Gays deserve to have legal protection
I couldn't agree more with your editorial on gay rights in Hong Kong ('Gays miss out on discrimination law', November 10). The government loves to boast that Hong Kong is 'Asia's world city', but there is nothing world-class when it comes to the treatment of its gay citizens.
The lack of legal protection from anti-gay discrimination means that many gay Hong Kong residents are forced to remain in the closet for fear of repercussions because of their sexual orientation.
Not only does this situation cause tremendous mental and emotional stress on these individuals, it goes against the core human rights values recognised by the United Nations.
Over the years, the government has kept repeating the mantra that there is a lack of consensus when it comes to legislation to protect gays from discrimination. This mantra is nothing more than a thin veneer to disguise the official indifference and lack of leadership in the government. After all, it is never appropriate to have the rights of the minorities dictated by the majority. If that were the case, we would never see gender and racial equality. All lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents want are equal rights and equal protection.
I call upon the government to act immediately. Otherwise the slogan 'Asia's world city' just rings hollow.
Jerome Yau, Happy Valley
Land lot sale policy hurts small retailer
I have much sympathy for Edith Kuruneru ('Soaring rents kill small businesses', November 4), as small retailers wage a constant battle with their landlords.
There is little sense of business mutuality or loyalty as far as landlords are concerned, and if your business is doing well, all the better for squeezing.
Removal and redecoration costs are high if a shopkeeper has to relocate and the retail business is all about location and building customer goodwill.
Landlords well understand this and therefore hold all the lease renegotiation cards.
There used to be an ample supply of small shop premises and a multitude of landlords helping to keep rental increases in check. Finding a small shop for a start-up retail business used to be quite easy, but now it is a nightmare due to redevelopment.
The Lands Department has instituted a policy of only selling land as very large sites, whereas previously real estate development was based on small lot sizes. Only a handful of major property companies can afford to develop such large tracts of land and they concentrate on building massive retail malls.
Such large companies have no interest in letting to start-up entrepreneurs, but want established brand names.
The retail market is becoming boring, and start-ups which are the lifeblood of the industry are being strangled at birth.
The solution is for the department to revert to selling small land lots in order to create competition and diversity. However, while the government is in the pockets of the property tycoons, there is little chance of such a policy change.
Entrepreneurs should hope that Leung Chun-ying prevails in his pursuit of the chief executive's job for, as a land surveyor, he should professionally understand the escalating hardships that entrepreneurs, such as Ms Kuruneru, face.
Whereas his rival, Henry Tang Ying-yen, appears too close to the vested interests that are throttling competition.
J. F. Kay, Lai Chi Kok
Inspiring role model for youngsters
I refer to the report, 'Teen pianist wins international event' (October 31). I am delighted to learn that a Hong Kong teenager who is only 18 has become the youngest to win a prestigious international piano competition, beating pianists from all over the world.
This proves that Hong Kong's young people are not only just burying their heads in books to prepare for examinations, but are developing in other positive ways. While everyone is showering Vanessa Wong Wai-yin with praise and hailing her as a prodigy, they should spare a thought for the hard work that is behind her success.
The road to success is not without its setbacks, as I am sure Ms Wong discovered.
She left secondary school after Form Five to study for a certificate in music at the Academy for Performing Arts. She was accepted on condition she did the A-level exams on her own to qualify to study for the higher diploma.
In addition to her studies, she practised the piano four to six hours a day and sometimes did not get to sleep until the early hours of the morning.
Her perseverance and determination deserve our admiration and respect. This shows that to pursue your passion requires making sacrifices.
The regular secondary school system in Hong Kong is not conducive to nurturing musical talent.
Students are occupied with academic studies and have no time to practise their musical instrument. The government's overemphasis on exams is wrong.
Thomas Au, Sham Tseng
Airlines' rule violates basic human rights
I was dismayed to learn that more than half of the mainland's 24 airlines can refuse to allow disabled passengers on board if it is felt they would make other passengers uncomfortable or offend them ('Airlines can ban disabled from flights', November 3).
Such rules must be made by heartless people.
They are not only discriminatory, disrespectful and unfair but they violate basic human rights.
The individual is already suffering due to having a disability.
If the disabled person is not allowed on because other passengers objected, this is an affront to that person's dignity.
I urge the International Air Transport Association to issue warnings to the airlines concerned and make the point that these rules are unjust.
Also, surely they are in contravention of the relevant UN conventions.
These intolerable and ridiculous regulations should be scrapped immediately.
A. L. Nanik, Tsim Sha Tsui
Thorough first-aid preparations
Tobias Brown said that only one automated external defibrillator (AED) was available at each MTR station ('Hong Kong needs 'Good Samaritan' law and mandatory smoke detectors', November 7).
We would like to clarify that since November 1, a total of 237 AEDs have been installed at all 84 MTR and Airport Express stations as well as on board the intercity through-train service. Almost all stations are equipped with two or more AEDs, with the number of devices being determined by the traffic volume as well as the size of each station.
The AEDs are located in station control rooms, platform booths and selected customer service centres, which provide staff with quick and efficient access to them when needed.
Some 750 MTR staff, who are qualified first-aiders, have been trained by the Fire Services Department to use the AEDs as an added tool to help cardiac arrest patients.
We thank your correspondent for his comments and for supporting the full roll-out of AEDs on the MTR network.
Kendrew Wong, public relations manager, media, MTR Corporation
Serious implications for schools
Alex Lo demonstrates an inability to handle the intrusion into management of religious schools ('God-awful fears freeze school reform', November 8).
Without a firm foundation, he assumes the high ground in the conflict between religious schools and their forced compliance with a dramatic shift in the structure of their governing bodies.
Lo proposes that religious schools would despair of teaching Darwin as if Darwin's theories have no flaws. Lo suggests that Mao Zedong is not taught in these schools, a dictator who was responsible for millions of deaths.
At the very least, there will be more conflict on religious school governing boards, with clashes over values and principles.
Will we see some non-Christian members wanting to see a very liberal view of sex education put on the curriculum? Other new board members might wish to have abortion taught as a value. Some could debate that the Ten Commandments or similar basic texts are a waste of time.
I am sorry that people want to water down religious schools and say this is fair, for this introduces a skewed value system.
Everyone chooses some god or belief, but forcing people who have adopted one standard to bow down to any system at all is discriminatory. Evidently this has been lost on many people.
Rosa Chan, Lai Chi Kok