Letters to the Editor, July 9, 2016
‘Robin Hood’ levy instead of profits tax hike
I refer to Albert Cheng King-hon’s article (“Those who reject Li Ka-shing’s idea to raise Hong Kong’s profits tax are no friends of the working class”, June 30).
I really do not feel that Cheng’s arguments made much sense.
I think a basic question he has to answer while lashing out at the Liberal Party is why we shouldn’t impose a “Robin Hood” tax on the super-rich like tycoon Li Ka-shing.
The idea to raise profits tax, rather than the tax I propose, is simply to shift the burden from the super-rich to the general business sector, most of which comprises small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
In his article, Cheng tried very hard to divert public attention from the super-rich to class antagonism between working class and the general business sector. But it is ironic indeed to say that a tycoon like Li is stands side by side with the grassroots.
Furthermore, does Cheng know how much wealth our government has right now? There is more than HK$840 billion in fiscal reserves, not to mention the Exchange Fund with as much as HK$3.5 trillion. Is our government out at the elbows to the extent that it can’t help the needy anymore? Of course not.
If the profits tax is increased at the expense of SMEs, it will be our government that benefits the most, instead of the working class.
Angus Chan Siu-keung, Ma On Shan
Hawkers an important part of local culture
There have been a number of disputes between street hawkers and the authorities in Hong Kong.
The Food and Environment Hygiene Department (in conjunction with police) has been cracking down on illegal street hawking activities. Some people heavy punishment for unlicensed street hawkers. However, I think hawkers and night markets reflect part of our local culture that should be preserved.
Street hawkers are one of the collective memories of Hong Kong people. In the past, these vendors were popular with working people. They did not have a lot of money, but could afford this kind of food and would chat with the hawkers.
Children could also purchase food at affordable prices after school. The hawkers were like uncles and aunties to them as they were so friendly. Many Hongkongers have these collective memories of street vendors from childhood.
Also, because they are an integral part of the city’s unique history and culture, these hawkers are popular with tourists and tourism is one of the pillars of our economy.
Many visitors come here because they want to know about the city’s culture. If all these hawker stalls are shut down this will be one less attraction for tourists and we could see arrival numbers drop.
Many cities are competing with us for the tourist dollar. If some aspects of our local culture are allowed to die out, this will make us less competitive. Hawkers can boost our economy.
These vendors have a low level of education and few skills so it is difficult to find work. However, with these stalls, they meet a demand and can earn a living. Life is already tough for them. It would be wrong if unfair policies were implemented which made it even worse.
They want the chance to earn a bit of extra money during popular festival periods such as Christmas and Lunar New Year. The additional income can help their families. For these reasons street hawking should be preserved.
The government needs to relax its regulations to make it easier for people to become licensed hawkers.
As part of the city planning process there could be designated streets where hawkers are allowed to operate.
These “hawker streets” would become new tourist spots and enable these vendors to keep their jobs. If this was done the disputes we have seen between the authorities and hawkers would drop.
The government should ensure this important part of our culture survives.
Mak Pui-sze, Kowloon Tong
Agreement a ruse by US to counter China
The United States already has 14 free trade agreements with 20 countries according to the International Trade Association.
Six of the 11 other nations in the prospective Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement are already in one or another of these agreements with the US. The five not covered are Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, Vietnam. Japan represents 95 per cent of their collective volume of trade with the US.
So one would think Japan is the prime target of the TPP. Potential principal areas of contention are Japan’s tariffs on US-made cars and US-grown rice. But Japan already builds its quality cars using American labour in US-based factories at prices cheaper than imports from its Japan-based plants.
Also, Japan sensibly obtains essential imports of its staple rice more easily and cheaply from closer Asian neighbours. To reinforce this “good sense” aspect, would the US buy wheat from New Zealand when wheat from Canada is so accessible and cost-effective ?
The TPP is a politically motivated rather than an economic agreement. It aims to counter Beijing’s growing influence in the Pacific Rim which is China’s home region. It is a ruse to maintain US political and diplomatic influence in Trans-Pacific countries, nations increasingly impacted by China’s economic power and its build up of political and military influence.
Daniel F. Downes, Avon-by-the-Sea, New Jersey, US
We can all help to curb global warming
One of reasons for Hong Kong having warmer temperatures this summer is because of the effects of global warming.
While we might welcome warmer temperatures during the cooler months, global warming is now a serious problem around the world that we need to address.
It not only affects humans, but also the ecosystems of animals. For example, melting ice in the Arctic Circle reduces the size of the polar bears’ habitat range and the quantity of food available. They could eventually face extinction.
As the amount of greenhouse gases increases, the problem of global warming will become more severe. While nations try to find solutions at meetings such as the Paris climate summit, individuals can also do their bit. For example, we can use fans instead of air cons, turn off electrical appliances when not in use and walk or use public transport instead of private vehicles.
These may seem small, useless gestures, but they can be effective if more of us make the effort.
Kathy Ho, Tseung Kwan O
Think twice before opting to own a pet
I agree with correspondents who have urged people who are thinking of getting a dog to adopt one rather than going to a pet shop.
People need to think twice before buying a pet. I have never had one, because it would not be feasible to do so in my flat. However, some people ignore that potential problem, so I appreciate these government adverts asking people to think carefully before making this big decision. But it should also run adverts urging citizens to adopt rather than buy. They should avoid purchasing a dog from breeders.
While Hong Kong is an international city, its climate and small flats, may mean it is not suitable for some people to have a pet. A flat may simply be too cramped, for example, for a dog. Also some breeds might suffer in the heat.
Hongkongers need to learn to treat their pets properly.
Roslin Law, Tseung Kwan O