Letters to the editor, December 29, 2015
Small-house policy must be overhauled
The small-house policy introduced in the 1970s in the New Territories, was linked to the history of the then-colony and its treaties with China.
However, Hong Kong has been part of China now for more than 18 years and I believe it is high time the policy was overhauled.
I believe the officials who came up with it were thinking of the famous phrase coined to describe Hong Kong as a borrowed place on borrowed time.
While their intentions may have been well-meaning, to provide people with a living space, it has made millionaires of many indigenous villagers from the New Territories and made billions for the property tycoons.
These indigenous people have been protected by Article 40 of the Basic Law which pledges to honour the “lawful traditional rights and interests of the indigenous inhabitants” of the New Territories.
However, we have to now ask if those rights should be extended indefinitely, to 2047 and beyond. The number of indigenous people who actually live in these New Territories villages has shrunk, while more people from urban areas move there.
The small-house policy is a problem left over by Hong Kong’s past. The problems it creates and the conflicts it causes should be resolved in a harmonious way by officials.
Lo Wai-kong, Yau Ma Tei
Curb light pollution now with legislation
For many years light pollution has been a serious problem in Hong Kong.
This is mainly due to brightly-illuminated adverts in urban areas. Companies see such adverts as being essential if they are to survive and they are also vital for the advertising sector.
While there have been calls for legislation to lower the levels of light pollution, a government task force instead opted for guidelines, encouraging compliance by companies voluntarily. In trying to deal with this problem, I think legislation should be seen as a last resort as it can have many negative side-effects.
However, we have to recognise that this light pollution does adversely affect the lives of some citizens.
In order to draw attention, many of the billboards are brightly lit.
This can make it difficult to sleep for nearby residents if the light comes into their flats. And it can lead to them feeling very tired and they might experience a deterioration in their physical and mental health.
There is also the environmental factor. Light pollution leads to a waste of energy which exacerbates global warming.
There is no need for these bright adverts to stay illuminated overnight. By midnight there are not that many pedestrians so this is a serious waste of energy.
I accept these adverts are commercially important for many companies in Hong Kong, especially the ones located in popular urban areas such as Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui. Also, many tourists are attracted by these bright lights at night.
However, these lights are having a detrimental effect on the lives of many citizens and the environment. Therefore, laws must be introduced to enforce some controls.
Cecilia Yuen, Ma On Shan
Energy sector needs serious competition
Hong Kong’s two power suppliers have announced a miserly tariff reduction of one per cent next year.
The tariff reduction for most customers will be no more than HK$7.50 a month. And yet these firms, which constitute an energy oligopoly in Hong Kong, continue to make enormous profits.
The government has failed to protect customers’ interests by not intervening and dealing with this oligopoly created by these two suppliers. It has made an effort to reduce the financial burden by offering subsidies, but these handouts were across the board, even well-off families got them, and in effect they were a waste of money.
What is needed is competition allowing the introduction of new electricity suppliers and the government should be encouraging the use of alternative sources of energy.
There is no doubt that consumers are faced with expensive energy bills because of inadequate competition in this sector.
The outcry against exoborbitant living costs which widen the wealth gap is growing in volume. Prompt action must be taken by the government to formulate appropriate measures. It must develop more renewable energy and entice foreign investors.
Fion Sy, Kowloon Tong
Too many of us fail to take care when online
We keep seeing rapid advances in internet technology.
Most of use the net frequently, to communicate, to search for information and to relax.
The net is very convenient, but too many people ignore the obvious risks.
We should not be careless about our privacy, but should ensure that it is always protected. A lot of people still post details such as phone numbers, home addresses and photos of themselves online, including on social network sites such as Facebook.
This information can be exploited by criminals. And if they do not ensure a good firewall they are vulnerable to hackers.
The government should try to raise people’s awareness of the importance of cybersecurity.
Jane Cai, Tseung Kwan O
Allow primary pupils to enjoy their childhood
I think the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) should be abolished to lower the workload of primary school students.
Students have to do a lot of practice papers to prepare them for the TSA.
By having all this papers and drilling schools are ignoring more important aspects of education such as developing interaction and critical thinking skills. Getting high marks in a TSA test is no indicator of a student’s ability or potential.
They are taught to aim for model answers in these tests, but that does not help as in the real world there are no model answers.
The TSA is not a healthy education model for schools to adopt. It puts them under too much pressure and some of them are even forced to attend tutorial classes.
Abolishing the TSA does not mean academic results do not matter.
However, with it being scrapped there will be less pressure placed on students and surely they will have a better chance of enjoying a happier childhood.
Carmen Li, Shek Kip Mei
Ease up on students in local schools
There is no doubt that secondary students in local schools are under a lot of pressure.
Sometimes this is due to their parents who appear to have forgotten the original meaning of studying and some put too much pressure on their children.
Most people blame the education system and the government for this pressure, but we need to admit that often the parents are the chief culprits, forcing their teenage sons and daughters to attend tutorial classes or extracurricular activities. The government must get parents to change this mindset and it must modify the syllabus to reduce the pressure.
Too much can be expected of some students academically and the syllabus should be organised in such a way that youngsters can find their level of ability and be allowed to work at that level, without being expected to get marks that are not possible.
Students should not have to do so many extra lessons.
Some people have argued that the senior secondary syllabus is so difficult that some of it might be taught at tertiary level in some countries, so there is clearly a need to modify the syllabus.
Also, the government must organise talks and an advertising campaign to get the message across to parents that they have to allow their children to have more free time and ensure that they are under less pressure. And we must listen to the voices of young people and find out what they want. Parents must talk to their children.
At the moment because they are not being listened to , a lot of young people in Hong Kong feel resentment.
Chan Kwan-tung, Tsuen Wan
Car ban would be bad news for MTR
There are sound arguments for and against the proposal to ban cars from Des Voeux Road Central and I agree with those opposed to the plan.
It will be inconvenient for commuters and businesses in the area.
We cannot all depend on public transport. Some people because of their jobs must use a private car.
If this vehicle ban was implemented then more commuters would use the MTR network and during rush hours it would become even busier than it is now.
The congestion problem at some stations which is already bad would get even worse.
I do understand the argument put forward by supporters of the proposal, that if it was implemented it would reduce levels of roadside air pollution at that location.
However, I think that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.
Mandy Leung, Lai Chi Kok