Letters to the Editor, May 08, 2015
Policy unjust on airing of political views
Is there no way to challenge the idiotic situation that allows government political messages on TV and radio, but bans private groups from doing the same thing?
I protested over this state control of the messaging in the audio-visual media to the Communications Authority, which replied that it was outside its remit, since any complaint about government announcements had to be referred to the department concerned.
I then complained to the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau about this obvious and blatantly unfair state of affairs, and its reply was that the aim of the announcements was "to convey the policy to the public".
I then lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman, urging that the situation be corrected by offering the same privilege to private bodies, as long as there is no overt political pitch such as "Vote for XYZ".
Incredibly, the Ombudsman replied that it was "not an administrative matter subject to our investigation".
What is it, then, if not a flawed implementation of an ill-advised policy?
So much for any independent review of government overreach by the compliant Ombudsman.
Only the courts seem to have (but for how much longer?) the backbone to overrule even the Executive Council when it makes contradictory policy decisions.
So, unless a judicial review changes the current situation, government ministers should not lecture us about poll results supposedly supporting their "Make it Happen" campaign. Not when they have free and unlimited access to TV and radio, while the same is denied the opposition.
William Meacham, Yau Ma Tei
Election-plan veto just asks for trouble
On the morning of May 19, 1989, Zhao Ziyang , then general secretary of the Communist Party, appeared in Tiananmen Square in Beijing and delivered a speech to the students gathered there.
In the speech, he begged the protesters to think rationally and stop the hunger strike. But the students took no heed of what he said and insisted on receiving a satisfying answer before ending the strike.
In the aftermath of the bloody crackdown, Zhao was purged, and the political reforms were stalled. At that crossroads, those diehard student leaders chose the wrong direction, and the whole country paid the price.
Now Hong Kong people stand at a crossroads.
The pre-screened election reform plan is far from perfect. But the package does give Hong Kong's five million eligible voters the right to cast a vote to choose the next chief executive.
This will be an epoch-making event for not only Hong Kong, but also all of China.
Hong Kong will be the model for China's social and political transformation in the future.
To veto the electoral reform would surely erode Hong Kong's high level of autonomy.
Those moderate, tolerant and far-sighted mainland officials who oversee Hong Kong will be sidelined, and conservative policies will be adopted. This is too high a price for Hong Kong to pay.
Hongjie Chen, Shenzhen
Let's look at unused land in housing issue
I refer to recent letters in these columns that draw attention to the disproportionate area of land dedicated to country parks when we are so desperately lacking in land for housing.
We can't have it both ways: be indulgent nimbies [not in my backyard] and wilful keepers of the country parks.
I have drawn attention to the huge area of South Lantau Country Park, which indiscriminately includes the virtually empty land south of Chi Ma Wan.
Here there are no villages, no private land, no ancient forests and no nimbies.
This land was included as a late addition to the parkland of Lantau as a sort of compensation for the reclamation of Chek Lap Kok.
My idea for this area is to create a parkland city but also a greenies' dream: an arboretum of native trees and bamboo, nature trails, hill walks, cycle tracks, a native orchid garden, and housing, too - lots of it in an enjoyable environment.
People will ask "What about transport?" Say that to the residents of Cheung Chau and Lamma, which have large capacity ferry ships like those in Sydney from the north shore.
Why mess about dreaming of reclaiming an island when this land is there, just awaiting a decision and a start-work order?
I think of the people and their cries for somewhere decent to live when all that land lies empty.
Are their pleas being listened to?
David Akers-Jones, Yau Ma Tei
Limiting visits from mainland makes sense
I think the decision to change the visa rules restricting Shenzhen residents to one visit per week to Hong Kong can ease the problem of parallel trading.
Our city has struggled with the negative effects of thousands of these traders in the areas where they live thanks to the multi-entry visa system.
The problems are particularly bad for local residents in parts of North District close to the border.
The new visa regulations make it more difficult for parallel traders to travel so frequently between Hong Kong and the mainland.
Leung King-hang, Fanling
Official action alone will halt migration woe
There have been reports of violent protests against migrants in South Africa.
The protesters argue that the migrants are taking away their jobs and exacerbating the problems of unemployment and poverty for local people. The South African government has provided protection to the migrants.
It is clear that immigration is a controversial issue in South Africa and other countries, as well as here in Hong Kong.
Here, protests have not been about immigrants, but the influx of grey-goods traders. However, some of the protests here became unruly. Demonstrations that get out of control and sometimes become violent, wherever they are held, do not offer genuine solutions to the problems they are highlighting.
Whether we are talking about migrants in a country or traders coming over a border and causing disruption, it is up to governments to deal with the problems that exist.
Migrants leave when there are no jobs for them; traders leave when business dries up. Government policies can make these things happen, but not unruly protests.
Tracy Liu Sin-ying, Yau Ma Tei
More locals will become parallel traders
I do not see the new visa regulation, restricting Shenzhen residents to one visit a week to Hong Kong, as a practical solution to the problem of parallel traders.
It is certainly leading to a reduction in the number of visitors coming to Hong Kong from north of the border during weekdays. However, I do not think we will witness a significant drop in the number of parallel traders.
It is estimated that more than half of the parallel traders are Hongkongers, and the new visa restriction affects only mainland citizens.
The people who actually organise and coordinate parallel trading activities are likely to recruit more Hongkongers to transport goods across the border.
These people will be offered generous financial inducements. So the new policy will simply pass the business to local traders and give them additional opportunities to earn money.
I think the policy is merely a palliative measure.
The Hong Kong government is failing to get to the root of the problem.
What the government should be doing is setting up detailed regulations restricting the weight and number of goods people can take over the border.
The Shenzhen and Hong Kong authorities need to cooperate.
However, at present there seems a lack of cooperation certainly from the Shenzhen side. The lines of communication need to be improved between the two sides.
Ng Ka-ho, Fanling
US can benefit from Chinese investments
I believe that the Chinese who are entering the United States on investment immigrant visas will greatly benefit that country's economy for many decades to come.
Whether it is job growth, consumer spending or even the purchase of residential and commercial properties, through their activities, they will keep supporting the US economy with their hard-earned money, and that money will grow in the United States.
Even if American interest rates start heading up, it will only make it more attractive to buy assets in the country for Chinese investors.
As of today, there is no better economy to benefit from Chinese investment than that of the United States, whether it is institutional money buying up office buildings and hotels, or consumers spending on homes.
I even strongly believe that, 10 years from now, the US will look back and thank these Chinese immigrants for helping them come out of the great recession in 2009.
Rishi Teckchandani, Los Angeles