Mainland could learn from HK
There has been a lot of correspondence about clashes between mainlanders and Hongkongers over public manners.
Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee says we should learn from each other ('A test of HK's ability to adapt', January 29) and Anthony Cheung Bing-leung says we must not live on past glory ('Pain of integration', January 31). Fine as those principles sound, we must ask: who has more to learn from whom? As one who has studied, lived and worked in mainland China, and now lives in Hong Kong, I believe it's the mainland from Hong Kong.
I had my own experience recently of this conflict. In a shop in Pacific Place, a group of mainlanders was smoking and I said to them in Mandarin that they ought to stub out their cigarettes as there was a stiff fine for smoking indoors in Hong Kong. With some bad grace, they did so.
When they left, the shop staff thanked me. They said that whenever they told mainlanders they should not smoke, they were ignored.
There are other public manners taken for granted here, but not so on the mainland: orderly queuing, not spitting in the street, standing on the right on escalators, not eating on the MTR, and so on.
The mainland does mount campaigns from time to time to promote 'spiritual civilisation', or, in other words, public manners. But, we already have them here. We should not feel ashamed to stand up for them.
Hong Kong's success is based on the rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, transparent and clean bureaucracy and so on. The mainland is still grappling with these issues but we are already there.
We should stand up for our public manners and for what's made our success and not give them away because of well-meaning but mistaken notions of 'learning from each other' or assuming that our 'past glory' is somehow irrelevant to our present and future success.
Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay
Language skills have withered
I refer to Alex Lo's column ('Schools' bilingualism could be catching', February 7). Lo said 'bilingualism in Hong Kong has remained an elusive goal' - a precise statement underscoring the problem that has existed in the territory for decades. The ability to speak, write and understand English, matter-of-fact Chinese and our mother tongue Cantonese has been eroded over the years.
When I talk to university students in Hong Kong and major mainland cities, I am taken aback to find a great majority of our young men and women have difficulty engaging in an intelligent conversation in either Cantonese or English. There is a little blind spot in their heads that assumes 'language skills' is just like any other subject such as biology or geography. I have lost count of the number of graduates who have asked for last-minute coaching on how to craft a job application letter or write a resume. Some even have the audacity to suggest a one-week crash course to lift their standard of English because a couple of job interviews are coming up.
My advice to these desperate students has always been that language is like a water reservoir: one must secure a constant input over a long period of time in order to draw out what is needed.
Philip Leung, Pok Fu Lam
Use colours, not names, for MTR lines
I am an exchange student from Malaysia who arrived several weeks ago. I have been fortunate enough to become a frequent user of the MTR.
It does look like the people at the MTR have thought of everything - from lights that indicate which side of the train to exit from to ones that show which station the train has stopped at.
The one glaring thing that I notice is that the MTR uses several colours to denote the various lines it runs across Hong Kong. Unfortunately, these officially go by names such as the Kwun Tong Line and the Tung Chung Line.
I find this can be a little difficult and confusing for new people like me from overseas. I do not mean this in a disrespectful manner.
Perhaps the MTR could use colours to name the various lines. For example, the Blue Line. Colours connect to the eye and brain and are easy to relate to.
I also find it odd that there are no washrooms.
Thanaseele Rajasakran, Kowloon Tong
We're not all gouging our customers
I read the article about a 23 per cent price rise in 7-Eleven stores with some interest ('7-Eleven attacked for 23pc price rise', January 25). Since the economic events of 2008, the trend in public sentiment and in the news is anti-business. The new norm seems to look only for alleged wrongdoings of businesses and place them in unflattering light.
I run a small restaurant business and it happens that in the same period, we reduced core prices by more than half. I did so because in our location, normal middle-market prices became seen as an extravagance by the micro-economy of the area. I did it to grow customers, survive and, hopefully, eventually profit from my investment. I paid from my pocket to employ six staff, as well as pay a landlord and the countless vendors associated with any small business.
Our news media are overflowing with stories about giant corporations and tycoons. I wish the media would make more of an effort to report on the many hardworking small businesses in our city that are the cornerstone of economic progress and are usually on the front line of product and price innovation.
Christopher Gallaga, Sai Kung
The heart of corporate responsibility
Corporate social responsibility has become a buzzword but some companies have a questionable level of commitment to implementing it.
Many have made generous donations to charitable causes but corporate social responsibility is much more than charitable acts, be it in the form of donations or volunteer services.
Instead, it should be embedded into a company's corporate governance to ensure effective service provision for all stakeholders, not just for the firm's shareholders.
What happened recently at the tourist attraction Ngong Ping 360 is a case in point ('More chills than thrills as cable car stalls again', January 26).
The trapping of hundreds of passengers in mid-air on its cable car in near-freezing temperatures for almost two hours during the Lunar New Year holidays - the fourth technical fault within two months - reflects poorly on its risk management practices.
For any service provider, safety and reliability should always come first. Without a proper management system to ward off similar incidents, how can any firm live up to its claim of being a 'caring company'?
Assessing all potential operational risks can be difficult. In reality, companies often face a dilemma in mitigating risks thoroughly and using resources effectively while maximising profit.
But on January 25, Ngong Ping 360 failed to keep stranded passengers updated about how long their ordeal in the cabins was expected to last.
Companies with a mission of corporate social responsibility are obliged to take precautionary steps to ensure no harm is done at the workplace and marketplace, to the environment and the wider community.
Corporate ethics and integrity are the keys to their sustainable success.
It is time people realise the true meaning of corporate social responsibility Honesty, fairness, respect and accountability should be embedded into companies' codes and policies.
Only in this way can they help create a harmonious business and social environment.
Angel Ho, Sheung Wan
More pay if we get full democracy
I'm all for legislators doubling their salaries, but on certain conditions: that they all be elected by universal suffrage or that they all work full-time in the Legislative Council.
But under the present system, all the legislators can do is talk and it is up to the unelected government to set policy.
Jennifer Eagleton, Tai Po