PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 November, 2007, 12:00am

Appalled by former socialist PM's lucrative mainland junket

As a supposedly socialist politician, it appears that Britain's former prime minister Tony Blair has embraced capitalism very energetically, especially the bit about the appropriate cost of something for sale being as much as the market will bear.

He gave a speech to an exclusive audience at the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce on November 5. I understand the minimum price for a seat was HK$3,800. Apparently his once-socialist principles did not oblige him to make himself available to the man in the street.

Then he flew to Dongguan by private jet and stayed a mere three hours and it was especially lucrative. He earned US$500,000 plus the promise of luxury villa.

His audience in Dongguan was equally unrepresentative, consisting of other villa owners, investment bankers, local millionaires and the like.

The real estate company sponsored his trip, so it can be little surprise to hear that Mr Blair squeezed in a visit to their luxury villa project, while he was there.

Former British prime ministers receive a pension, which is paid in the hope that they can live in comfort without having to pass around the begging bowl.

As a British citizen, I find Mr Blair's flagrant commercialism both distasteful and degrading, in one who was until recently the chief minister of Britain.

In any case, you would think that his current responsibilities for the tricky peace process in the Middle East would surely preclude such far-flung junkets, to places (such as the Dungguan villas) with little if any connection with that, or indeed to Britain.

It would be more seemly if he were to focus his overseas efforts more appropriately, and less commercially.

For example, he could have helped to raise funds for charitable causes other than his own, and met a wider cross-section of the communities he visits, including the expatriate communities in those places.

Or perhaps the ex-PM's pension should be greatly increased, but payable strictly on condition that former prime ministers undertake only non-profit overseas trips in future?

Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels

HK needs strong archival legislation

After an outcry by historians and boat owners it has been agreed that 11,000 boats' logbooks collected from owners will be handed over to government archives and not destroyed as originally planned ('Logbooks destined for archives, not ruin', November 4).

This is splendid, as far as it goes. A valuable resource could have been lost. But the case should also be treated as a wake-up call. What a sophisticated place like Hong Kong badly needs is laws covering the managing of records and the selection of electronic mail for archiving. The opportunity of archiving valuable electronic records over the past 10 years has already been lost.

Before 1997, records missing in Hong Kong could often be obtained from Britain. But the fault of a lack of strong archival laws has not been brought about by the handover as China itself appreciates their importance and has strong archival laws. The fault must lie squarely on the shoulders of the Hong Kong government. One can only assume it does not want such laws as it feels they would tie its hands. It is suggested a more positive, forward looking approach is needed.

A reply from the appropriate government secretary would be appreciated.

Dan Waters, Mid-Levels

Equestrian event a waste of money

Is it any surprise the response to Hong Kong's participation in next year's Olympics has been muted when we are being saddled with a phenomenal bill to host what has been in all other Olympiads among the least watched, least exciting and least worthy of events?

In a bid to win more grovel points from leaders in Beijing that we must call our leaders, our government has hurtled headlong into this project without, it seems, considering the feelings of local people.

As a result it is being forced into fabricating a sense of interest in a sport that I would wager 99 per cent of Hongkongers are ignorant of.

While we are a city of horse lovers, it's not the pampered and preened types that trot over decorated little fences that get us excited - it's the racing type that can win us a pot-load of cash that we like. Equestrian eventing is the preserve of the Old World rich that has never embraced the participation of the ordinary sportsman.

Now we are being asked to pay more of our tax dollars to shore up support we don't want to give ('Games bill for taxpayers', November 8).

If China so badly needs a place to hold its horse trials, let it pay for them with some of the trillions of dollars it seems so desperate to bleed from its capital markets.

Charlie Carter, Lamma

Tin Shui Wai residents need to find jobs

Tin Shui Wai has been dubbed 'the city of sadness', because of the family tragedies that have taken place there.

Residents there are under a great deal of pressure. Many of them are low-skilled workers who have only a slim chance of getting a job. Those with low education standards who already have a job are always worried they will lose it and so they feel under immense pressure.

This causes arguments within the family.

Also, inflation in Hong Kong has increased their financial burden.

The government must increase the financial support available to low-income families and it must try and create more job opportunities for people living in Tin Shui Wai.

Yam Leung, Sheung Shui

Time to present some positive images of area

The term 'city of sadness' for Tin Shui Wai, might give the people of Hong Kong the wrong impression about this area.

This negative impression has not been helped by the mass media, which only report the bad news.

I think the government should be trying to counter this by promoting a positive image.

For example, look at the environment. The air quality here is far better than you would find in urban areas.

However, the government must also do more practical things. It has to provide the facilities that are lacking in Tin Shui Wai and that are so badly needed.

In particular, to help the people of Tin Shui Wai deal with their problems, it must build a new hospital.

I have a vested interest in the government helping Tin Shui Wai, as I live there.

Tam Kwan-long, Tin Shui Wai

A challenge for society

As people live longer, countries all over the world are going to experience the problem of an ageing population.

This will have a profound impact on our society in the future.

For instance, it will pose considerable challenges for the health-care system, as the number of people suffering from a disability and chronic diseases, will markedly increase. We should start preparing for this problem, so that we can deal with it effectively.

More resources must be transferred to the elderly, with the training and recruiting of more nurses, and social and community workers.

As families we have a responsibility to help look after our elderly relatives, rather than just leaving them in a home for the elderly. If we promote the family values, hopefully other people will be influenced by this and follow suit.

Ng Yuk-wah, Lai Chi Kok