Letters to the Editor, May 7, 2016
Cut land sales, build more public housing
I refer to the report (“Housing eats up record 34pc of spending by Hongkongers”, April 29).
The housing problem has been a serious issue in Hong Kong for a long time but it seems to have intensified in recent years.
There was a survey that the per capita living area in Hong Kong was 30 square metres, half that in Singapore, but monthly rents in Hong Kong were higher than in Singapore. It is an unpleasant surprise that Hong Kong citizens need to pay higher rent than Singaporeans but live in a smaller space.
What leads to our housing being so expensive? I think there are two factors at play.
The monopoly of property developers on most of the industries in Hong Kong is the first of these factors.
Of the 1,200-member election committee, property developers directly have 69 votes, which show that they have influence on legislation.
In addition, they have great influence on other major sectors such as construction and finance in which they invest as a way to diversity their business interests. Thus, property developers have relatively large political influence and bargaining power. When there is a government land auction, they can get the land they want and build private estates for more profits.
The second factor is foreign capital intervention in Hong Kong housing. Since Hong Kong is an international city, it allows foreign capital to invest. Take China as an example – Hong Kong and China are intercorporated in economic, financial and political aspects.
Mainlanders may see Hong Kong as a prospective economy and are willing to invest in big developments such as housing.
Some also want to enjoy the social welfare and find ways to gain a good education for their children in Hong Kong. Buying flats here to meet those needs helps push up prices , making it harder for Hong Kong citizens to buy their own flats, or rent a suitable one.
Government intervention such as increasing the stamp duty and building more public housing estates instead of selling land in land auctions are needed. This would lower housing prices in Hong Kong and help those who want a comfortable home of their own.
Michel Dik, Fo Tan
Heritage has value for locals and tourists
I refer to your editorial (“Hong Kong has a golden chance to restore Queen’s Pier to its former glory”, April 28). The Hong Kong spirit is diminishing due to rapid economic growth and land development.
What is sadder than a great city losing its heritage bit by bit? Historic buildings and monuments, once demolished, are gone forever. I believe that the architectural heritage of Hong Kong should be preserved and some of the old buildings can be revitalised.
Old historical buildings in Hong Kong can best represent the collective memory and vital spirit of the older generation. The restoration of Queen’s Pier in Hong Kong caught considerable public attention as it witnessed the development of Hong Kong over decades. It was a meeting place for friends, families and lovers. Apart from Queen’s Pier, other historic buildings should not be demolished. Tourists from other countries do not want to see the rigid shopping malls when they visit Hong Kong but signs of the beautiful and stylish past.
Historic buildings not only possess the collective memory of Hong Kong people, they are also treasures worth cherishing and protecting. At present, there is a severe conflict between development and heritage conservation, and the government should seek a balance between the two.
Heritage conservation should be included in the urban planning process so that such historic buildings can be allocated for cultural or commercial uses. This can protect our priceless Hong Kong spirit, as well as promote tourism.
Lem Hau-yin, Yau Yat Chuen
Don’t ignore rights of children
There are many organisations promoting children’s rights in Hong Kong. However, I think their rights are not given due consideration in our society.
Children generally have four rights. They are rights of participation, of development, of survival and the right to be protected.
I that very few Hong Kong citizens are aware of these rights.
Take “monster” or “helicopter” parents as an example. They exploit and distort their childrens’ rights of development and participation. They urge them to participate in tutorial classes or various activities without asking their children what they want. These youngsters then lose the chance to develop their interests and they may end feeling useless, because their parents did not ask for their opinions.
Children are supposed to be protected by society, by their parents and seniors. They should not be hit and abused.
The awareness of children’s rights must be aroused so that our children can be protected. A bill involving children’s voices in divorces is only the start of promoting children’s rights in Hong Kong. Further promotion is needed by the government. All citizens also should join hands to protect our children.
Angel Wong, Kwun Tong
End circuses’ cruelty to wild animals
I refer to the report (“Curtain call for Ringling Bros’ elephant shows after public pressure to scrap performances”, May 1). I support the outlawing of circus acts featuring wild animals as it destroys their rights and freedom.
Acts featuring animal performances have been a common practice in various circuses and they remain largely legal in the United States.
Animals do not naturally stand on their heads or jump through rings of fire; they are able to pull off these acts due to the cruel training of the circuses. In circuses, animals are beaten, hit and prodded so that they obey the instructions of the trainers.
Animals are also confined in small cages that limit their extent of activity.
These inhumane acts often drive some animals right to the brink, causing them irreversible harm to their bodies and their minds.
Wild animals are born in the wild, not in captivity; they are born to run in the wild freely, instead of being caged inside small areas where they could barely walk around.
Sadly, many wild animals are still under the brutal treatment of circuses.
I urge governments to outlaw circus acts featuring wild animals, to protect their rights and to show these governments genuinely care about animal welfare.
Emily Wong, Tai Po
LNG plan demands balanced look
It was recently announced that CLP Group proposes building a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal near the Soko Islands.
Some people support this LNG plan because it would help to expand the city’s gas source, so that Hong Kong does not need to just rely on the gas supply from China. What’s more, Hong Kong’s bargaining power on the cost of its gas supply would be greater.
Building an LNG terminal near the Soko Islands would allow the city to receive gas from anywhere in the world and Hong Kong would have better energy security. But there are some who oppose the plan on environmental grounds.
I hope the government can make a balanced assessment between economic development and environmental conservation.
Fedora Ho Ka-yan, Yau Yat Chuen