Elsie Tu

Overwhelmed by mountains of marketing junk

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 May, 2006, 12:00am

Has it ever occurred to the advertising gurus that there is something called green marketing? When they conceive of their ingenious marketing campaigns, could they please take into consideration the wastage factor.

One does not need to go as far as saving forests, but the amount of rubbish produced by complicated marketing promotions is unnecessary.

During a recent stop at a Shell petrol station, I was briefed by the staff on a special promotion for V-Power fuel. They gave me a full-colour pamphlet explaining how the promotion worked and, later, on handing me my receipt, seven stamps and a full-colour, passport-sized card on which to stick them.

Once I had collected enough stamps, I was informed, I could use the card to redeem my choice of gifts or as a cash coupon.

From one angle I can see the value of such promotions. They certainly create jobs for those who come up with these campaigns, they probably keep small design houses and printers in business producing all that material, and they must keep logistics companies going distributing the boxes of pamphlets, cards and stamps.

In all honesty, the fuel market is already well advanced in its efforts to secure customer loyalty. Most suppliers have customers locked into one or more loyalty programmes that stop them shopping around.

I am not challenging the marketing gurus' objectives in running such campaigns, I am simply pointing out that the way they do it is causing more unnecessary junk in our environment.

We must know where to stop if we are to protect the Earth.


Protocol for patriots

My wife received a letter this month from the Registrar (Jurors) notifying her of jury service, and specifically drawing her attention to Sections 4 and 5 of the Jury Ordinance.

Section 5 contains a long list of 'exemptions from service', most of which are understandable.

But I do question Section 5(j), which exempts 'officers employed on full pay in the naval, military or air services of Her Majesty' and

5(p), exempting 'spouses of members of the Armed Forces of Her Majesty serving on full pay'.

As a true Hong Kong patriot my question is: Must I now call the wife of our leader Hu Jintao 'Her Majesty'? We should be told!


Propping up power

It seems that outdated building and property regulations will remain in force as long as they suit the requirements of developers and big business, as in the case of the Grand Promenade controversy ('Outdated building regulations under fire', May 10). No one cares to amend regulations that get in the way of ordinary people buying homes.

The government has frozen the sale of subsidised Home Ownership Scheme flats over the past few years and will continue to hold them until it gets the green light from developers to sell them to the public - or back to developers at a discount, as was the case with Hunghom Peninsula. Even the Housing Authority's plan to sell 6,000 HOS flats a year over the next three years is far from considerate.

Meanwhile, deals like the controversial concessions granted at Grand Promenade are signed by top officials with wide discretionary powers who get away with their mistakes and get to keep their generous retirement packages. The loser is the public purse.

Legislators who look after the real interests of the public are in the minority - and considered a pain in the neck by the government. The majority are pro-tycoons, pro-administration ... in fact, pro anyone who can look after their interests and recommend them for top posts.

If the government was serious about controlling the misuse of power, it would set up a panel to scrutinise all deals like that at Grand Promenade as soon as they are signed, rather than throwing sand to extinguish public dismay once a fire is already blazing.

A.L. NANIK, Tsim Sha Tsui

Bailiff law reform

On a recent trip to Hong Kong, I took time out to visit some fellow bailiffs from your judiciary. Let me explain that I am a senior bailiff working in the British public sector and have been actively involved in our own bailiff law reform for a number of years.

Bailiff law in many countries, especially in the former communist bloc, has been undergoing extensive reform recently. It is seen as a way of encouraging foreign investment, restoring faith in justice and purging previously inefficient regimes.

I am aware of some of the problems encountered by China in tackling its judgment-execution law since signing up to the World Trade Organisation, and the constant criticism by the US of China's enforcement of intellectual property rights. Recent announcements from Beijing on improving enforcement seem to be moves in the right direction.

There is a perception in Britain that Hong Kong has a superior bailiff model that we could study for ideas. I was surprised to find this was wrong.

Perhaps the comparatively high compliance with judgments leads Hong Kong to overlook the role of the bailiff. It does so at its peril.

It doesn't take a genius to work out that, simply by ignoring bailiffs (and therefore defeating justice), non-compliance spreads.

In your favour you have a dedicated workforce already in place, rather than the fragmented situation we have in Britain. Further, your bailiffs are highly respected, unlike ours. So what do I see wrong?

First, one bailiff per 200,000 people is far too few.

Second, Hong Kong has no bailiff enforcement law. Reliance on common law is, at best, vague and inefficient when investigating assets and seizing goods.

Third, there is no proper fee structure to ensure the office of the bailiff is at least self-funding.

Fourth, for such a technologically advanced city, it is ironic that your bailiffs are not equipped with IT support, mobile work devices and access to debtor databases.

Finally, you have no centralised agency incorporating all aspects of enforcement, from taking deductions from wages to selling seized goods.

In a way, I envy your situation. You have the workforce, and all you need to do is review your working practices, backed with legislation. What an opportunity. You can scour the world for new ideas to make the Hong Kong bailiff industry the best in the world.

BARRIE MINNEY, senior bailiff, Brighton & Hove City Council

No consolation

I share letter writer Craig Gibson's grief at the suffering of innocent Japanese victims in the atomic bombings at the end of the second world war ('War's fallout for Japan' May 11). However, he should not mix up the issues. China had no part in those bombings. The fact that Japan suffered at the hands of the United States gives no consolation to the tens of millions who suffered and died in China and other Asian countries during the same period of history.

To claim that the Japanese emperor was not restored to power is playing with words. The 'democracy' installed in Japan by General Douglas MacArthur in the name of the United Nations changed little, and this remains so today. Most of the war criminals escaped punishment, and the few who were punished are still worshipped by the same hierarchy that ruled in the war years.

I have no argument with the respect paid to the present emperor. However, on a visit to Beijing several years ago, he merely expressed 'regret at the unfortunate incident', making no apology for the invasion and atrocities committed in China.

Those Chinese known to me who have been calling for a Japanese apology for about 20 years, since Japan began building up her military forces encouraged by the US, are truly concerned about the turn of events. They seek peace in Southeast Asia, but how can they have confidence in Japan when its leaders are trying to cover the truth of the war and mislead innocent Japanese students?

If Mr Gibson hates war, as I do, he would assist in seeking genuine peace and friendship. Trust can only be restored after confessing the true facts.

ELSIE TU, Kwun Tong

Don't take us for fools

Singapore's consulate officials in Hong Kong are clearly detached from reality ('Singaporean democracy', May 11 and 'Gentlemen's democracy', May 16). Everyone I talk to inside and outside Singapore depicts it as a place where freedom of speech is virtually non-existent. The ridiculous defamation suits filed by the Lee family against anyone who dares to say or write anything even mildly critical back up this view.

The Singapore government has a peculiar and narrow concept of freedom of speech, and the consul-general is only deceiving himself when he says, 'there is full freedom to voice dissenting opinions'.

No, there is not, sir! Please don't take us for fools.

I include my name and address in case the Lees want to sue me, too.