Letters to the Editor, June 14, 2013

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 2:50am

iBond lacks real power to tackle inflation

With a view to alleviating citizens' livelihood problems, the government has launched the third batch of the iBond (inflation-indexed bond).

Hundreds of thousands of citizens have applied for the bond. They see it as an ideal investment channel and there is no doubt they are right. With an annual interest rate of at least 1 per cent, its return is higher than what you will get from a bank deposit.

One also has to take into account that the government's financial status is sound.

Having these iBonds can certainly help people with Hong Kong's exorbitant living expenses and the fact that inflation keeps on rising.

The iBond investors can see their return as a form of financial assistance, but for many other Hongkongers who cannot afford to purchase them, the suffering continues.

I see the issue of the iBond as a kind of sweetener.

Even though investors will benefit, when the iBond matures and they have been paid, like the rest of us, they will see their purchasing power growing weaker.

After all, returns from the iBond are likely to be lower than the inflation rate.

The government should be thinking in the long term.

It needs to come up with measures that can effectively tackle the rising rate of inflation. This is an issue I hope the chief executive will address.

Camilla Chung, Kwun Tong


Energy user tax will ensure efficiency

Given that global warming and air pollution severely affect Hong Kong, it's hard to believe that some big corporations resist energy-saving initiatives by our environment minister that aim to control indoor temperatures ("Developers shun 'green' initiatives", June 6).

Certain companies that owe most of their success to Hong Kong and its people obviously feel they can afford to neglect common principles of social responsibility and sustainability.

I am an advocate of laissez-faire politics and believe pricing can provide the best control mechanism (as long as there is free competition).

Many countries charge energy taxes in order to control wastage and inefficient use of energy. Why not Hong Kong?

I'm sure most readers would agree that restaurants, offices and shopping malls are far too cold in the summer. To introduce a minimum temperature guideline and charge an energy-saving tax for ignorance may help to address the problem.

However, implementing such a policy will be a challenge.

On the other hand, shareholders will certainly be asking questions of their management if an energy-saving tax potentially reduces their dividends.

Wolf-Peter Berthold, Mid-Levels


Prayer alone cannot solve our problems

For as long as I have been reading this newspaper, Patsy Leung has been writing to these columns.

She gives her heartfelt views on the socio-cultural and political tribulations within Hong Kong society.

Her letters are excellent summaries of the problems in our society, yet she never seems to come up with tangible solutions.

This puzzled me until I read her letter ("Faith gives city hope for better future", June 8).

It is an insult to people's intelligence for Ms Leung to suggest that "praying fervently" and having "Christian faith" offers the solution to our challenges in life. Practical solutions, not supernatural ones, have a better chance of success in the real world.

Will Lai, Western


Make Lantau road permits harder to get

Following the deaths of eight feral cattle on South Lantau Road in a hit-and-run accident last week, the police have come in for heavy criticism from some quarters.

I believe the police presence on Lantau is acknowledged and appreciated by most of the island's residents.

I feel that if the Transport Department issued private road permits on Lantau to only Hong Kong permanent residents or people who have lived on the island for seven years, this might decrease the numbers of higher-powered vehicles using the roads.

I read one comment in the Lantau Buffalo Association forum which seemed to be in favour of the redevelopment of the villages, in part through making South Lantau Road wider.

Lantau has serious traffic problems and people and animals are at risk. There are too many cars, big SUVs, road racers, and not enough parking spaces.

Also, too many people are getting South Lantau road permits, with some households having two or more permits, and people who don't live there full-time are also getting them.

Which part of "protected park" or "wildlife" don't these people understand?

Does man have to destroy or redevelop all of mother nature's gifts to appease the demands of these people?

Some of us have lived on this island for many years. We enjoy the tranquillity and harmony of such an environment and would like it to remain that way.

Something needs to be done to prevent a large number of non-permanent residents demanding what they want rather than what Lantau needs.

M. J. Hunter, Lantau


Detailed facts needed from island police

Senior Superintendent Kong Man-keung of the police public relations department, in typical PR fashion, writes a great deal but says little of real significance ("Police not complacent over accidents", June 12).

We are told enforcement actions against speeding are in place and that the police have "detected" 477 incidents in a five-month period in South Lantau. So, they managed to detect on average just three incidents of speeding a day. What does "detected" actually mean?

Did an officer detect a car speeding past and do nothing about it? Has a traffic camera detected a speeding vehicle and a speeding ticket been issued or not issued; or have the police detected, then stopped, a speeding vehicle and issued the driver with a fine?

The letter tells us road safety is an operational priority for police.

If it is, then I am sure they can tell us exactly how many enforcement actions for speeding in South Lantau have resulted in the offender being fined or taken to court on the non-expressway roads where people keep getting killed.

Gregory Austin, Mid-Levels


No denying this view of waste plan

For those in favour of (or who have doubts about) the location of Shek Kwu Chau as the site of a planned waste incinerator, I have a suggestion to make.

On a beautifully clear day, they should take either the 3M, 11, or 23 buses from Tung Chung or the 3M from Mui Wo and exit at the high point on their journey. They should take a look at the magnificent view of the pristine islands that dot the horizon.

Then they should picture a bridge from the South Lantau highway extending for kilometres to the island of Shek Kwu Chau.

They should also try to visualise the thousands of rubbish-laden trucks coming and going day in, day out, week in week out, month after month and year after year.

Also, think about the smoke stack rising high into the sky.

The wind will blow plastic and other refuse from the trucks and this rubbish will end up on beaches in Cheung Sha, Pui O and Silvermine Bay.

Then those supporting it should tell themselves that this is the best (and only suitable) location for the construction of this facility. But I ask them to be honest with themselves.

John Steventon, Lantau


Welfare state model killing small business

For many years, Hong Kong had no welfare policies such as the minimum wage or the proposed standard working hours.

However, now groups like the Federation of Trade Unions and the Labour Party want that to change and to have legislation capping working hours.

It seems to me as if they want the city to follow the example set by countries in Europe, which operate a welfare state.

I do not agree with their proposals. If implemented, they would strengthen the hand of the big corporations and their monopoly position in various sectors.

Many small and medium-sized enterprises are struggling to pay the minimum wage and things would get worse for them if there was a statutory working hours law.

It would not affect the large firms as they have so many employees they could absorb the change. But the SMEs would find their small complement of workers were not allowed to put in the number of hours they used to, and yet the firms would still have to deal with high costs such as rent.

To me, a welfare state, like communism, implies we are all equal.

In such a society, there is a disincentive for people to work hard to earn more.

Those politicians taking such a defiant stand in defence of welfare-state-style policies should be careful what they wish for, and should think about the harm that could be done to society.

Felix Chan Hiu-lok, Siu Sai Wan