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  • Sep 18, 2014
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Letters

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 June, 2012, 12:00am

Ridiculous anomaly for the disabled

While I applaud the fact that the MTR, buses and ferries are accessible to people in wheelchairs, it remains a profound disappointment that the streets are not, especially in Mid-Levels.

Because of this problem, we imported a second-hand accessible vehicle for our son, Ben, who is a quadriplegic. He was seriously injured in August 2010 while representing Hong Kong in an under-20 Asian rugby tournament overseas, and the lack of support from the government, specifically the Transport Department, adds insult to injury. They want Ben to pay 55 per cent of the value of the car (in first registration tax).

If the streets were accessible he wouldn't need this car. Furthermore, if Ben could drive, he would be exempt from this tax. They have invited Ben to apply for a disabled drivers' licence but we have explained that Ben is not physically able to drive.

So the bottom line is that in Hong Kong if you are a disabled driver, you are tax exempt in importing an accessible car, but if you are disabled and require someone to drive for you, you must pay more than half the value of the car in tax.

Such a ridiculous anomaly only serves to further disadvantage those in wheelchairs, who are already disadvantaged.

We have pointed out this anomaly but it is clearly a head-banging process.

Jennifer Kende, Mid-Levels

Poor miss out on soccer tournament

In 2008, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department first organised a 'Sport for all Day'.

Its aim was to promote sport in the community and encourage people to take part in regular physical activities. It was a good start, but the government has failed to follow up on it.

Take, for example, the Euro 2012 soccer championships, which are under way.

Hongkongers are big soccer fans, but many cannot enjoy this tournament because the exclusive broadcasting rights are held by Now TV, a fee-charging television service provider.

If you paid the fee, you could watch all 31 matches. The rest of us get only four games on a free-to-air channel.

I can understand that Now TV has paid a lot for the rights and wants to collect its fees, but I see this as a form of discrimination against the poor in our society. A lot of Hongkongers want to enjoy this event, but cannot.

Surely the government, on behalf of citizens who like sport, could have purchased the rights for this tournament.

Nor should it have cost that much. The prices go up because different pay-per-view companies put in competing bids. But if the government had intervened and said it would be showing it, the price would have dropped and so it would have cost the taxpayer less.

Hong Kong people work long hours throughout the year. Surely we deserve some sort of reward for that.

Maybe it is time for the government to look at what it really means when it promotes its 'sport for all' campaign.

Kathy Lau Wing-tung, Diamond Hill

Students abroad bullied

It has been a trend over the past few decades for a lot of Hong Kong parents to send their children overseas to pursue their academic studies. The hope is that the experience will broaden their horizons and boost their English skills.

But for some of these children their time abroad is far from rewarding as they become victims of discrimination and bullying.

When they suffer from this kind of mental pressure, it is difficult for them to concentrate on improving their English.

In fact, they may be put off from communicating with other students and so do not practise the language.

I was recently in touch with a friend who is studying abroad.

He said that racial discrimination was routine and few of the local students were willing to engage him in conversation. He ended up making friends with fellow Chinese students. He sometimes felt so isolated.

I hope that parents will think carefully before deciding to send their children abroad to study. They should not just see the improvement of English skills as the priority.

Chris Wong, Tseung Kwan O

Allocation system stressful

As an educator and parent in Hong Kong, I am very concerned about the complexity and effectiveness of the Primary One allocation system in Hong Kong.

It is deeply flawed and causes massive stress and dissatisfaction for many, if not most applicants, especially for those from 'mixed' families or minorities.

Is anything being done to overhaul this ridiculously cumbersome system? I wonder if anybody is studying its effects.

Is it being reformed on a regular basis to meet the needs of society?

A meaningful response from the Education Bureau would be appreciated.

Patrick Gilbert, Lam Tin

Core textbook to help our quality of life

Tony Yeung wants the government to 'provide proper resources' and 'science-based education' to teach Hong Kong people 'to understand how a low-carbon economy can improve our quality of life' ('Environment is everyone's responsibility', June 18).

With the support of the government's Sustainable Development Fund, the Institute of Education has produced a new textbook to help achieve this and related objectives.

Environmental Policy and Sustainable Development in China: Hong Kong in Global Context is designed to be a core textbook in undergraduate courses at local universities.

It can also serve as a useful resource in local secondary schools, especially for liberal studies' students and teachers.

All royalties from the book go directly to local environmental charities.

Paul G. Harris, chair professor of global and environmental studies, Hong Kong Institute of Education

Don't raise age for retirement

I understand the unease that is felt over Hong Kong's economic prospects, given that the city faces a shrinking labour force, but raising the retirement age should be seen as a last resort.

If this policy was introduced it could lead to fewer employment opportunities for fresh graduates and so the unemployment rate would rise for these young people.

Also, many older employees who are from the working class will not be happy with their retirement age being raised. They have been looking forward to enjoying more leisure time with their families and more travel, but now they may have to work longer.

The Hong Kong government should look at what has happened abroad.

In those European countries where the retirement age has been raised, there have been large protests. This would suggest that the plan is unpopular and is unlikely to work.

Some observers have suggested trying to attract more talented personnel from overseas to help deal with the labour shortage. However, I think a more effective solution would be to reform our education system, so that it is more effective.

Germany has a very low youth unemployment rate and this is because of its dual education system. As well as their education in college, students have a lot of on-the-job training and apprenticeships. This enables them to be more competitive in the jobs market.

The government spends a lot of taxpayers' money sending officials on visits abroad. Yet they return with the same narrow views that will fail to tackle the impending crisis that Hong Kong faces.

James Au Kin-pong, Lai Chi Kok

Dollar peg has to be maintained

We are surprised by the comments of Joseph Yam Chi-kwong ('HK 'can ditch dollar peg' - Yam', June 13) and we do not share his views.

Removing the peg or altering it at this time would cause serious damage to our economy.

We support the stance of the financial secretary and chief executive-elect on this matter.

In the light of the imminent change of government, we have to question Mr Yam's motives for going public on this issue.

If he was concerned primarily with the welfare of Hong Kong, then why did he not simply write a private letter to the financial secretary, the chief executive or the chief executive-elect?

Siu See-kong, Yung Chiu-wing, W. K. Cheng, committee members, Party for Civic Rights and Livelihood of the People of Hong Kong

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