PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2011, 12:00am

Betting ban aids illegal bookmakers

As a staunch supporter of Chelsea, I was hoping to have a small wager on Saturday's match with Aston Villa.

I could not understand why I could not - until I read the report ('All bets off in soccer gambling row', July 31) and found that bets were banned by the Home Affairs Bureau as a Hong Kong team was participating in the same tournament.

I empathise with the evident frustrations of the Hong Kong Jockey Club's CEO and how, if one took the logic for the betting ban on this match, it would mean not even being able to bet on the World Cup as this event will have Hong Kong competing in a qualifying round.

However, this entire betting ban - and the argument regarding the Jockey Club not being given permission also by the bureau to become a global leader in horse racing by being allowed to commingle bets - is something which ought not to be hidden on the sports pages. The Jockey Club is the government's largest taxpayer. Money earned or taken from the club results in extra assets for the Hong Kong public and the charities the club supports.

Today, gambling is a sophisticated business; online gaming is available 24 hours a day and offshore bookmakers also offer people various initiatives.

Without trying to promote gambling, what the bureau also fails to understand is that the word 'gambling' is now called 'gaming'. Bookmakers have become more sophisticated and technologically savvy and offer people a variety of gaming options.

By banning the Jockey Club from accepting bets on matches like the one mentioned above and failing to allow it to commingle horse racing bets, it is simply helping illegal bookmakers and helping offshore bookies to expand their businesses.

What this means is that Hong Kong as a city and its citizens are losing out on money that should stay here and be used for the good of the city.

Patrick Chow, North Point

Pet trade loophole not acceptable

I wish to raise a serious issue pertaining to the animal trader licence conditions for pet shops in Hong Kong.

As the conditions currently stand, one legal source of dogs for sale in pet shops is a category of supplier called 'private pet owner', who does not require the animal trader licence and for which the documentary requirements, with evidence of the origins of the dogs they supply, are minimal.

This creates a huge loophole which illegal breeders and smugglers are able to exploit to supply dogs to the pet trade, circumventing the normal controls and restrictions.

This loophole is well known to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the pet trade and to the animal welfare community. It is known as the hobby breeder loophole and has been the target of much criticism from all sides for years. It is now high time that it was closed by removing this category of supplier from the list of legal sources to licensed pet shops.

This would significantly reduce the number of animals from illegal sources outside the control and supervision of department officers.

Wong So-ping, Tai Po

Pirates will be put off by gun threat

As any South China yachtsman knows, pirates are a part of life at sea.

Although the Somalians are getting all the press these days, there have been pirates in the Strait of Malacca, the Philippines and Indonesia for decades.

There has been a long running debate among yachtsmen plying these waters for at least that long - to carry arms or not? I support being armed - a 999 call does no good when you are 100 miles off Cebu.

The drill is simple. When that suspicious boat slides in on the quarter (as it has with me and many of my friends), you unpack the rifle, come on deck and fire a dozen rounds in the opposite direction.

Since most pirates are simply fishermen looking for an easy score, rather than a firefight, once they discover you have the means and the will to defend yourself, they rapidly sheer off and disappear over the horizon.

I submit the commercial carriers will find the same thing off the Horn of Africa. Once the Somalians find they are being met with armed guards with automatic rifles and rocket- propelled grenades, the instances of piracy will diminish rapidly. The only way to deal with a bully is to stand up to him.

Ian Dubin, Kingston, Ontario Canada

City needs expatriates and ESF

I have tried to ignore the ongoing debate regarding the English Schools Foundation subsidies but again we see another one-sided letter by P. Chan ('No need to subsidise the ESF schools', July 29).

What must be noted is that 70 per cent of students are local so why do some correspondents take such an anti-expatriate stance in this debate? The expatriate community, so flippantly written off, is constantly portrayed in the media as the reason why international businesses should set up companies in Hong Kong. Expatriates have made Hong Kong. Just look around - Lan Kwai Fong, the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, and the list goes on.

Tom Holland in his Monitor column ('Scrapping the ESF subsidy would be a costly mistake', July 22) omitted a major point, that although Hong Kong's income tax is small by world standards, the income bracket of parents who send their children to ESF schools is hardest hit. These taxes pay for the schooling of local children and more than refund what is given in the form of ESF subsidies.

I do not accept the argument that we can hire more Hongkongers whose level of English is good enough for them to teach in our schools. Those who would be eligible candidates are already earning high salaries working for multinational firms.

I do not mean to be disrespectful to our hard-working local teachers but most do not have the skill levels needed to teach diverse subjects in English. Hong Kong's strength is its truly international city status and this comes from its British history.

Stephen Anderson, Macau

Life is still cheap on the mainland

The central government has made great economic strides, but little progress has been made when it comes to people's livelihoods.

There are still problems on the mainland with regard to corruption, human rights, food safety, and now the Wenzhou train accident. The government is not dealing adequately with these problems.

Accidents of various kinds are not uncommon.

In the past, there have also been fatal accidents at some of the country's coal mines.

China may have the world's second-largest economy but it is failing to safeguard its people. There must be a thorough investigation of the cause of this train crash.

I hope we will see swift and practical actions from the leadership in Beijing.

Yiu Wun-hang, Sha Tin



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