Old age allowance

Letters to the Editor, November 13, 2012

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2012, 12:21am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2012, 2:15am


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Inappropriate to wave colonial flag

I refer to the article by  Keane Shum (“Leung should remember his oath to keep Hong Kong free”, November 7). 

He was plainly mixing up what he meant by displaying the five-star flag of China in his dormitory when he was at school in the United States with what the pro-independence group meant waving the British Hong Kong flag now in Hong Kong.

Shum meant simply “here is a Chinese student who is proud to be one” whereas the group holding up posters calling for Hong Kong independence meant that they would rather revert to being a British colony or go independent if they are to be treated as Chinese citizens.

This unspoken demand for independence is evident from what  Dickson Cheung, the “spokesman of a group that has set up a Facebook page called ‘We are Hongkongers, not Chinese’” said, “We do not even want an SAR passport, but what can we do?” (“Love China or leave it, says Lu Ping”, November 1), which puts the flag waving into the category of things that one can do but should not do. It is rightly frowned upon.

The continued freedom pledged by  Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying should not be interpreted as being unfettered. And Lu Ping was right to point out that any Hongkongers who do not want to be Chinese citizens can renounce their citizenship but should not seek  to undermine  Hong Kong’s Chinese characteristics.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan


KMB has dealt with holiday overcrowding

We refer to the letter from John Croft (“Bus crush conflicts with safety mantra”, October 19).

Safety is KMB’s top priority and so we always welcome comments from all parties seeking to enhance all such aspects of our operations.

For the sake of safety, passengers are prohibited from standing on the upper deck of buses and from standing forward of the rearmost part of the driver’s seat.

Following publication of Mr Croft’s letter about overcrowding of buses travelling to and from Sai Kung on National Day, we conducted checks which indicated anomalies at certain periods, such as weekends or holidays, when a large number of urban residents travel to  this area.

We do not tolerate such anomalies and have taken the following actions.

A notice was issued reminding bus captains that standing is not permitted on the upper deck of buses.

Also, all bus captains of relevant routes in the Sai Kung area were reminded about this and told that they should take appropriate action as was necessary.

Besides this, stringent monitoring of routes in the area, especially on Sundays and public holidays, is in place so that an adequate supply of buses may be provided to cope with a sudden upsurge in demand.

In addition, surveys are conducted at control points to assess the situation in respect of passengers intending to board buses.

We are grateful to Mr Croft for raising this important issue and wish to assure him and all  your readers that we are always seeking ways in which to improve our service provision.

Gary Wong, head, Safety and Service Quality Department, KMB


Consulates still have a very important role

Jake van der Kamp is so often spot-on in his observations, but he’s way off base with his criticism of embassies and consulates (“Goodbye consulates, and please just keep going”, November 6).

I speak as one who worked in the Australian embassy in Beijing and the Australian consulates in Shanghai and Hong Kong. 

He says we now have “phone, fax, web, e-mail”, and so don’t need on-the-ground presence by government representatives. By that logic, there would be no need for companies either to have on-ground presence, for they too can talk to each other “instantly whenever they want”. 

Yet, despite the availability of modern telecommunications, few firms have given up face-to-face meetings and on-ground representative offices. There is nothing like personal interaction to provide accurate insight into what is going on locally. As for companies, so for governments. They would be half blind if all they did was rely on  phones, faxes and e-mails.

He criticises government trade promotion efforts. But he is plain wrong when he says that “the supposed beneficiaries of trade promotions organised by diplomats would walk away from them instantly if they had to pay for them”.

I headed the Australian Trade Commission’s East Asia division from 1990 to 1996. We organised many trade promotions  in the region. In all cases, the companies paid for participation and for individual assistance. We tracked the results of the efforts through third-party analysis based on the feedback from companies themselves. These showed practical, dollar-denominated results.

He is also wrong when he says “what these consuls now do is endless networking within their own foreign services to make sure they stay on the promotion machine”. In my experience within the Australian diplomatic and trade services, the focus was always on doing the job at hand and helping promote Australia’s international diplomatic and trade success.

“They are also big on gossip”, he says. Well, of course there was gossip. That’s human nature and not the preserve of government departments: I’m sure van der Kamp has heard of “water cooler gossip”, a fact of life in every company.

Van der Kamp is way too cynical. Government service overseas has a proud and effective tradition and one that benefits its citizens.

Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay


Officials must educate the city’s drivers

I am grateful to T.F. Leung, commissioner for transport (“Roundabouts not always the answer on HK’s crowded roads”, November 8) for referring to my letter (“City’s drivers puzzled by roundabouts”, October 29).

Unfortunately, however, Mr Leung goes on to ignore the particular issue that I raised.

I opined that drivers here generally fail to efficiently negotiate roundabouts and that this negates the main objective, namely to improve traffic flow.

I also claimed that a significant part of the problem lies with the two bodies (Transport Department and local driving schools) who have a responsibility to educate drivers.

Once again, therefore, I urge the department to takes some practical steps (along the lines that I have previously outlined) to increase driver awareness and improve both traffic flow and road safety.

Kevin Lee, Tiu Keng Leng


Delays are so unfair to needy elderly citizens

Although the proposed monthly Old Age Living Allowance of HK$2,200 for people over the age of 65 [subject to a means test] has proved controversial, the chief executive has said he will not alter it.

The government wants the measure implemented as soon as possible so that it can help the poor elderly, especially those living under the poverty line who are in desperate need of this money. However, it faces a filibuster challenge from some lawmakers.

I believe the legislation should be passed by Legco so the pension payments can be made as soon as possible.

If it needs fine tuning the necessary adjustments can be made at a later stage. The government wants restrictions in payments imposed so that it is able, in the long term, to finance the allowance.

I really hope lawmakers will approve this legislation as soon as possible.

Ange Hui Wing-yan, Tsuen Wan


Foolproof sterilisation important

I refer to the report (“Infection scare at HKU dental clinic”, November 4), regarding equipment not being “properly sterilised” at the University of Hong Kong and affecting up to 250 patients.

I appreciate that HKU provides a good dental service for its students and associates, but following a thorough investigation HKU must ensure that sterilisation procedures are improved and that there is no repeat of this incident.

This was clearly a blunder that must not happen again.

Alex Tang Hin-lung, Sha Tin