Mainland babies may be a bonus
As a Hongkonger, I am disturbed by the 'anti-locust' campaign recently directed at mainlanders.
Although the cultural clashes have apparently caused some Hongkongers to develop a can't-live-with-them, can't-live-without-them feeling, the denunciation does not represent the mainstream view in Hong Kong.
The root cause of the sentiment is the rapidly growing number of pregnant women from the mainland giving birth in Hong Kong, the impact of which was felt by many Hongkongers, including this writer whose wife gave birth recently.
In addition to stressing the city's maternity wards, there is also a widespread worry that the social welfare system will be strained when these babies grow up and return to Hong Kong as citizens.
A long-term solution is simply to build more hospitals if the trend is projected to continue. Medical services are one of the six economic areas the Hong Kong government vowed to advance and this situation provides a unique opportunity.
Statistics show that mainlanders who can afford to give birth in Hong Kong are mostly from well-educated, middle-class families.
If their babies do return to Hong Kong after growing up, they are more likely to pay for (through taxes), rather than seek, the city's welfare system. If they do not return, then they won't compete for Hong Kong's resources. Either way, the Hong Kong people will not suffer.
Hong Kong's birth rate is alarmingly low and the population ageing quickly. Babies from the mainland may actually help rather than hurt.
Gordon Wong, Chai Wan
Act now to stop violent precedent
Your editorial remarked that Hongkongers and mainlanders ought to get along in this 'generally tolerant' city ('Stop culture clash getting out of hand', January 26); Tom Holland suggested that we plough on regardless ('Ignore the noises. Hong Kong's future depends on mainlanders', January 26); and Rachel Tsang deliberated on the semantics and found it 'difficult' ('Battle lines', January 26).
Perhaps we live in different cities, because I see mine brimming with hatred, and there will be blood unless we intervene now. Arrested development, political or otherwise, has cornered the apathetic and disaffected into a slew of 'casual' discrimination, as they salvage a sense of social identity and self-esteem through labelling and denigrating others. This all-too-human need for cliques and crowds will go violently wrong.
For better or worse, Hong Kong has come to recognise itself as ethnically distinct. These new-found differences can no longer be eliminated, only actively managed if we are to nip this toxic discontent in the bud. As marriage counsellors might put it, instead of striving for a secure and mature attachment in which both parties are comfortable depending on each other, Hongkongers have become excessively preoccupied with visitors' needs over those of their own, in a classic display of codependency and a victim mentality.
Community leaders need to categorically admonish all forms of incitement to hatred right now. The Journalists Association should also rethink its policy on printing ethnic slurs verbatim. One brawl on the street is all it takes for a landmark act of violence to set a precedent.
Gordon Chung, Tsim Sha Tsui
High safety standards at Cathay
Commenting on reports of some recent service disruptions involving Cathay Pacific flights, Eugene Li asked 'what is wrong with Cathay's maintenance standards?' ('Standards slipping at Cathay?' February 5).
I can assure Mr Li that our maintenance standards are as high as ever, and are among the highest in the international aviation industry. To ensure that every one of our aircraft that takes off is safe to do so, we maintain a strict maintenance programme that goes well beyond manufacturers' requirements.
The incidents reported in the media were unrelated technical delays of the type common to the industry. They certainly did not give rise to any safety concerns.
Of course, they resulted in disruption to our services and delays for our passengers. We are very sorry about the resulting inconvenience to our passengers.
But we need to keep things in perspective. Cathay Pacific operates about 400 departures a day and carries more than 27 million passengers a year. We mounted almost 130,000 flight departures last year from airports around the world, and the number of air turn-backs or diversions was really quite small - about 30, or one in every 4,300 departures.
I am afraid that technical delays are a fact of life in aviation.
Most equipment failures go unnoticed by the travelling public as inbuilt system redundancy ensures safe continued operation, regardless of when or where they occur.
Compromising on safety is simply not an option, so our engineers may sometimes delay or cancel a flight.
This aggressive risk aversion and pursuit of safety excellence underpins Cathay Pacific's admirable safety record.
Steve Chadwick, general manager, engineering, Cathay Pacific Airways
More bang for buck in traffic gear
I love fireworks but on reading about the cost of the New Year's Eve display I think it is a bit of a waste of money. As a taxpayer, I would rather see my money spent on equipment to catch drivers going through red lights, jumping lights and speeding. How many cameras could have been bought for HK$8.5 million? Maybe not a lot but it would make some roads safer.
Don McNeil, Clear Water Bay
Let Syrians forge their own peace
The two juxtaposed letters on the veto of the UN resolution on Syria by China and Russia ('Betrayed by China's UN veto on Syria', 'After Libya, no-vote is no surprise', February 7) point out the dilemma we all face given the lack of real information on what's going on in that country.
Look what happened in Libya - and look what happened in Yugoslavia those many years ago.
There is a grave danger in outside intervention and the Western powers - namely the US, Britain, and France as the most belligerent - taking on the role of executive body because, so far, that body has acted more like an executioner than an executive.
There was a healthy, non- violent movement against the Syrian government in the early stages and pockets remain on the street and indoors, waiting for an easing of the excessive violence.
There is a civil war raging in Syria and from what can be gathered from news sources, the Western powers mentioned above and the present right-wing Israeli government are arming the groups opposing the Syrian government. Those same governments make armaments sales and have vested interests in that business.
China and Russia do well not to condone another Libya-style invasion using the local dissenting groups for goals unallied to the betterment of Syrian society. Peaceful negotiation among all the different groups is the only way forward.
A commitment to achieving a realistic and long-term solution through non-violent means is the only way to bring peace and stability to Syria, and to allow the country's diverse peoples to forge their own destiny - without outside interference.
Tony Henderson, Humanist Association of Hong Kong
Powerful snouts in the trough
Chan Tsun-ho's letter ('Subsidy only encourages power use', February 7) on the government's decision to give each household a HK$1,800 electricity subsidy is quite correct but misses one vital point.
This subsidy is yet another example of how the tycoons have got their noses into the feeding trough of taxpayers' money.
What is happening is that HK$1,800 multiplied by the number of households in the city is being shovelled from the taxpayers' money in the Treasury and straight into the hands of Hong Kong Electric and CLP Power.
No doubt cynics could argue that it is only fair; after all, the construction companies and the developers have been doing this for years, so why shouldn't the power companies have their fill?
K.L. Pang, Central