PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2012, 12:00am


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C.Y. must get rid of awful cage homes

Whatever other problems he is encountering, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying deserves commendation for his proposals to rid Hong Kong of cage homes and improve accommodation and care for Hong Kong's underclasses.

The cage home is one type of immoral structure that should definitely be demolished and consigned to the pages of history. One measure of a civilised society is the degree of compassion shown to the poorest.

Hong Kong has shown compassion for its poor by way of charity, laudably, generously, but ultimately insufficiently. There would be dignity in formalising a more comprehensive safety net for fellow citizens who fall on hard times.

The Basic Law says that Hong Kong shall not adopt socialism, but a compassionate society doesn't necessarily entail a welfare state or socialism per se. It's a question of balance. Between unbridled capitalism and communism there is a middle way.

Hong Kong would be no less successful or free for providing a comprehensive safety net, even at the cost of raising taxes marginally. It would be a more balanced society.

Although it has driven remarkable change over the last decades, bringing many benefits, the free market has also failed the free world in many ways, including in relation to the numbers of people left homeless and on the street, all around the world. Voices of reason and compassion are often drowned out by exponents of social Darwinism, survival of the slickest and most ruthless.

To those of China's communists who still believe Marx's predictions that unleavened capitalism is, over time, a self-defeating system, the current banking scandals and the travails of the West would confirm Marxism to be on track and rolling like a long putt towards the 18th hole.

However, as the West swings away from deregulation and the outsourcing of sovereignty, the median path of reason, respecting humanity, will confound both extremes. Replacing cage homes with better, more humane accommodation is not a mandate for building metro- polises on Lantau.

It would, however, be a step in the right direction and might just win C.Y. Leung some votes from the people of Hong Kong in 2017.

Allan Woodley, Sydney, Australia

Mystified by reason for bombs

I refer to the remarks attributed to one Kwok Hing-lau re the 1967 riots ('Hong Kong on the brink', July 12).

He is reported to have said that 'planting bombs was a correct and righteous strategy' against the then colonial administration.

I was involved through the troubles from June to October 1967 in my capacity as an inspector of police (in a Kowloon divisional company).

Throughout my experiences of some pretty turbulent confrontations out on the streets, the use of firearms (the ultimate force) by my police colleagues was nil.

There were some instances elsewhere over the six months (but these were few indeed). Quite a contrast from the day and a bit in Beijing, in June, 1989.

On the morning of August 20, 1967, an eight-year-old girl and her two-year-old brother were blown to pieces by a bomb in North Point.

I would like to hear Kwok's thoughts now on this strategy as used by himself and the 'combat group'.

Ian Marriott, Pok Fu Lam

Tough laws to protect the elderly

I think the government needs to introduce legislation which protects elderly people from being mistreated as cases of abuse are now frequent.

There has been an increase in abuse cases against the elderly and yet the cases that are reported are thought to be the tip of the iceberg.

This is why the government needs to act and it should do so without any delays.

It is sad when you consider that these elderly citizens contributed so much to Hong Kong during their working lives and helped develop it into a centre of international finance.

They played a major role in helping this society to develop over the last 40 years. Now, they are old and often vulnerable and they need other people to help them.

Any mistreatment of old folk is entirely unacceptable.

Hong Kong is a city with high living standards and we need to ensure that elderly citizens get the help they need.

It is the responsibility of a government to look after people who are weak.

When elderly people are being mistreated it is clearly a social problem and the administration must not tolerate it.

If people know that the law has been changed and that they could face tough punishment in the courts the threat of penalties could act as a deterrent. It is especially important that those individuals who are employed to look after old folk realise that they can be punished if they commit acts of cruelty.

The government should not hesitate with this legislation. It is obvious that tougher laws are required.

Jessica Tsang Kit-yi, Sha Tin

UN's Security Council is outdated

All major decisions of the United Nations are made by five permanent members of the Security Council, namely, the US, Britain, France, Russia and China, who have veto powers to block any resolution or decision.

It is, in effect, the inner cabinet of the UN.

The decision to choose these five countries is a legacy from the end of the second world war. But a great deal has changed since then.

Asia has more than 60 per cent of the world's population and yet only one Security Council permanent member. Europe which has a much smaller population has a representation which is not consistent with its size. Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean have no representation.

The world has changed and we live in 2012, not 1945. It is time for a reassessment of the permanent membership of the council. In the spirit of fairness it should be restructured.

A. W. Jayawardena, Tsukuba, Japan

Beijing has unsavoury friends

In his column ('US throws stones in its own glass house', July 11) Alex Lo takes upon himself an unenviable task of defending Beijing's friends.

I do agree with Lo that the United States has a history of some questionable friends among the family of nations, however it seems Beijing has a particular affinity with showing unquestionable support for tyrannical rulers.

In the immediate neighbourhood, it has supported and sustained the Kim dynasty in North Korea, supported leaders in Vietnam prior to the country's open-door policy as well as Myanmar's military junta. Some officials at the highest level admired Pol Pot's steps toward 'true communism' in Cambodia during its darkest days.

Further afield, Beijing supports the Sudanese leader, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. It opposes UN intervention in Syria, where president Bashar al-Assad has been killing civilians in his own country for the last 18 months.

Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a friend as are Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, the Castros in Cuba, these are not exactly tolerant and open-minded leaders.

Some of America's unsavoury partners in the oil-rich Arab world Lo mentions are also friends of Beijing.

Marian Schneps, Wan Chai

Some parents can be too protective

I think that some Hong Kong parents can be overprotective of their children. This can mean that these young people grow up unable to look after themselves.

It is important for parents to encourage their sons and daughters to become more independent.

They need to be asked to do their share of the housework and to think for themselves and develop their problem-solving abilities.

If they cannot learn to look after themselves, and their parents do everything for them, they will experience difficulties when they become adults.

They must be taught that they will inevitably experience reversals in their lives and they must learn to cope with misfortune and become stronger as a consequence.

Developing problem-solving skills is particularly important for youngsters as they will need these abilities when they start their working lives.

If parents try and solve all their problems for them they are damaging the future for their children and making it more difficult for them to pursue a successful career.

Lau Cheuk-man, Tseung Kwan O