Letters to the Editor, May 27, 2015
It makes sense to build flats in country parks
I refer to Lam Chiu-ying's letter ("Call for flats in country parks not feasible", May 18). Your correspondent believes that it is not feasible to build flats in country parks, because there are few job opportunities at locations near these parks.
Development Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po first floated the idea of having some flats built in our country parks in his blog in 2013.
This prompted a widespread debate in Hong Kong, with some people saying the natural resources of these parks were valuable and the government had a responsibility to protect them. But there were also voices in support of having some kind of construction strategy to meet the needs of Hong Kong's growing population.
The government is facing difficulties meeting its housing targets. Country parks make up about 40 per cent of Hong Kong's land.
The government only has limited options if it wants to find new land for homes, such as reclamation and urban renewal. But reclamation could mean losing precious coastal areas and urban renewal projects are expensive.
Also, in some areas, these reclamation and renewal works can adversely affect nearby citizens with noise and other forms of pollution.
Therefore, the country parks may sometimes offer a viable option for building new homes.
There is a case for having some kind of home-building programme in these parks. Young people should be able to have their own flat.
Chong Wing-lam, Tseung Kwan O
Ecotourism has so much potential
I definitely disagree with those individuals who support building homes in Hong Kong's country parks.
Those who support this proposal argue that our country parks do not yield any profits, but we have to look beyond Hong Kong's attraction as a shopping and food paradise. The country parks can help us to develop and promote ecotourism. This can add to the other attractions that already bring in many visitors.
It is important that we are able to provide diversity in the tourism sector. Our natural gifts will be a magnet for a variety of people coming from all over the world.
So much of Hong Kong is a concrete jungle, with high-rise buildings and crowded streets and we have already lost many green spaces to rapid urban development. Because of that, we have a lot of air and noise pollution which poses a threat to the health of citizens and our quality of life. The potential of ecotourism has been neglected in the past and this should be rectified.
Country parks can help to alleviate our pollution problems and they offer citizens the chance to enjoy a better quality of life. As I said, they can help to boost the tourist sector and this is good for our economy.
Therefore, country parks should be preserved and kept as they are.
Tse Yan-ue, Sham Shui Po
Unique street culture is fast disappearing
Hong Kong's traditional street culture is being destroyed by skyrocketing rents.
More small stores that were in business for decades have been forced to close down as the owners can no longer afford to meet the rent demands of their landlords.
The city has always had this unique blend of old and new, but these older features of neighbourhoods are going.
Older buildings are demolished and new high-rises go up and the shops are replaced by international brand-name stores.
Most of them sell the same kinds of products - cosmetics, jewellery and pharmacies. Our streets are now all beginning to look the same.
In the older stores, you had a lot of choice and a good relationship between the shop owners and their regular customers.
They would often get a product that you were looking for if you asked about it.
You will never get that kind of relationship in a chain store. That personal service element is going fast.
Also, these little stores offer a stable job opportunity to their owners, many of whom are elderly.
Their businesses enabled them to provide for their families and they had a loyal customer base.
Many of them witnessed the growth of this city. They are part of our collective memory and have important cultural value.
All Hong Kong citizens should be aware of the importance of trying to preserve this traditional street culture, as far as possible.
Cherrie Wan Pui-ying,Kowloon Tong
Many teens need more exercise
Over the past few years, there have been more cases of teenagers suffering from health problems such as obesity and depression.
I think this comes down to technological advances.
They have improved every aspect of our lives, but too many teenagers spend long periods at their computers and ignore the need to have some form of regular exercise.
Schools should be doing more to encourage their students to take part in exercise, by ensuring more PE lessons are included in the school timetable.
There should be regular health checks for teenagers so that problems can be identified as early as possible and dealt with.
Chan Yat-wing, Fanling
Negative side to mobile phone use
Mobile phones have become an essential part of daily life for most Hong Kong citizens.
We take our mobile with us wherever we are. Having these devices has brought positive and negative aspects to our lives.
They are very convenient as we can keep in touch with friends and family regularly by phoning or sending a voice or text message.
We can also get a lot of information whenever we need it and this can be useful in the workplace. There are now apps that can be downloaded from various organisations, such as the MTR Corporation. So, for example, with the MTR, you can get regular updates about any service delays before you set out on your trip.
However, there is a downside, because these devices offer so many distractions. People can get addicted to computer games. They spend so much time poring over their mobile screens that they do not have time for interpersonal relationships. There are also health risks from overuse of computers.
We need to take a sensible approach when using mobile phones.
Tsang Chun-man, Yau Yat Chuen
Interests of boy should be paramount
The 12-year-old boy from the mainland who has apparently lived most of his life here ["without official identification"] with his grandmother, appears to have been "abandoned" by his parents ("Views split on hidden boy's fate", May 23).
As shown by Hong Kong in the past, and has been demonstrated by many young people today, we have a caring society.
Chinese people generally care for children, and China is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Our government is therefore also obliged to care for children. This comes naturally to most genuine Hongkongers. Selfish scaremongering should have no place in consideration of his best interests.
The interests of the boy (who should not have been named) should be paramount.
Tom Mulvey, Wan Chai