Children's commission long overdue
The festive season is said to be one of peace and goodwill to all mankind; it is a special time for children - or should be.
The most important asset of this place we call home is its people, and the future of Hong Kong is its little people, our children.
Despite Hong Kong's wealth and overall prosperity, there are children who are starving, who do not have sufficient clothing and shelter, who are being abused, or are simply alone.
Despite our human rights and other legislation, for practical purposes the only rights children have are the rights given to them by us adults.
While there are many good people and organisations that do much to assist our children, they cannot do all that is necessary and for years they have been calling for the establishment of a children's commission.
The idea of a commission was even the subject of predominantly positive but ultimately fruitless discussion in Legco's welfare services panel in June 2006.
I believe that the chief executive is not averse to the idea and I could not imagine that any right thinking and honourable member of Legco would oppose such an initiative either.
The establishment of a children's commission would be a wonderful initiative for all (of Hong Kong's) mankind, in the year of the snake.
J. Reading, Central
HSBC bosses should issue apology
I refer to the letter by W. John Charman ("HSBC penalty will spill over to customers", December 14).
The effect on customers is only one small side effect of money laundering.
Money laundering is a very serious crime, because without it, there are thousands, maybe even millions, of minor crimes in societies all over the world which would not be possible if crime syndicates could not move their dirty money around and launder it.
Banks must be alert to this, and they have two important roles - to stop shipping the money derived from criminal activities, and to help police catch the perpetrators.
The fact that HSBC has paid US$1.9 billion in fines is a recognition that it was responsible for what happened.
Societies will have suffered from criminal acts which were made possible because people were able to launder money. The bank's top directors should apologise for what has happened.
This would send a message to front-line operators that they must be more vigilant when dealing with transactions. Societies depend on them to help curb money laundering.
Shui Lee, Central
No place for slave labour in modern city
I refer to Samantha Datwani's letter ("People forget what made HK so successful", December 19).
Your correspondent is confused. She suggests that limiting the working hours of workers will impose a "preposterous" financial burden on the government.
There is no correlation between the control of excessively long working hours by low-paid workers and the wide-spread calls for increased welfare benefits and subsidies.
While welfare payments and subsidies are indeed paid for from government finances, the cost of implementing regulated and shorter work times will be borne by industry and business, which will have to settle for lower profits, something most can well afford.
It is only greed that causes the residual resistance to change.
There is no place for slave labour in modern Hong Kong, where workers are still forced to work 12-hour shifts six days a week with no time for relaxation with their families and friends.
P. A. Crush, Sha Tin
Sometimes the poor have to be offered help
I would like to argue against the points raised by Samantha Datwani in the letter ( "People forget what made HK so successful", December 19).
She clearly is taking the view that success is determined by wealth alone and not acts of generosity as a consequence of that wealth. It is impossible for everybody to go "from rags to riches through their unfailing passion and perseverance".
If that were possible virtually everyone would stop working. Hard work and clever ideas are required to make and then to maintain one's wealth.
Of course, not everyone can earn the same and there are wide margins in earning power.
Ms Datwani must appreciate that organisations must exist to speak out for those who will spend their lives working hard on low incomes and struggling to make ends meet.
They are entitled to expect the government to help them.
The government has a duty to protect and, if necessary, to help those citizens who are not wealthy.
Individuals who are earning the minimum wage will sometimes need additional assistance given the economy in Hong Kong.
I no longer admire the rags- to-riches stories of people.
Their achievements offer no answers to the problem of global poverty.
There are now greater inequalities of wealth than ever before.
The least that billionaires can consider doing is giving some of their wealth to alleviate the poverty suffered by so many people throughout the world.
Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels
CY forgot that integrity is very important
I can see that many people are gradually moving away from the crux of the matter in the discussion about the chief executive's illegal structures at his home(s).
This perhaps is a good strategy for defence but is not making the problem go away. Yes, the continuing bickering is getting political, and yes, the illegal structures in question, compared to those found in the New Territories, may not be serious and could be excused. But the politics and the legality issue of his homes (current and previous) would not have materialised had he been forthcoming from the start.
Instead, he tried to challenge the press and the intelligence of people. Perhaps he should have read about what happened to Gary Hart and Bill Clinton in the US.
The crux of the matter is about his honesty and integrity, which is of utmost importance for a leader. It not just about the illegal structures, which are just the lens through which people can now have a glimpse of his character. Sometimes, street-smartness and wisdom are very different.
Wilkie Wong, Wan Chai
Stop fixating on universal suffrage
I refer to the report ("Democrats make Emily Lau leader", December 17).
Emily Lau Wai-hing correctly identifies the need for her Democratic Party to rejuvenate itself. However, the problem runs much deeper than just image and its ability to refocus on the younger generation and women.
It has always been a one-dimensional party, and the only issue for it is universal suffrage.
Democrats need to get out of their offices more and into the real community, because for the general public universal suffrage is well down the list of priorities.
Emily Lau has warned that any delay in the implementation of direct election for the chief executive in 2017 and the choice of all lawmakers by universal suffrage in 2020 should not be blamed on members of the Legislative Council.
However, the way that the lawmakers have been (under)performing since Leung Chun-ying took over as chief executive is bound to give the mainland authorities misgivings about advancing our political system to full universal suffrage.
The Democrats need to see the bigger picture and go beyond their current legalistic nit-picking to present the community with some realistic and constructive vision.
Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels
Lawmakers are behaving irresponsibly
The failure of a majority of lawmakers to attend a session last Monday designed to solve urgent problems, for political reasons or otherwise, has set an extremely bad precedent for the image of the Hong Kong SAR ("Meeting to discuss C.Y. aborted after no-shows", December 18).
It mirrors the utter lack of social responsibility on the part of those in high political posts likely to hurt Hong Kong's autonomy.
As a matter of fact, members of the public have hitherto been dissatisfied with the performances of some of those legislative councillors who have put individual political rights above the interests of the community.
Efforts to filibuster and block a government decision to dole out a living allowance to senior citizens subject to means tests could be singled out as a typical case, not to mention the misconduct of some members acting like naughty students.
To save taxpayers' money on those selfish office bearers, it is imperative that a code of practice be established, with heavy penalties for lawmakers who neglect their duties and are not able to give reasonable excuses for their inaction.
It is to be hoped that some social elite can come up with an ideal policy to rectify such an unreasonable situation which is detrimental to our society.
Peter Wei, Kwun Tong