Letters to the Editor, August 17, 2017

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 August, 2017, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 August, 2017, 4:30pm

Express rail link costly for rights, tickets

I have concerns about allowing mainland officials to operate in the West Kowloon express rail terminus, as it poses a threat to our freedom in Hong Kong. I am also doubtful about the ­efficiency of the new trains.

I do not think travelling time will be reduced by that much. The whole purpose of the ­express train is to speed up our journeys to mainland cities. It is claimed it will take about 48 minutes to travel from West Kowloon to the rail station in Guangzhou. However, this only applies to a train that does not stop, and virtually all the trains will stop at stations, in which case we could be talking about a travelling time of over an hour.

It takes about two hours now on the Hong Kong-Guangzhou through train. Therefore, I do not see what is to be gained by using the express train if it takes more than an hour and is also a lot more expensive. Given the cost difference and the fact that the travelling time reduction is not that great, I cannot see it ­attracting a lot of passengers.

Marco Kwan, Hang Hau

Ireland does not do tax favours

I refer to the article by Resto Woro Yuniar (“Hong Kong, Singapore and China get tough on tax havens”, August 7).

The article makes two ­inappropriate and inaccurate references to Ireland as a “tax haven”. Ireland does not meet any international definition of a tax haven. It operates a transparent, clear and statute-based ­corporation tax system. Ireland does not see business in Ireland which does not have real substance, economic activity and jobs in Ireland. No evidence is provided by the author as to what makes Ireland a tax haven.

The issue of aggressive tax planning by multinational companies is a global problem that requires a global solution. ­Ireland continues to take an ­active role in global work to ­reform the international corporate tax system. It is an active contributor to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and European Union ­efforts to reform the international tax system. Ireland has committed to the OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) process and is actively implementing the OECD BEPS recommendations. Ireland has already introduced Country by Country Reporting, signed the OECD BEPS Multilateral Instrument and legally committed to introducing additional anti-avoidance rules to fully comply with key OECD BEPS recommendations through the EU Anti-Tax-Avoidance Directive.

Regarding tax transparency, Ireland is one of only 23 jurisdictions ranked as “Fully Compliant” with all international best practices for the exchange of tax information by the Global ­Forum, the leading global peer ­review body on this issue.

The article also refers to the European Commission ruling regarding Apple. The Irish government profoundly disagrees with the commission’s analysis and had no choice but to take an appeal to the European courts to annul the whole decision. ­Ireland did not give favourable tax treatment to Apple and does not do deals with taxpayers.

Peter Ryan, consul general of Ireland to Hong Kong and Macau

Owning a pet comes with commitment

It is still not known where the rare fox found on Lantau last month originally came from. It was thought that the fox, now being cared for at Ocean Park, might have been bought as a pet and then abandoned.

This highlights the need for people to think carefully about pet ownership before making a decision.

There is a serious problem of stray animals in Hong Kong, ­because people buy a pet, grow tired of it and then dump it.

I urge citizens wanting to buy a pet to make sure that they really can look after the animal.

Ng Wai-nam, Tseung Kwan O

Toddlers need days out, not a smartphone

Some parents give their toddlers electronic devices (e-pacifiers) to play with to keep them quiet.

This is wrong and it is up to parents to instead spend as much quality time as they can with their young children. A family day out is far better for a toddler than being sat at home with a tablet or smartphone.

It is bad for children’s mental and physical development to spend long periods on these ­devices.

Suki Lee, Hang Hau

Unoccupied flats make shortage worse

The problem of rich investors holding onto empty flats in ­London, where there is a shortage of rented accommodation, has ­become serious. It is also a problem in Hong Kong, where there are a lot of private flats which are unoccupied.

These investors have substantial funds and do not care that they are not earning any ­income from rent. I wish the government could come up with some policies that would persuade these homeowners to ­allow their flats to be rented out [in the UK, councils are considering an additional tax].

It does not seem right to ­indulge the rich and allow them to have all these empty apartments while many people struggle to find a decent place to live.

The widening rich-poor gap is becoming a serious problem in Hong Kong. Also, the government must find ways to provide more public housing and cut the long waiting lists.

Vincent Lam, Po Lam