Letters to the Editor, March 11, 2018

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 March, 2018, 10:16am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 March, 2018, 10:16am

Hong Kong can’t afford to destroy lungs

It is understandable that, given Hong Kong’s current housing problem, it is necessary to examine all land use.

However, the article titled “Private clubs exempted from HK$400 million in rent”(February 22) targets land use which has ­already been the subject of a ­detailed Home Affairs Bureau exercise, to ensure that the clubs are accessible to the public – by ­imposing even stricter conditions in any new lease and monitoring the club’s performance under those conditions.

For instance, the Hong Kong Football Club, of which I am a member, is exemplary in its opening up and promotion of sports. One need only see the turnout for mini soccer, rugby and hockey: a substantial number are not the children of members. To quote “social injustice” is unfounded in respect of many of these clubs.

Even the Hong Kong Golf Club is opening up far more. Its hosting of the Hong Kong Open, which has attracted star golfers and with more sponsorship could become a must-play event, should not be disregarded when looking at the land use situation.

Why destroy the green lung of the New Territories and Hong Kong’s (desired) reputation as Asia’s world city? These sort of green areas and recreational facilities have to be available in the city that Hong Kong aspires be.

All government leases charge a rental of 3 per cent of the rateable value for the time being of the lot in question, so Green Sense should be more specific as to what money has been waived and how such a figure was arrived at.

It is worth noting that all recreational clubs are non-profit-making and all income must be ploughed back into the club, hence the nominal premium.

Elitism has nothing to do with this issue.

Allan Hay, Tai Po

‘Fruit money’ red tape makes handouts a joke

Thank you, Ronnie Chan Chi-chung, for criticising finance chief John Tsang Chun-wah in 2013 for spending HK$200 billion in handouts and sweeteners, which could have built 30 HKUSTs and 30 Queen Mary hospitals (Alex Lo’s “My Take”, March 6).

The absurdity of the handouts stemmed from not bothering to find out who ­deserved or needed the money and who didn’t, and so taking the easy way out to pay everybody. Even Hongkongers long settled overseas and expatriates long repatriated received the handout, whereas local retirees who moved to the mainland to ­escape the high cost of living here have to be approved province by province for continued payment of the “fruit money” pittance.

Peter Lok, Heng Fa Chuen

Thrilling rides bigger draw than wildlife

Free entry tickets to Ocean Park will be offered to 10,000 primary and secondary school pupils under the new Hong Kong budget unveiled last month.

The aim is to raise awareness about conservation, and educate children about wild and marine life, and nature.

However, I think most pupils would be more excited about the thrilling rides they can take, such as the roller coaster – rather than pay attention to the wildlife – if they can get in for free.

Also, the public examination curriculum does not focus much on wildlife or conservation. So ­pupils busy studying for the ­Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) examination will have little incentive to learn more about this.

Teresa Ng, Hang Hau

DSE fees help pupils take the exam seriously

I am writing in response to the government allocating an extra HK$2 billion for recurrent spending on education.

I welcome the added boost to education, but I not agree with the decision to waive the entry fees for pupils sitting the DSE in 2019.

There are valid reasons why those wishing to sit the public ­examination must pay a fee.

Firstly, this cost discourages anyone who may wish to “play” the DSE, that is, intending to not take the exam seriously and to disturb other candidates, which they might be encouraged to do if they don’t need to pay anything.

Second, the fees help pay the wages for teachers who mark their papers. So it is important for the pupil who will sit the exam to pay, not the government.

I think the money would be better spent in sports development. Hong Kong athletes sometimes don’t have enough financial capacity to continue training, or sponsors to support them if they wish to participate in overseas competitions. Not all can afford to bear the costs themselves. They would benefit from scholarships or other financial help.

Mavis Yau, Tseung Kwan O

How useful are government sports centres?

Over the past few years, the government of Hong Kong has put a lot of effort into building sports ­infrastructure and facilities, as it aims to increase interest in sports and raise sporting standards.

However, have these measures been really effective?

For example, Tseung Kwan O alone has five sports centres and one sports ground. This is very convenient and one would think more residents would be attracted to exercise or play sport ­because of that.

However, are you willing to pay for the infrastructure each time? Take badminton: would you rather book a court or just play in the park at your block? I would absolutely choose the park, as it is free. I am not a professional that I must have a court to practice in.

Besides, although many sports centres provide running tracks, how many really use them? I believe many runners prefer to train outdoors, as that offers better views, gets them out of air-conditioned spaces and lets them choose more challenging routes.

Christy Lam, Po Lam