Letters to the Editor, October 23, 2012
Your leader ("Don't lose sight of clean air", October 17) and Howard Winn ("Never mind the weight, what about the concentration?", October 12) complained that the government trumpeted the reduction in the weight of air emissions when we released the emissions inventory.
Your leader called on the chief executive to pay special attention to improving air quality. This he did loud and clear at his first address to Legco on Wednesday. The gist of Winn's comments was the reductions were insufficient to make much difference in public health terms because the concentration of emissions remains very high, especially at roadside.
I agree that Hong Kong's air quality remains poor. We will need some time to revamp policies and better target control measures to reduce emissions both in terms of quantity and concentration.
We will need the support of other government bureaus and departments, as well as the support of legislators and district councillors as some of the measures will require changing urban design and planning practices, traffic and congestion management, and even using financial disincentives.
On this occasion, the government should not be faulted for publishing its latest emissions inventory data for 2010, which is a necessary exercise because inventory data is vital for policymaking.
The updated inventory can now be used by air quality scientists and public health experts for in-depth study in addition to supporting us to develop a more effective air quality improvement plan.
The article ("Kowloon councillors fear roads to ruin", October 11) confirmed an already known fact - too many cars on the roads will lead to congestion and with it a whole host of other problems (pollution, accidents and stress). While the easiest solution would be to limit the number of cars on all of Hong Kong's roads, I fear this is a battle that will never be won.
Hence I would like to highlight another solution - roundabouts. These have been universally proven to keep traffic moving in a safe and economical manner. Furthermore, the less cars "stop and go", the less stress to our drivers; hopefully, as a result there will be fewer accidents.
Additionally, there could be benefits to the environment too (reduced emissions from "stop and go" as well as less need for traffic lights).
Unfortunately it has been a common theme over the years for our authorities to remove roundabouts and replace them with stop/traffic light junctions.
This is despite the fact that roundabouts are included in the Hong Kong's road users' guide as distributed by the Transport Department.
Would the authorities like to comment on their stance on the suitability of roundabouts on our roads?
Jeffry Kuperus is right to complain about the shambles (and sham) that is the Mandatory Provident Fund in Hong Kong ("Another bad year for poor MPF fund", October 18).
In the 12 years or so that I have been forced by the government to sink my hard-earned money into this mandatory scheme, various MPF providers have managed to lose in the region of HK$15,000 of my savings.
How does the government imagine this is going to help me when I retire? If I'd put all that MPF money into a shoebox and kept it under my bed, I'd still have every single cent of it.
What does it say about the combined wisdom of our banking, financial and governmental systems when you realise that a cardboard box could do better than them?
A means test is to be used for elderly people who wish to obtain the higher old-age allowance of HK$2,200 per month, but this could defeat the very thing it is trying to achieve.
One of its criteria is that an applicant's income should be less than HK$6,600 per month.
A pensioner living in low-cost government housing pays HK$900 a month in rent; his income is less that HK$6,600, so he is eligible.
A pensioner living in a subdivided flat pays HK$4,500 in rent and his income is HK$10,000 a month, so he is not eligible although he is worse off financially.
I would suggest that pensioners whose disposable income after paying rent is below the level of HK$6,600 should receive the higher allowance.
I refer to the letter by Ho Chien-chang ("Education better than tourist quota", October 16).
Your correspondent talks of the tremendous economic benefits to Hong Kong from 28.1 million arrivals from the mainland.
However, it may be a bit idealistic and superficial to come to that conclusion. We have to look at other factors, not just tourist expenditure.
Should Hong Kong citizens remain silent when we see mainland visitors dominating spending at stores in Sheung Shui?
They are involved in almost frenzied buying up of necessities, which adversely affects local residents.
This state of affairs is unfair and Hong Kong citizens should not remain silent.
Education may not be the best way of dealing with this problem, although I can see it as a possible long-term strategy that aims to improve people's moral standards.
However, I do not see greater education as being effective in dealing with the problems of behaviour in the immediate future.
In the short term, I think we will continue to see disagreements breaking out between Hong Kong people and some visitors from across the border. I am not particularly hopeful of seeing a reduction of tension any time soon.
The animosity between these different groups of people continues to create a tense situation in some parts of Hong Kong.
People are expressing a genuine concern that tourists are in effect taking over areas of the city.
For that reason, I think the only solution would appear to be the adoption of tight quotas for visitors.
Internet services on Lamma have been getting steadily worse, as more and more residents connect their PCs, laptops, netbooks, smartphones and iPads, all of which are funnelled through the increasingly inadequate PCCW microwave uplink to Hong Kong.
So when in 2010 Hutchison started digging up the roads around Yung Shue Wan on Lamma to lay optic fibre for its internet service, this was welcomed by most residents, since Hutchison Global Communications (HGC) would uplink via a cable in the Hongkong Electric tunnel to Hong Kong Island. It seemed the days of dial-up quality internet, but at broadband prices, were over.
Two years later, however, nothing has happened. The fibre has been laid, HGC manholes are all over the village, but there is no indication of if or when they will ever become active. And HGC ignores queries.
Demand, meanwhile, has increases steadily. Within the last year, many home broadband providers have left the market, leaving us to the mercies of the worst and most expensive provider, PCCW, that merrily signs you up for services it can't provide here.
I can't help but think that all the internet service providers have put boring, low-margin, home broadband on the back burner while they push hard for sexy, high-margin 4G services.
So, when will HGC plug in its fibre?
Do we have to wait till the 4G market is completely saturated before they will allow us to have a stable home connection without paying through the nose?
I was sorry to see that April Zhang feels that the British suppressed Hong Kong people ("HK identity caught between political reality and insecurity", October 17).
While Britain's record is not blemish-free, we in Hong Kong owe much to Britain.
Let me give Ms Zhang a history lesson. In 1945, US president Franklin D.Roosevelt tried to force British premier Winston Churchill to give Hong Kong back to Chiang Kai-shek after the second world war, but Churchill refused.
While this was not due to altruism, as a result Hong Kong avoided the agonies of civil war, the Great Leap Forward, famine and the Cultural Revolution.
We Hongkongers were able to keep our identity, our freedoms and the rule of law, which is a lasting legacy of inestimable value.
Similarly, China has much to thank Britain for. Deng Xiaoping's 1978 reforms would have been much harder to implement without a free, vibrant and booming Hong Kong to energise the special economic zones.