Community Care Fund is a flawed concept
I refer to James Chen's article ('Passive charity a poor choice for business', November 1), and offer further observations which the Future Enterprise Foundation has been researching on the current socio-economic landscape.
Few will argue that we are poised at a turning point whereby fundamental market forces are significantly reshaped in this bumpy, post-crisis recovery.
Such game-changing dynamics call for new models of collaboration across the public and private sectors.
Such 'cross-sector engagement' as we first put forward in the inaugural 'Creative Capitalism - the Asian Chapter Forum' in May is essential in addressing current issues and capturing opportunities that lie ahead.
Cross-sector engagement is all about breaking silos across key social groups and harnessing their resources to drive mutual goals of social and economic development. While the Community Care Fund proposed in the policy address is positioned as a joint effort between government and corporate sectors, its basic proposition of asking for one-off matching donations does no more than reinforce the existing mode of passive charity, which has not truly produced the desired outcome to address pertinent social issues of the widening of the wealth gap and deep-seated conflicts that arise as a result.
The traditional approach towards social welfare has been grant-based, which separates the funder and the beneficiary on two sides of the table. The limitations of this approach can be addressed by one which is market-based. This new emerging approach is a pooling of resources and innovative partnerships, which create integrated values for different partners while focusing on delivery of objectives.
Consider the Acumen Fund, which receives philanthropic investments from high net worth donors but uses that capital to offer equity and debt options to organisations in the Third World that are bringing new enterprise strategies to market, addressing a range of social issues from malaria to water resource challenges to affordable mass housing schemes.
Philanthropy has a unique role to play in this agenda. Foundations have long been known as the 'venture capital' of the social sector, having a solid history of funding new thinking and advocacy and fostering new partnerships.
There are no single dimensional solutions. What is clear is that a new vision and practice of capitalism is emerging, which builds on past strengths while moving beyond their limitations. It is an understanding that 'doing well' and 'doing good' are by no means mutually exclusive. If harnessed well together, this will unleash unlimited potential and unlock hidden markets.
In a place like Hong Kong, where an abundance of wealth and talent exists, there is no reason why we cannot play a leadership role in driving and deepening the action agenda of this new form of capitalism. But we must recognise that this cannot be done by window-dressing efforts or by single-minded pursuit of economic value at the expense of social and environmental values of which it is an integral part.
Helene Li, co-founder and chairperson, Future Enterprise Foundation
Tutorials good for students
The chief executive's policy address should have included measures to help women who are living in poverty.
Women on low incomes are often too busy to properly take care of their children. They have to work full time in order to earn more money. The government should recognise there is a problem and deal with it.
If tutorials were held after school, mothers could do extra work and earn more money.
The tutorials would offer the children protection. Otherwise, they might have to stay at home alone or wander the streets, which is not safe.
At the moment, working mothers have to pay for private tutorial classes, which is expensive. Some of them cannot afford such fees.
If schools organise tutorials, pupils could stay on after their lessons and do their homework. The school will need to allocate more resources, but it is worth the effort.
Kwok Yuen-wa, Choi Hung
Standing up for victims
I felt outrage when I learned of the prison sentence imposed on Zhao Lianhai ('Outrage as tainted milk 'hero' goes to jail', November 11). He was simply seeking justice for the families of babies affected by milk tainted by melamine. He was arrested because he founded the online support group Kidney Stone Babies.
He was convicted for 'provoking quarrels and making trouble'.
As an educator, I am utterly confused by this. Don't we teach our youngsters to uphold justice and speak for those who are deprived and who are unfairly treated? How come a victim can turn out to be an offender?
My heart goes out to his aged parents, his wife and his child.
Is there any justice on the mainland?
P. Y. Tse, Sha Tin
We must cut waste levels
Hong Kong's waste is piling up in our landfills.
There is a pressing need to come up with a real plan to curb the amount of waste we produce. All citizens should accept responsibility and should not just blame the government for what is happening. We all have a role to play.
We need to cut the amount of waste that we produce. It is better to do this than to build incinerators. Residents would not be happy at having an incinerator built in their neighbourhood.
I would like to see producer-responsibility legislation introduced, such as waste charging and mandatory recycling.
I hope Hongkongers would support the implementation of these laws.
We all have to take responsibility for our actions.
Cheryl Ching Choi-ying, Lam Tin
Long-term ideas are needed
Our landfills are almost full. I can understand why residents are opposed to the Tseung Kwan O landfill being extended.
However, we have no choice but to extend the landfill if we keep generating more refuse.
Extending landfills is inevitable.
However, there should be more research done to decide if it is cheaper to extend the present landfill or build a new one.
Some critics may say financial considerations should not matter, but we have to make budgetary considerations.
Having a larger landfill might not be a good idea, because of the unpleasant smells residents have to put up with when it rains or is warm.
While I recognise that landfills offer a short-term solution, the government needs to come up with long-term strategies when it comes to dealing with refuse in Hong Kong.
There is no doubt that a landfill is not a sustainable way to deal with the disposal of our waste.
Rather than bothering about such things as hosting the Asian Games, the administration should be trying to come up with environmentally friendly ways to deal with our sewage, domestic waste and other forms of refuse.
We should co-operate with the government to achieve these goals.
Grace Kwong Yuk-pui, Tsing Yi
Organise more exhibitions
The animated version of the 12th century River of Wisdom exhibition has attracted a great deal of attention.
Tickets for the exhibition were sold out very quickly.
It showed the enthusiasm that Hongkongers have for Chinese culture. But how long will that enthusiasm last?
Being an international city, I believe Hong Kong should absorb both Western and Eastern culture. And, the government can help in this regard.
A competent government should not just concern itself with policies such as welfare improvements.
It should be seeking to raise Hongkongers' awareness and knowledge of Chinese culture.
I would like to see it organising more events such as the River of Wisdom exhibition.
This will enable citizens to have a deeper understanding of our past.
Also, the administration should co-operate with schools and help children to acquire a deeper understanding of Chinese culture.
Venus Lo, Tai Kok Tsui
Have sliding scale of wages
For the first time in Hong Kong, we will have a statutory minimum wage of HK$28.
It will apply to all workers regardless of where they live.
I appreciate that those people who supported this law did so because they wanted workers to be paid a living wage.
But having a set rate that applies across the board does not deal with the problem of workers living in different areas of the city.
For instance, a person who lives in a flat on Hong Kong Island will pay more than someone whose home is in the New Territories.
Given that the new law has failed to take account of these differences in expenses, the law will not encourage people to live nearer their workplace, as the higher cost of living closer will not be compensated by being paid a higher level of statutory minimum wage.
This will lead to longer transport times, and many workers will have less time to spend with their families.
Therefore, it would be beneficial to these workers if the minimum wage was adjusted so that the levels reflected differing costs in different areas of Hong Kong.
Leung Ka-kit, Yau Tsim Mong