the private food recycling companies could have used these 110 tonnes as high quality, low-cost raw materials for producing fertilisers - which would have contributed to helping protect the environment and public health.
K. N. Wai, Taikoo Shing
Rise of illegal guest houses not welcome
Hong Kong is known around the world as a major tourist attraction. But the current huge influx of tourists has helped to spark the opening of many illegal guest houses in residential properties, which has alarmed many locals.
Imposing fines will certainly help to deter the operators of such places, but the government must encourage members of the public to report cases to the police.
The help of the public is most important; the majority of these unregistered guest houses are inside residential buildings, so it may be difficult for officials to discover them.
It is very important to deal with the problem of illegal guest houses before any tragic accident happens that harms the city's reputation.
We can all play our part to help achieve this efficiently.
Polly Tsang Po-shan, Kowloon Bay
Stability vital if ageing city to be competitive
A recent Moody's report, "Population ageing will dampen economic growth over the next two decades", suggests that one in five of Hong Kong citizens by 2030 will be aged 65 or over.
To stay competitive, Hong Kong will need to improve its labour participation rate to mitigate the adverse decline in long-term economic growth rates.
So it is crucial our city maintains macro-economic stability, which helps create jobs and sustainable growth. This is linked to geopolitical stability, too, which creates a favourable environment so that our economy can continue to flourish.
The government must also implement long-term policies to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.
A more balanced, knowledge-based economy should be promoted to ensure sufficient risk diversification.
Nathaniel Datwani, Mid-Levels