Letters to the Editor, October 18, 2015

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 October, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 October, 2015, 12:01am

We need to plan ahead for ageing city

Predictions that Hong Kong's population will peak at 8.2 million in 2043 and then start to decline could lead to serious social problems, especially with regard to a shrinking workforce.

With a low birth rate, these problems will get worse. The government has to start preparing as soon as possible for the effects of an ageing population.

We need to come up with incentives to try to raise the birth rate. This could come in the form of tax concessions for each child born.

Some may argue that the government should set up programmes to attract overseas talent but this may not be a good idea in the long term since there would be too great a reliance on migrants.

While the need for housing is pressing, so too is the need for well-equipped hospitals with enough experienced doctors and nurses. The building of hospitals and training of medical staff should be a priority.

Although it is good that the life expectancy of Hongkongers will increase, it will create a heavy financial burden. The government can save money in the coming years by spending less on everything except health care, education and promoting a higher birth rate.

Jacky Chui, Sha Tin

Refugees could contribute if we let them

I refer to Peter Maina's article ("Stop making refugees beg", October 5).

I believe all of us should be concerned about the dilemma faced by refugees in Hong Kong. Despite the welfare assistance offered to asylum seekers, the small amount they get is grossly inadequate for their daily needs.

Refugees in Hong Kong are not allowed to work, so they cannot support themselves. Some people may discriminate against them, saying they they receive money from the government but do not contribute to society, so they think refugees are no better than beggars or parasites.

I don't understand why they aren't allowed to work. Why don't we give them a chance? As Maina said, many refugees are skilled professionals - English teachers, reporters, engineers and managers. They could contribute positively to society.

If they could work, they could wait for their asylum claims to be decided without having to beg.

We should accept refugees who come from other countries and try to help them. Hong Kong citizens can help them by donating money or taking part in volunteer work.

We should give refugees a chance and let them integrate harmoniously into society.

Susie Yip Pui-sze, Kwai Chung

Police and citizens must be reconciled

The police have continued to be criticised by some protesters since the end of the "umbrella movement", with some of the criticism being insulting. I thought a year on from the start of Occupy Central things would have calmed down but, if anything, the situation has got worse.

In spite of allegations of misbehaviour by police officers, I trust them. In my experience, seldom do they act rudely towards citizens. Instead, most of them are friendly. The traffic policeman who walks past my school every day sometimes waves.

Some officers are doing a great job to protect us. For instance, one policewoman worked undercover as a secondary student and found evidence to arrest criminals who sold drugs. I believe that many police officers are good and honourable. By no means should we tar all of them with the same brush.

The responsibility of the police is to uphold the law. There is a chain of command and they must follow orders. Although protesters occupied Central for just reasons, they did violate the law. The police were obligated to give warnings to them. Any rudeness or even violence can be accounted for by the stress of overtime and social pressure during the protest. Pepper spray and tear gas should not have been used. Nevertheless, a year has already passed by, so why don't we try to forgive?

The conflict between citizens and police is harmful and causes social discontent. It must be resolved as quickly as possible.

Mok Sze-lam, Kowloon Tong

'Overseas' doesn't have to mean 'white'

In his column ("To shed its colonial mindset, HK must stop favouring white people", October 9) Yonden Lhatoo makes the same mistake as Michael Chugani did in his column ("A year on and the world is no longer watching", September 30).

Nowhere did former chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang say the overseas judge (whose presence on the Court of Final Appeal he considered a good thing) had to be white.

He could equally well be black, brown or yellow, male or female.

He or she just had to be from another common law jurisdiction.

Mike Rowse, Mid-Levels 

Don't bury our waste, incinerate it

I agree with those correspondents who have written about the problems with opening more landfills.

Such a policy will not help to tackle Hong Kong's waste problem. I believe that building an incinerator is a better option.

With limited space, what Hong Kong needs is waste reduction. An incinerator could reduce the volume of Hong Kong's waste by more than 90 per cent. It could lengthen the lifespan of existing landfills. Moreover, an incinerator can turn waste into energy. During the incineration process, heat energy emitted can be converted to electrical energy. This could provide electricity to tens of thousands of homes in Hong Kong.

This would reduce the need to burn coal to generate electricity, cutting the carbon footprint of our power plants. Although the burning process may emit carbon dioxide, it would not severely worsen Hong Kong's air quality.

Some may worry that the incinerator would emit poisonous chemical substances and particulates, which may take a toll on our health.

In fact, this is not a concern. Rubbish would be burnt at 850 degrees Celsius [in the incinerator planned for Hong Kong], a temperature which ensures the complete combustion of waste and prevents the release of chemicals like dioxins and carbon monoxide.

Incinerators are very common in Europe and Japan. In Japan, there are more than 1,000 incinerators, some of them located in urban areas. It shows that an incinerator does not adversely affect people's lives. It can be treated as a normal municipal building.

An incinerator will do more good than harm to our community. Hongkongers should realise that building an incinerator is the best choice and we must cooperate with the government. We can also cut waste by adopting the 4Rs principle - reduce, reuse, recycle and replace.

Angela Pang, Fo Tan

Rent controls are not the answer

I refer to Rainbow Leung Wai-yu's letter ("Rent controls could help the homeless", October 9).

I agree with her that the government should do something for the homeless, but it shouldn't be rent controls.

Hong Kong is famous for its free-market economic system. If rent controls are introduced, foreign investors' image of Hong Kong will be harmed. Also, the middle class, who have put their savings into property, will be hurt most.

Rent control is a double-edged policy. It helps the poor but causes market confusion. For example, landlords will ask very high rents to avoid rent controls.

The government should build more public housing to solve the problem.

Au Yeung Kwong-fai, Tsuen Wan