Letters to the Editor, November 8, 2012
Former top official being unfair to city
Comments made by Lu Ping, former director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, are unfair to the city ("Love China or leave it, says Lu Ping", November 1).
Given conflicting value systems and other problems, I can understand why some citizens want Hong Kong to be independent, though their views would appear to be too extreme.
It is true that, at the start, the British cared little about Hong Kong.
But, over the years, positive Western values, such as freedom of speech, became part of the fabric of society and Hong Kong became recognised throughout the world as a significant and prosperous city.
After the handover, certain values came under threat and some Hong Kong people have become tired of the central government. They are right to voice their concerns before it is too late.
Lu Ping says that without the mainland's support, Hong Kong would be a dead city, but look at our history and the contributions Hong Kong has made to China.
We have helped the country acquire advanced technology and set up factories which provide jobs.
Hong Kong people have contributed enormous sums to help alleviate poverty and provide assistance to victims of natural disaster on the mainland.
The city provided a haven to Sun Yat-sen as he plotted to overthrow the Qing dynasty. And today, people from this city have shown their support for the country's claims over the Diaoyu Islands.
Lu Ping should recognise the contributions that have been made by Hongkongers.
M.L. Fong, Wong Tai Sin
Citizens accept SAR is integral part of China
Lu Ping has said that people who do not recognise they are Chinese should renounce their Chinese nationality. In some protests in Hong Kong, people have waved colonial flags.
They are expressing their discontent, but I do not think they are promoting independence.
Firstly, waving colonial flags does not contravene any laws. I cannot believe that anyone in this city would deny that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China.
People should not be condemned for seeking to express their views through demonstrations, so long as they are doing nothing destructive, such as burning the flags of a country.
Also, the government should not turn a blind eye to why many of these protests are taking place and the fact that there is growing tension between Hong Kong and the mainland and people in this city fear that they could be deprived of their freedoms.
Curbing protests will not help to improve these strained relations.
People are concerned about issues such as national education and there is nothing harmful about airing your grievances.
Harmony in a society is more likely where divergent opinions are allowed to be aired.
Demonstrations enable a government to gauge the changing tides of public opinion.
Citizens must continue to uphold their right to express their opinions through peaceful protests.
Ng Tsz-kin, Ma On Shan
Fair reward for productive working lives
We have an ageing population and as more people start to think about life when they retire, mostly after the age of 65, they begin to wonder if they will have enough money to enjoy a stable life.
The issue of whether or not such people should be entitled to a proposed Old Age Living Allowance of HK$2,200 a month has proved controversial.
People have expressed concern about this subsistence allowance, as they feel the cost to the government will turn out to be huge.
As a student, I support the administration's proposal because it is very important that we take care of the elderly.
We must always remember the important contribution these people made to the city during their working lives.
They gave so much for so many years, and hoped that when they retired, they would enjoy a comfortable life as a reward for their efforts.
It is also an opportunity for the administration to show that it has the power to get through legislation it has proposed. Many people had doubts about Leung Chun-ying when he was elected chief executive.
This is an opportunity for him to win the support of Hong Kong citizens.
Lau Yat-to, San Po Kong
Proposed allowance is far too low
The government must double the proposed Old Age Living Allowance and raise the amount needed to pay for it by increasing salaries tax.
It should do this, because I feel the Mandatory Provident Fund will lag behind people's retirement hopes. The old-age allowance should be benchmarked against inflation. The elderly must not have to endure a drop in living standards.
All old people in Hong Kong should be allowed to enjoy a golden age, whether they are wealthy or not. People who need this allowance should be entitled to a higher sum, given their efforts during their working lives.
It is good karma to help old folk find happiness before they leave this world.
Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels
Pupils are let down by local school system
The lack of international primary school places is a result of local parents placing their children in these schools. The English Schools Foundation, for example, represents reasonably priced, good-quality education that the local system does not provide.
I placed my bilingual child, who speaks some Cantonese, in a local school, hoping for a trilingual and bi-literate education. Our dream was shattered when my daughter became depressed and hospitalised suffering from stress. After over two years on a waiting list, she has managed to get into ESF, where she can study in a child-centred and progressive environment.
The local system extracts a high price from teachers and students. Many children experience failure within a system that is characterised by low-level rote-learning, poorly trained management, overworked teachers, and inadequate teacher training.
Perhaps, instead of suggesting a local curriculum for ESF, the education secretary could look at introducing an international curriculum to the local system?
Neil Stewart, Sai Kung
Poppy Appeal money stays in the SAR
I refer to John Wilson's letter ("Poppies for sale thin on the ground", November 6).
The Social Welfare Department, which issue permits for flag days, has deemed Saturday, November 10, a "regional flag day", which means that we only have permission to sell poppies on the streets of Hong Kong Island. Two other charities will also be holding a flag day, one in the New Territories and one in Kowloon.
Regarding the question of the use of our funds, all the money we raise in Hong Kong remains in Hong Kong and is used solely for the welfare of ex-servicemen, their widows and dependents who have fallen on hard times and are resident here.
We do not send any money raised to the Royal British Legion in the UK.
Our accounts are annually audited and lodged with the Companies Registry for those who wish to see them and we have a separate audit for our Poppy Appeal which is published in two newspapers, one English and one local, within 90 days following our appeal.
We would be happy to answer any questions regarding the Poppy Appeal and/or the use of the money raised either by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by telephone: 2544 6270.
Lieutenant Colonel Peter Messervy, chairman, The Royal British Legion (Hong Kong and China Branch)
Maids being duped by urban myths
Many employers in Hong Kong are using untrue urban myths to cheat their domestic helpers out of holidays.
The first myth is that during the first three months of an employment contract, maids cannot have any statutory holidays. This is not true.
The law does not allow any exception in the first three months to the right of maids to statutory holidays.
The second myth is that maids can be required to have less than 24 hours off each holiday. This is also not true.
The law clearly sates that maids should have a 24-hour holiday.
Many employers will say, "You just cook breakfast before you go on holiday", or some such illegal demand.
More contentious is the definition of "reside".
The contract says that the maid must "reside" at the employers' apartment or house. But many employers interpret "reside" to mean that the maid must return every night.
I believe that when I say I myself reside at my house, that means that I ordinarily sleep there but I certainly do not sleep there on holidays.
Why are maids so different? Why cannot they also sleep outside on their holidays?
Alan Crawley, Sai Kung