Letters

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 October, 2008, 12:00am
 

Removal of boat in typhoon shelter delayed by storms

I wish to thank John Barnes for his views on vessels moored in the Hei Ling Chau typhoon shelter ('Department slammed', October 12), specifically regarding a vessel, the Gulf No16, which was found listing after the passage of Typhoon Kammuri in mid-August. I would like to respond to the questions posed.

Vessels moored in typhoon shelters are required to meet licensing and permit conditions set by the Marine Department and are monitored by daily harbour patrols. While the overwhelming majority of vessels are in daily operation in Hong Kong waters from their typhoon shelter base, a small number of vessel owners, primarily due to adverse economic or trade conditions, apply to have their vessels laid up. In these cases, the vessels are directed to the Hei Ling Chau typhoon shelter. Gulf No16 was issued with a laid-up permit in February.

Following the passage of Typhoon Kammuri in mid-August, a Marine Department patrol team found the vessel with a slight list. The vessel owner was instructed to rectify the situation.

The subsequent passage of Typhoon Nuri in late August resulted in deterioration of the situation of the vessel and an oil sheen was observed at the location. The department took necessary action to contain and remove the oil sheen and the owner was ordered to refloat and relocate the vessel to a shipyard for repair through the issue of a removal notice.

The passage of Typhoon Hagupit in late September further delayed the salvage operation. and the vessel was refloated on October 9. The owner is now arranging to remove his vessel from the typhoon shelter for repair.

In answering the question of who pays the clean-up costs, action has been initiated to recover the cost of the cleansing operation from the owner of Gulf No16 and a prosecution against the owner is under way.

Typhoon shelters are essential for the safety of local vessels during the passage of tropical cyclones of which a number are experienced every year. The number, size and location of such shelters are determined by an assessment of the overall area required to protect our local fleet, which is reviewed from time to time.

Should Mr Barnes or your readers require further information, please call me at 2852 4423.

Patrick Wong, principal information officer, Marine Department

Jewish community's roots researched

I read Didi Kirsten Tatlow's article ('Losing my religion', October 12) with interest as I had done research in the subject and was a speaker at the Museum of Jewish Diaspora, Tel Aviv, when they staged the 'Jews by the Yellow River' exhibition in 1984.

I offer some clarifications. The origin of the name 'Pluck the Sinews Lane' comes from Genesis 32 verses 22 to 30. The small tribe of Jews did not come from the 'Holy Land'. According to historical records, they came from Persia, probably from Basra.

If the Kaifeng Jewish community is a 'hoax' as alleged by Zhou Xun and Matteo Ricci was misled into believing Ai Tian, then all the other Catholic priests who subsequently visited were also so naively misled.

If Zhou Xun had talked to some older members of the Hong Kong Jewish community, she would have learned that a torah from Kaifeng was once discovered by a Catholic priest in Cat Street and was bought by a member of the local community. Other evidence can be found in artefacts in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, taken out by Bishop William White who lived and worked in Kaifeng for 25 years. Records of genealogy of one of the original Jewish clans in Kaifeng can be found in the Hebrew Union College, in Cincinnati.

The 'script of the stele may be faded and unreadable', but a rubbing of the text is found in Bishop White's book and other papers on the subject.

To conclude, White, Dr Donald Leslie of Australia and the late professor Chen Yuan, who spent their life researching this subject certainly would not agree with Zhou Xun.

Chan Sui-jeung, honorary research fellow, centre of Asian studies, University of Hong Kong

Minibond investors motivated by greed

Over the past 20 years I have lost about HK$20,000 having bought Mark Six tickets, which have never won. I have been enticed to continue buying tickets by the Hong Kong Jockey Club promotions in the press and outside their off-course betting centres.

I have obviously been misled by the Jockey Club and, as such, would like to have my bad investment returned in full.

If the club will not give me my money back, then I opine that all banks in Hong Kong should not refund greedy investors who wanted a quick and large return when they bought minibonds through Lehman Brothers.

Andy Boulton, Aberdeen

Problem lies with little transparency

When you buy regular products such as listed equities or bonds you get transparency on price and, presumably a prospectus/information memorandum.

When you buy a structured product you get little transparency. For instance, even on something simple such as a dual currency option deposit it is virtually impossible to know what the correct price is. In addition you get little in the way of proper risk disclosure.

Perhaps the selling bank or broker should be required to give the investor better disclosure.

I suggest two disclosure statements which should be written in plain English in readable typeface, namely a fair value statement and a risk assessment statement.

I suspect that the in-house legal counsels of the banks concerned would see some problems in writing such statements relating to structured products. Banks might therefore be reluctant to sell such products. Perhaps that would be a good thing.

Denys Firth, The Peak

The unacceptable face of capitalism

The other day, I was shocked to overhear some corporate bankers, in an expensive restaurant, boasting about how much money they had each made on transaction commissions, over just the past few days.

It seems sad and troubling that, while many elderly local investors have lost their life savings, those at the receiving end of large commissions and bonuses, continue to prosper, as a result of all the transactions now going through.

That represents the unacceptable face of capitalism.

Making their huge windfall 'earnings' all the more distasteful, in these days of financial disaster for many, was the sight of a frail old lady outside, struggling to push uphill her cartload of discarded boxes, to earn just a few dollars.

Rob Leung, Wan Chai

Tainted trip

Having just spent three days in your wonderful city I felt I must write to advise that the trip was spoiled by the persistent hawking of goods by Indian and Pakistani men. On each trip along Canton and Nathan roads and all streets in between we were constantly bothered by these men.

It really is a shame that our opinion of your city was tainted by such behaviour.

I felt discriminated against as they only targeted westerners. Also how rude of them to suggest westerners only come to Hong Kong for cheap copied goods and inexpensive tailoring.

Surely the authorities should do something about this, I suspect unlawful, method of trying to sell goods.

Anne Thomasson, Bitteswell, Leicestershire, England

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