Fact-finding trips are worth the money
Your 'Political Animal' report regarding James Tien's overseas travel to study exhibition centres seemed to miss the point of its own headline ('Expensive voyage of discovery to save money', August 30). Where large projects are concerned, the cost of a trip that might save hundreds of millions is money well spent.
When planning a major facility - particularly something like an exhibition centre - it is important to evaluate the performance of comparable projects. Often, the most useful lessons come in the form of what not to do - where the developer (or government) concludes that the project it had in mind should not be developed, because the concept is flawed.
Inspecting comparable projects is an inexpensive way to gain immensely valuable lessons from others' successes and failures.
Visits are advisable, because troubled projects too often secure favourable media coverage on the basis of some irrelevant superlative. For example, South China Mall in nearby Dongguan has been extensively and positively reported as the world's largest shopping centre - when a simple visit would reveal that it is a disaster in every regard. Developers in Dubai and India who have announced plans for even larger centres would be well advised to travel to Dongguan before putting their architects to work.
If anything, Hong Kong should probably sponsor more fact-finding missions. Inspecting comparable projects should be an integral step in the consideration of any important scheme. Consider Central harbourfront. Done right, it can help Hong Kong compete against the likes of Singapore and Shanghai. There are perhaps 20 to 30 comparable waterfronts around the world. Some are great; some, not.
We should be eager to study them - and thankful if those assigned the responsibility (tycoons included) are ready to spend days sitting on planes to do so.
Dick Groves, Wan Chai
We must help our gay friends
Those who wrote in opposition to my August 16 letter about Hong Kong people leaving homosexuality apparently missed the point ('Help available for unhappy gays'). People have freedom of choice.
The article 'A deadly silence' (August 29) reveals that HIV in the gay community has now risen to 4 per cent of these individuals. With the dramatic increase in homosexual males contracting HIV, the need to find answers grows. The HIV epidemic is tragic, but even more so in view of the past of many in homosexuality.
Author George Rekers writes: 'Sexual abuse is a key factor in homosexuality. Studies indicate that as many as 58 per cent of homosexuals have experienced sexual abuse as children; many of the rest were physically or emotionally abused.' Certainly most people are unaware of the abuse which has led countless individuals into homosexuality. Sadly many in homosexuality today faced unfair challenges and experiences in childhood.
Combine this with serious health concerns for homosexual males and no wonder that as many as 70 per cent of 314 homosexual persons surveyed said that they were bothered by their sexual orientation 'Social services centre for homosexuals opens' (July 30). Some of this difficulty comes from long past experiences in addition to present health concerns for sexually transmitted diseases, in no way dismissing concerns over reservations expressed by society.
When you take a disadvantaged or problematic childhood (for those who had this), add in high-risk sexual activities and partners of unknown sexual history, you indeed have a dangerous combination.
Mentioning all of these challenges may prompt some with anxieties to act without regard for their health. This is regrettable. I would like to think that society can rise to the task of helping with the distinct problems faced by our homosexual friends and neighbours, regardless of the type of assistance wanted.
Surely we need to be available with help as soon as trauma occurs and not wait till a person is HIV positive or faces other complications.
Gordon Truscott, Yuen Long
Foreign unions interfering
The visit of two foreign labour unions in support of the steel workers was not impromptu.
They interfered with the sovereignty not only of the Hong Kong SAR, but also of our motherland, China.
These workers have been demanding obscene wage rises in this dispute. They are already overpaid.
Chief Executive, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, is not entirely blameless, as he allowed officials in his government to get substantial salary increases.
K. Poon, Quarry Bay
Lights off sets a good example
I refer to the letter, 'Going dark a daft idea' (August 28).
What is needed with energy conservation is for the government to implement measures and for Hong Kong people to take voluntary actions.
Admittedly, using long-life lamps or switching off air-conditioners can reduce energy consumption. But the problem is, how many people are doing these things? Switching off lights for a minute can show to people the importance of conservation and can encourage more people to conserve energy.
Sending a message to people is as important as passing laws.
Vincent Mak Ming-shan, Lai Chi Kok
More centres will help
I support the views expressed in the article, 'Call for alternative childcare support' (August 28).
The case of two children suffering serious burns after they were left unattended in a flat, reminds us of the importance of childcare.
Many parents work, so they can provide their children with a good education.
Howevver, that is no excuse for leaving children alone.
Even if you can earn a lot, money will not bring back a child who has died.
There must be childcare centres with flexible hours during the week and at weekends, where parents can leave their children so they can work.
It is costly and hard to run a childcare centre 24 hours a day with a limited budget.
The government should provide these centres with more subsidies.
If these centres were made affordable, more parents would use them and fewer would leave their children alone.
Wong Kwai-ching, Lam Tin
There are so many charities nowadays in Hong Kong, that you can get a bit overwhelmed by them.
What concerns me is that some of these organisations may not be proper charities and some people might be reluctant to give to a charity if they have never heard of it.
However, they do not want to appear mean and so give to the charity anyway.
If the government passes a law regulating charities, then this will help boost confidence among citizens.
I think it is a good thing that the number of charities has increased.
It shows that Hong Kong people are concerned about helping people who are underprivileged.
However, we do need tighter regulations, so that we can ensure that the money we give is getting to the people who need it.
Martina Ngai, Tseung Kwan O