Letters to the editor, March 25, 2016
Nominating committee for Legco bad idea
There is a flaw in the logic of Peter Lok’s letter (“Time to weed out disruptive lawmakers”, March 17).
Selecting a credible nominating committee to nominate Legislative Council candidates would itself be the subject of disagreement between those who prefer establishment candidates, those who prefer moderate democrats and those who prefer the radical, “bad-apple” candidates.
Based upon what I can glean of your correspondent’s political bent, I would likely gasp at the type of candidates that someone like Mr Lok would nominate, were he a member of the nominating committee, and he would probably gasp if someone like me were on the committee.
I believe in “one country, two systems”, do not believe independence is a credible alternative, but that that our government should defend Hong Kong’s autonomy much more robustly. I hold the rule of law sacrosanct and believe in laissez-faire capitalism, though not the crony tycoon-government collusion as practised in Hong Kong, which is a cancer and certainly is not capitalism.
I also consider the proposed national education curriculum brainwashing and antithetical to the values of Hong Kong.
Though the radical camp is not my cup of tea, I suspect that I have said enough to disqualify myself in Mr Lok’s eyes and I suspect those who vote for the radicals would disagree with both of us.
The difference between myself and Mr Lok is that I am comfortable with a battle of ideas being fought in the open and with the democratic process used to select the “winning” ideas and policies. From what I have seen of the pro-establishment camp, they rely on functional constituencies, vote-buying and dead people voting to make sure that they are in power come what may.
When faced with such a stacked deck, I can understand why some people support underdog, “bad-apple” lawmakers who block frivolous spending on unnecessary infrastructure projects. I would not support any nominating committee that weeds them out.
Keith Noyes, Clear Water Bay
Politics, not economics, scares Moody’s
I refer to Jake van der Kamp’s column (“Moody’s has got it all wrong when it comes to HK”, March 17).
He argues that Moody’s Investor Services was wrong to downgrade Hong Kong because, unlike the EU, the US and Japan, which have heavy public and private debts, Hong Kong has accumulated a fiscal surplus of 70 per cent of its gross domestic product and its citizens do not incur a heavy private debt.
Van der Kamp looks at the situation from the financial side, while in Moody’s view, it is about the politics.
With Beijing controlling the executive (China selects the chief executive who appoints bureau secretaries) and Legco through functional constituencies, it could easily wipe out Hong Kong’s fiscal surplus.
Moody’s rating seems to be based on the way Hong Kong has had to pay for those white elephant projects such as the express rail link and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge (all connected with mainland construction firms).
The Hong Kong government could be forced to use all its surplus to buy Chinese treasury bills under the pretext that it has to be patriotic and they are as good as the American ones, now constituting a substantial part of the Hong Kong Exchange Fund.
Furthermore, Hong Kong could be forced to raise taxes if the central government required the SAR to contribute to national expenses, such as defence (Hong Kong made such payments to the UK government before 1997). As a result of higher taxes, Hongkongers might have to borrow more to make ends meet.
So long as Hong Kong is closely connected with China, in the sense that the executive and legislative branches of government are controlled by Beijing, the connection is a risk, and not an opportunity as the financial secretary has maintained.
S. W. Lau, Central
Welcoming revamp plan for older areas
I refer to the report, “Hold the bulldozers: Hong Kong’s redevelopment authority plans to tear down fewer old buildings” (March 21).
The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) is considering an approach that would lead to fewer older buildings being demolished and instead are refurbished. This would allow more elderly residents to remain in their neighbourhoods instead of having to move to unfamiliar districts.
It would be great if these improvements could be made, such as adding an elevator. Many buildings in older areas of the city, such as Shau Kei Wan and Tai Tok Tsui, to name but two, have decades-old buildings which lack facilities, such as being without lifts.
Elderly residents who have spent many years in a neighbourhood want to stay there, but obviously they would like to see the older buildings where they live modernised.
A lot of these older citizens are poor and their buildings are dilapidated and therefore pose risks.
Under this proposed scheme, they would receive less cash compensation than before, as the URA would “acquire old properties at market price for refurbishment”.
However, I still think it is a good system as these old folk can stay put.
The government will have to undertake a full public consultation and listen to all stakeholders, including homeowners and other affected residents.
Yuen Tsz-shan, Yuen Long
Surprising that officials have done nothing
The four-storey-high illegal waste hill in Tin Shui Wai surprised your correspondent Wong Ka-lam (“Illegal dump site needs urgent action”, March 25) and many other Hongkongers. They will have assumed, as I did, that Hong Kong would not have the same waste hill problem that exists north of the border. I recall the fatal Shenzhen landslide in December.
We were sure that we had knowledgeable officials and an efficient government that would take action against such large-scale dumping.
In the past, waste from large infrastructure projects could be used on reclamation sites.
However, it is clear that our government lacks that efficiency.
It is like an old man, who, once active and energetic, is now slowing down.
Morale is now so low in the city and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying should be doing something to raise it.
However, if he plans to take action to stop the administration from being labelled as hopeless, he should do so before it is too late.
Pang Chi-ming, Fanling
Take holistic approach to water supply
I refer to the report, “Climate change to claim ‘half a reservoir’” (March 21).
I think readers will have been misled by claims in the report about the real drivers of climate change.
Both the driest and wettest year in Hong Kong since records began in 1884 were naturally driven.
The driest year on record was 1963. This was triggered by the eruption of the Agung volcano on Bali, Indonesia; 1997, the wettest year on record, was the strongest El Nino year in the instrumental record until 2015.
A possible trigger was the sharp increase in eruption activity of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii.
The water loss estimates from reservoirs are meaningless for a number of reasons.
First, the annual mean evaporation rate, recorded at the King’s Park station located near the Cross-Harbour Tunnel in Hung Hom, is severely affected by the urban heat island effect. Hong Kong’s reservoirs are all located in the countryside.
Second, meteorological conditions including cloud cover, humidity, wind strength and direction are much more important than temperature in determining evaporation rate.
Third, the wind speed record at the King’s Park station shows a declining trend since 1968, best explained by the increasing number of high-rise buildings within the Victoria Harbour area.
A more holistic approach to water management for Hong Kong should include reducing water consumption by every individual, better utilisation of our relatively abundant local rainfall, better use of groundwater, and less reliance on importing water from Dongjiang.
Wyss Yim, Pok Fu Lam
Detention camp would be cost-effective
Executive councillor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee’s suggestion to set up a detention centre on the mainland would be a practical and effective way of tackling the so-called refugees crisis which Hong Kong faces. It would be cost-effective and would have a deterrent effect.
Australia has set up similar detention centres offshore rather than housing refugees on mainland Australia.
I would also like to raise concerns about negative reporting of the influx of Asian refugees and alleged petty crimes committed by such people.
They are victims of racial discrimination and continuous negative reporting in some local newspapers will exacerbate that situation.
I think it is high time the government and politicians stood up for these people who have no voice.
Leslie Lee, Sai Wan Ho