Letters to the Editor, December 31, 2016
Sabre-rattling by Putin is repulsive
What is wrong with Vladimir Putin?
At a meeting with his medal-adorned military bigwigs, he promised them more nuclear weaponry so that Russia would fear no threats and could match any nuclear power in the world.
Is the man demented? Does he not realise that nuclear weapons have no rational use in warfare, that they cannot be deployed without ruining our world?
Has he been to Chernobyl where a nuclear meltdown, not even a planned explosion, has contaminated the Ukraine for decades to come? How many H-bombs does he need to feel safe?
His sabre-rattling during the Christmas season is especially repulsive and shows that he cares more for his power than for the good of his people or for humanity itself.
Russia has great scientists and technicians, but their skills are wasted on weaponry. Does Russia export anything worthwhile except for vodka, caviar and weapons? Putin’s obsession with armed force and his macho image are damaging his own country and causing great suffering in Syria.
It is especially sickening to observe his cultivation of the Orthodox church, the spiritual home of many Russians.
In earlier eras, the Romanov dynasty, the former tzars, used this tactic to bolster their autocratic rule, but it did not prevent the communist takeover of Russia and the deaths of many clergy under Stalin.
The Orthodox hierarchy should not let its spiritual authority and role be linked to state power, especially one that so blatantly rejects Gospel values – that prefers deadly weapons to a life-giving message.
Right-minded people in Hong Kong can show their disapproval of Putin’s actions by boycotting the Russian airline, Aeroflot.
There are many other airlines that are not linked to militarism. Our ways of purchasing and consumption, of giving cash and support to nations, should be guided by our ethics and human values.
It is regrettable that at Christmas, Putin preferred brandishing nuclear bombs to promoting peace.
Jason Kuylein, Stanley
Poorest hit by highest rent increases
Over the last two years, rents for subdivided flats have gone up by around 13 per cent. This reflects the severity of Hong Kong’s housing problems.
These high rents place an enormous financial burden on underprivileged citizens.
Landlords of subdivided units ignore fire safety regulations, so it is time for the government to introduce a clearance programme and get rid of the flats. However, if it does this, it must provide alternative housing for the tenants forced to leave.
Many will have to wait up to four years for a public flat and so they will just start looking for another subdivided apartment that has escaped the crackdown. Their grim living conditions will therefore not have improved.
It is inhumane to expect a family to live in a 120 sq ft unit. The government should not allow such tiny apartments to be put up for sale.
I hope the administration will find a way to solve our housing problems.
Rebecca Ho, Shek Kip Mei
Think outside box to ease housing woes
The recent controversy over the Wang Chau public housing programme put the spotlight on use of brownfield sites.
I support the development of brownfield sites at Wang Chau and other locations. It is a practical way for the government to construct more public housing estates and ease the shortage of affordable flats in Hong Kong.
The government needs to deal with the problem of inappropriate land use, which is quite common.
It should also look at land that could be freed and provide space for a lot of homes, for example, the Hong Kong Golf Club at Fanling. It covers 170 hectares and this is a large area for Hong Kong.
I am concerned that a lot of the new estates that are built are not affordable for most citizens. We are seeing more new luxury apartments and villas coming on the market. This is doing nothing to ease the city’s serious housing problem.
Instead of getting into arguments over disputed brownfield sites which, for example, are illegally occupied, the government needs to stop wasting time. It is time for officials to think outside the box in order to improve land-use planning in Hong Kong.
Lum Chi-lok, Tseung Kwan O Top officials do not listen to citizens’ views I was not surprised by a survey earlier this year which found that many students were pessimistic about the future of Hong Kong.
Over the last few years, Hong Kong’s stability has been undermined by events such as the “umbrella movement” and “fishball revolution”.
Hongkongers’ freedoms have been eroded since Leung Chun-ying became chief executive. We want to see a better society, but no one in power heeds our views. A chief executive should be listening to citizens in an effort to create a better Hong Kong for all of us, including improved job prospects and more affordable homes.
Many young people do not have jobs and large numbers of citizens have no choice but to live in subdivided units.
Even in substandard private housing, tenants often have to pay more than the rent for a public housing flat and they face a heavy financial burden. A good leader should recognise these problems and address them. But we have no control over who that leader will be because we do not have a fair election for chief executive.
Therefore, it is hardly surprising so many students are pessimistic about the city’s future.
Brenda Law Wing-man, Yau Yat Chuen
Give more incentives for electric cars
The government is trying to encourage more people to buy electric cars, as they do not emit pollutants.
However, there are not many charging stations and, often, the parking spots next to these stations in car parks will be occupied by non-electric cars, especially during peak hours.
The government should increase the financial incentives available to motorists who buy electric cars to make these cars more attractive.
Electric cars are just one aspect of people being eco-friendly. Even if we don’t own an electric car, we should all be trying to do more to protect our environment.
Sara Wong Kit-yu, Tseung Kwan O
Lax controls over factories which pollute
The air pollution in northern China is really serious.
There are too many factories and they are not being properly monitored to ensure emissions are within legal limits. You see pictures of thick smoke coming from factory chimneys and it even causes problems in parts of the country some distance from industrial areas.
Imagine what it must be like for communities next to those plants. People in cities like Beijing wear masks when the smog is bad, but many still suffer from respiratory diseases.
The central government must impose tighter emission controls on factories and build more residential estates some distance from these factories.
It should also encourage citizens to use public transport instead of private cars. It can do this by charging higher taxes when people purchase a car.
Jojo Wong, Po Lam