Land exchange is definitely best option
Society for Protection of the Harbour is in complete agreement with the article by Roger Nissim ("Land exchange the fairest route", August 29). He believes that a workable solution must be found to increase the land supply by making use of the vast land resources in the New Territories.
This is the only answer to achieve affordable housing and to provide for Hong Kong's future expansion.
As long ago as 1995, in the important conference "Planning Hong Kong for the 21st Century", which was attended by international planning experts, it was proposed that the way ahead for development of the New Territories was to make use of the mechanism of land-exchange entitlement, as the article now suggests.
For readers who may be interested, the proceedings of that conference were recorded in a book published under that title.
At the conference, it was also pointed out in a paper submitted by me entitled, "Direction of Development - Metro or the New Territories", that Hong Kong's growth should be in the New Territories and not by reclaiming the harbour. Unfortunately, the advice was ignored and now, 17 years later, more than half of the harbour has been lost to reclamation.
The paper had advocated a new "Letter C" land exchange entitlement which would offer one square foot of building land for five square feet of agricultural land with a cash adjustment wherever necessary.
Such a suggestion may not be the best solution, but nevertheless it should stimulate debate to find other better ideas.
The issue is of such importance to Hong Kong that the administration should immediately initiate a public debate to try to find the best solution.
This has to be fair to all and wisely balance the interests of the general public, landowners, indigenous villagers, property developers as well as the government.
Our society is most concerned about this because, unless and until a solution for Hong Kong's future land supply is found, Victoria Harbour and our surrounding seas will always be under threat.
There is no time to lose.
Winston Ka Sun-chu, adviser, Society for Protection of the Harbour
Medical centre an advocate of breastfeeding
I refer to the letter by Lisa Milliner ("Hospital out of touch on breastfeeding", August 24).
Caritas Medical Centre took Mrs Milliner's view seriously and investigation was conducted. According to the concerned staff, Mrs Milliner stayed with her baby in the acute admission ward of the department of paediatrics and adolescent medicine which was crowded with infectious patients.
To avoid potential infection to the baby, she advised Mrs Milliner to bring her baby out of the ward. In fact, the concerned staff was not aware that Mrs Milliner was breastfeeding her baby at that moment. When she was told by Mrs Milliner of the breastfeeding, she drew a curtain to provide privacy.
We regret that your correspondent felt unhappy about what happened. Please be assured that Caritas Medical Centre is a strong advocate of breastfeeding and provides a dedicated nursing room equipped with breastfeeding facilities for our staff.
Dr Ma Hok-cheung, hospital chief executive, Caritas Medical Centre
HK people should stop complaining
I think it is time that Hongkongers stopped complaining about what they don't have and started appreciating all the things they have got.
Few other governments in the world, as far as I know, would have handed out HK$6,000 to all their citizens because of a surplus; few would give HK$1,000 every month to senior citizens who certainly don't get a HK$2 flat fare as our senior citizens do in one of the most efficient and comfortable public transport systems in the world.
Hong Kong people are so spoiled that if the slightest thing goes wrong and is not to their liking, they shout about it on the streets.
The recent breakdown of the MTR during the typhoon is a typical example.
The circumstances causing the breakdown were beyond human control and should be accepted - annoying, yes, but life is not a bed of roses and things do go wrong. While they were complaining, Beijing was under more than a metre of water. Now that is something to complain about.
Daily demonstrations on every issue are becoming very monotonous and have no impact other than to cause disruption to the public.
Interest and sympathy were lost long ago for the campers under the HSBC headquarter in Central.
Come on Hong Kong, lighten up and smile, cut down on the complaining and continue to do what we do best, work hard and enjoy life.
M.L. Williams, Ma Tau Wei
Issue black travel alert for minibuses
Since the unfortunate Manila hostage incident two years ago, in which seven Hong Kong visitors died, the SAR government has stuck to its black travel alert for the Philippines.
In the meantime, many more than eight Hong Kong people have died in minibus accidents on our streets due to the often reckless and criminal driving style of its drivers.
I wonder why the government doesn't issue a black travel alert for travelling on our minibuses.
Klaus-B. Jotz, Tung Chung
Make students more aware of online risks
A lot of people have become addicted to the internet.
Adults and students can develop problems with their obsessive online activities.
You see them almost constantly accessing the internet even when they are outside.
When I see such constant usage, I have to ask if the internet is doing more harm than good in society.
I am also concerned about the amount of personal information that people give online, given that there are criminals who use those details to perpetrate fraud.
I think it also leads to a breakdown in communication with friends often texting each other rather than meeting for a chat.
Schools and parents should ensure that students are made aware of the possible pitfalls connected with the internet and urged to be careful.
Ada Lee, Kwun Tong
ESF's current subsidy should be phased out
I disagree with Alex Lo's comments in his column ("ESF deserves grand bargain on funding", August 28).
His idea of a grand bargain is to increase subsidies for the English Schools Foundation (ESF) which, in exchange, "will phase out" its discriminatory practice and offer all applicants equal admission opportunity.
A deal that gives long-term local residents and migrant non-residents an equal opportunity of admission to scarce public facilities is not a bargain but a painful compromise where all the pains are borne by the locals.
If Lo's proposal is applied to medical services, giving equal admission to residents and non-residents alike and charging them the same tariff for public hospitals, we would be flooding our public maternity wards with pregnant women from the mainland.
In fact, something worse has occurred in our education scene.
Thirty per cent of ESF's students who benefit from ESF's subsidised education are transitory migrants with neither attachment nor commitment to the city.
These foreign nationals enjoy priority admission while thousands of local families have to send their children overseas and pay private tuition for the kind of education which publicly subsidised ESF schools offer in Hong Kong as a privilege to non-Chinese-speaking migrants.
Instead of increasing the subsidy for ESF now for it to phase out its entrenched discriminatory practice in the future, we should phase out ESF's current subsidy.
We may consider ESF's integration into the Direct Subsidy Scheme only when it can prove that it has implemented a fair admission system.
It should be a system that respects local residents' prior claim to publicly subsidised education and does not discriminate on linguistic grounds.
Cynthia Sze, Quarry Bay
Polluting ferries off Western
Last month I took two photographs from my living room window which looks out onto Victoria Harbour.
The photos showed only two ferries, however, they are representative of hundreds of ferries and other vessels which leave Hong Kong bound for Macau and mainland destinations, and travel westwards through the harbour.
As these vessels pass Western district, they begin to speed up towards the Pearl River Delta.
They have to power up to accelerate and you see a black cloud of diesel exhaust spraying into the air.
It is no wonder we are choking to death.
Phillip C. Holloway, Pok Fu Lam