PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 November, 2010, 12:00am

Get tough with unscrupulous employers

The boss of Cafe de Coral changed his mind about cancelling paid meal breaks for workers after a public backlash.

His original proposal was in response to the minimum wage legislation.

In fact I have noted prices moving upwards at the fast-food chain over the past three to four months. Presumably this has been done to cope with the increased wage bill and it will have enjoyed additional profits. So it is, in effect, just shedding crocodile tears.

In making his decision to end paid meal breaks, the company's boss thought he was being shrewd, but his decision backfired and he was accused of being greedy.

I would like to see boycotts of any companies which take up Cafe de Coral's original proposal of unpaid meal breaks.

There should be protests outside these companies' premises until they reverse a policy which takes advantage of a loophole in the law. Such an inhumane policy insults the dignity of workers and violates their rights.

In fact we now need legislation restricting working hours and ensuring paid leave every week. This law should cover all workplaces in Hong Kong.

If there are loopholes in our labour laws, which can be exploited by employers, then it is up to the Legislative Council to deal with these and make the necessary changes.

A. L. Nanik, Tsim Sha Tsui

Cafe de Coral was correct

I am a union man and I am all for the minimum wage.

I worked at various places, from a 'mom and pop' restaurant to a university and finally a hospital.

None of these employers paid for my meal times.

I agreed with the position that was initially taken by Cafe de Coral not to pay its workers' meal times. There is a fine line between fattening the goose and killing it.

If Cafe de Coral is bled dry and shuts down, all its workers will be out on the street. Instead of a living wage, they'll have no wage to live on.

John Wan, Vancouver, Canada

Immediate action needed

I refer to the letter from Michael Hwang, of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department ('Department takes integrated approach to control strays', October 26) in reply to my letter ('Law hinders desexing', October 22).

I was not advocating trap, neuter, return (TNR) as a magic pill that would remedy the stray dog problem in its entirety.

Of course there are other issues that this would not address, such as hobby breeders dumping sick stock onto the streets and irresponsible, uneducated pet ownership that results in abused and abandoned dogs. But it is an effective measure to contain a stray dog population on the rise because archaic laws do not effectively penalise the public for reckless and neglectful treatment and dumping of animals.

What the government does do very well is prosecute those attempting to control the stray dog population by means of TNR, which would result in fewer unwanted births and therefore fewer dogs being destroyed, if and when they become victims of the department's catch-and-kill policy.

Furthermore, the rehoming service the department plans to put into effect too is a noble idea with good intentions, but it is ultimately a superficial policy, given that Hong Kong's basic housing infrastructure cannot support such a scheme.

Who would be the target audience of the scheme - the residents of the hundreds of government public housing estates where dogs have been banned? Or the media-centric public mostly interested in designer dogs?

While I applaud the fact that at least discussion and dialogue are taking place, immediate, decisive action and long-term planning are needed.

Talking will not change the fact that more dogs are being destroyed every day.

If the government continues to insist that TNR is not the solution, then give me one that is free of inconsistent logic and which has been proven effective by studies worldwide.

Lee Yong-lah, Aberdeen

Red seats and right attitude

The MTR Corporation has followed the suggestions of commuters by introducing its red-coloured priority seats on some of its busiest routes, such as the Island and Tsuen Wan lines.

One of your correspondents had suggested following the example set by Taiwan's underground trains.

While I welcome the new scheme, adults also have a role to play.

They should be teaching children that they have a responsibility to give up their seats to people in need when they board an MTR carriage. By educating young people about the importance of such behaviour, we can ensure a harmonious atmosphere on the MTR network.

Angel Cheung Cheuk-man, Lam Tin

Put incinerator to better use

I refer to the report 'Heated pools and Deep Bay views, but it's still just a sludge incinerator', (October 28).

I am not saying the incinerator is useless, but I am opposed to some of the proposed facilities, such as a spa and swimming pools.

I cannot see the point of providing these facilities.

Perhaps the government thinks that having them could make this location a new and popular tourist spot.

Surely it would be better to use all the surplus energy generated by the incinerator to supply electricity to more homes located near the site. This is a more practical and useful option to adopt.

Do officials really think that people will want to visit a spa at an incinerator site?

Once again, the government has come up with a flawed plan.

Tommy Chan Siu-fai, Sha Tin

We should be more self-reliant

No matter how important or trivial an issue it may be, whether it is housing or stray dogs, Hong Kong people increasingly turn to the government to find a solution.

It seems they no longer welcome the non-interventionist philosophy of 'small government, big market'. People want the administration to respond to every problem.

What do we expect from our government? In the past, Hongkongers did not rely so much on officialdom. We tried our best to avoid such intervention.

Of course, the government has its role to play.

I am not saying that people should always stand on their own. But it cannot be denied that limited intervention has been one of the strengths that gave this city its competitive edge.

We enjoy low tax rates and therefore it is illogical to expect our administration to tackle every problem that arises.

The resources are not there to make this possible and we also have a flawed political system.

Our chief executive has no background in party politics and the legislature is simply a toothless tiger. Within such a system, it is difficult to see long-term policies being successfully implemented.

It is best for the chief executive to stick with the short-term policies outlined in his policy address.

Given the shortcomings of the government, we should not be so reliant on it. Hong Kong people as individuals have always been able to do a better job than our officials.

Taylor Chan Kan-hei, To Kwa Wan

China must avoid tensions

It was with great surprise that I read Andrew Li's letter ('Bullying tactics will not work', November 2) and the belligerent stance he took.

Mr Li must realise that the world does not want to contain China but many nations and people in the world have taken time to understand that China's rise can cause avoidable international problems. This can be compared to the rise of Germany at the end of the 19th century. This led to border disputes with neighbours, attempts at hegemony and a naval build-up.

China has become powerful over a very short period of time. With that power has come a lot of modern negative historical baggage, which China and its people must deal with when it comes to the country's relations with its neighbours.

China's future is, for better or worse, in its own hands. It must learn the lessons of history and try to avoid regional conflicts. Attitudes like those expressed by Mr Li are not helpful in this respect.

Stephen Anderson, Macau

Surrogacy's moral issues

William Yip is quick to dismiss any moral issue related to surrogacy ('Ire for gossip, not surrogacy', November 5).

One does not have to be religious to see that there are moral issues.

First there is the decision that a child should grow up without having a mother or even know who she is. Secondly, how can one not be affected by the news that one's mother was a mere reproduction facility, who probably did it for the money?

The search of many adopted children for their biological parents shows that such issues are important. Being broad-minded is admirable but trivialising the importance of parenthood is misguided.

In the case of Henderson Land Development vice-chairman Peter Lee Ka-kit's triplets, one wonders to what extent the father (rather than a sequence of nannies) will be around as the one loving parent, as Mr Yip states is all that's required.

Josephine Bersee, Mid-Levels