PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2012, 12:00am


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Helpers not described as undesirables

I refer to the article by Alex Lo ('An injustice to our most oppressed expats', March 30) in which he says that the Court of Appeal in the domestic helper's case described domestic helpers as 'more like refugees and prisoners' and 'should be treated like undesirables'.

The judgment said no such thing. And it implied no such thing.

It merely referred to a provision in the relevant statute which listed persons not deemed to be ordinarily resident. That list includes holders of consular posts, members of the garrison, foreign domestic helpers, those employed under importation of labour schemes, refugees, persons detained and others (see para 9 of the judgment).

The judgment specifically said that the statute referred to 'different types' of persons (para 109 of the judgment). The common theme was the special or limited purpose, each entirely different, for which they were here. The judgment did not, as the article implies, attribute some common negative characteristic. The judgment did not characterise the helpers as undesirables. To the contrary, it expressly noted the valuable contribution they make to this society (see para 150 of the judgment).

This is not to comment on the legal merits of the decision, but to put right an inaccurate account of what the judgment said about domestic helpers.

Florence Wong, principal information officer (Judiciary)

Plenty of room for ambulance

I don't use one but even so I can see the flaws in your article on this matter of bicycles on Lamma ('Bike seizures anger Lamma cyclists', March 29). Don't be misled by self-serving disinformation.

The pier, with its full complement of bikes along both handrails, has plenty of room for an emergency vehicle.

In any case, emergency trips by ambulance no longer go to the pier, they go to the specially built helipad on the south side of the bay.

Something your article does not make public is the waste of taxpayers' money on the proposed bike park at something in excess of HK$50,000 per bike.

Peter Berry, Lamma

Free speecha valuable British legacy

In refer to Julia Kwong's letter ('Dismissing colonial delusions', March 26) in reply to my letter ('HK a beacon of freedom under British', March 20). History is very much a subjective subject.

The bust of Winston Churchill at the White House was removed by President Barack Obama and replaced with president Abraham Lincoln.

Churchill was voted the greatest British person for a very good reason, his dogged courage in facing the Nazi terror and his unflinching belief in the British core values of freedom and liberty.

Furthermore, Lincoln was greatly influenced by William Wilberforce - a British politician, philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade and again to stand up for the core values of British society of freedom and liberty.

The point to ask is, was Hong Kong better under the Union flag?

As Leung Chun-ying stated in his acceptance speech, he will defend Hong Kong's core values of freedom of speech, rule of law as pillars of the core values of Hong Kong. Let me ask Ms Kwong, where did these 'core values' originate from?

Let us not forget that the right to voice opinions in a public forum, such as the letters section in a respected newspaper, comes from a long-held British belief in free speech.

The right to view history in any way of one's inclination comes from a long-held British core value of freedom of information.

Hong Kong's core values are a legacy from the British people and have made Hong Kong unique.

We should enjoy our freedom.

Stephen Anderson, Macau

Law must cover all organisations

The government has introduced a competition bill to curb the problem of unfair competition.

It is hoped that such legislation could protect the rights of small local shopkeepers.

However, the administration has been criticised for wanting to grant exemptions to so many public corporations from the new law.

I do not think statutory bodies should enjoy exemptions.

This legislation is aimed at curbing agreements or conduct which are tantamount to an abuse of market power.

It is aimed at curtailing cartels which take unfair advantage of their monopolies. There are companies which will attempt to influence the market and form cartels.

A number of statutory bodies are engaged in activities in the private sector.

The government also gets involved in economic activities which interfere in the market.

There are some public corporations, like Hong Kong International Theme Parks Limited, that have individual interests.

They provide specific public services according to commercial principles, such as cost minimisation. If they are exempted from the competition law, they may distort competition in various sectors, for example, with regard to land supply and use.

Granting exemptions is tantamount to discrimination.

Government decisions should be made by applying known legal principles.

No organisation should be considered to be above the law.

All citizens and organisations have to be included in the legal system.

Having so many exemptions is not consistent with international standards and laws in other jurisdictions.

In the European Union, public-sector industries or industries that are by their nature providing a public service are included in the relevant competition legislation.

For example, an electricity company cannot switch off someone's power because they have failed to pay their bills without giving a customer due warning.

Hong Kong should follow suit in order to enact competition legislation that is on the right track.

Although statutory bodies provide specific public services, they need to abide by any competition law that is passed by the Legislative Council.

Wu Chun-hei, Sha Tin

Ban on tables and chairs is pointless

Where's the logic in this? The new plaza development in Stanley attracted a range of food and beverage outlets into an open area that is ideal (and presumably designed) for people to eat while enjoying a convivial open-air environment.

These restaurants and coffee bars placed tables, chairs and umbrellas outside for just this purpose - communal seating - but of course, the bureaucrats have told them to remove them. They are gone.

My question is this. Why do we have to put up with communal living under the HSBC bank headquarters in the form of Occupy Central?

This eyesore is offensive to residents and tourists alike, and it seems to be getting worse.

There are tents, bikes, tables and chairs and even wardrobes and sofas in this, presumably public, space.

When are these people going to be told enough is enough?

If members of the general public are not entitled to use tables and chairs for relaxation and enjoyment in an area that is designed for the purpose, why should they?

Wendy Allen, Stanley

Project will damage the environment

I do not support the building of a third runway. If I supported this project, I would endorse the user-pays principle.

But the financial cost is not the main issue here, even if it were to be financed by a levy which led to more expensive air fares.

I am more concerned about the cost to the environment and the marine life in the waters close to Chek Lap Kok airport.

A lot of green groups have argued against the construction project, saying it will have serious environmental consequences. They talk about the risk to various marine habitats, in particular the dolphins. They have appealed to officials to halt plans to construct the new runway, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

If the government goes ahead with its plan to build the third runway, it is up to members of the public to speak up and make their views known if they are opposed to it.

Our environment is precious and we need to express our views if we perceive that it is under threat. It is a very precious part of Hong Kong and should be protected. If we keep coming up with policies that damage it, we may eventually reach a point of no return.

We should only endorse government projects that are environmentally-friendly and part of a comprehensive government policy.

Michael Fong Yuk-ming, Sha Tin