We can only tackle pollution problems with real democracy
The current pollution problem is one of the most compelling reasons for the need for universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
I am angry and frustrated with the pollution and another day with itching eyes, but I have no meaningful mechanism for change. We have almost 7 million people living in this city, who would be willing to contribute to curb pollution, if we had leadership. There is no infrastructure for recycling. If there was, we would separate our waste, such as batteries and plastic bottles.
While I would think most of our air pollution comes from the mainland, our local power companies also contribute to the problem. Why is our government contemplating giving them until 2012 or 2017 to clean up their acts? Why would we consider letting them slide under carbon credit sales penalties when their real pollutants are particulates?
Further, how can we help Guangdong province clean up its act if we don't first do it ourselves? We have to do it first. Hong Kong needs to lead the rest of China in this regard. It is all about leadership, transparency and accountability. Beijing fears universal suffrage in Hong Kong because it might spread to the mainland. I say please do not worry, and please do not equate Hong Kong with the bulk of China. Let Hong Kong be a good experiment in this regard.
Everyone in Hong Kong knows we have pollution problems, and we know that our government is doing nothing meaningful to deal with the problems. The market always knows, and if I am any example, we should expect many people to relocate, because of the pollution and the elitist nature of our government. In a pure democracy, pollution would be a major issue. Our politicians would have to deal with our concerns or they would not be re-elected.
This is the essence of universal suffrage and, young or old, smart or stupid, it is our right.
Today we have no choice. We can only vote for the people approved by Beijing and special interest groups. There is no room for real leaders. The point about universal suffrage, outside of special constituents, is that it allows the people to fire leaders once every three, four or five years if we feel those leaders are not addressing the issues we, the people, feel are important.
This is what we need, and ultimately what China needs.
Gregory Pek, Happy Valley
HK streets ahead of boring Singapore
I am annoyed by Lee Kuan Yew's comments on Hong Kong ('Lee dig at 'crowded HK' ', February 3).
Yes, our streets are crowded, but we can't help it if people want to come to Hong Kong. I am sorry but Singapore is horribly boring and decent only for shopping. We have a nightlife, culture, history and the arts on top of our excellent shopping.
Yes, we have buildings close to each other, but so do New York, Tokyo and most major metropolitan cities.
Businesses continue to flock here in droves, because they want a presence here. Whereas Singapore has to offer them tax breaks and subsidies in order to set up shop there. Our government chooses not to intervene in the marketplace, whereas Singapore openly does so.
Singapore is not a genuine democracy. Mr Lee effectively handed power to Goh Chok Tong and then Mr Lee's son became premier.
At least in Hong Kong we know there is no universal suffrage, but that we will get it in 2017.
I would ask Mr Lee to stop mouthing off about Hong Kong and look to his own country.
As minister mentor of Singapore, he should be setting a better example and not just acting like any other politician.
Amit Singh, Sheung Wan
We have so much to learn from Lion City
Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew is absolutely right of course ('Lee dig at 'crowded HK',' February 3), when he remarks on Hong Kong's crowded streets and calls it a place with 'just solid buildings, one blocking the sunlight of the other'.
When I first lived in Conduit Road, in the mid-1950s, I could occasionally hear barking deer calling from The Peak.
Now in Conduit Road I have a 'monster' being built close by which has already passed 50 storeys.
Goodness knows how much higher it is going up.
I am a great supporter of our Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.
However, to suggest that Hong Kong can still offer a 'reasonably good living' with a population of 10 million people really does boggle the mind.
Surely there is more to life than having to live like battery hens?
Lee Kuan Yew is right.
The Lion City can teach Hong Kong a thing or two when it comes to town planning.
Dan Waters, Mid-Levels
Taxi driver did not return lost mobile
You tell the story of taxi drivers who want to return goods found in their taxi only if they get a finder's fee ('Saga of lost PC reveals greed of HK cabbies', February 3). We all also know the stories of grateful passengers who had left something in a taxi (even cash) and who got everything back, as the taxi driver who found the goods took every effort to trace their passenger.
My own experience is not such a good one. I forgot my mobile in the taxi and realised this just after getting out, but the taxi was already too far away to read the licence plate. When I approached a police officer with my story he told me that if I wanted the taxi control room to make an announcement over the radio I should make a deposit first and as there were several taxi operators I might have to make several deposits. As it was Saturday evening and all banks were closed the earliest option would be Monday morning, but that was too late. As I tried to call my phone I noticed it was switched off by the one who had found it (maybe the next passenger). I believe there are good cabbies and bad ones, but that we have to make a deposit to the taxi operators to make an announcement, is ridiculous.
Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay
Clarifying role of Jockey Club Charities Trust
I refer to Alvin Sallay's column (February 3).
In 2005, the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust pledged a donation of HK$103 million to the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) towards its plan to build a football academy.
However, it is crucial to clarify that no further pledges have been made to the HKFA since then for either expansion of facilities, or subsidies for recurrent funding of the future football academy. The quotes of HKFA chairman Brian Leung Heung-tak, stating that the trust had pledged further donations to the HKFA are incorrect.
Furthermore, the column suggested that there has been some form of quid pro quo agreement 'in return' for the donation.
The trust never operates on those principles, that is, donations are never made in return for benefits to the trust, or the club.
Trust donations are made only to benefit the people of Hong Kong in improving their quality of life.
William Y. Yiu, executive director, charities, the Hong Kong Jockey Club
Backing tax rise
I support the call for a massive increase in tobacco tax, especially if it is accompanied by the introduction of a flat rate on alcohol based on percentage rather than value.
I also look forward to July next year when all bars will finally become smoke free.
Guy Shirra, Sai Kung