Letters to the Editor, December 11, 2012

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2012, 1:50am

Accident rate in factories is far too high

Accidents in mainland factories which result in serious injuries such as loss of limbs are all too common. Often, this happens because workers are made to operate outdated machinery.

Sometimes they are hurt because they have been given insufficient training and do not know how to use a particular piece of equipment safely and what precautions they should take. Tragedies can happen in factories where the managers are trying to cut corners.

The central government has to do more to ensure that the rights of workers are protected.

It should draw up adequate health and safety regulations and ensure they are adhered to in the workplace. Machinery should be inspected and renewed on a regular basis.

Also, factories must ensure that employees are given sufficient training so workers know how to protect themselves from potential injuries.

Many mainland workers are on very low wages, but their health and safety rights should still be respected. However, any tougher laws in this regard will be of little use unless Beijing cracks down on corruption.

Nicole Man Siu-ching, Hung Hom


Third runway will be costly white elephant

I read with amusement the report ("International pilots back plan for third runway at Hong Kong Airport", December 3).

Why do you find this interesting or newsworthy? Of course they would, wouldn't they? International Formula 1 drivers would no doubt back a plan to turn the whole SAR into a racetrack, but that is no reason to do so, and no reason for the taxpayers to pay for it.

Far more to the point was the letter by Clive Noffke ("Shipping statistics sound a warning on airport runway three", November 30). This shows that the Hong Kong government's standard methodology of forecasting by simple extrapolation is fatally flawed - it was proved wrong with the proposed container terminal 10, and with the 2004 super prison. Falling container shipping numbers, taken with Cathay Pacific's falling cargo numbers, show that the fundamental drift of exporters away from the Pearl River Delta is accelerating.

Add in the fact that passenger numbers are unlikely to increase, as more mainland airports open up direct flights to the rest of the world, and the case for a third runway starts to look very shaky.

But don't worry, it will only cost HK$130 billion, and the cost will be passed on to the taxpayers, so of course "international pilots" are clamouring for it. And of course, when cargo and passenger volumes fail to materialise, it can always be used as a go-kart track, and the officials who backed it will have retired, so they won't mind.

R.E.J. Bunker, Lantau


Offer school places to SE Asian pupils

Secondary school principals have agreed to the government's class downsize plan because of an imminent drop in the number of students.

Although reducing class sizes in line with Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development statistics is laudable, the motive appears to be to deal with the problem of dwindling numbers. However, the government should try to get more students by promoting its education system within Southeast Asia.

Apart from Singapore, Hong Kong's top-tier universities enjoy higher rankings than other tertiary institutions in the region.

Tuition could be offered by expanding our most prestigious schools and it would be a less costly alternative for Southeast Asian parents than sending their children to schools in Australia, Canada and the United States.

Also, as the gateway to China, young people from abroad who studied here would gain a better understanding of China, which could improve their career prospects.

Some of the brightest school graduates might apply for residency in Hong Kong.

Leung Ka-kit, Yau Tsim Mong


Put animal abusers behind bars

If a human kills another human, it is called murder, and a life sentence, or in some countries execution, is the penalty.

If a human maliciously kills a pet or stray, it is also murder - we call it abuse.

People who abuse are unbalanced and to let them escape punishment for such crimes (that is, a suspended sentence) is ridiculous.

When there is a law permitting up to two years' imprisonment plus a HK$200,000 fine, why is it not enforced?

By not enforcing the full weight of the law, we are encouraging more monstrous acts of abuse.

Jean Afford, Causeway Bay


People more productive with hours law

Different stakeholders have varying views on legislation to establish standard working hours.

Some opponents have claimed that employers would have to pay HK$55.2 billion in wages if such a law was enacted in Hong Kong.

Even taking into account additional costs, employers have to accept that they must take responsibility for protecting their employees.

Such a law would protect workers' pay levels.

A lot of people in Hong Kong continue to work overtime without receiving any additional pay. They do not do this willingly, but because they are afraid that if they try to fight for their right to receive overtime pay, they could be fired.

They do not press the issue in order to protect their job, but this is totally unfair.

A standard working hours law would offer them the protection they deserve and ensure they were paid a reasonable rate for the overtime they did.

People who have to work long hours find that it takes a heavy mental and physical toll and this can adversely affect their performance.

With this law, some employers would be reluctant to pay overtime. But in order to keep employees, they would have to allow them more time off.

This could ensure that they did not have to work such hours and it would improve the quality of their work and make them more productive.

Companies should see their adherence to standard working hours as part of their corporate social responsibility.

While they wish to be profitable, they must also show concern for the welfare of employees.

I hope that the government will consider bringing in this legislation as soon as possible.

Alison Siu Yeung-chun, To Kwa Wan


Radical new pension policy long overdue

I would support the implementation of a universal pension in Hong Kong.

Elderly members of society deserve our respect and this would ensure that they could lead decent lives.

For many elderly citizens, the present sources of income are not helping them.

They have to rely, variously, on what they can get from the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) scheme, Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) and the old-age allowance.

The MPF scheme has a number of problems, such as its notoriously high administration fee and low returns. Also, women who have been full-time housewives would get nothing at all.

Many old folk feel too ashamed to apply for CSSA and feel that taking it amounts to a failure to maintain themselves.

The government has a responsibility to do more for old folk. An MPF scheme makes a one-off payment, but this is not the case with a universal pension.

With a one-off MPF lump sum, people would worry that they might eventually run out of money.

They would feel left without a safety net when they should be able to enjoy their final years.

The universal pension would ensure they had enough money and would not take account of previous earnings or investments.

Henry Wong Cheuk-pang, Tsuen Wan


Parked cars cause serious congestion

On Prince Edward Road West (Mong Kok-bound direction), on the north side of the road between Waterloo Road and Earl Street, there are cars that are constantly parked and double-parked where there is a single yellow line - a no-waiting zone.

The problem is especially serious from 3pm to 6pm on weekdays and on Saturdays.

This causes traffic jams to two main routes in Kowloon: Prince Edward Road and Boundary Street, because cars wanting to go to Mong Kok from Earl Street are blocked and cars are backed-up to Boundary Street.

I am a resident of the area and I hardly ever see any traffic police or wardens issuing tickets or asking the drivers to leave.

The ironic thing is that there is sometimes a traffic police officer on a motorbike on Earl Street trying to catch people running the red light on Prince Edward Road, but he is not doing anything at all about the parking problems in the area.

This situation needs to be rectified as soon as possible in order not to cause any inconvenience and annoyance (with people honking their horns) to the residents in the area.

Samuel Yau, Kowloon Tong