Cepa has helped professionals
I refer to the report ('HK left short-changed by Cepa', August 29).
The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement adopts a building block approach for progressive trade liberalisation. It has brought many economic benefits. To illustrate, from 2007 to 2009, Cepa-induced business receipts obtained by operations established by Hong Kong service suppliers on the mainland and by Hong Kong companies amounted to about HK$198.5 billion and HK$55.1 billion respectively. Cepa has also offered Hong Kong service suppliers better market access than that available to other investors in many service sectors.
On medical services, qualified Hong Kong doctors are allowed to practise on the mainland through accreditation. As of July 2011, some 10 specialist doctors have obtained a mainland practice licence and 10 certificates of approval have been issued to Hong Kong service suppliers to set up outpatient clinics in Guangdong.
For construction services, Hong Kong architects and structural engineers, who have obtained the mainland's relevant qualification by mutual recognition, are allowed to register and practise in Guangdong regardless of whether they are registered practitioners in Hong Kong. Registration procedures for Hong Kong architects and structural engineers issued early this year require, among other things, passing a test on related regulations. The first test scheduled this month has received a good response.
For lawyers, liberalisation measures are provided in a progressive manner. Hong Kong permanent residents with Chinese citizenship are allowed to sit for the National Judicial Examination. Since 2005, they can sit for examination in Hong Kong. Those who have acquired a mainland legal professional qualification are allowed to engage in non-litigation legal work, and subsequently as agents in matrimonial and succession cases relating to Hong Kong.
Due to different regulatory regimes between Hong Kong and the mainland, we note that some professional sectors found the administrative procedures and requirements rather complicated. That said, in using Cepa benefits, Hong Kong enterprises have to comply with the rules and regulations of the mainland.
We welcome the recent announcement by the central government that further steps will be taken to broaden market access for both traditional and emerging service sectors in Hong Kong, with a view to basically achieving liberalisation of trade in services between Hong Kong and the mainland before the end of the 12th five-year plan period. The Hong Kong government has kick-started consultations with the mainland authorities with a view to signing Supplement VIII to Cepa within this year. We will continue to strive for better market access for Hong Kong business and professionals.
Carol Yuen, deputy director-general of trade and industry
Idling engines tolerated
Visiting a seminar at the five-star JW Marriott on Hong Kong Island recently, I was surprised to see a long line of idling luxury cars outside the lobby.
Most of the cars were the size of a large luxury sport utility vehicle and had a driver sleeping or just waiting behind the wheel. I went into the seminar, and left after 45 minutes.
Most cars were still there and still idling, and some new cars had arrived adding to the pollution. I politely asked the lobby manager about the hotel's policy, but he said he wasn't 'the police' and then I asked another manager, but I was ignored.
It made me ask myself who really cares about pollution issues in Hong Kong.
Anders Ejendal, Repulse Bay
Against bank's traditions
I refer to the report ('Protest over HSBC job cuts plan', September 9), where you say that a stern protest by unionists and political parties, against the bank's most recent decision to cut about 10 per cent of its staff by 2013, coincided with a charity event at the bank's Central headquarters to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Hong Kong Bank Foundation which aims to help the needy of Hong Kong.
It is certainly a stark incongruity. However, the decision of senior managers to suddenly withdraw from the celebration appears against the bank's strong traditions.
An enduring symbol of the bank has been the two bronze male lions at the forecourt, which embody courage and fortitude.
Perhaps the bank is now considering replacing the lions with sheep?
I. M. Wright, Happy Valley
Donors are always kept informed
I refer to the article by Stephen Vines in Money Post ('What comes around', September 5).
He said it was difficult to get details of how Po Leung Kuk makes use of the donations it receives. I would like to clarify some of the issues raised.
Po Leung Kuk, as a responsible and reliable charitable organisation, has a deep understanding of the importance of openness with stakeholders.
We have always handled donations received in line with best practice.
All designated donations will be used on the project for which they were intended and the kuk bears all administration costs. Performance reports are prepared and issued to relevant donors on a regular basis.
With the launch of the 'Scheme $6,000' by the government, Po Leung Kuk introduced the '$6,000 Donation Programme'.
Members of the public are invited to make a donation to the 'Dreams Come True' Elderly Sponsorship Programme, 'Special Children Development Fund', 'Soaring Dreams - Youth Development Fund' and 'Dental Care Fund for Persons with Mental Handicap'.
A quarterly report will be posted on Po Leung Kuk's website (http://www.poleung kuk.org.hk/calendar/detail/ 112.html) showing how donations raised are allocated and used for these projects.
Jacky Chan, head of corporate communications, Po Leung Kuk
Communist Party doesn't like debate
In answer to the question, 'What do you think of Western civilisation?', Mahatma Gandhi is supposed to have famously replied: 'I think it would be a good idea.'
I was reminded of this on reading Ng Hon-wah addressing the issue of what a 'civilised' society should look like ('Students should have considered different views before protesting', September 9).
He says that the 'most fundamental value of a civilised society is to treat with respect even those who hold views different from one's own'. I have to agree. But I also wonder what Vice-Premier Li Keqiang's views might be on this.
Unfortunately, it seems highly unlikely that anyone is ever going to get the opportunity to put this question to him personally, given the fact that the Communist Party of China's leadership team seems to be so afraid of entering into any such debate with its compatriots, that is, those whom it 'serves'.
I'm only guessing but, judging by leaders' actions, it seems reasonable to assume that they regard any other views differing from their own as being simply wrong.
Thus, according to Ng Hon-wah's logic, the mainland is not representative of a 'civilised' society. Or did I miss something?
J. Fearon-Jones, Macau
Running into ridiculous fitness rules
I work in the Tung Chung area and, much to my delight, the government has seen fit to build us a brand new sports complex. So, after purchasing trainers, I visited the centre.
Unfortunately, I was unable to use the treadmill in the fitness room because I was told at the front counter that I was unqualified.
The manager came down to speak to me and explained that I needed to take a three-hour course to satisfy the Leisure and Cultural Services Department's requirements. And, because I only speak English, it turns out that there is only one available course in December and that I had to go on a waiting list.
This is the sort of bureaucratic namby-pamby nonsensical rule that completely undoes any credit these departments offer.
Who in their right mind is going to wait three months and spend an afternoon being lectured on how to use exercise machines that Cro-Magnon man could figure out?
It seems that those who are making these rules are simply not in touch with the public's interests.
For that reason, I have to conclude that working out is no longer working out.
Jeff Bell, Discovery Bay