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Letters

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 March, 2011, 12:00am

New migrants should be given budget handout

Hong Kong may be a modern city, but efforts to curb discrimination are far from satisfactory.

In his unprecedented budget U-turn which Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announced on Wednesday, all Hong Kong's adult permanent residents including housewives, retirees and even those living overseas will get HK$6,000. However, new migrants will not receive it.

It is sad that minority groups such as new immigrants suffer from significant discrimination. This is unfair treatment, and it would appear that they are being looked down on by the Hong Kong government.

They are seen as being poorly trained members of the workforce and not worthy of sharing in Hong Kong's prosperity.

The chief executive pledged to make Hong Kong a cosmopolitan and multicultural city like New York where there is social harmony. I have yet to see that happen, and while I think it could be some time before we see an improvement, it is up to the government to take the initiative and make the necessary changes.

Most new immigrants are hard working. Take my workmate Sam, for example. She walks miles to get to and from work. After work she continues her studies at night school.

This is a busy and highly competitive city and it is not just permanent residents who have to deal with the pressures.

For migrants, the challenges can be even greater. They come from a very different educational background and their way of life on the mainland was nothing like what they encounter in this city. The government should not ignore the contribution these people are making to today's Hong Kong.

The migrants probably need this HK$6,000 more than some permanent residents.

Phoenix Tang Yee, Pok Fu Lam

HSBC bonuses unacceptable

I wonder what other businesses' managers would consider gifting themselves (and whose shareholders would agree to) almost 50 per cent of a major division's profit in the form of a bonus for a handful of employees.

But despite the debacle that has been global finance over the past three years, the rulers of HSBC consider this bonus arrangement quite in order for its investment banking division ('HSBC cuts profitability target: shares plunge', March 1).

HSBC defends this because apparently Asia did not experience a banking crisis in 2008. Try telling that to Lehman bond holders, or most other people in Hong Kong and elsewhere with investments other than in property.

I find such a statement insulting to say the least. Were managers of any other business to reserve such a tranche of money for themselves, shareholders would riot, and rightly so.

It is time banks admitted that they caused the 2008 financial meltdown, as the Bank of England's governor Mervyn King said at a British treasury select committee last week.

Many people in Hong Kong lost significant wealth in 2008 as a result of bankers' reckless gaming with other people's money.

Maybe there was no crisis visible to HSBC's bankers, but their claim that Asia had no crisis will find little sympathy with people outside the alternate universe of HSBC's headquarters.

Richard Fielding, Pok Fu Lam

What will exhibits tell us?

I refer to your editorial on the reopening of the National Museum of China in Beijing ('National Museum's ingredient for success', March 2).

It will be interesting to see whether or not the exhibits of recent history will reveal if the authorities have yet made up their minds how to treat the museum's coverage of China's years since 1949.

On my past visits to that dreary building, I have always found such exhibits closed for 'renovation'. And of course the whole subject was tactfully avoided in Zhang Yimou's dramatic presentation of China's past at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Where do we stand now? Is Mao Zedong still 'a great revolutionary who was '70 per cent right?' We'll see.

Nicholas Clifford, New Haven, Vermont, US

No revolt in China yet

After the revolutions broke out in Egypt and Tunisia, the countries' citizens spread their message via Facebook and Twitter.

Finally, they succeeded in overthrowing their governments. It made me wonder if a 'jasmine revolution' is also possible on the mainland?

The central government is able to monitor and control information on the internet.

It can easily delete or block the news which it feels is bad for the regime.

It can arrest citizens without giving a valid legal reason and bar foreign correspondents from parts of the country.

Under a tyrannical government which controls everything, how can the Chinese have their freedom?

Absolute power corrupts absolutely, but a revolution cannot happen overnight.

However, I do believe that one day China will change.

Norris Leung, Tsuen Wan

Not the first to jump ship

Again, it is a typical case with the government of 'the pot calling the kettle black'.

How can lawmakers be furious and state that the people of Hong Kong are anxious about Graham Sheffield leaving as CEO of the West Kowloon arts hub and taking a new job in England?

Has the government forgotten that not so long ago, one of its own took a new job in the private sector after retiring early for health reasons? How dare they talk about transparency and being honest.

The only people who should be furious now are the old and unemployed - the budget is a disgrace.

Graham Sheffield acted like most Hong Kong politicians do, looking after himself.

Ken Chan, Tai Po

Government role crucial

Putting aside the astonishing diatribe against public health officials by Markus Shaw ('Officials' nanny state outlook is creating a society of small minds,' March 1), would he castigate other health professionals, such as paediatricians or kidney surgeons, who are equally trying to improve health and save lives?

I suggest Mr Shaw reads the article by Dr Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organisation, and Yukiya Amano of the International Atomic Energy Agency ('A cancer epidemic among the poor', March 2).

This would help him to grasp that the only way forward in community health is prevention, whether this be immunisation, control of the spread of infection, safe water supply or good environmental health practices.

Most people would understand that only governments, supported by civil society, can implement many of these measures.

Mr Shaw has a good record on environmental issues and seems to have an understanding that governments have a role in improving the environment; would that he had as much concern for humans as he does for fish.

Judith Mackay, senior adviser, World Lung Foundation

Guides must be monitored

Cases of disputes between tour guides and mainland visitors have raised public awareness about the problem of services provided by Hong Kong tour guides.

I think cut-price shopping tours are to blame for the disputes.

There appears to be an unwritten rule that tourists will spend a certain amount of money in Hong Kong. However, some of them resent being put under this kind of pressure.

This is a no-win situation for both parties, therefore the government should regulate the operation of underpriced shopping tours.

This would ensure control over the quality of the guides, with stricter rules for them to follow. They should also be given additional training courses so they can learn to behave properly and not lose their temper.

I also think the government should mount an undercover operation to monitor performance. Guides who have been found to have misbehaved can have their licences revoked by the Travel Industry Council.

This can help remove the bad apples and remind others to behave correctly.

Tourism is one of the major pillars of Hong Kong's economy, so it is important for the government to pay more attention to this issue.

We must ensure the city's reputation as a shopper's paradise is maintained.

Elaine Kong Yee-ling, Sham Tseng

TV ads can get more donors

The government can adopt short-term measures to encourage more people to register as organ donors in Hong Kong.

It can promote organ donation programmes on television, for example, as part of the Red Cross' blood donation adverts.

Celebrities could appear on screen to encourage people to register, or even a top official who could lead by example, by publicly registering.

Perhaps a programme could be made on TV where parents whose children are waiting for a transplant are interviewed.

In the long term, education is the key.

It is a Chinese tradition to keep the body intact.

It is best to start the education process in schools when children are young.

The topic of organ donation could be included in citizenship education. I think we could see a change of attitudes.

Coco Tsang Tsz-yan, Sha Tin

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