Letters to the Editor, December 03, 2015

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 December, 2015, 5:07pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 December, 2015, 12:47pm

Profit-based agenda is URA’s priority

I refer to the report, “URA ‘overestimated legal risk over flats’” (November 27).

Lawmaker Denis Kwok ­surmises that the ­Urban ­Renewal Authority might have committed its policy U-turn to allow ­single people to buy flats at one of its new development projects in Kai Tak over ­concerns that its original plan might be contested in court under anti-discrimination laws.

The Urban Renewal ­Authority has a stipulated ­mission of handling dilapidation in old ­urban areas, but ­recent history shows that the authority has adopted a profit-based agenda.

There is little public confidence that the authority has the community’s interests at the forefront of its decisions.

Its main strategy is to decant existing owners to grab their re-development rights, and then pass these on to the tycoon-led property development companies.

I guess that the policy U-turn is at the behest of these private developers who do joint ­ventures with the URA.

Single people are often only investors who have no interest in living in the premises. They are only ­interested in the speculative pass-the-parcel game.

These single customers are the prime target of the developers.

A good example of this URA profit strategy is “Wedding Card Street”/Lee Tung Street in Wan Chai. I therefore agree with Alex Lo’s column (“Arrogance and incompetence at URA”, ­November 26).

Frank Lee, Wan Chai

Taxpayer loses out again to MTR Corp

The embarrassment of the MTR Corporation and its failure to ­deliver on time and within budget the high-speed rail link to the mainland (“Bailout for MTR’s high-speed rail line”, ­December 1) reflects Hong Kong’s declining ability as a city that was once proud of its achievements.

Yet more laughable is the comment by MTR Corp chairman, Dr Raymond Chien Kuo-fung, as he states his company is “financially sound with capital ­reserves of HK$68 billion”.

Perhaps he has not heard of the term “withdrawal” and sees nothing wrong with the MTR Corp robbing the Hong Kong taxpayer of an additional HK$19.6 billion as he praises the supposed excellent fiscal management of the MTR Corp.

Mark Peaker, The Peak

Diploma puts students under great pressure

The Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) will determine the future paths many secondary students will take in their lives.

There is too much for ­students to cover in the HKDSE curriculum and this means that teachers have to go at a swift pace to get everything done in class.

This problem is particularly bad in science subjects such as biology and chemistry and in liberal studies. Because of the way the ­education system operates in ­local schools, young ­people are under ­immense pressure. This is known internationally, even the BBC has done reports on the problems ­students face here.

They can seldom enjoy happiness or satisfaction in their studies because of this pressure. The “right to play” does not apply here. And teachers are going at so fast it is impossible for teenagers to absorb everything they are being taught. The school day involves the taking of endless notes and at the end of the day, ­students are exhausted.

There is so much information that they often struggle to understand some of the ­concepts they are taught, ­because they have not had time to think carefully about them. Often, they just end up like education robots, memorising ­material from textbooks that they can regurgitate in exams.

There are weaknesses in the DSE exam that have to be addressed by the government. And with regard to the whole education system, the HKDSE is only the tip of the iceberg.

Pokfield Chan, Tai Po

Important to teach etiquette from early age

Etiquette has been part of the Wembley International Kindergarten syllabus since its establishment in 1984.

Children absorb everything introduced to them like a sponge when they are young. Basic etiquette and good ­manners should be part of every child’s education and ­upbringing, starting with the parents and then on through school life.

Taught in a fun way in a stress-free environment through songs and rhymes, basic etiquette and good behaviour come easily.

Children should be made aware that speaking with a mouthful of food, grabbing food and not sharing, and pushing in are not acceptable.

Sadly good manners are not the norm these days in Hong Kong, “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me”, are words many people seem to find difficult.

Jean Afford, principal, Wembley International Kindergarten

Proposal will ease pollution in Central

I refer to Bernard Chan’s article (“No good reason to choke idea for car-free Central”, November 27).

He was commenting on the proposal to ban most traffic from Des Voeux Road in Central while keeping the trams and pedestrianising the road. The aim is to provide more greenery and ease the problem of traffic ­congestion in this part of ­Central.

Although the proposal may lead to different problems, such as causing inconvenience to some ­workers, it can also ­benefit Hong Kong citizens.

Serious traffic congestion in urban areas of Hong Kong ­generates a lot of roadside air pollution, with vehicles ­producing a lot of carbon dioxide, and this is obviously not good for pedestrians.

Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, and so we would all benefit from having fewer cars and more greenery in this urban area. It would definitely improve the environment.

People who work in offices in that part of Des Voeux Road will have to walk a bit further as buses and taxis will no longer stop directly outside their office block, but that means they will get more exercise, which can only be good for them.

Given the fast pace of life in Hong Kong, it is good if people have to slow down and walk or take a tram to work. Going at a slower pace can help relieve the stress that builds up.

We should not just focus on this proposal. The government and district councillors must look into having similar ­greenery projects in other parts of Hong Kong in order to ensure sustainable development of the city.

Elise Sum, Tsing Yi

Barbaric acts nothing to do with religion

While I agree with most of what David Tolliday-Wright wrote in his letter (“Syrian priest painted grim picture of life under IS”, November 28), I disagree with him when he says, “how do you negotiate with people who are only obeying Allah?”

The barbaric actions of ­Islamic State (IS) have everything to do with power and politics and nothing to do with religion. Arab Christians, Kurds, Yazidis and Shias have coexisted peacefully in Iraq and Syria for centuries. If Allah had ­indeed ordered Muslims to kill other non-Muslim Arabs 1,400 years ago, there would not have been any minorities left in the region today.

It is historically incorrect to claim thattoday’s sectarian conflict is a continuation of an ancient religious divide. For centuries, non-Arab minorities have relished the opportunity of living in cities ruled by Muslims. This was true during the ­Crusades and during the ­Islamic golden age, when the international language of ­science was Arabic.

Furthermore, Sunni ­Muslims are the largest victims of IS, a group that preposterously claims to be Sunni. Not only do Sunni Muslims account for the largest number of victims but more than any other ethnic group, they are also actively fighting against IS.

The illegal invasion of Iraq, non-existent post-war planning, disbanding of the Iraqi army in 2003 and the installation of a puppet government unleashed a trans-border Sunni-Shia-Kurd struggle. This made the formation of IS and descent into madness possible.

Deviant Muslim groups like IS account for less than a fraction of 0.5 per cent of Muslims worldwide. They quote from the Koran out of context.

Siddiq Bazarwala, Discovery Bay

Elderly citizens should get better pension

I refer to the letter by Dr B. K. Avasthi (“Allowance for elderly must be HK$5,000”, November 24).

In Hong Kong, there are many elderly citizens living in poverty. While the government has recognised their plight, it has done little in reality to alleviate it.

The Old Age Living Allowance is just HK$2,390. This is a pittance and it is not enough for people to pay for the daily necessities of life. Therefore, many elderly citizens are forced to supplement their income by collecting material that they can sell to recycling firms, such as cardboard, newspapers and aluminium cans.

The government needs to introduce universal retirement protection. I think such a policy would be feasible, but the administration shows no signs of supporting it and the elderly on low incomes continue to endure a poor quality of life.

Christy Yeung Ho-ying, Yau Yat Chuen