PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 March, 2008, 12:00am

Quarantine rules protect public health

I refer to Eliane Stocco's letter ('Quarantine law is cruel to pets', March 8).

Preventing the introduction of animal diseases such as rabies and avian influenza is an integral part of our effort to protect public health.

As in many other places, the import requirements in Hong Kong are based on risk assessments.

The requirements are reviewed from time to time to take into account new developments and information from exporting places.

The majority of animals certified to have the appropriate health status and having undergone the necessary tests do not have to undergo quarantine in Hong Kong.

Birds from places which have no recent history of avian influenza outbreaks may be imported following proper certification, testing and quarantine in the exporting place. Subject to a final negative test for avian influenza upon arrival, the birds may be released.

In cases where quarantine is necessary, the animals' welfare will continue to be looked after. All animals kept in the department's quarantine centres are cared for properly under the supervision of our veterinary officers.

In addition, all such animals must be under the care of a private veterinary surgeon appointed by the owners.

The department's quarantine centres are open daily and pet owners may visit them with prior appointments.

Dr Christopher Brackman, veterinary officer (import and export), Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department

India a safe and friendly country

I refer to the article by Mian Ridge ('Trouble in paradise' March 10).

I take strong exception to your correspondent's comment: 'Every young female visitor to the country has been on the receiving end of the behaviour known locally as 'eve-teasing' '. I have lots of friends and clients - Hong Kong Chinese, European and American, men and women - who have visited India regularly.

They have nothing but praise for India and its hospitality.

Any case of rape is disturbing and needs to be firmly dealt with. Ridge says there were 19,348 rapes in India in 2006 but 'these are only the cases that are reported'.

Even if we accept this argument and inflate the figure by double to 40,000 rapes in a year, what would it show?

In the US, which has 150 million women, there are 400,000 rapes per year (according to National Crime Victimisation Survey).

In Britain, with 30 million women, there were 85,000 rapes in 2006 (according to a BBC programme, broadcast last year).

There are more than 500 million women in India.

Therefore, the cases of rapes in India pale in comparison to some of the most developed countries in the world.

India is definitely a safe, friendly and hospitable country for all foreigners.

Haresh Khushi, Tsim Sha Tsui

Visitors must respect culture

I was surprised to read Mian Ridge's claim ('Trouble in paradise', March 10), that every young female visitor to India has been sexually harassed.

I have been to India plenty of times I have yet to come across any other country or culture where women are so respected and honoured. I have never felt unsafe anywhere in India, even in the northern parts, which I regularly visit.

Every person must accept the traditions of the country they wish to visit - thus, dressing skimpily might attract some undue attention (not harassment) in a country which still is, by and large, conservative and traditional.

Many of my women friends have visited India without any kind of unpleasant experience, and all of us have loved India, the warmth of its people and its simple hospitality.

Velina Y. C. Ng, Kwai Chung

Is visa rule down to race?

I agree with Tom Smith ('No reciprocity for expats', March 11) that expatriates who are permanent residents should, like local Chinese, be able to get home return permits to the mainland. Can anyone explain why this should not be so?

I wrote that I, as a resident for 17 years, and my brother, a tourist, were charged the same fee of HK$1,200 ('Visa racism', January 16). When Chinese people get a green card in the US they are not charged for travel to different states as they are in one country. Is Hong Kong not part of China?

I hope the central government will treat all people who are permanent Hong Kong residents the same, regardless of race.

Terry Scott, Sha Tin

Clinton would be bad choice

Beatriz Taylor believes that America is not mature enough to elect a woman as president ('US not ready for female leader', March 11).

Well, if Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is the only female candidate, then yes, you can say whatever you like, but I do not want to see that woman elected as president. However, your correspondent is mistaken. It is not because Senator Clinton is a woman. It is because of who she is. She is a calculating, power-hungry, and all-round unpleasant person. During her husband's tenure, I saw absolutely nothing that justified her being allowed another stay in the White House. I am sure there are any number of women who would make fantastic presidents, but unfortunately for America, none of them are currently running for the top job.

For example, many years ago I had a black, female civics teacher named Mrs Johnson, who was probably the finest example of integrity, honesty and just plain old-fashioned basic human decency, that I have ever known. If she were alive today, or if any of the many decent women that I have met in my life were to run for office, I would support them without reservation.

Obviously I am not the only one who thinks that Senator Clinton does not possess those qualities and that is why she is not universally supported. Americans (or at least some) are showing their maturity by not choosing a candidate because of gender.

James Warren, Tsz Wan Shan

Nanny scheme a positive step

I am sure all working parents will applaud the scheme in which 'needy parents who hire neighbours to take care of their children will be subsidised' ('Pilot scheme to fund neighbouring nannies', March 6).

It is a win-win situation since the housewife who is hired as a 'neighbourhood nanny' will obtain extra income, which can help her own family.

It will provide a good environment for the children who are looked after by these nannies. Also, if these women have children of their own, this will also help, especially if they can help the children being looked after by the nanny, with their studies.

Parents have said that they want this scheme to be implemented as soon as possible.

However, I think Labour and Welfare Bureau officials must discuss their plans in detail and look at any related problems that may arise. For examples these nannies may come from households on different incomes and it might be that different rates of subsidy have to be estimated. Also, officials must ensure the subsidies are being properly allocated. The scheme is an ideal way to deal with the problem of children being left at home alone by parents.

Fiona Shoon, Lam Tin