Letters to the Editor, December 17, 2016

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 December, 2016, 12:16am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 December, 2016, 12:15am

Needy citizens face hurdles on all fronts in HK

I refer to your article on calls to rethink plans to scrap a one-off living allowance for the city’s neediest (“Calls to protect payments for Hong Kong’s ­poorest”, December 11).

The housing shortage is one of the most serious problems faced by Hongkongers. This is a problem that requires an urgent solution, as everyone needs safe, adequate accommodation.

The article cites a survey of “N-nothings” that found more than 1,000 people living in subdivided flats, or other small, cheap homes, spent more than 32 per cent of their monthly ­income on rent. This situation must be tackled.

First, living in a subdivided flat is dangerous, as safety equipment is usually inadequate and the facilities not up to the standard. Blocked exits and stairwells may harm chances of survival in case of accidents such as a fire. Escape routes blocked by illegally subdivided flats were blamed for four deaths in a fire in Hung Hom on June 15, 2011.

Besides, living in such cramped spaces takes a mental toll and could cause depression.

Second, high rents lead to lower living standards, as tenants of subdivided flats spend nearly a third of their monthly salaries on rent. They have less money for basic necessities, and inflation makes it worse. Also, they may work longer hours to supplement their pay, and so become tired and unhealthy.

This is how our poorest live – and urgent solutions are needed. The government should ­offer more public housing and employment ­opportunities, as these tackle the poverty problem at its root and help make the poor less dependent on ­government subsidies.

Cindy Szeto, Kwai Chung

More bikes can ease roadside pollution

I am writing to express my ­concerns about global warming.

Extremely unusual weather has become more prevalent in all corners of the world today. And it is a fact that most of this abnormal weather, if not all, is induced by global warming.

Cutting the emission of greenhouse gases is a prerequisite in addressing global warming. In Hong Kong, roadside air pollution has been a major ­reason behind an intensifying greenhouse effect.

To reduce heavy traffic and the pollution it creates, it has long been advocated that people bike to work, as they do in Denmark and the Netherlands, but the idea has not caught on.

The construction of cycle tracks connecting urban areas would inspire more people to get on their bikes, but this has neither been introduced nor discussed in development plans put forward by the government or Legislative Council. The government must take action to advocate healthy lifestyles with a low carbon footprint.

Lee Tsz-chung, Tseung Kwan O

Holistic view would help elderly poor

I refer to the proposal to introduce health care vouchers for our needy elderly (“Hong Kong foundation proposes subsidies for health screening and chronic disease consultation for low-income elderly”, December 13).

I appreciate the sentiment behind the proposal, for it aims to ease the financial burden of the elderly, but I have doubts about how effective it will be.

The ageing problem is a ­serious issue in Hong Kong. Under current retirement policies, many productive elderly workers are forced to end their career in their 60s. Without frequent exercising of their brain and body, older citizens suffer not only poorer physical health but mental decline as well, ­leading to higher medical fees. A rapidly rising inflation rate makes the going even tougher for the low-income elderly.

However, subsidies and financial allowances only tackle the symptoms, not the disease. The proposed voucher will allow low-income elderly citizens to have a health check, but ­measures are needed to make sure they stay in good health.

Angie Lo, Kwai Chung

Publicise risks of the medical beauty sector

I refer to your article on medical procedures in the beauty ­industry (“More legislation needed to regulate Hong Kong’s medical beauty service industry, says consumer watchdog”, ­December 12).

I think people these days tend to focus too much on physical beauty. They are influenced by images of attractive movie stars and celebrities, and even friends, as well as the high regard for beauty in general.

Everyone judges people by their looks until they get to know them. But most people never get to the later stage, so the focus stays on their looks.

It seems more and more ­people consider physical beauty to be a tool to get more attention, or to be successful and famous. They also think that physical beauty can help them with their social life, to maintain relationships and make new friends. But the inner beauty is neglected.

Time flies, and physical beauty fades. But inner beauty is who you really are and it lasts for a lifetime.

The government should do more to promote the importance of inner beauty and the risks of the medical beauty ­service sector.

I agree that more legislation is needed to regulate medical beauty services in Hong Kong because this will help protect consumer rights.

However, regulating the sector may have its limits, as the machines used for such treatments are updated very fast. The law may find it difficult to keep pace and fail to protect ­consumers from injury.

Angel Wan Yuet Sum, Kwai Chung

The economy will gain from a bigger Disney

The proposed expansion of Disneyland is proving controversial (“Lawmakers across political spectrum grill administration on HK$11 billion expansion for Hong Kong Disneyland”, ­November 28).

Lawmakers from across the political spectrum have questioned the need to inject HK$5.8 billion of taxpayers’ money into the expansion project, with some urging that the city ­to ­diversify its tourist offerings.

In my opinion, as the ­government is not a commercial organisation, it is not just considering profit/loss projections for Disney, but the city’s overall ­economic interests.

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, the Airport Authority’s Sky Plaza project and planned artificial islands off Lantau will lead to increased flow of economic activities and people. So it is important for ­Disney to expand.

Tourism is an important ­pillar of our economy, both in terms of growth and providing jobs. Given the regional competition, Hong Kong must keep up its edge to draw visitors. A bigger Disney will be good for the city’s economy in the long term.

Jenny Kwok, Tseung Kwan O

Tourism drop shows need for fresh approach

Tourist numbers are declining in Hong Kong. The latest statistics show visitor numbers fell for the third month in a row in ­October, with mainland tourists leading the drop. This poured cold water on industry hopes of a turnaround this year.

One of the reasons cited for the decline is political instability, as seen in the Mong Kok riots and the oath-taking controversy. This creates a negative ­impression of Hong Kong.

Another factor is the lack of new tourist attractions, especially when there are so many new attractions around the world. With policies now allowing mainland tourists more destination choices, they would rather go elsewhere.

New tourist attractions need to be created, and old districts redeveloped. Promoting the ­local culture and ecotourism will also bring in more visitors.

Annie Lai, Yau Yat Chuen