PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 January, 2010, 12:00am

Tribunal denies justice to Citic's small investors

It was a great disappointment to read the report ('Investors give up Yung claims', January 26).

The Small Claims Tribunal acceded to the application by former Citic Pacific chairman Larry Yung Chi-kin to move to the High Court the action brought by three minority shareholders to recover alleged losses arising from unauthorised currency transactions by Citic Pacific.

The Small Claims Tribunal on its website declares that it 'deals quickly, informally and inexpensively with claims not exceeding HK$50,000'.

It does not state that it will only deal with cases that are straightforward and arise only when it has the resources available to handle them.

The decision by the tribunal's deputy adjudicator has, at a stroke, denied access to justice for these three individuals by putting it beyond the reach of their resources, which must surely be less than the resources available to the tribunal.

It also allows Mr Yung to be represented by a team of lawyers, whereas in the Small Claims Tribunal he would have no such legal armoury.

If the tribunal refuses to consider these David and Goliath cases, one must question its raison d'etre.

Russell Jones, Sai Kung

Works a matter of public safety

Stuart Brookes ('Drilling that never stops', January 16) asked why work on a retaining wall was undertaken in Pound Lane, Sheung Wan.

The Highways Department is carrying out upgrading work in three phases on a retaining wall at the lane near the Catholic Mission School to enhance its stability.

Under phase one a section of the wall was thickened by adding a concrete backing.

In phase two the existing water main is being relocated under the staircase by the Water Supplies Department. This will be followed by work to thicken the remaining section of the wall, which comprises the third phase.

Phase one began during the school summer holiday in mid-July to minimise disruption and was completed in early September. The second phase is under way and should be completed by the middle of the year. We plan to start the third phase during the school summer holidays in July and it will take three months to complete.

We understand this upgrading work causes a disturbance to the public, particularly nearby residents, but it is unavoidable. We are always mindful of our obligation to keep the disturbance to a minimum.

However at this location, in planning the work phases, we had to take into consideration school holidays and nearby work being done by the Water Supplies Department.

We apologise for the disturbance caused. We appeal to Mr Brookes for his understanding regarding this work, which is essential to public safety.

Should he or any readers have further inquiries on this issue, they can contact our senior engineer K. C. Wong on 3188 3322 at any time.

Victor Chan, senior engineer/public relations, Highways Department

Fewer buses, more cars

Whether bus fares go up, as a result of government policy aimed at reducing pollution by cutting bus frequencies, remains to be seen.

What is certain though is that bus waiting times will increase and the remaining buses will become ever more crowded.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that those who can afford it will simply switch to other forms of transport, including, of course, private cars.

If the government is really serious about curbing pollution, perhaps it could apply the same restrictions on private transport that it wishes to apply to the buses.

With a policy of a minimum 30 per cent occupation during non-peak hours and more than 85 per cent in peak hours that means private cars would need to carry a minimum of two passengers at all times, rising to four or five in peak hours.

Now making that kind of move would really help to cut congestion and pollution.

Paul Whitla, Tuen Mun

A better way for betting

There are dozens of betting machines in each of the Hong Kong Jockey Club's off-course centres and there are three kinds - banking, betting and multi-purpose.

This third category of machine is always occupied by football punters working on combinations. If you want to transfer some money to your betting account you must first go to the banking machine and then use the one for betting. This is not a problem except when there is a jackpot such as the Triple Trio or Mark Six and then you have to queue. This makes the betting process more difficult.

About a year ago, I wrote to the club's customer services department to express my dissatisfaction. They said they would pass my concerns to their superiors, but the situation has not improved. The simple solution is to make all the machines multi-purpose.

Norman Chan Hau-fai, Mong Kok

Teachers' pay is reasonable

I refer to the letter by Tom Grindy ('Allowance for which home?', January 27). Mr Grindy appears unaware that native English-speaking teachers are on the same salary scale as our local colleagues.

The additional Education Bureau 'special allowance' compensates for the extra costs - financial and otherwise - that the vast majority of expatriate educators face. Meanwhile, local teachers benefit from job security and pension plans.

NETs have a unique and highly valued role in Hong Kong schools and the wage and benefits they receive are not only fair but necessary in order to attract and retain teachers from abroad. Furthermore, the bureau has a surplus and recently handed some of its budget back to the government. Were the allowance scaled down, the NET scheme would likely collapse under a mass exodus.

Tom Grundy, Jordan

Post-'80s not in my name

Post-'80s protesters laid siege to the Legco building in the hope that the government would call off or least delay the express rail link. The spotlight turned on these young people and captured the attention of the city.

In the eyes of some people these demonstrators are seen as a byword for violence. If they are defined by the year of their birth, then I am part of the post-80s generation and yet I have not joined in any of these protests. It is not that I am in total support of the rail project or that I am indifferent. I believe there are better options and costs could be reduced.

I have been involved in many internet discussions on this subject and I have read the comments of those opposed to the government's plan. The reason I have not joined the protesters is because I do not agree with what they are doing.

Older friends and relatives have asked me if I have got involved. The perception of some members of the public appears to be that these are violent insurgents besieging Legco.

However there are many people of my age who have not become involved in the protests. Yet they do have their own thoughts on this issue and they care about society. One thing they share in common is that they do not like being categorised as post-'80s. They are individuals and have their own ideas.

Horus Law, Ngau Chi Wan

Speaking up for HK or Beijing?

I refer to the report ('Elsie Leung floats by-election curbs', January 23). As the former secretary for justice, it would be better if Ms Leung represented Hong Kong people's aspirations to the central government rather than taking up the posture of unofficial 'ambassador' of Beijing to Hong Kong.

By the way, whoever elected her to the Basic Law Committee or to the National People's Congress in Beijing to represent Hong Kong?

She has certainly not gained these positions by popular vote but by regularly speaking up for Beijing.

Rob Leung, Wan Chai

Schools no place for sex pests

I was shocked by the report ('Convicted sex pests may still be teaching', January 24).

Schools should be a safe place for learning. Parents expect teachers to be virtuous adults who can instil moral values in their children. Students believe their teachers will be respectable individuals who will help them learn. But teachers convicted of sex offences have exploited the trust of their students by taking advantage of them.

These are serious crimes. Once these individuals are convicted, schools have the right to know who they are. The Education Bureau does not seem to grasp the importance of this issue, especially for the victims of these crimes. What really bothers me is that it has refused to release the list of offenders to the public. The bureau may argue that it must protect the privacy of individuals. But who will protect innocent victims? Also, who can guarantee that if one of these people is still employed in a school they will not reoffend? Schools are advised to request applicants to declare if they have a criminal record. But will someone with a record tell the truth? There is no guarantee that all of them will. I think one way to solve this problem would be to set up a sex offenders' register.

This would enable school principals to check the register for any offence records of applicants before offering employment. Children are the hope of our society. We have to ensure they grow up in a safe and healthy environment. The Education Bureau and police must work out a feasible plan as soon as possible so that children are protected.

Grace Pow, Ho Man Tin