Letters to the Editor, October 18, 2012
Setting a limit for visitors is not feasible
Anger over mainland visitors is bubbling over, as public outrage at cross-border traders and mainland mothers goes through the roof.
There is talk that there should be an upper limit on the number of tourists coming across the border, the precise number to be set by the government. This suggestion is not feasible and frankly, quite silly.
First of all, how high should the upper limit be?
No matter the amount, there will be extremists who think it's either too demanding or too loose. It will be difficult for the SAR and the Shenzhen governments to come up with a number that will satisfy Hongkongers and mainland tourists.
From an economic point of view, setting a limit is very risky. It will be difficult to gauge the effect of the limit on the tourism industry, and the whole economy of Hong Kong. It could be a disaster, as hard-hit luxury stores which relied on mainland tourists close or cut staff, which will inevitably spill over to other industries.
Last but not least, should a limit be agreed on, policing it will be a nightmare.
What happens if tourists keep coming and blatantly ignore the law? Should we close the border in their faces and assign a special police team to hold the gate? Illegal border-crossing may arise and stir up even more trouble.
It's easy to see why such an upper limit is not worth the hassle. Officials should focus their efforts on narrowing the income gap and fixing the economy, the real root of current public discontent.
William McCorkindale, Ma On Shan
Restrictions need careful planning
Many Hongkongers are concerned about the rising number of mainland tourists coming here. It is essential to restrict visitor numbers from across the border, but the government must not implement a policy that is counterproductive.
The retail and catering industries are heavily reliant on mainland consumers. These sectors have employees from different income groups who depend on the tourist trade. Hong Kong needs its substantial purchasing power. Therefore, it is important to ensure that these workers do not suffer as a consequence of a revised policy.
The government needs to control the Individual Visit Scheme and cut the percentage growth of visitors to Hong Kong as a 24 per cent annual increase is simply too much. An arrival tax could also be imposed to help the grass roots in society.
Lau On-yin, Lai Chi Kok
Explaining exam and licence fees
I refer to the letter by Terry Greene ("Jet ski safety too costly, complicated", October 11). I would like to clarify the qualification and licensing requirement for the operation and use of personal locator beacon and maritime radio equipment on board local vessels in Hong Kong (for example, pleasure vessels, tugs, ferries and fishing vessels).
Under section 8 of the Telecommunications Ordinance (Cap. 106), a person who intends to operate and use a personal locator beacon may apply for a Radiodetermination and Conveyance of Commands, Status and Data Licence (annual licence fee of HK$80) from the Office of the Communications Authority (Ofca). The holder of this licence is not subject to any qualification requirements.
Under section 32K of the same ordinance, a person who intends to operate and use maritime radio equipment for voice communications in Hong Kong waters must first obtain a Restricted Certificate of Competency in Radiotelephony after having passed a simple examination conducted by Ofca that takes roughly 90 minutes to complete. The exam is to ensure competency of the concerned individual in operating such equipment without inadvertently interfering with other licensed users of maritime radio equipment.
Anyone who has passed the exam may apply for the certificate from Ofca, which is valid for five years at a one-off fee of HK$280. In addition, the maritime radio equipment needs to be covered by a Maritime Radio (Local Vessels) Licence with an annual fee of HK$150.
Anyone interested in taking the exam may contact Ofca for the syllabus and other details. The exam fee is HK$150. Candidates may prepare for the exam by self study, or by taking courses organised by private organisations. The course fee normally does not exceed HK$2,000.
The training course mentioned by Mr Greene is actually designed for persons who intend to operate a global maritime distress safety system installed mainly on ocean- going pleasure vessels.
The guidelines for the application for these licences are available at the website, www.coms-auth.hk/en/licen sing/telecommunications/apply/index.html.
Members of the public who are interested in taking the exam or applying for the licences may contact Ofca at 2961 6606 or via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further details.
T.F. So, assistant director (operations), Office of the Communications Authority
Disabled can do well in any classroom
I think Hong Kong has made some progress in ensuring the rights of people with disabilities are protected.
The Equal Opportunities Commission has played a role in this regard and the government has provided funds to help the disabled participate in sport.
We have also seen improvements in society. For example, wheelchair racers were included in this year's Standard Chartered Marathon. But, there is more that can be done, especially by the government.
I think all pupils should have the opportunity to be placed in the same type of school regardless of their disabilities. This can help eliminate discrimination.
Disabled pupils may have difficulty adapting to life in a mainstream classroom and this could lower their self-esteem, but if they are in a special school, they should be given the help they need to prepare for the transition to a mainstream school if they wish to make this move.
Officials must also tackle the problem of unfair employment opportunities, by subsidising more social enterprises. While laws can be introduced imposing tough penalties on firms that discriminate, they will be difficult to enforce. It would be better for the government to do more to make disabled people aware that if they are discriminated against in the workplace, they can approach the Equal Opportunities Commission.
It is also vital to educate Hong Kong citizens, so they recognise the importance of inclusion and embracing diversity.
Melody Wong, Tsuen Wan
Take care when giving personal data
Companies often offer points reward programmes, but is it really necessary for applicants to provide identity card number and date of birth when filling out an application form?
Some firms have been criticised for asking for too much information from customers joining their loyalty programmes. When do you decide that you are being asked to give too much information?
I would not be willing to provide private data that I did not consider to be relevant to the points reward programme, such as, for example, my date of birth.
I would not object to providing basic contact information and my identity card number as the firm has to be sure that you are the genuine recipient of the points to be rewarded.
All customers applying to join a points reward programme should read all the clauses contained in the application form and ask themselves if the request for their personal data is justified or not. We need to be aware of the risks involved if personal data is leaked. Of course, it can come down to how a customer defines privacy.
William Chan, Sha Tin
Expressing your views is not bizarre
I refer to the letter from Alex Chan ("Self-righteous stance lowers tone of debate", October 11).
The language used by some to criticise non-Chinese residents who comment on Hong Kong affairs is disturbing.
They are called "irrational" or "self-righteous" as if they have no right to express their views, especially their "bizarre views of free speech". I see nothing bizarre about raising issues with the ill-thought-out national education curriculum.
As the Joni Mitchell song says "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone". When free speech is no longer a given, its value will be even higher.
Jennifer Eagleton, Tai Po
Another bad year for poor MPF fund
I recently received my Mandatory Provident Fund statement and from the HK$24,000 paid in over the past year, the guaranteed fund has been able to lose just over HK$1,258.
This is about 5.25 per cent and I must congratulate HSBC on this for a job "well done". And I mean well done for themselves. They have just parked my money in there and did not have to do a thing. It is about time the whole MPF became voluntary so I can put my money to work where I want.
Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay