Economic freedom leads to prosperity
In his Monitor column ("Claims for economic freedom index simply don't stand up ", January 15), Tom Holland questioned the validity of Hong Kong's top ranking in the Heritage Foundation's annual Index of Economic Freedom.
He wondered why if Hong Kong's economic freedom is the highest in the world, it does not also lead in gross domestic product per capita.
In fact, the data collected for the index does show a high correlation between economic freedom and GDP per capita.
The correlation coefficient of the two variables is 0.65, meaning that differences in economic freedom can explain a significant part of the variation among countries in GDP per capita.
Some of the variation, however, will be explained by other factors, such as resource endowments or political stability.
All the countries discussed by Holland have very high economic freedom scores, all within the top 20 per cent of countries ranked in the index. All, including Hong Kong, also have high levels of GDP per capita.
There may be small differences within this high performing group that raise one country above another in GDP per capita.
But the message of the index for the countries of the world as a whole remains still absolutely clear: higher levels of economic freedom lead to higher levels of prosperity that raise living standards for all.
Terry Miller, managing editor of the Index of Economic Freedom, the Heritage Foundation
Rhino hunts pay for vital conservation
The petition against the culling of the rhino bull is uneducated and punitive to the very people who are trying to save these animals ("Protest over auction to hunt rhino ", January 13).
What most people seldom grasp is that the wildlife industry in South Africa and Namibia has not only progressed economically, but has also revived the genetic quality of our wildlife.
Game ranchers, hunters and animal scientists have co-operated with each other and the decision to cull the bull in question was not made by an "ignorant greedy rancher".
In South Africa and Namibia, more than 96 per cent of all wildlife is held in private reserves.
These are the people who have risked their own capital and dedicated their lives to protecting and enhancing various species without any government subsidies or funding.
Should an individual want to pay US$350,000 to cull a black rhino on a private reserve with the parks board's approval, it should be allowed.
It is imperative that hunting goes on and the revenue derived from it is not curtailed by ignorant protesters.
Hunting accounts for 87 per cent of all conservation revenue.
The report stated that the bull has no breeding value, never mind that it will start killing new offspring to bring the females into mating earlier, concluding that the bull needs to be removed.
Will the protesters pay for the relocation, fencing, veterinary bills, security measures and feed should he be relocated?
The protector (game rancher) would be earning nothing whatsoever to finance and continue his good work, in a capital intensive arena.
The sum of US$350,000 in southern Africa is a massive amount of money that could finance and create employment for 10 trained rangers for 10 years and breed another 30 black rhinos over the period while ensuring the safety of the very same herd.
The above issue should not be confused with the demand and slaughter of rhinos for their horn.
Peter Hatz, Lamma
Do more to protect us all from fire risk
I refer to the letter by Pang Chi-ming ("Some older buildings are beyond help ", January 13) in reply to my letter ("Use surplus to install smoke detectors ", January 1) on the installation of smoke detectors in all buildings.
He needs to know that modern smoke detectors are wireless, they are simply attached to a wall or ceiling and battery operated.
Individual unit costs are not high and for families on restricted incomes, the government should install and pay.
For all new developments, it should be mandatory for all new builds to be fitted with smoke detectors.
Our government should be doing far more to protect its citizens from fire. It requires nothing more than a cheap detector unit, but perhaps life is considered cheaper.
Mark Peaker, The Peak
Thai protesters are damaging their country
I think the behaviour of the anti-government protesters in Bangkok is inappropriate.
In response to their earlier demonstrations, Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called a snap election for next month. However, the protesters have rejected this.
She has even tried to arrange a meeting with the leader of the anti-government campaign Suthep Thaugsuban, but he has snubbed these overtures.
Now they are occupying roads in a bid to bring the capital to a halt.
They may think that such a blockade is the fastest way to get the attention of society and the government, but their actions are resulting in great losses for the economy.
Also, the protests have resulted in some people being killed by gunfire.
Investor confidence has been adversely affected, because potential investors are worried about how the political unrest will affect businesses. This means that not only the government, but also the people of Thailand are suffering.
Moreover, Suthep rejected having a meeting with Yingluck. From my point of view, I think it is strange. I cannot understand why Suthep rejected the meeting with the premier. It would have given him a good opportunity to express his opinions.
I do not believe he can achieve his aims through these tactics.
It would be far better for him to stand as a candidate in the elections and seek whatever reforms he feels are necessary as a politician in parliament.
The leaders of this protest should realise that their ultimate duty is to serve the people. I hope the dispute can be resolved soon.
Issac Lee Ka-kiu, Kwai Chung
Hongkongers' English better than Europe's
I refer to the ongoing debate on Hongkongers' level of English.
I spend a lot of time in France as I have an apartment in Nice and I can tell readers that it is much easier to get around in Hong Kong than in France using English.
In fact, I could say the same for most European countries that I have travelled in.
My opinion is that the standard of English is very good in Hong Kong.
Irene So, Discovery Bay
Can policies really solve our housing crisis?
It is getting increasingly difficult now for young people to own a flat. So many, once they reach 18, apply for a public housing flat.
One of the reasons for Hong Kong's housing problem, and one of the main concerns of citizens, is inadequate supply. It has to be asked if the measures announced by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in his policy address will help to solve this problem.
The government plans to increase the overall housing supply. Our chief executive estimated that 210,000 private and public units can be provided over the next five years. However, I wonder if, despite the government's claims, there is enough land available in Hong Kong on which to build these flats.
Let's assume that the government's target can be reached. There is one other factor that we must consider.
Within this estimate given by Mr Leung of 210,000 units, how many will be public housing flats?
If most of these turn out to be in private developments, how many citizens will be able to afford them? I think the answer would be not many.
It is important that the administration ensures that there is sufficient land for it to implement its programme. And it must also guarantee that the present ratio of public to private housing is maintained.
If this is not done, then the Hongkongers who actually need help with finding affordable accommodation will not get that help and will not benefit from the initiative.
Jessie Cheung Ho-wun, Tsing Yi
We should let CY Leung get on with his job
I refer to the letter by Kim Yeh ("Give CY Leung a chance to do his job", January 2).
Leung Chun-ying has been chief executive since July 1, 2012.
I agree with your correspondent that he should be given more time to do his job and do better than he did in 2013.
In previous years, he had so many problems to deal with, political issues such as national education in schools and a crisis in confidence in the administration.
You could see he was feeling the strain. However, I do not think he will give up and I think he will redouble his efforts this year.
Mr Yeh referred to Albert Cheng King-hon's column("New requirement for duty visit shows Leung is out of favour in Beijing ", December 27). Cheng talked of Beijing's low opinion of Mr Leung. If that is true then it will make his job even harder.
I think it should be recognised that he is trying his best in a very difficult job and Hongkongers should let him get on with it.
Leo Sin Kong-chun, Sheung Shui