Letters to the Editor, February 19, 2018
Property prices boosted by lack of consensus
Hong Kong is one of the least affordable cities in the world, and has been named the most expensive housing market for the eighth year in a row.
Hong Kong was the only Asian city in the top 10 on the latest annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, covering 293 metropolitan property markets across nine countries, released last month.
The median price of a home in Hong Kong was listed as 19.4 times the median annual pre-tax household income, up from 18.1 times a year ago.
What’s more, home prices could rise by another 10 per cent this year after a 14 per cent gain in 2017 (“Hong Kong home prices might surge by 10 per cent this year, says sales head at Henderson”, February 16).
There can be several reasons for the phenomenon of soaring property prices in Hong Kong. One is the shortage of land amid mostly hilly terrain, which, the government says, has made widespread residential development difficult. Second, our stable economy and solid legal foundation make investors from all over the world keen to put their money into our real estate market.
Together, this pushes up demand and, given the limited supply, we have more people scrambling for a limited number of flats. This sends prices soaring.
But there is another factor pushing up home prices: opposing voices. While the government has limited space to build flats, whenever it plans to build or reclaim land for development, there are people who will voice their opposition.
It may be green organisations saying that building homes will affect the biodiversity or environment of the area concerned, or calling for the conservation of the natural environment.
Also, sometimes people who live there will not move out, citing their long attachment to the neighbourhood and the maintenance of strong social ties.
All of this opposition does nothing to boost supply, which is the main problem.
Chic So, Tsuen Wan
Giving in to Kim may embolden North Korea
I refer to the US postponing drills with South Korea to reduce tensions with the North (“Donald Trump agrees to delay South Korea military drills until after the Winter Olympics”, January 5).
For how many years has North Korea, with its repeated nuclear and ballistic missile tests, been a threat to world peace?
Now North Korea “looks like” it, too, wants peace. South Korea saw the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as a chance to bring the Koreas closer and, to ensure the best environment for dialogue, presidents Moon Jae-in and Trump agreed to delay their annual military exercises.
However, that did not stop the North staging a massive military parade in its capital, Pyongyang, on the eve of the Olympics.
The North’s charm offensive included Kim Jong-un sending his stylish sister Kim Yo-jong and a 200-strong cheerleading squad to Pyeongchang. But Trump’s backing down on the drills was a diplomatic medal for North Korea.
Who is to say it will not encourage Kim Jong-un to further expand his nuclear power? After such a show of weakness, it becomes more difficult for the US to prevent North Korea from improving its nuclear technology.
Chan Chak Chung, Po Lam
Rigid schooling won’t produce creative spark
I refer to the recent article by Luisa Tam (“Hong Kong educators have forgotten that schooling should be fun”, February 12).
Hong Kong, as an international city, competes with its peers around the world, whether in the economy or the arts.
However, when it comes to the creative industry, our city always lags behind. Therefore, the government has been encouraging citizens, especially youngsters, to become more innovative.
But if the government continues with its tedious and stressful exam-oriented education system, our youngsters would never be nurtured to develop out-of-the-box, creative thinking.
While making learning “fun” could arguably boost creative thinking, many parents worry that such an approach would be counterproductive, as it may see children develop a more casual approach, and not treat learning as a serious matter.
However, one thing is certain. A rigid exam-oriented education system, with a focus on rote learning, is stunting creative and independent thought. If the range of materials they experience is so narrow, how can children come up with unusual ideas?
Many nations elsewhere in the world not only create a more joyful atmosphere for lessons, they also encourage students to be talented in other spheres, like music or sports. Hong Kong should follow this model. This does not mean academic results are not important, but that it should not be the top priority. The most creative person is not the one who gets the highest marks in the DSE.
Cathy Yuen Tsz Wai, Tseung Kwan O
Dirty beaches are the result of civic apathy
I recently read about the award-winning documentary, A Plastic Ocean, which explores the devastating impact of plastic on our seas and marine life.
The report reminded me of the beaches in Hong Kong, which are more often than not strewn with plastic. I feel that our citizens are civic-sense-challenged.
Despite the presence of signs saying “Do not throw rubbish into the ocean”, some thoughtless beachgoers do so all the same. This blatant lack of civic virtues is a menace to our oceans and marine animals.
Eunice Cheng, Sha Tin