HK has acres of land for development
Time and again we have heard the statement that we have no land to increase our housing supply. When we started to build the new towns we had no land and, yet, 10 years later, the land had been found and a million people had been housed.
How was this done? The boundaries of our towns were drawn, building the towns within them became a public purpose, and the land was resumed. Villages were, for the most part, left where they were, with some room to expand; factories, farmland and fishponds were compensated for and cleared, and housing estates built. There was a will and a way, and public support, and I cannot recall complaints from developers, because it was for the public good.
Times have changed, but not much. The boundaries of the towns were drawn to fit the needs of development and population at the time, but there was no magic in it. The boundary, for example, of Tuen Mun new town can be shifted to encompass land as far away as Hung Shui Kiu, avoiding villages where necessary.
Tin Shui Wai in its isolation is surrounded by hectares of desecrated farmland connecting it to Yuen Long; Lau Fau Shan has not changed much for 50 years, but the extensive farmland which then surrounded it has become the dumping ground for the detritus from the city and the container port. Ma On Shan could be extended east and a cove filled to become a new low-rise satellite; Tuen Mun new town could be continued around the corner past the power station encompassing the village of the chairman of the Heung Yee Kuk (I am sure he would not object!)
My point is that the statement that we have no land is a calumny and a chimera to frighten us, and because of this we have not built and cannot build the housing our citizens are crying out for. Indeed, we have square kilometres of flat developmental land.
Let's make a fresh start!
David Akers-Jones, former secretary for the New Territories, Mid-Levels
Appointment system is the same for all
I refer to the article ('In the wrong hands', June 16) by Grenville Cross SC, Hong Kong's former director of public prosecutions, in which he said that recent cases highlighted the need to hand over the justice secretary's prosecution powers to the director of public prosecutions to avoid any claims of political bias.
The issues relating to prosecutions - an independent director of public prosecutions and prosecution policy and practice - will be discussed at the next meeting of the Legislative Council panel on administration of justice and the legal services panel, to be held on Monday.
It is incorrect for Mr Cross to say that '... the senior prosecutor appointed was given an unprecedented six-month term' and 'if the acting director of public prosecutions says or does anything that upsets his political masters during the probationary period, the appointment may be revoked'. In fact, the requirement that departmental-grade officers recommended for promotion to the head of department posts should go through an 'acting with a view' process is a civil- service-wide requirement implemented since October 2004.
This is in recognition of the significant role played by heads of departments in leading and managing, and ensures sufficient time and opportunity for the appointment authority (the permanent secretary for the civil service) to ascertain the suitability of a candidate for promotion to a head of department post.
The director of public prosecutions, which is at the law- officer rank, is a head-of-department-level post. All candidates promoted to the law-officer rank in the Department of Justice go through this 'acting with a view' process. It is therefore wrong to suggest that this process is unprecedented.
The well-established and well-tested appointment system of civil servants, together with the relevant checks and balances, applies to all government departments. To suggest that the appointment of a civil servant could be revoked at the behest of one officer is, again, wrong.
Susie Ho, director of administration and development, Department of Justice
Burning of paper money is hellish, too
I refer to C.T. Chu's letter ('Ban incense in some public places', June 13). It is not just the practice of burning incense sticks in domestic areas inside a residential building that is annoying, but also the burning of 'hell notes' in public areas of the building.
I have every sympathy with the woman who recently took her neighbour to court over burning incense, and fail to see why people are still allowed to do this inside buildings.
Over a year ago, I rented a flat in a private a residential building in Sai Ying Pun only to find my neighbours burning huge quantities of 'hell money' one day and burning incense right outside my own flat. On some occasions, they burned such huge quantities of paper money in metal containers outside my flat that the door and walls were charred and damaged by the smoke. In addition, one day, I was so overcome by smoke coming into my flat under the door that I suffered side effects from the fumes.
On one occasion, I called the police, who were unable to take any action, and neither did the fire officers who attended on another occasion. When I made a complaint to the building management, they simply stuck a notice up saying: 'Please do not burn incense and paper in the common areas of the building.'
C.T. Chu says in his letter: 'If people are banned from smoking a cigarette in some places, then this ban should also be extended to incense.' I would add: 'and to burning paper money'.
J.S. Fong, Sai Ying Pun
Time to review NT planning
If Hong Kong is lucky, the furore over illegal or unauthorised structures and extensions will lead to an overhaul of building codes and planning policies in the New Territories. All the finger-pointing about balconies and canopies is a waste of time.
The development secretary said a review of the small-house policy was one of her top priorities. Let us hope it is fulfilled.
John Schofield, Lantau Island
Teachers have earned their time off
I refer to the article ('Mum takes dim view of teachers,' June 19), in which an ESF parent was reported to have overheard staff 'crowing' about time off.
I re-read the article, but I still don't understand what the fuss is about. We've all complained about work, we've all talked about the great benefits we get with the job - what's wrong with looking forward to a holiday after a hard working year?
My son is at an English Schools Foundation secondary school and I'm sure his teachers are also looking forward to the summer vacation.
It doesn't mean that they're incompetent and unprofessional, it just means they're human.
And, from what I have seen, the teachers who teach my son are definitely in the category of 'highly professional and dedicated teaching staff'.
Renee Cheung, Tung Chung