Letters to the editor, March 10, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 March, 2016, 5:39pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 March, 2016, 5:39pm

How about some courage on tax reform?

I refer to the report, “We need to improve tax system, admits finance chief” (February 29). This is hardly a revelation.

John Tsang Chun-wah has been Hong Kong’s financial ­secretary since July 1, 2007, and many times in his long incumbency, he has made the same statement that the tax base is too narrow.

Most financial commentators and many letters to these columns have always agreed with him.

Tsang wrote on his recent blog that “in the long run we need to pay attention to the tax base and consider how to ­improve our tax system”.

As the British economist John Maynard Keynes is ­famously quoted as saying, “In the long run we are all dead”. How long exactly does John Tsang need for considering a subject that is obvious to almost everyone?

This indicates a bureaucratic mindset and a lack of leadership. It is not such a difficult task to improve our tax system. All that is required is a strong will, and the courage and determination to confront the ire of the ­tycoons. There has been much recent speculation that Tsang wishes to stand for election for our chief executive in 2017.

The post of chief executive needs someone with vision, ­initiative and drive, and sad to say John Tsang has never ­displayed these characteristics as the financial secretary. A leopard does not change his spots.

Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels

Sad to see iconic diner bite the dust

Mike Rowse is spot-on in his ­column about the forced closure of Dan Ryan’s in Pacific Place (“Eviction of Dan ­Ryan’s: it’s not progress but social ­vandalism”, February 19).

At a time of rapid change and uncertainty in Hong Kong, old familiar establishments like these are more valuable than ever. They are what allow many of us to still feel comfortably at home in this city, despite the sometimes chaotic developments happening elsewhere here. One would think that a traditional Hong Kong company like Swire would be able to ­recognise this.

By kicking out mainstays like Dan Ryan’s, it seems determined to alienate Pacific Place’s most loyal visitors. It’s a sad state of affairs indeed.

Kapil Kirpalani, Mid-Levels

Putonghua subtitles offer more choice

I refer to the letters by Christy Ma (“TVB made a mistake with news subtitles”, March 2) and Fung Sze-man (“TVB’s subtitle move will not be accepted”, March 6) commenting on the use of simplified Chinese ­subtitles in the Putonghua newscasts broadcast on our J5 channel.

The Putonghua newscasts with simplified Chinese characters is a new service introduced as part of our digital channel re-arrangements, which started on February 22.

The existing newscasts on Jade and the 24-hour iNews channels remain intact and continue to be presented in Cantonese with traditional ­Chinese subtitles.

We provide a total of over 200 hours of newscasts per week and the Putonghua newscasts account for only 2.3 per cent.

Hong Kong is an international city. The new arrangement ­reflects our aim to offer our viewers more choice and better serve different needs of our audience.

Winnie Ho, assistant controller, Corporate and Community Relations Department,

Television Broadcasts Limited

Education pressure too much for many

I read about a student of the Chinese University of Hong Kong committing suicide, and it once again highlighted the cases of young people taking their own lives over study-related issues.

I think this shows that we are right to be concerned about Hong Kong’s education system.

The Education Bureau introduced major changes to the system at secondary school and tertiary level, with three years of senior secondary and four years of tertiary education.

Many people have been ­critical of this system, saying that most students go to university one year earlier than they did under the old system and they lack the maturity to deal with university life and its ­demands. This can put them under pressure, although the stress actually starts much ­earlier. Throughout their school years and even in primary school, Hong Kong children have to take part in tests and public exams.

Schools want their students to get high grades and so this leads to a very competitive ­culture. Many youngsters are forced to attend tutorial classes after the school day has ended.

There is a feeling that for many of them, at primary and secondary level, the workload they face is so heavy and the pressure so great that they lose out and are not able to enjoy their childhood. For some children, it gets too much and they suffer from ­depression.

The pressure students face continues when they get a place at a university with high expectations, especially with ­degrees such as medicine. They struggle to adapt to university life and again this can lead to some students suffering from depression and taking their own lives.

We should stop putting youngsters under so much pressure. Society must recognise there is a problem and that troubled students suffering from ­depression need our love and care.

Chloe Chow, Tseung Kwan O

Noise pollution needs tough measures

I refer to the report (“Keeping noise down: Hong Kong tram lines coated in rubber to reduce ding ding din in busy areas’’, February 21).

A HK$1.5 million renewal programme will reduce noise on parts of the tram network.

It is clear that noise pollution is a severe problem in the city, especially for people living in densely populated areas like Mong Kok.

Often, it can be caused by traffic and pedestrians. But another major disturbance is construction work near apartment blocks.

This can cause problems for young people living in flats in these blocks as it can make it ­difficult for them to do their homework properly and their studies can suffer.

The government must introduce tougher measures to lower noise pollution levels. There should be harsher penalties for those who contravene noise control regulations.

Individuals can also help. When we are in an urban area late at night, we should keep our voices down and try not to ­disturb nearby residents.

Hester Leung, Tung Chung

No escape from racket of the city

I was ­sitting at my desk at home recently trying to work but there is a nearby flat being renovated.

I couldn’t completely shut out the continuous sounds of electric drills but, with the music coming through my headphones, it was bearable.

However, every half hour or so another racket would cut in over the top – an irate driver blasting his horn. Surely it should be illegal to sound horns at any time in built-up areas such as Causeway Bay.

The air in Causeway Bay is ­already the most polluted in Hong Kong. It should not be too much to ask for the excessive noise pollution levels to be ­controlled.

My experience shows that the main culprits are drivers of small buses and taxis.

Chris Sweeting, Causeway Bay