PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 December, 2008, 12:00am

We must avoid conflict during difficult period

Hong Kong has serious financial problems.

Therefore, I was disappointed to read the report 'Airport staff strike disrupts travel' (December 28).

I want problems to be resolved in a calm and reasonable manner. So it frustrates me when I see something like this happening again.

It is a form of economic blackmail and they [ground staff at the airport] were using strike action as a bargaining tool.

In situations like this, staff and unions should sit down and talk with the employer about the bones of contention - in this case the year-end bonus.

What we need right now in Hong Kong is unity not quarrelling, strikes and street demonstrations.

We have seen the damaging effects of strikes in countries in the west and we do not need that here.

If these kinds of disputes continue to break out in the city, then I think it will undermine the competitiveness of Hong Kong, and other countries and cities in the region, including cities on the mainland, will benefit at our expense and overtake us.

The government, but especially the office of the financial secretary, must look in depth at the problem, try and see what can be done to help our economy recover, and reduce tension between employers and employees.

Our large companies must also recognise their social responsibilities and appreciate the importance of their workers.

I hope that the 'Pearl of the Orient' will continue to shine and benefit the people of Hong Kong and the rest of China.

Alpha Keung, Sai Wan Ho

Israel's response is deplorable

I refer to Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip in retaliation for rockets launched by the militant faction of Hamas. Israel's [air campaign] has killed hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians.

The tit-for-tat reaction by the government of a country to the actions of a militant organisation is deplorable.

Innocent civilians in Gaza are caught between the militants and the Israeli military, whose actions are no different from those of Hamas.

With the February elections looming, and the active support of the United States government, Israel is playing domestic politics at the expense of Palestinian lives.

Such aggressive behaviour on the part of Israel in the past has only led to a weakening of the Middle East peace process and it has caused resentment in the Muslim world.

This, in turn, has strengthened the hands of the militants, widening their support base and creating havoc elsewhere.

The world needs to unite to rein in Israel and get it to act in a manner that is conducive to world peace.

Israel must be persuaded to combat aggression in a humane way.

It has a responsibility to the world that it must honour.

Dyutimoy Chakraborty, Quarry Bay

New visa rule has side effect

I am concerned about the decision by the government to allow easy access to Hong Kong for more people living in Shenzhen, even though they are not registered permanent residents there ('Visa rules open door for more Shenzhen residents to visit city', December 20).

Tens of thousands of people - both men and women from all over the mainland - are employed in Shenzhen's entertainment industry, often as escorts or prostitutes.

Many of them want to come to Hong Kong and some are already here. With the relaxed visa rules, these escorts and prostitutes will flock to Hong Kong.

A great many of our social problems are linked to prostitution. Some Hong Kong men keep women across the border. Did the government think about the potential problems when it launched this programme?

I would like to know if it has any measures in place to ensure that Hong Kong remains a clean, safe and stable society.

Jacquelyn Yu, Sha Tin

Full backing for navy's role

The move by China to send warships to patrol the sea near Somalia should be welcomed ('PLA ships leave for Somalia pirate patrols', December 27). This represents the active support of the international community (sanctioned by UN resolutions) in the attempt to combat the menace of those pirates.

As Chinese vessels have been attacked, the Chinese navy has every right - and even an obligation - to deploy there as part of the international efforts to stamp out the scourge of modern-day piracy.

Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels

Election pledge honoured

I refer to the letter from John Cheng ('Strike balance between causes', December 25) which criticises young and upcoming politicians' support for several residents' groups that have been formed to oppose excessive developments within their constituencies.

It is perhaps understandable that major developers, which for years have operated behind closed doors with the government, now resent energetic young legislators who want to shine a light on these opaque practices.

However, it has to be recognised that these legislators are only carrying out what they pledged to do in their election manifestos.

It is obvious that the developers can count on functional constituency members to maintain the various plot-ratio bonuses that contribute to excessive development ('Lawmakers concerned a limit on green features will stifle creativity', December 20).

I find it appalling that the government needs to offer such carrots to get developers to do the right thing.

If the property development industry in Hong Kong did not display some of the characteristics of a cartel, then market forces would demand that projects incorporate environmentally friendly features and advanced building standards without the need for incentives to be offered.

Mr Cheng is correct to draw attention to the competition that we face from neighbouring cities. But this is because they are creating better living environments, whereas Hong Kong continues to put up buildings which cause air, light and noise pollution, increased temperatures and worse traffic congestion.

I think it is good that our new elected politicians understand these problems.

Sally Ho, Wan Chai

Drug test is not the answer

There have been calls for compulsory drug tests in schools, but I do not think that will solve the problem of youth drug abuse.

Students who know that they might fail the test if they have taken drugs can stay at home.

Also the scheme would be unfair to students who do not take drugs, as they might also be forced to take a test.

I do not believe this is an effective way to prevent teenagers from taking drugs.

The money that would need to be spent to launch such a scheme could be put to better use, through education and targeting the people who are selling drugs.

We also have to consider the issue of human rights and question whether you can actually force someone to take the test. There is a legal question here which we have to consider.

Koey Chan, Sheung Shui