Letters to the editor, February 25, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 February, 2016, 5:20pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 February, 2016, 5:20pm

Abandoned factories can be new homes

I refer to the letter by Tong Tak-yu (“Revamp urban areas and save green-belt land”, February 22).

As Hong Kong has a large population and scarce land ­resources, there are not enough homes to meet the needs of all citizens.

The living environment for many people is still very poor, with some having to stay in subdivided units.

If this housing shortage is to be tackled successfully, then wise use of available land by the government is important.

I agree with much of what your correspondent says, especially the suggestion that more space can be found in urban areas for apartment blocks. This is a more sustainable policy than building on green-belt land.

Many people argue against the latter policy, because green-belt land contains important habitats for wildlife. They want to keep these areas as they are also important for Hongkongers who need places to relax.

We work long hours and need rural retreats which we can visit and where we can unwind.

If more green-belt land is swallowed for housing, people will have fewer choices. It’s an important quality of life issue.

In urban areas, there are ­factories which are now empty and it seems a waste to leave them like that when the space could be used for flats.

Although redeveloping these parts of the city could be expensive, it is surely worth the cost if it benefits society and offers more citizens a better living environment.

Hebe Ng Yik-huen, Po Lam

Hands off green belt for housing

There is no doubt that it is better to redevelop older urban areas and buildings, instead of using green-belt land to deal with Hong Kong’s serious housing problem.

Growing calls by some ­people, including officials, to use more green-belt land for homes have proved controversial. Once such areas are developed, they are transformed ­forever and in negative ways. They are no longer green lungs that can help reduce air ­pollution.

That is why older urban areas are preferable. In Kwun Tong, for example, many old buildings are now being rebuilt. If more redevelopment projects are launched, the housing stock will increase. Old buildings can also be upgraded with all the necessary fire safety features.

If the renewal projects are done in the right way, then some of these areas, such as Kwun Tong, could even become ­popular with tourists.

They can provide a large number of flats. In fact, in some of the older buildings, there are a lot of vacant flats.

This is a densely populated city and we really need our green-belt land. It is vital if we are to reduce our levels of air ­pollution.

The government needs to strike a balance between the environment and the need for more homes and it must adhere to the principle of sustainable development.

Kassandra Wong Hiu-tung, Tseung Kwan O

Postage rates now fairer for all users

I refer to the letter from Christopher Ruane (“Saddened by end of special postage rate”, ­February 22).

Before January 1, lower ­postage rates applied to “second class” mail under air mail (letters and packets) and “printed papers” and “small packets” under surface mail (letters and packets).

These mail items should be unsealed. However, the delivery standards and processing procedures for these mail items were no different from those for regular mail items.

In fact, Hongkong Post ­incurred higher processing costs for these items as some of them were actually sealed and extra effort was involved to ­detect underpayment of ­postage.

As a result, the discounted postage rates had to be subsidised by other revenue streams, which was unfair and, it was felt, should cease.

With effect from January 1, Hongkong Post introduced a more rational and equitable ­approach based on the user -pays principle, whereby ­postage is ­determined by mail ­format ­(namely small letters, large ­letters and packets) and weight, regardless of the nature of the item content.

After adjustment, Hongkong Post’s postage rates for international mail remain comparatively low and reasonable. We announced the new postage arrangement on October 15.

This was supplemented by a series of publicity and public education activities through ­diverse channels, ­including posting publicity messages on the Hongkong Post website and mobile app and news.gov.hk, posters and broadcasting an announcement in the public ­interest on radio.

I hope this clarifies the rationale underpinning the recent changes to our postage arrangement.

We remain committed to providing quality postal services at affordable prices to the local community.

Sonia So, senior manager (public relations), Hongkong Post

Care for the elderly must be a priority

I agree with the letter by Kary Kan (“Offer subsidies to help provide more carers”, February 22) that the government should offer the right kind of incentives so that more people take up ­careers as carers for the elderly.

This would be a good long-term measure which could help to tackle the problems caused by Hong Kong’s ageing population.

If fewer young people are willing to take jobs in hospitals and care homes for the elderly, then our senior citizens could suffer. There could be severe consequences caused by insufficient staffing levels in these institutions, especially as the numbers of old folk needing help will increase.

I cannot see any disadvantages to having a comprehensive incentive policy that gets more young adults into these important jobs.

The government must ­ensure they are given the financial support they need to undertake the necessary training.

This will give them greater motivation to train as carers or choose a career in related fields.

Salaries for these people and those working in public health-care centres must also be competitive so they attract the right kind of people.

Decent pay can also ­persuade people already in those jobs not to resign.

Hopefully, then, the shortage of carers for the elderly would not be that acute.

The government also has an important role to play in ­educating people.

It must remind citizens of the traditional value of filial ­piety, that adults have a duty to take care of elderly relatives.

They need to appreciate the sacrifices their parents made for them during their working lives.

Sandy Chan Lap-kiu, Yau Tong

We should respect sexual minorities

I refer to the report “Speaking out against society’s age-old injustice” (February 22).

People from the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual) ­community should not be demonised in society.

Hong Kong is a modern city in the 21st century and yet LGBT people still suffer from a lot of discrimination.

We are all different and ­people have varying beliefs and preferences.

We should not judge people because they are different. Someone should not face discrimination because their ­sexual orientation means they are part of a sexual minority.

However, they do face such discrimination and can do little about it, because they are still not protected by legislation.

Some religious groups are critical of LGBT people, saying that their lifestyles go against what these groups call ­traditional Chinese values.

We need to change these ­negative preconceptions in society.

In this regard, education is important. It can be used to teach our young people to be more tolerant towards sexual minorities.

Change cannot be achieved overnight, but gradually we can hopefully see Hong Kong ­students respecting the rights of the LGBT community.

Sabrina Li Wan-hei, Tseung Kwan O