Letters to the Editor, January 4, 2017

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 January, 2017, 4:54pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 12:07pm

Let evicted tenants stay in empty schools

Many of the city’s poorest citizens who are forced to live in subdivided units have faced some of the highest rent rises in the last two years.

A concern group found they have jumped over 13 per cent since October 2014.

In addition to having to endure a poor living environment, the tenants now face eviction from those units ­illegally located in old industrial ­buildings. With such high rents in the private sector, this can leave some of them with ­nowhere else to go, especially as applicants for public housing flats may have to wait for up to four years.

I agree with the concern group’s suggestion that empty schools could be used for those subdivided tenants who have been evicted. If properly converted, they would have far better living conditions.

Having a decent domestic environment is particularly important for students. It is ­difficult for them to study for the Diploma of Secondary ­Education exam if they are in a filthy, overcrowded cubicle flat.

The government has a responsibility to help this underprivileged sector of society.

Alison Yu Tsz-man, Yau Yat Chuen

Officials must help people made homeless

Following the fatal blaze last year in a self-storage facility in an industrial building in Ngau Tau Kok, the government pledged to have tougher checks on these buildings.

It also said it planned to crack down on landlords who operated illegal cubicle flats in such buildings.

However, a non-governmental organisation pointed out that a ­widespread crackdown could leave thousands of tenants from these subdivided flats homeless if ­officials failed to come up with a ­proper resettlement plan.

Po Tin transit centre in Tuen Mun has only 400 bed spaces and would be unable to cope with a mass eviction.

If it goes ahead with the crackdown on a large scale, the government will have to offer subsidies to the displaced tenants so they can find ­alternative accommodation.

It could also plan its own units in empty industrial buildings, ensuring proper ­hygiene and that all fire safety systems were installed, including sprinklers.

This would minimise the risks tenants presently face in ­illegal subdivided flats in industrial buildings.

The government has to come up with a comprehensive plan to resettle these residents so they are not left homeless.

Lynette Tang Wing-yan, Tseung Kwan O

Fast-track the proposed pension hike

It was heartening to learn that a member of the Commission on Poverty, Michael Tien Puk-sun, has proposed raising the old age living allowance from HK$2,495 a month to HK$3,800 (“Call for bigger old age allowance at 65, not 70”, December 18). This would, no doubt, provide great relief to the elderly population of Hong Kong.

This proposal is very reasonable and looks financially viable in the long term.

I am sure that it will be approved by the Hong Kong government.

I suggest that this measure should be implemented without any further ­delay, unless the government intends offering an even better package for the needy elderly.

Dr B. K. Avasthi, Discovery Bay

Playgrounds have now become boring

Parents are increasingly concerned about the safety of their children and that includes ensuring they do not get hurt in playgrounds.

While this is understandable, the downside is that some officials can try to be so careful that playgrounds in Hong Kong become boring. They should offer stimulation and be a fun experience, but this will not happen if the layout is unimaginative.

With innovative designs, safety can be a priority, but a playground can still offer a challenge to a child. For example, slides used to be higher and made of steel and they can still be safe and not pose a serious risk. It is difficult to get down smoothly on a low plastic slide.

If playgrounds continue to be boring, families will just stay away and they will remain empty and barely used. The government should improve the design of playgrounds and make them more interesting, and parents should try not to be overprotective.

An interesting playground gives children a chance to get a lot of exercise and this is important when you see so many overweight youngsters.

Sarah Tam, Tseung Kwan O

Democracy still matters in Hong Kong

In his column (“Forget political reform, let’s focus on making people’s lives better”, December 16) Alex Lo says, “We lack the political talent or leadership to address reform, instead it would be better to rein in the rich, grow the middle class and help the poor”.

For 19 years, we’ve had the rich getting richer, the middle class getting poorer, and the poor reaching breaking point. The consequence of this is the increasingly impatient and desperate demand for political reform, because it is obvious to anyone, except Lo, that without political reform, we will continue to have a government subservient to the tycoons and ­pandering to Beijing’s paranoia with more repression.

If ­insulting the Chinese people was such a crime, as has been ­recently claimed, Lo has sinned more than Youngspiration by insulting the Hong Kong special ­administrative region, saying there is not one of us with the talent to solve our problems.

We have boundless talent, but it has been actively excluded from having any power, because “reining in the rich” will not be allowed to happen. Instead, we have had a series of bumbling and inept leaders foisted on us.

The entire reason that democracy is aspired to is not a philosophical idealism, but the obvious fact that any government is run for the benefit of those who choose it.

When legislators are nominated by companies owned by billionaires and appointed a leader by Beijing; big surprise, “reining in the rich”, affordable homes, clean air, pensions, decent public education, have zero priority. Instead, mega projects that benefit construction moguls and their mainland friends drain our coffers.

Democracy is obviously not perfect. But it lets the people correct mistakes. Here, we’re stuck with them, unless Beijing gives the thumbs down, and then likely appoints an even worse leader who promises to subdue this ungrateful city.

Alan Sargent, Lamma

Stop using plastic cutlery at lunchtime

Until I read the report, “Rubbish found in clean-ups on Hong Kong beaches down by more than a third in 8 years, green group says” (December 14), I always used disposable tableware when having lunch.

I found it so convenient ­because I did not have to clean it after using it and never thought about bringing reusable tableware to school. However, I have now changed my daily habits.

Throwing a little plastic spoon away every day might seem like nothing, but think about if you do it every day and 365 of these spoons end up in our landfills.

And what if 10 citizens do this? The number of people who are throwing this kind of disposable tableware away every day is probably much greater than most of us imagine and it is disastrous for the environment.

All students should bring their own disposable tableware to school and stop using plastic cutlery.

Tiffany Kong Wing-yin, Kwai Chung