Much support provided for disabled sport
I refer to the letter by Chan Wing-ki ("Disabled athletes need more support", September 4) concerning the assistance provided by the government to athletes competing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
I would like to thank your correspondent for expressing support for our athletes.
The chief executive and other senior officials have also shown keen support for them and on August 21 attended the flag presentation ceremony for the Hong Kong delegation to the Paralympics.
In more quantifiable terms, the government earmarked HK$5.6 million to help athletes prepare for and participate in the London Games.
This is in addition to funding of HK$4.6 million that we have granted to the Hong Kong Paralympic Committee & Sports Association for the Physically Disabled to carry out a programme to enhance athletes' performance in the 2012 Paralympics and 2014 Asian Para Games.
To increase awareness of and encourage support for our athletes, this year we sponsored the production of a series of 30-second television commercials focusing on the athletes and coaches participating in the London Paralympic Games.
This was broadcast on local free-to-air TV in August in the run-up to the opening of the Games. We will continue to work closely with the sports associations for athletes with disabilities to provide appropriate levels of support.
Like your correspondent, we have looked forward to Hong Kong athletes achieving their goals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Vincent K.C. Chiu, for secretary for home affairs
Cathay's ban on shark fin is a brave move
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) congratulates Cathay Pacific for taking the monumentally important step of discontinuing the transportation of shark fin as cargo.
This comes as no surprise, as Swire has been a leader in implementing responsible and sustainable food policies.
Once again, like The Peninsula hotel, an esteemed Hong Kong company has had the courage to put animal welfare and the environment ahead of profit.
This will be a milestone in Hong Kong's history and for this we are all truly grateful and applaud them on their progressive actions.
Cathay Pacific has paved the way for lasting and positive changes to the sustainability and future of the shark, one of earth's greatest and most essential creatures.
We look forward to seeing other companies, who care and are capable of inciting positive change, step up and follow suit.
Sandy Macalister, executive director, SPCA (HK)
Government should not be held to ransom
Alex Lo's column on the national education curriculum is brilliant ("Just who is brainwashing whom?" September 5).
I totally agree with him. I was appalled at the student speaker who approached Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. He should be taught some basic manners.
The adults and parents are equally to blame for passing on the message that if you don't get what you want, throw a massive tantrum.
I feel that the people who fast should not hold the government to ransom.
This is a free society. They should know the consequences of fasting and they should not make the government accountable for their stupid actions.
They were given a chance to have a dialogue but they chose to behave in this manner.
Vivienne Lee, Pok Fu Lam
Dissent is a true act of patriotism
Hong Kong's youngsters have been given a splendid "national education" in being forced to protest against their government's poor judgment. There is no greater display of patriotism than dissent.
The thousands of students who have been gathering at the Tamar demonstrations this past week care much about Hong Kong and wish to defend it from further "harmonisation" with the mainland.
Leung Chun-ying ought to think back to 2003 when a previous chief executive was ousted after similar mass rallies, housing scandals and pitiful approval ratings.
It seems astoundingly unwise to hammer this unwanted policy through, amidst countless anti-China protests this year, a record June 4 vigil turnout and suspicion of Beijing at an all-time high.
Hongkongers will only be pushed so far.
Tom Grundy, Tsim Sha Tsui
HK people brainwashed by the West
It seems to me that those who are screaming against the national education programme have forgotten that Hongkongers have been subjected to brainwashing by the West about its political system, values and Christianity for the past 100 years.
What is so wrong with the young learning about their own roots and about their motherland?
Anthony Tung Kai-cheong, Causeway Bay
Put subject on hold to gauge all views
The purpose of the new moral and national education subject is to educate students about China's success and deepening their sense of identity with the motherland.
Many people have reacted strongly to it because the government decided to make it a compulsory subject in schools.
There have been protests by a number of citizens and groups, for example, the student activists known as Scholarism.
Many countries promote national education.
Their governments hope to arouse a sense of belonging among their citizens.
History is studied, but in an objective manner so that students learn the positive as well as negative aspects of their country.
Those opposed to the subject's introduction in Hong Kong are not convinced that it will be taught in that manner, and some fear some pupils may be misled.
They don't want to see a course that glosses over the country's failings, and that is why some critics have used the term brainwashing.
Parents, teachers and even senior citizens have participated in these protests and they see it as a fight for freedom. Parents want their children to know the facts about the country.
Moreover, the feeling of being proud of our motherland is an individual feeling; it cannot be taught in a classroom.
The Hong Kong government should call a halt to the implementation of the subject until it has gauged the views of its citizens and reached a consensus.
Rosanna Chan Wing-tung, Lam Tin
Pay hike will be burden for businesses
I agree with correspondents who are opposed to the present statutory minimum wage being increased from HK$28 to HK$35.
Such an increase would impose a heavy financial burden on small and medium-sized enterprises.
Due to inflation, SMEs already face rising costs for transport and raw materials and higher rents. They are also up against the power of those companies that have monopolies in various sectors.
Some SMEs may not be able to survive these conditions, and if more close there will be fewer job opportunities.
Other firms may decide they can only stay afloat if the minimum wage goes up by hiring fewer staff.
These factors could lead to a higher unemployment rate in Hong Kong.
The purpose of the statutory wage law was to protect the lowest-paid workers, but if many are put out of work then this runs contrary to the purpose of the legislation.
If the government really wants to increase the hourly rate, it has to combine that with subsidies to SMEs so they can cut their production costs.
The administration should also provide more training schemes so workers can raise their level of skill.
Before making any decision to raise the present minimum wage, our officials must weigh the advantages and disadvantages.
Suki Tong Shuk-wun, Tseung Kwan O
Wage should rise in pace with inflation
The statutory minimum wage has been in operation for more than a year and predictions that it would lead to high increases in the rate of unemployment have proved unfounded.
Our economy is still thriving and, given soaring inflation in Hong Kong, it is high time the hourly rate was raised from HK$28 to HK$35.
The minimum wage should at least be raised in line with the inflation rate, in order to protect working people who still struggle to make ends meet.
Inflation has risen while the statutory rate has remained unchanged.
The minimum wage is designed to ensure that low-income earners have at least enough money to support their families.
But they are finding that their purchasing power is being eroded and they are increasingly worse off than in previous years. The government must act promptly to help people deal with this problem.
An increase in the rate could encourage some people on welfare to rejoin the labour market.
It is only by raising the statutory minimum wage that we can help to narrow the widening wealth gap in our society.
Lau Wai-kei, Sha Tin