PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 March, 2011, 7:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 March, 2011, 7:00pm


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Compulsory sale does not benefit owners

I refer to the letter by Holden Chow of the Young Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong ('DAB has never neglected interests of the poor in society', March 28). It is Mr Chow who makes 'groundless and misleading' statements not Martin Brinkley ('Wealthy DAB has shown its true colours in defence of tycoons', March 21) in their discussion on the compulsory purchase ordinance.

Can Mr Chow explain how owners of flats more than 50 years old have extra opportunities to sell their flats just because a developer has the power to force them to do so? If an old man who is 'burdened by high maintenance costs' wants to sell to someone who can afford to buy, let him do so, without this ordinance shifting the balance of bargaining power against him.

Why should that same old man, who might want to live in the home he has occupied all his life, and who is worried about having to find a suitable new place to live, be compelled to sell?

And how does a compulsory sale improve the price that old man would get? When the developer has already acquired 80 per cent of a building, as the new law provides, compulsory sale does the opposite: it worsens the price he would otherwise get.

It is clear, in economic theory and in the reality of the Hong Kong property market, that the added value of development emphatically does not go to existing owners, but to the party with the capital and skills to develop the site - namely the developer.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels

Hongkongers can be kind

I refer to the report ('Widow of murdered constable calls for a better Hong Kong', March 24). Cheung Ling-chi clearly feels that Hong Kong people lack compassion.

I think that is a generalisation and is only partly correct.

As I live in the New Territories I regularly commute by train and I agree that you often see teenagers who refuse to give up their seats to elderly passengers or mothers carrying babies. Such young people are selfish and do lack compassion.

But I have also been amazed by the noble qualities shown by other Hongkongers, some of whom risked their lives following the Sichuan earthquake in 2008.

Some died and doctors stayed on in the quake-stricken area to treat patients despite the fact there were aftershocks. Surely such people cannot be accused of lacking compassion.

Also, many citizens have donated money to support victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Of course, there is some truth in Ms Cheung's comments regarding panic buying of salt and baby formula after allegations of nuclear leaks from the stricken Fukushima plant.

However, there are real fears about radioactive leaks at the moment, so you can understand why people are on edge.

Tiffany Mo, Tai Po

Nearby reactors pose worries

A simple internet search reveals two nuclear reactors under construction in Guangdong. One, in Taishan, is less than 160 kilometres from Lantau. Two more are proposed and three are planned.

Bearing in mind the prevalence of mass corruption in the mainland's infrastructure industry, one shudders to think about the consequences of shoddily built reactors.

What are Hong Kong officials doing to clarify the safety standards and financial probity of such projects? And what is the International Atomic Energy Agency doing?

We have heard words of comfort from mainland officials. However, the probable consequences of anything less than ruthless oversight of these projects are obvious.

Patrick Gilbert, Lam Tin

City concerts hit a sour note

May I make the following suggestions to improve the experience for artists and audiences at concerts held at the soulless, cavernous Convention and Exhibition Centre?

First, provide seating outside the hall for those having a drink or waiting to enter the hall. Officialdom seems to harbour an innate fear of providing seating in public places for weary citizens.

Second, charge the same for all seats. There is no advantage in occupying the more expensive seats at floor level, where one's ears are lambasted with the sound from the giant speakers, where one has to contort one's frame to view the artist and where one has to put up with the chatter from photographers, who are, astonishingly, allowed to stand in front of the stage to snap the artist.

Third, ensure that the sound emanating from the speakers coincides with the movement of the singer's lips on the screens.

Fourth, produce a programme that is worthy of the artist. At the Katherine Jenkins concert on March 20 one had to search among the glossy adverts and grinning celebrities for the single-page, grammatically flawed introduction to the singer. Furthermore, there was not even an insert in the programme indicating the musical offering for that night.

Despite everything the organisers did to make the evening one to forget, Jenkins and the City Chamber Orchestra gave us gems to linger in the memory.

Asia's world city? Not, I'm afraid, when it comes to staging high-profile concerts.

Jim Francis, Wan Chai

Light guidelines best if voluntary

Light pollution does affect a lot of Hong Kong citizens. I think the introduction of voluntary guidelines to control this problem would be helpful.

Many shop owners might be against the government going further and introducing legislation to curb light pollution as they could be concerned this could stop their promotions and adversely affect business.

However, I think they would be willing to co-operate with officials if guidelines were brought in.

This is the best way to move forward on this issue.

Kelvin Ng, Sha Tin

Teens need to be independent

We hear about teenagers today struggling to cope with the pressures they face in society.

I think this is partly due to the development of information technology, such as computers and iPhones, and also the economic changes in Hong Kong.

For example, people in the past communicated by mail or spoke, rather than texting on phones or using online chat rooms. There are fewer opportunities for today's teens to develop interpersonal skills and some have difficulties with face-to-face communication.

Many also rely too much on their parents.

Living standards have risen in Hong Kong as we have moved to a knowledge-based economy. Parents often spoil their sons and daughters and so they do not treasure what they are given.

Hong Kong's youngsters need to try to be more independent. Their parents will not be there indefinitely.

What is more they will under-achieve in their careers if they are not taught to think and act on their own more often.

Natalie Yu, Kowloon City

Schools should seek balance

I refer to the report ('Emphasis on exam results puts pressure on principals', March 22).

The mission of principals is to attract more students to their schools and the only way to achieve this is to make the curriculum more exam-oriented, because that is what Hong Kong parents prefer.

However, it cannot be denied that because school heads adopt this strategy the needs of pupils are ignored. To ensure the healthy development of youngsters requires striking the right balance.

Academic results only form part of that development. They should not be the only way to measure how a young person is progressing.

During a school's promotion day senior teachers will tell parents how well their children have done in public exams.

They will barely touch on other aspects of the curriculum.

I think school heads have to reassess this imbalance.

Peter Cheung, Sha Tin

Leaders must stick to policies

In his budget speech in February, the Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah seemed determined to avoid giving cash handouts to Hong Kong citizens.

Following protests over the budget, including an alleged attack on the chief executive, he quickly changed his mind and decided to give HK$6,000 to all permanent ID card holders aged 18 or above.

I think this action damaged the credibility of the government.

It means that, in future, if the administration proposes a policy or scheme, people may doubt its intention to implement it.

If the people are unhappy with a measure, they may feel that by holding demonstrations they can get officials to change their minds.

In future, the government should give careful thought before making any promises. If officials really believe they are right about a policy they should stick with it and not be easily swayed.

Showing a lack of decisiveness can damage a harmonious society.

If the government opts for a cash handout it should ensure it is done in a fair way.

However, I believe that the government's main priority should be dealing with the gap between rich and poor. For that reason its most important task should be rectifying Hong Kong's housing problems.

Many people struggle to find enough money to buy, or even rent, an apartment. The administration must address this issue and help those who are living below the poverty line.

Jessica Mak, Tai Po