Letters to the Editor, January 17, 2013
Banks should stop financing arms race
Calvin Quek of Greenpeace East Asia ("Green advocacy can help banks shed the spectre of scandals", January 5) calls on large international banks to redeem their blemished image by investing in "green" and low-carbon projects.
This is certainly a worthy endeavour and one that banks should embrace, and it brings up the whole issue of corporate responsibility, which has received little attention in Asia.
Most corporations in Asia, whether publicly traded, government-controlled or in private hands, still operate on a "maximise profit" and "the environment be damned" philosophy. Banking money from the West has poured into Asian stock markets for this very reason, because bigger profits can be made compared with American and European markets where labour unions and environmentalists demand better controls.
Most social evils - whether political corruption, environmental degradation, the arms race, people and goods smuggling, money laundering and tax evasion - are linked to big money and eventually the whole international banking industry.
It's well known that the banking industry in Europe supported the arms race that led to the first world war and its awful consequences. Swiss banks, in particular, with their beloved secrecy, have notoriously supported dictators around the world and even opposed the return of their assets to their victims.
One better way that banking officials can redeem themselves is to stop investing in the arms industry - no more money for making guns, grenades, missiles, nuclear weapons and bullets and their delivery systems. Then we will really find out those who want to help humanity.
Greenpeace should move beyond "green" projects and get to grips with the really serious issue - the assault on human life and values by the international arms industry and its supporters and corrupt and misguided politicians.
The environment will heal itself once we stop financing the "killing fields" and start respecting each other.
J. Garner, Sham Shui Po
Private colleges have role to play
I disagree with New People's Party lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee regarding private universities.
She said that the government should improve infrastructure at public tertiary institutions, including the provision of more halls of residence, instead of giving land to private universities ("Huge bill fails to derail university", January 3).
I think there are many advantages to setting up more private universities.
So many young people are now competing for places in education at the tertiary level, and private institutions can help meet the demand.
Also, by allowing the private sector to expand with the allocation of more land, government expenditure could be reduced, as it would not have to spend so much every year on improving infrastructure at public colleges, such as libraries and lecture halls.
There would also be the possibility of greater choice. Students could take courses at private institutions not available at their public counterparts.
Some people might challenge the effectiveness of private colleges, arguing they are not viable in our society.
However, private schools, especially at secondary level, and hospitals have proved to be not just viable, but very successful in Hong Kong.
Nowadays, many parents prefer to send their children to private secondary schools and many patients will choose to undergo medical treatment in one of the city's private hospitals.
Although the services offered may be expensive, the private institutions are still popular with some Hong Kong citizens.
I think this proves that it would not be unwise for the government to make more land available to private tertiary institutions.
Crystal Lam, Fo Tan
More glass recycling centres needed
I would not support legislation being passed by the government to make recycling of glass mandatory ("Mandatory glass waste recycling considered", January 6).
It is not that I have specific objections, but I think this is a law which would be very difficult to enforce.
You see discarded glass all over Hong Kong. If, for example, officials targeted glass bottles thrown away on a housing estate, how would they identify who threw them away and take action against these people?
However, I do think the government could choose a better option than a mandatory scheme. It could encourage wholesalers and retailers to recycle glass bottles.
For example, you see a lot empty bottles in bins outside bars after the weekend.
It would not be that difficult for these bottles to be collected and taken to designated recycling centres.
What needs to be done is for more of these recycling points to be established near areas where there are bars and eateries so that staff are more willing to take empty bottles there.
Li Tik-sze, Ma On Shan
Elderly require much greater protection
More than 100 mistakes in the dispensing of drugs were reported in care homes for the elderly from 2009 to the end of 2012 ("Drug danger in elderly care homes", January 2).
Unskilled health workers dispensing the wrong medication and incorrect doses have placed these elderly people at risk.
Because of that, there have been calls for the government to "adopt a community pharmacy system to provide a centralised dispensing service in old-age homes". Having such a system in place will reduce the chances of old folk being given the wrong medication.
Having a trained pharmacist monitoring the drug dosage is the best way to ensure proper medical care is given to elderly residents of these homes and prevent unskilled workers putting them at risk.
Hong Kong has an ageing population. The government will have to come up with long-term strategies for care of the elderly, which will have to include the provision of better health care services.
It is not good enough to have only one community pharmacy in Hong Kong, as is the case. The administration must establish more of them and ensure elderly citizens are properly looked after by health care professionals.
Community pharmacies are already a standard system in many countries, and Hong Kong should follow suit.
Stella Tse, ShaTin
Community pharmacies not the answer
I disagree with the notion of establishing additional community pharmacies as a solution to medical blunders at care homes for the elderly.
Community pharmacies, as their name suggests, provide medical pills and drugs only, while care homes provide everything from meals to beds.
These pharmacies are unable to substitute for care homes in the first place, since their natures are so different.
How will those who are staying at the care homes be able to benefit from such a venture? The real problem is that health staff at the care homes are not suitably trained for their tasks.
Careful checking and constant vigilance from the care home workers will be more than enough to solve this issue.
If the elderly are at risk of being given the wrong medication due to the mistakes or lack of skill of the workers at care homes, surely a more practical method of dealing with the problem is to tighten regulation or inspection of those homes. This would increase the quality of staff working there.
William McCorkindale, Ma On Shan
Taking moral high ground inappropriate
Some church leaders have been working hard to oppose the proposed law to ban discrimination law based on sexual orientation.
Some churches described homosexual behaviour as a sin.
As a Christian, I admit churches in Hong Kong have not done enough for the oppressed, and have not criticised the oppressors. Churches which accept social injustice are the least qualified group in society to condemn homosexual behaviour.
Church leaders and Christians should humbly ask for forgiveness of our sins of omission, that is, failing to promote justice in society by keeping silent on many social issues such as property hegemony, subdivided flats, the gap between rich and poor, and human rights violations.
Paul Cheung, Sha Tin
Tolerance and humanity in short supply
Travelling through more liberal, live-and-let-live places in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, has made me aware that Hong Kong, where Christians rallied in prayer to fight acceptance of legislation that would outlaw discrimination against sexual minorities, remains a sadly undeveloped city when it comes to tolerance, humanity and spiritual magnanimity.
Peter Moss, Bestari Jaya, Malaysia