Letters to the Editor, October 22, 2012
Cross-border tension cannot be ignored
There is a feeling that, for the sake of people living in Hong Kong, there is a need for stronger regulation of the number of mainlanders coming here and better scrutiny by border control of the purpose of their visit.
Everyone knows of the enmity and ill feeling that exist when you hear of the cross-border traders, the obscene purchases of everyday items, like milk powder, and the general explosion in numbers travelling to Hong Kong.
This has affected daily life in a detrimental way.
The government must recognise the problems caused by the visa system regarding visits to Hong Kong when cross-border travellers are allowed to enter and re-enter at will for the purpose of making large-scale purchases of these items.
There has to be a greater appreciation by the government of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying that the current system is at breaking point.
Many people are annoyed with what is happening and they are rightly calling for regulations to be strengthened for the betterment of Hong Kong residents.
Knowing of this concern, it was disappointing to read that "tourist industry veterans" have poured cold water on even trying to do something at a time when many people in Hong Kong are deeply concerned and troubled ("Limiting visitors' surge 'a tough task'", October 8).
It would be good for the government of Hong Kong to take action on this issue and alleviate the growing public concern.
P. Power, Tai Po
Proposed limit on visitors will hurt economy
Hong Kong's streets are swarming with mainland tourists, especially in Central business district.
They walk around with bulging shopping bags and talk loudly in Putonghua.
There is a huge difference in standards of social etiquette between mainlanders and Hong Kong citizens and this is a cause of concern for residents in the city.
Visitors from over the border appear less willing to follow the sometimes unwritten rules in our society governing our behaviour and they are often considered to be lacking in manners.
There are also complaints about their bulk purchases of daily necessities such as milk powder which can lead to shortages in supply.
For these reasons, some people have asked for a limit to be imposed determining the maximum number of visitors allowed.
Supporters of this policy whereby maximum capacity is calculated say it is sensible and feasible given that the city is so densely populated.
However, I do not share their views. Ways to deal with Hong Kong's overcrowding problems should be found, but we should not be deterring visitors from coming into the SAR.
Nobody with the right visa should be deterred from visiting the city.
If some line was drawn, we would have fewer visitors and would a see significant decrease in tourist expenditure, which would hurt many sectors of the economy.
Also, such a policy would damage the image of Hong Kong.
Even if this measure was adopted, it would be unfair to single out mainlanders and not impose a limit on other tourists. If we did this, it would exacerbate tensions that already exist between Hongkongers and mainlanders.
I do not consider this proposed limit to be a feasible suggestion.
Crystal Lam, Sha Tin
Why means test must not be scrapped
The means test for the proposed new HK$2,200-a-month old-age subsidy is necessary.
It aims to find a balance between the needs of elderly citizens and the financial capacity of the Hong Kong government.
The means test is a reasonable way to identify those who are really in need.
After all, the new subsidy is designed to provide old people who are poor with a better standard of living.
If we don't have a cut-off for people whose assets exceed a certain limit, then how can the scheme serve its original purpose, which is to help those most in need?
If the means test was scrapped, then anyone over the age of 70, even those who were well-off, could get the HK$2,200 subsidy. Would this be fair to taxpayers?
Besides, there would be many side effects if the means test was scrapped.
It is estimated that, if it was waived, the cost of the scheme would soar from HK$6 billion to HK$10 billion. This HK$4 billion difference could be better spent on infrastructure projects or improving our medical services.
Some may argue that HK$10 billion is not a big deal for an administration with a large surplus, but the economy has gone through difficult periods recently and we could be facing a financial crisis in the future. The government will need substantial funds to deal with that.
Also, the government needs to address the problem of an ageing population and estimate the financial burden of the social welfare system. We will need tight controls on future expenditure or government reserves will dry up. Just look at Greece. Its government neglected the consequences of providing a costly social welfare system and this hurt the national economy.
Although I think the means test is an essential part of the new old-age subsidy, the government must ensure that it has deployed sufficient staff to deal with it and that the instructions are clear and straightforward for elderly people.
Bess Tsang, Cheung Sha Wan
Refresher course for cabbies
I cannot agree more with Paul Surtees ("Train city's taxi drivers to give better customer service", October 12).
In fact, they need more training on driving as well as driving courtesy.
Some common irritating faults that I experience when behind a taxi are:
- Cruising slowly to look for customers without any concern for vehicles behind them;
- Stopping suddenly with no signalling;
- Turning either left or right, but using hazard lights instead of indication lights, so anyone following has no idea what the taxi wants to do;
- Refusing to allow another car to get into their lane by stepping on the accelerator, in spite of the other party having signalled for a considerable time; and
- Shooting off when lights are turning from green to amber.
It would also be sensible if there were some regulations prohibiting taxi drivers from driving over a certain time limit and becoming overtired.
I have on one occasion actually taken a taxi at 9am and the driver fell asleep while at the wheel, albeit driving very slowly through tunnel traffic from Hong Kong to Kowloon. I had to wake him up to carry on driving because the cars were starting to move on.
While I would not say that all taxi drivers are guilty of the above, I would say that many of them could do with a refresher course not only for honesty and courtesy, but also for better and safer driving.
Barbara Winterbourne, Happy Valley
Giving pill to teenagers makes sense
It is incredible that there are people like Cheung Yuet-ching who believe that "Hong Kong schools and parents have done all they can in teaching teenagers proper sexual attitudes" ("Morning-after pill not right for girls of 14", October 12).
Such naivety is amazing.
Does your correspondent not know about raging adolescent hormones and honestly believe those can be controlled merely by schooling and parenting?
Hasn't there been a constant explosion of illegitimate births and abortions over generations, both in the developed and developing world, to thwart the best intentions of parents and educators?
Following the rational US practice to provide pills to teenage girls to prevent pregnancy makes more sense than relying on the blinkered belief that preaching abstinence works among adolescents.
Giving teenagers the pill will not make them more promiscuous than they already are basically.
Not only will it stop blighting the lives of many young girls who would otherwise be unable to grow up, lead normal lives and professions, it will also prevent blighting the lives of countless children, as well as those of parents and grandparents, who are left to bring up grand- children in their old age (as happens in many third-world countries).
Vandana Marino, Discovery Bay
Beauty salon therapy death is wake-up call
The "anti-cancer" therapy at a beauty centre which led to four women falling ill and one dying, should serve as a reminder that we need to be careful when seeking some forms of treatment.
It is up to consumers to protect themselves.
Before they embark on any form of therapy, they have to consider if any risks are involved and, if so, whether it is worth going ahead.
They also need to carefully read contracts and the precise details of any disclaimers which are included.
They need to be sure that the contract is not in any way infringing their rights as customers.
This incident at the beauty salon has also shown that the government has an important role to play here.
Beauty centres offering therapies such as this must be tightly regulated.
It must be made clear to them that, if there is an accident, the consequences for those involved will be serious.
There must be a compulsory risk assessment of all therapies.
Also, the relevant government department must undertake regular checks of all beauty salons to ensure their therapies and sales methods are not breaking the law.
Xavier Chong, Tsuen Wan