Letters to the Editor, February 20, 2016

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 February, 2016, 12:16am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 February, 2016, 12:16am

Tsang must dig deeper for poor and elderly

I refer to the report “(Tsang needs to do more for city’s poor”, February 15).

The community group has rightly urged the financial secretary to help the elderly and badly housed in Wednesday’s budget. People have suggested the government should set aside an extra HK$25.6 billion for welfare, medical and education spending. It is expected to have substantial reserves this year and can afford to allocate these funds for a good cause.

Regarding a pension scheme, many views have ­already been expressed in the press. I suggest three options.

First, raise the present Old Age Living Allowance (OALA) of HK$2,390 per month to a ­minimum of HK$5,000. It is a fact that the existing amount is largely insufficient even for a single person to live comfortably in an expensive city such as Hong Kong.

Second, make the universal pension scheme financially sustainable in the long term, raise the qualifying age from 65 to 70 years for new applicants. The existing OALA recipients should continue to receive the present amount till they attain the age of 70 years. Henceforth, all Hong Kong residents above 70, rich or poor, should qualify to receive the decent amount of HK$5,000 a month. This would also meet the public expectations.

Third, the amount of health care vouchers for elderly above 70 should be raised from the present HK$2,000 a year to HK$5,000. This would allow ­patients to get some expensive, but urgent, diagnostic tests done at private hospitals whenever necessary; there is a long waiting list in public hospitals.

Dr B. K. Avasthi, Discovery Bay

Transform old low-rises for more housing

I refer to the editorial (“Yuen Long plan must go ahead”, ­February 2)

In my opinion the government should not develop Yuen Long. It is crystal clear much of its green space will be lost if development of Yuen Long goes ahead to help our shortage of housing.

As a result, the global ­warming problem will get worse because of all the trees that would be cut down. Then, how can we avoid this problem? From my perspective, government is the major player to help. It can buy the old five-storey flats and develop them into high-rise buildings, which would add a large amount of housing without the need to cut down trees. Currently there are a lot of buildings constructed in the 1970s which inefficiently occupy a lot of land.

Secondly, the government can impose a flat tax which would generate a lot of revenue from those who buy more than one flat for themselves.

At the same time, the administration can also receive a ­higher tax from those who allow the house to be shared or as a rental.

Many people are buying flats now just as an investment, which is forcing up prices ­further out of the reach of most.

Yuen Long should not be ­developed because it has so many natural places that must be protected for all to enjoy.

If we develop them, it will ­adversely affect their ecosystems. A government tax and ­rebuilding old flats would help the buildings.

Chan Kwan-tung, Tsuen Wan

No-mask law would deter lawbreakers

I have been gravely concerned over the Mong Kok riot.

I was shocked to see the terrible incident whereby Mong Kok, one of Hong Kong’s busiest ­districts, went into virtual lockdown on February 8, the first night of Lunar New Year, when a group of activists confronted hygiene officers and police to “protect” illegal street hawkers in Mong Kok.

A night of violence saw ­police fire two warning shots as protesters launched bricks and set fires as a the crackdown on the food hawkers escalated into what some witnesses described as a riot.

The Mong Kok violence raises a question: is it necessary for Hong Kong to introduce an anti-mask law, to ban protesters from covering their faces?

In my view, the answer is ­definitely yes.

A number of demonstrations and rallies have happened in the past few years in Hong Kong and it is common to see protesters wearing masks.

I cannot help but react with bemusement at this phenomenon.

Why do these people hide their identities during the demonstrations? To avoid legal responsibilities?

It is entirely an irresponsible action. Everyone should bear all the consequences of what they have done, especially illegal acts.

I hope the government can seriously consider passing an anti-mask law, as in other countries. Such a law can deter ­potential lawbreakers and ­police can more easily identify and arrest offenders.

Yeung Ka-yi, Tsuen Wan

Protesters’ violence tack misguided

I wish to comment on the protest against the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department’s clampdown on hawkers that took place in Mong Kok.

During the disturbances, the police used pepper spray and their batons. The angry protesters responded by throwing objects such as glass bottles, stones and rubbish bins.

The protest developed into a riot which affects the image and economic development of Hong Kong.

Mong Kok is one of the city’s most popular tourist spots ­during Chinese New Year.

Fighting between protesters and police, lighting fires at ­various spots and protesters hurling objects at the police transformed Mong Kok into a messy battlefield. The protesters’ behaviour disrupted tourist schedules and also hurt local businesses.

Violence is not the way to go to make a point. If laws are ­broken, police have the right and should move in to protect the public. Inappropriate use of freedom of speech risks tighter government control.

Chan Pui-yiu, Kowloon Tong

TSA not true gauge of student skills

The issue of the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) has been a controversial topic for several months.

The test puts too much pressure on students, especially those in primary, school and is counter-productive to nurturing young minds. The endless process slashes their leisure time for enjoyment and their precious childhood is lost. And, does the TSA really offer insight into a student’s ability or is it simply a gauge of how much pressure schools put on them?

The knowledge students can acquire is greatly limited by the curriculum of the education ­system. It seems students are machines to be programmed.

I think the most important role of an education system is to encourage people to develop an interest for learning. And ­helping others with that knowledge in real life gives a sense of achievement.

Felix Leung, Tseung Kwan O

Recycling needs higher priority

I refer to the letter from Michelle Chan Tsun-hin (“Allocate more resources for recycling in Hong Kong”, February 17). The city’s recycling rate is declining for three main reasons.

Firstly, the government has been remiss in its publicity and educational programmes. Most Hong Kong citizens do not have the habit of recycling house waste. They throw all of it into rubbish bins. As a result, the recycling rate of households is low.

Another reason is the recycling industries don’t have enough resources and manpower. It’s not a hot industry in Hong Kong and can’t attract people because they think the prospects are not bright.

Thirdly, residents don’t have a clear idea of what can be recycled and where to leave their recyclable waste. We must all start recycling our paper, plastic ­bottles and cans.

Yoyo Li Fung-lan, Sham Shui Po