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PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2008, 12:00am
 

Is discrimination a serious problem in Hong Kong?

I remember being on the minibus to Sai Kung one day with my wife and there was a local man on his own.

A domestic helper carrying a lot of shopping boarded, but the local passenger would not move to let her occupy the spare seat until the driver intervened.

The local man started swearing at the domestic helper.

The poor woman had no idea what was going on.

I read a news report recently about domestic helpers wanting an increase in their salaries.

A representative of an association of employers of domestic helpers said the helpers should not get a pay increase because they were [low-skilled] workers.

First of all, many local people are underpaid, but that does not mean they are low-skilled.

Second, I am not sure if that representative is aware that many domestic helpers might even be better skilled than their employers. Some are graduates and are qualified in professions such as nursing and architecture. I appreciate they came to Hong Kong because they can earn more than they can working with their chosen profession in their own country, but being called 'low- skilled' is not a very respectful way of describing local people and domestic helpers.

One day an expatriate friend of mine came to meet me for coffee and he took the MTR.

He saw an empty seat on the train and so decided to go for it, but as soon he sat there, people from both sides moved away, and we were both certain it had nothing to do with his build or Giorgio Armani scent.

I was once talking to a former domestic helper who said she did not like going to the market or visiting Central on a Sunday because she did not want to be identified or mistaken as a domestic helper.

On another occasion, I learned of a Nepali woman who refused to work under a Nepali or Filipino manager.

It is a sad state of affairs that some people here find it difficult to accept minorities, and even people from racial minorities can discriminate.

I think things have improved in Hong Kong, but discrimination is still a major problem.

D. Domingo, Tuen Mun

On other matters ...

Clearly the bus companies are facing higher operating costs in some areas, such as wages, fuel and ever-increasing levels of congestion, but the reduction in passenger numbers and the government's unwillingness to impose strict timetables for cleaner engine technology mean bus companies are not seeing an increase in capital costs.

As it is highly unlikely the government will mandate a rapid introduction of cleaner engine technology, these costs do not look as though they will increase in the near future.

Given this, the government could look at another way of reducing operating costs for the bus companies.

Buses should be given greater priority on the public roads (for example, a few more bus lanes).

This would allow passengers to spend less time travelling and bus companies to get a better return on their investments, while at the same time reducing the need for a price increase.

Edward Rossiter, Kowloon Tong

I am disappointed with the Hospital Authority and the problems over missing data. Surely the authority has a legal requirement to protect the personal data of its patients.

It would appear that until the missing data came to light, it was the practice of some members of staff to finish their work at home. However, I am astonished that no security measures existed that would ensure the safety of personal data.

Such security measures are readily available, such as encryption and password protection. They are not difficult to install.

The main reason for what happened was lack of awareness.

It is not just the Hospital Authority that is at fault in this regard.

Hong Kong citizens, compared with, for example, Koreans and Japanese, also lack awareness when it comes to protecting their own personal data.

It is lucky that Hong Kong has one of the lowest cyber-crime rates in the world when compared with other developed countries. However, this should not make us complacent.

We must all ensure we are adequately protected in order to deter the cyber-criminals from targeting this city.

The government can play an important role here by helping to educate the public.

Erictony Yiu, Yuen Long

I wasted half of my day off on Friday trying to get a new password for my Hang Seng mandatory provident fund internet log-in. My original password did not work and after three attempts I was asked to reset it. I did this and was asked to take a code number to a Hang Seng branch. I did this and they did not know what to do. They kept me waiting for 30 minutes before finally coming out with a form to fill in. Then they told me it would take a week to get a new password.

Why couldn't I download the form and post it instead of wasting time going to a bank? This option was not offered.

I went home and again called the hotline, only to be told to ring another number, which led me around in circles because I didn't have a phone PIN.

After explaining this to a 'senior' person, I was again told to fill in a form and wait a week. That was the last straw.

I am now taking my MPF account to Bestserve.

Peter Cawthorne, Yuen Long

I am concerned about the ways that some pet owners treat their animals and the problems caused by this treatment.

So often you see pets being pampered with designer-label dog bags and leashes. But are they just status symbols? It all comes down to vanity.

Some people also insist on having pedigree breeds. However, some pure-bred cats, because of the method of breeding, are born with serious genetic disorders. We should discourage such people from owning pets.

Catherine Yip Wai-man, Tsing Yi

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