Letters to the Editor, December 14, 2012

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 December, 2012, 3:08am

Risky MPF scheme should be optional

The whole idea of the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) scheme is to enable people to save for retirement.

These are, in effect, old-age savings and if they are lost due to speculation or the volatility of financial markets, then surely that defeats the purpose and logic of the scheme.

The government takes people's savings by force through legislation and makes it mandatory for them to invest in funds through various trustees. These trustees are not held responsible for any losses nor does the government protect people's MPF savings from a loss.

Under these circumstances, how can it justify forcing people to give their hard-earned money to a scheme which is involved in this kind of speculation?

Every employee in an MPF scheme should be given the option to keep their savings in banks if they do not want to invest in any of the nominated MPF funds. Why doesn't the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance give them this option?

There are about 2.5 million MPF members and the scheme has assets of about HK$400 billion. Given such substantial assets, I can imagine the profits the trustees and government are making. And if an investment goes wrong, they are not responsible to those whose savings are in these funds.

The government is more concerned about capping funds fees rather than addressing the issue of protecting people's life savings.

I would like the MPF Schemes Authority to explain what purpose it is serving by playing with people's savings in this way and how this serves the public interest.

Simon Datta, Pok Fu Lam


West wing to be a bastion for rule of law

The decision by the government to conserve the west wing of the former central government offices, thus protecting the integrity of Government Hill, is a wise and refreshing one that deserves applause.

This area has been used by Hong Kong governments for more than 150 years. To decide to have offices, which will be law-related, in the west wing is such an ingenious proposition that it inspires hope in the government once again.

The rule of law, the core value of this city, will have a symbolic anchor on Government Hill. This combines with the moral authority symbolised by St John's Cathedral.

It will serve as a strong reminder to the commercial world surrounding it that the rule of law and the innate ability for human beings to pursue goodness and kindness are, after all, the most important forces that drive the future development of our city.

The government has demonstrated the good practice of sustainable development. It goes beyond just respecting the integrity of a heritage site; it has given a new meaning to the whole place, making it a significant bastion of law at the heart of Hong Kong.

Ng Mee-kam, Clear Water Bay


Hu ushered in great leaps for science

I refer to Claire McCarthy's letter ("Changing face of Chinese communism", December 10) looking at the legacy of President Hu Jintao and his "10-year reign as leader of the Communist Party".

In her shallow perspective she missed so many points.

During his tenure Mr Hu has ensured that the 1.3 billion people of the country were fed. In addition, he achieved almost double-digit growth in the gross domestic product.

Also during his term in office, we saw the success of the Beijing Olympics, the further development of China's manned space programme and the high-speed trains travelling at speeds of 300 km/h. As he has admitted in speeches, some measures are in line with his passion for science.

His face now bears all the marks of a man who has devoted himself to turning China into a modern country.

Pang Chi-ming, Fanling


HSBC penalty will spill over to customers

The record fine of US$1.9 billion levied by the US authorities on HSBC for money laundering punishes, in my view, the wrong people - that is, the shareholders and clients of HSBC. They will respectively likely see the bank's share price suffer and service charges increase.

Why have the real wrongdoers, namely some of the bank's management, who seem to have created a corporate culture that encourages and rewards criminal behaviour, not been indicted?

Until individuals and not organisations are made to pay the price for greed-driven behaviour, it will continue.

As a retired banker, I find the current behaviour of many banks and bankers to be sad and deplorable.

The sooner the industry cleans up its act, the better.

W. John Charman, Central


Mandatory code on food waste needed

Our landfills are nearing capacity and more than 3,500 tonnes of food waste is dumped into them every day. At the same time, there are food shortages in the world.

The government has come up with new measures to deal with the waste problem ("Government launches war on food waste", December 4).

I think that the operating and administrative costs of the proposed municipal solid waste charges will be high.

However, on the plus side, households will feel the pinch in their pockets, which could compel them to change their behaviour in terms of handling domestic waste.

Establishing a code of practice for traders is another government plan. According to news reports, most supermarket branches, including Wellcome and ParknShop, dispose of food that is almost expired rather than donating it to charities. I understand firms are worried that giving away the food might lead to some people falling sick and so they are unlikely to heed a voluntary code. A mandatory and punitive code will make traders carry out their corporate social responsibility.

It is also important to raise citizens' level of awareness about environmental protection through education including TV campaigns.

The government is trying to deal with the food waste problem. As citizens in this global village, we all have to alter our behaviour. We should cook only what we intend to eat and buy what we will need for the next few days to avoid throwing out stale food. We must work together to avoid food wastage.

Kelly Lam Wing-sum, Kowloon Bay


Mothers are misled about formula milk

I refer to the letter by Clarence Chung from the Hong Kong Infant and Young Child Nutrition Association ("Marketing of formula milk abides by HK regulations", December 6) in reply to my letter ("Health benefits of breast milk are obvious", December 4).

He states that a major reason for women choosing to feed formula milk to their babies is inadequate breastmilk supply. This is true. But why do so many healthy women suffer from genuine or perceived low milk supply?

The reason is simple. In the early weeks after birth, they supplement with formula milk. The baby fills up on formula and does not take the breast milk and the mother's body does not make enough milk.

Why do these mothers supplement in the first place? Because throughout pregnancy they have been bombarded by "information" from the formula companies which assures them formula milk is safe and good. These leaflets never state that early supplementation causes low milk supply.

The formula companies understand very well that mixed feeding leads to premature weaning. They know that mothers who supplement in the early weeks make excellent long-term customers.

The formula companies should not be allowed to continue misleading Hong Kong mothers. Mothers have a right to comprehensive, accurate information about feeding choices. This is available from a qualified medical professional.

Maggie Holmes, La Leche League Hong Kong


Why fuss over minor home improvement?

I refer to the letter by David Chappell ("Stop focusing on trivialities in Legco", December 4).

The politicians he took issue with know it is a sure-fire tactic to use this triviality about unauthorised structures to shoot down Beijing-favoured chief executive Leung Chun-ying. This is what foreign anti-Beijing elements want them to do, rather than, for example, focusing on better air quality.

Just about anybody living in a self-owned property in congested Hong Kong would want to improve his living space by adding some adjunct to it, which they know would not damage its structural integrity.

If a homeowner followed the rules and applied for Buildings Department assistance, the chances are it would take forever for busy professionals to come and oversee the work. So nobody bothers to go through the rigmarole set down by officials, including someone who never expected to become chief executive.

That is why then-development chief Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor introduced simplified minor-works rules in 2011.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan