Maids will be at the mercy of agencies
I note that the Bangladesh envoy says his office is very serious about an agreement with local agencies to recruit domestic workers from his country ("Consulate 'close to a deal on helpers'", December 28).
He is quoted as saying that "we think that Hong Kong has a strong rule of law" that will protect Bangladeshis.
Rule of law Hong Kong does have, but its effectiveness depends on enforcement.
Is the envoy aware of the flagrant abuses carried out by some domestic helper agencies? Is he aware of the practice whereby vulnerable helpers are required to pay commission much greater than the legal limit, and so end up paying 90 per cent of their first seven months' salary, often with their passport held as a bond?
Is he aware that the more unscrupulous agencies, at the end of this period, encourage employers to take on a new helper, in so doing sacking the first and consigning her to returning home with nothing to show for the investment of considerable money and time?
More to the point, is the Hong Kong government aware? I presume that it is, in which case, why is not more done to stop such abuses?
Geoff Carey, Sai Kung
Activists not helping cause for democracy
Alex Lo in his column ("Will democracy slip from our grasp?" December 14) ended with this sober reminder that the way the pan-democrats behave nowadays is holding back democratic progress: "Will Hong Kong reach a turning point and fail to turn?"
The 2017 chief executive election could produce, for the first time in 5,000 years of Chinese history, a government leader democratically elected by universal suffrage. Beijing has taken a leap of faith in allowing such a possibility constitutionally, but provided this unprecedented democracy procedure is approved by the chief executive, the Legislative Council, and of course, Beijing itself.
Once unleashed, this democratic institution will be permanent, legally, morally and culturally.
This will change Hong Kong, perhaps China, forever. And Beijing knows what's at stake.
If I were a Beijing leader, I'd do one of two things. One is not to open Pandora's box. The other is to open it, but make sure my man would win. Beijing has chosen Leung Chun-ying to be the man. But he is allowed to serve no more than two terms, totalling 10 years.
By 2017, he has only five years left, assuming he is re-elected.
By 2022, the door will be wide open for pan-democratic candidates, or whoever, to compete on an equal footing. It is possible the Hong Kong voters would choose an anti-communist leader.
So I echo Lo's comment. The methods of the pan-democrats to undermine Leung are "holding back democratic progress". And the consequence would be that Hong Kong reaches a turning point for democracy and fails to turn.
Guy Lam, Central
Name those who vote for impeachment
I think that many of us would be grateful if the South China Morning Post published a complete list of people who vote for the impeachment of our chief executive.
I would like to see it, preferably in large print and on the front page.
We need this list so that, if the central government declines to allow universal suffrage in 2017 on the grounds of "political immaturity", we will know who to thank.
S.P. Lee, Lantau
Scapegoat hides society's deeper ills
Your editorial ("Taking a stand for birth control", December 28) sounded more like a "press release" of the Philippine government.
It parroted the decades-old, foreign-instigated, family planning propaganda which appeared in the late 1960s in the Philippines.
The idea that "overpopulation helps keep them ensnared in a poverty trap" is a fallacy. Overpopulation is an overused scapegoat shrouding deeper ills of society.
It's also a veil used to cover questionable foreign intervention or experiments in the local economy.
Some people are poor because they don't have jobs or a better-paying employment; they have little education or no drive to advance in life; entrepreneurs or companies that employ them fail, or exploit them; or they're helpless victims of the government's failed economic policies and inefficiencies, and ubiquitous corruption.
Ironically, among the very poor in the Philippines, I have seen what I felt are the happiest and sincerest smiles from people, which I don't often see in Macau, Hong Kong or Zhuhai .
This is just to say that happiness is within the reach of both the poor and the rich. And it's not all about economics or money.
The Philippine government will be better off spending public funds to enhance public education and teacher training, ethics training and development for public servants, pro-life medical and health services, public housing and rural development, agribusiness and technical development, and a host of other pro-poor programmes.
More public funds for contraceptives, family planning and a dubious sex education will be a waste of resources.
Zenon Udani, Macau
Repeats good for some subscribers
I refer to the letter from C.K. Chan, of PCCW ("Viewers gain from BBC's repeats", December 27), replying to Garry Coley ("Left reeling by Now TV's endless re-runs", December 15).
Local Chinese viewers do benefit from re-runs of programmes. It helps them improve their English, as they can watch a programme again and pick up on the words they missed the first time.
For example in the show MasterChef, the contenders and judges talk quickly.
I think some viewers will struggle on first viewing to grasp everything that is being said while they are trying to concentrate on the preparation of the dishes.
Therefore, in order to fully appreciate the show's contents, they will want to watch it again.
It is a bit like reading a newspaper during your lunch hour. You are unlikely to have time to read all the stories and appreciate everything in the paper in one sitting.
Some readers will therefore go back to the paper and read it again later.
It is the same as watching repeats of shows on the BBC.
Pang Chi-ming, Fanling
PCCW offers very poor service
The response by C.K. Chan, of PCCW ("Viewers gain from BBC's repeats", December 27) to Garry Coley's letter regarding the endless repeats that we get in Hong Kong from the BBC channels ("Left reeling by Now TV's endless re-runs", December 15) is very weak.
Not only are programmes repeated constantly during the daytime (if you watch BBC by day, come evening time the same programmes will be aired again) but they are repeated year after year.
Some series I have seen come on three times and programmes are dated as far back as 2005.
It is very common to watch series that were made in 2007 and 2008.
The BBC channels as shown by Now TV do not have a good reputation, as we are paying monthly for this viewing, the vast majority of which has been re-run more than once.
Why should we subscribe monthly for the same old tired re-runs?
Many people I know have discontinued the BBC channels.
Sorry, PCCW, but this is a very poor service and money for old rope on your part.
Sandra Wyatt, Discovery Bay
Low-skilled migrants not aiding HK
I refer to the report ("Third of children from mainland fall into hardship", December 14).
A survey done by Professor Chou Kee-lee, of the department of Asian and policy studies at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, found that many mainland children in Hong Kong live in poverty.
The situation is worse than that of local children.
One of the causes of this is that many of the migrants who come to the city from the mainland do not have a high educational background.
Often, this means that they can only get low-skilled jobs as cleaners, dishwashers, security guards and the like.
These jobs do not pay a lot and this can make it difficult for these migrants to meet all their families' expenses. Also, if they apply for a job and the other candidates come from Hong Kong, some employers may favour the local resident.
Most of the mainlanders who live in poverty here will apply for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance payments and compete with Hongkongers for a flat on a public housing estate. This puts increasing pressure on the government's financial resources.
Also, it can lead to conflicts between mainlanders and Hong Kong citizens.
The government should cut the numbers of mainland migrants it allows into Hong Kong, who have a low educational background and do not have the skills that are needed here.
Caesy Lui, Tsuen Wan