Letters to the Editor, October 24, 2012

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2012, 2:19am

Means test is part of prudent budget policies

I share Bess Tsang's view that the means test for the proposed HK$2,200-a-month old age subsidy should not be abolished ("Why means test must not be scrapped", October 22).

Statistics show that there is great financial inequality in Hong Kong.

Therefore, it is essential for the government to introduce a basket of measures to reverse, or at least to mitigate, the trend.

An old age subsidy should be seen as a positive way to help seniors experiencing financial difficulties. But if the test was to be scrapped, even some of our richest tycoons would be entitled to receive the HK$2,200, which defies the purpose of the subsidy. This would constitute a waste of taxpayers' money.

I cannot understand the comment of Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan that his party opposes the test because of "a matter of principle" and unionist Chan Yuen-han's view that "the government has all the capacity it needs" to introduce the subsidy without a means test ("Support grows for Leung's old age allowance", October 22). Although the government has substantial reserves, there must always be flexible and meticulous financial planning and inappropriate spending of the budget is not acceptable.

There is a pressing need for the government to implement this old age subsidy, given that more than one million people are said to be living in poverty.

I hope all the political parties will try to address the issues in a sensible and logical manner.

James Au Kin-pong, Lai Chi Kok


Women-only carriages a good idea

The assault of actress Juliana "JuJu" Chan Yuk-wan on the platform of an MTR station has led to renewed debate on whether women-only carriages on the network are needed ("Actress in campaign after MTR assault", October 17).

I think such carriages should be introduced, as they can reduce the frequency of assaults against female passengers. Women often feel too embarrassed or afraid to speak up after they have been molested.

There is often a feeling of helplessness which persuades them to remain silent. Women-only carriages can offer them greater protection.

This arrangement has worked in some countries in the region, such as Japan and Korea. I think the MTR Corporation is only citing minor logistical reasons for not implementing this scheme and the problems that exist can be overcome.

Carol Li Wing-sum, Ma On Shan


Education the key to curbing sex assaults

I am not convinced by the arguments being put forward for the implementation of women-only MTR carriages.

I think women in Hong Kong are more likely to shout, if they are victims of sexual harassment, than female passengers in some other societies.

This can already prove to be a deterrent for prospective perpetrators.

Also, such carriages might be seen as encouraging sexism, with all male passengers feeling they are being stigmatised.

This goes against the principle of gender equality in our society, which is supposed to protect the rights of men and women.

I can also see logistical problems on the MTR's network, with the women-only arrangement sometimes causing overcrowding in other carriages.

The best way to prevent such attacks on the MTR is through education. Hong Kong women should be encouraged at all times to raise the alarm and shout for help if they are the victims of such assaults. Also, they must always report these attacks to the police.

Cherry Yau Wing-yan, Sha Tin


Rethink on man-made beach needed

I am concerned about the government's decision to build an artificial beach at Lung Mei in Tai Po.

It is a natural mudflat with many species and their habitat would be cleared to make way for sand to create the beach. There are also plans to build a car park, toilet and restaurant.

Green groups have confirmed that the water quality where the new beach will be located is too poor for swimming.

I think officials should reconsider this proposal.

Bremen Sun, Tsuen Wan


Corruption was rife during colonial period

I take issue with Jason Wordie's insinuation that corruption was at the lower level of police and public works (invariably Chinese) in colonial times, but not among the higher ranks, that is, the British ("Hong Kong's greedy officials are only playing to type, thanks to integration", October 4).

I lived among Chinese refugees in a squatter area near Wong Tai Sin for about eight years, and saw lower-ranking police officers forcing the poor to pay them. Lower-ranking Chinese officers complained they were so badly paid that they had to make a living from the people, and also had to collect corrupt money to send up to the (usually British) bosses.

Those lower-ranking Chinese who did not collect the money were soon sacked and in some cases imprisoned on false charges. I dealt with some cases and had them released from prison. Examples of corrupt senior British were Peter Godber, Ernest Hunt, and others who were caught by governor Sir Murray MacLehose, the first senior British administrator to listen and take action against corruption among the British.

Look back through history and it becomes clear that feudal landlords, rich farmers of the agricultural revolution, merchants of the industrial revolution, and present-day technology tycoons, almost all have one aim - to grab wealth, and corruption is no bar. Money has become more and more the god to be worshipped, not only among some Chinese, but everywhere. Simply put, "The love of money is the root of all evil" while those who have no opportunity to make big money are often despised.

What I find despicable are those billionaires of any nationality who vie with one another to see who can acquire the greatest number of billions, and who work to keep their wealth within their families. They are blind to the suffering of the underpaid, quarrelling over increasing the salaries of hard-working people by even HK$5 an hour.

The hardship of the poor is created by the greed of the rich, and corruption is most common among the rich. It has nothing to do with nationality.

Elise Tu, Kwun Tong


'Guaranteed fund' showed higher loss

I refer to the letter by Jeffry Kuperus ("Another bad year for poor MPF fund", October 18).

I would point out that if there is a "loss" of HK$1,258 after 12 monthly Mandatory Provident Fund contributions of HK$2,000, then the effective percentage loss amounts to 19.24 per cent, per annum (a lot more than the 5.25 per cent Mr Kuperus calculated).

This is to bear in mind that the contributions were made only at monthly intervals and not on the basis of a full HK$24,000 for the entire year.

The average amount of contribution amounts, on an annual basis, to HK$13,000, resulting in the loss ratio of 19.24 per cent.

I would like to see a plausible explanation of how a loss of this scale on a "guaranteed fund" can be justified.

Alan Johnson, Lantau