Letters to the Editor, June 3, 2017

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 June, 2017, 9:02am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 June, 2017, 9:02am

Keep hands off country parks for housing

I am concerned about the ongoing exploitation of the wetlands, hills and leafy suburbs in Macau.

The fact is that many green areas and bird species have disappeared since high-rises and a strip of hotel casinos were built in Cotai and the coastal strip. Seeing swallows flying in all directions in downtown Macau has become a memory.

Given what is happening here, it concerns me that the Hong Kong government is considering if country parks can be used for public housing. Many alternatives to easing the housing shortage already have been suggested, including converting abandoned factories and freeing brownfield sites.

Hong Kong has been a cosmopolitan city and an international financial centre for a long time, but many of its outlying suburbs and surrounding rural areas have remained preserved as vital open space .

Every year, people from all over the world are attracted to visit the city, and some of them are particularly keen to not only see but hike in the country parks and magnificent mountains.

It would be a great pity if the government allowed development of land on the fringes of country parks at the expense of invaluable green space. The parks are the city’s lungs and vital recreational places for citizens. They should be protected at all costs for future generations. Once they are built on, it is impossible to have these zones restored.

Despite the urgency of long public housing waiting lists, the government should find alternatives to using the green space to solve the problem.

Turning country parks into public housing is not the best solution. An influx of mainland residents since the handover has put more pressure on Hong Kong’s resources, including housing. Maybe it’s time to ­reconsider immigration rules. Hong Kong shouldn’t follow Macau down the path to more environmental degradation.

Barnaby Ieong, Macau

Teens need our support, not an online boost

The suicide-related Blue Whale Challenge is a malicious online game preying on the vulnerabilities of teenagers and must not be allowed to continue.

Many teens are confused, depressed and lack self-esteem and some have already taken their own lives when asked to in the final challenge of this ­dangerous game.

Blue Whale highlights the issue of teen suicide, as has occurred increasingly in Hong Kong recently, and hopefully raised awareness follows.

Identifying victims of depression is the first step. Not only the authorities or adults, but all of us, even if we are just teens, should help. It is in fact easier for teens than professionals to keep a close eye on our peers and notice any abnormality, and approach them in a caring and genuine way. Casually asking “How’s everything going?” might just turn into a lifesaving conversation.

Educating despairing teens is next. Society glorifies high-achievers and piles pressure on those with mediocre results who might seek satisfaction and recognition elsewhere. Some may build self-esteem through ­online challenges. Parents and schools must be proactive and professional help should be available.

Tang Pui-ying, Tsz Wan Shan

Teachers can learn some respect too

Respect cuts both ways and must be earned by teachers and students alike.

Being a student, I agree that showing respect for teachers is important, and necessary. Yet, the respect given to them by ­students seems to be often abused these days.

Teachers can make mistakes. Students should also be able to voice their own opinion and it should not be suppressed. If teachers really did something inappropriate, there is no ­reason for teachers to expect respect from students.

No one can be always be right, not to mention teachers. Being a teacher doesn’t mean that you arebeyond criticism. Being a student also doesn’t mean that you are a puppet who should only obey the teacher. Communication is the key to good relationships.

I am not saying students can show no respect but teachers do not always earn the higher regard they want. I will show respect for others when others are showing me the same.

Leung Yiu-Hei, Ho Man Tin

Greying society should not be ignored

The problem of an ageing population is a serious issue for all citizens and the chief executive and Legco must tackle it as a priority. It’s a an issue that will have a negative impact on Hong Kong’s development as it adds a financial burden to the government such as through higher health-care costs and ­decreasing tax revenue.

Many people believe the government should provide more resources to the elderly since they have contributed a lot to Hong Kong throughout their lives. Social security, universal retirement protection and ­medical support are all issues to which the government should give sympathetic consideration.

If there are more elderly in Hong Kong, more resources need to be allocated to care for them. Meanwhile, less tax is ­collected by the government and so there is a limit to the budget.

The birth rate is also decreasing, therefore the government should act. Having longer paid maternity and paternity leave and including kindergarten in the free education system, as ­incentives for couples to start a family, would help.

Carly Fung, Tseung Kwan O

Implement safety net for the elderly

Universal retirement protection has been debated for more than 15 years.

Some in society are opposed to supporting the elderly, while others say they must be helped as recognition for their contributions to building Hong Kong. In my opinion, everyone should help support the lives of old ­people.

Without the help of those who are now senior citizens, Hong Kong could not have developed from a fishing village into an international metropolis. It is a must that we support their lives in retirement.

Besides, many old people are not supported by their children. The government says about 40 per cent of the elderly are not supported by their children. Universal retirement protection should be implemented without delay to guarantee basic dignity in old age.

The government must also implement measures to combat the impact on our economy of an ageing population and its consequences of a shrinking­ ­labour force and lower tax ­revenue.

Zoe Chung Ka-man, Po Lam

Subdivided flats are no place to live

Nowadays, there are still many citizens living miserably in subdivided flats because housing prices are high and they simply cannot afford their own home.

To solve the housing problem, some may suggest the government solves it by legitimising subdivided flats. But that is hardly the solution.

Illegal subdivided flats are not safe and cannot meet basic building standards. The material used to divide the room is wood, increasing the fire hazard.

The quality of life in these crowded flats is non-existent. The ventilation is poor and there is the hygiene problem of sharing the same kitchen equipment and toilet.

Too many of these flats exist because it is difficult for the authorities to check without permission from the tenant, so the problem of safety persists, not to mention the undignified way of life.

Suki Lee, Hang Hau