Help available for transgender community
I refer to the letter from Jacky Tsang ('Transgender needs ignored', May 2).
In his letter, your correspondent expressed concern about the protection of the rights and interests of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The Social Welfare Department has, in the context of the report ('No place to call home, say transgender outcasts', April 25) explained the arrangements and services to assist anyone with welfare needs, including members of the LGBT community.
Separately, the Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Unit of the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau has been taking measures to enhance equal opportunities for LGBT people. The unit runs a dedicated hotline to handle inquiries and complaints.
We have also launched various publicity and public education programmes to promote non-discrimination and nurture a culture of mutual respect in the community. In addition, since 1998, we have been implementing the Equal Opportunities (Sexual Orientation) Funding Scheme to fund worthwhile community projects which aim at promoting equal opportunities on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, or providing support services for sexual minorities. More than HK$6.6million has been approved under the scheme.
Discrimination often originates from stereotypes, prejudices and misconceptions. Public education and publicity are important. We will continue our efforts.
Philomena Leung, for secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs
Activists made a valid point
I am concerned that the actions by some young activists at a ParknShop store were subject to so much rebuke from some of your correspondents.
The activists filled shopping carts and queued in separate lines but, when the goods had been rung up, announced that they had changed their minds and did not want to buy them after all. The antics of the Lehman Brothers protesters have been allowed to hamper the activities of so many in Central for two years without as much as a peep.
As it appears that none of your correspondents personally suffered any inconvenience from this protest against collusion between government and big business and property-developer hegemony, it is rather surprising so many wrote to these columns to condemn them.
It is highly likely that a significant number of shoppers agree with the protesters and have many gripes of their own when it comes to the power of our conglomerates, in particular the cosy supermarket duopoly that denies shoppers the freedom of choice and price efficiencies enjoyed by shoppers in other jurisdictions.
It is a very positive sign that Hong Kong people are finally recognising that our current business model, where a few large organisations control far too much of the economy, is one of the main reasons why the rich are getting richer while the rest of us just toil for them to make ends meet.
If we have to suffer some inconvenience while getting the message across that this state of affairs is no longer acceptable, then it is a small price to pay for progress.
Candy Tam, Wan Chai
Healthier option in workplace
I would like to offer advice to my fellow Hong Kong citizens after having experimented with this novel idea.
It is common in Hong Kong to spend more than eight hours sitting at a desk working at a computer.
This obnoxious habit is not without consequences. A recent medical study has found a strong link between this modern working position and colon cancer as well as cardiovascular diseases. My solution to the problem is simple - don't sit at the desk but stand.
The consumption of calories will increase by up to three times and it will be like going to the gym while working. What you need to do is just to remove your chair, and raise up the computer keyboard and the screen.
The habit of not sitting at the desk is far more common than we may think. Famous 'no-sitters' were, among others, the founding father of Hong Kong, William Jardine; former US president Thomas Jefferson and former US secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld.
Angelo Paratico, Sheung Wan
Low cost of care ridiculous
Tony Henderson of the Humanist Association is flat-out wrong about the ridiculously low cost to the user of the public health care system ('Proud of public hospital system', May 4).
The waiting times are interminable, the waste is rampant, the deficits are staggering and the abuse is enormous.
It is ludicrous to think that US$13 for accident and emergency and US$9 a night for in-patient care makes any sense.
Money which is wasted in this fashion is prevented from being put to better use. I am not sure what the Humanist Association is, but it appears they have little sense about simple economics.
Bernard Lo, Wan Chai
Daily charity pleas too much
Prior to 1997, flag days were only allowed on a Saturday up to 1pm, but that seems to have changed.
Two weeks ago, I was intercepted by people on electric wheelchairs seeking donations during the week for the handicapped; and for three consecutive days, another organisation was also seeking donations.
On May 4, the wheelchairs were again on the footpath, together with some other organisation.
I am, of course, in sympathy with these charitable organisations, but we have to draw the line somewhere. It should be restricted to once a week with only one charity allowed.
J. Fleming, Sheung Shui
Bed limit is not discrimination
I disagree with those people who argue that limiting beds in Hong Kong hospitals for pregnant mainland women is tantamount to discrimination.
This is because the resource of maternity beds should first serve local pregnant women.
In some developed nations and cities, a limit is often imposed on the number of beds that will be made available to pregnant women who are not from that country or city.
I am not saying the government should not make any beds available for mainland women, just that it must adhere to the principle of giving priority to Hongkongers.
Mainlanders can always choose to use maternity services offered by private, rather than government hospitals.
The argument that the government could increase the number of maternity beds to meet rising demand from across the border is not valid.
It cannot do that because it would need additional human resources, that is more doctors and nurses, which it does not have.
If more beds were provided, the quality of medical services would be adversely affected.
Tat Cheng, Tseung Kwan O
Political reform long overdue
I have been following the news reports on the arrests on the mainland of people such as Ai Weiwei and Zhu Yufu .
China has made great strides in terms of economic development.
Its status has grown internationally, and other countries admire its economic achievements. But there are still major problems.
The central government will still not allow its citizens freedom of speech.
A country that wants to be regarded as civilised must embrace democracy and it must be fair to its citizens.
It is not good enough for the government to move ahead on the economic front, but make no improvements when it comes to civil society.
This kind of attitude does have a negative impact. For example, it can adversely affect the country's tourism industry.
Beijing must allow more democracy in the country.
Its citizens have a right to know what is happening in their country. And they should have the freedom to express their opposition to government policies if they think they are wrong.
If the central government fails to make these necessary democratic reforms, then the country will inevitably regress.
Lam Cheuk-yan, Sham Shui Po
Painting sends wrong message
There is painting on the wall of the Rural Committee Integrated Youth Centre playground on Cheung Chau that is a cause for concern. The playground is situated opposite the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals clinic.
The painting shows a row of knives smeared with blood and over them the words from a song by the American singer Kurt Cobain: 'It's okay to eat fish because they don't have any feelings.'
Cobain killed himself with a shotgun in 1994.
I question the logic and benefit to our society of this combination of such a rather gory-looking painting with a quote that hints at animal abuse.
Why is this on the wall of a rural youth centre playground on an island which depends on fishing and tourism?
Given the recent knife attacks on the mainland targeting children in kindergartens and schools, this really sends the wrong message. It should be replaced by a painting which has a more positive theme.
Hans Wergin, Cheung Chau