Letters to the Editor, January 18, 2013
Anti-Leung outcry is an overreaction
I have lived in this city for 18 months and have found Hong Kong people generally to be friendly and polite.
When I have tried to speak the Cantonese I have learned with them, they have been encouraging.
However, I have been disappointed with the recent ongoing criticisms of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
I am sure even Leung would admit he could have handled better the situation regarding unapproved structures at his home, but calls for him to stand down have been way over the top and simply not the correct punishment to fit the crime.
Hong Kong people have spoken and have been heard, and it is clear they will settle for nothing less than an honest and credible chief executive, which I am confident Leung will prove to be in the long term.
It is obvious he will never have the full support of those who want him to stand down. However, it is time for people to move forward and become more united so that Leung can tackle the most pressing issues for Hong Kong people that he has outlined in his policy address.
Daniel Bettiol, North Point
Slow passage would hit parallel traders
Measures taken on both sides of the border to curb parallel trading have been spectacularly ineffective, judging by the evidence on the ground in Tai Po.
Every day, a steady stream of closed vans stop under the railway viaduct and disgorge about 10 youths. They unload the vehicles and disappear down the tunnel leading to Tai Po Market railway station as fast as they can.
They all carry bulging backpacks and drag wheeled carts piled with big cartons. There is no mistaking what they are up to. No policeman or trading official has ever appeared on the scene. Since this has been going on non-stop for about two weeks, they must be the only ones not to know about it.
To impose a ban on people crossing the border more than once a day would be fruitless. Clearly the organisers' pool of legmen is much too large for that to make any impression.
A better way would be to divert these unmistakable persons to a single queue at border posts, where their luggage would be inspected bag by bag and carton by carton, no legislation needed. If it takes two to three hours to get through every time, that would indeed put a brake on their activities.
David Pollard, Tai Po
Politics, not faith, hurting Philippines
L.M.S. Valerio's letter ("Religious fervour holds back nation", January 15) overstated the influence of the Catholic faith on the economic development of the Philippines.
Your correspondent's faulty logic can also be used against Indonesia, Thailand, India, and the Middle East, where Catholicism represents a minority. Brazil, a predominantly Catholic country, has been booming in the past 10 years. Traditionally Catholic countries like France, Spain, Portugal, and even England before Henry VIII were mighty world powers at various times in history, regardless of the national religion.
Filipinos are among the happiest people on earth, despite economic underdevelopment and encountering so many natural disasters. Their religious faith helps them cope with the storms and the weaknesses of their country. Economic development and wealth do not determine quality of life and happiness - take, for example, Americans and the Japanese.
Religions are usually abused by people in power. It is mainly politics that pulls the Philippines down, as in many other countries.
Religion is always a scapegoat and we should look at things in a broader perspective. Your correspondent may also not know that an increasing number of affluent Singaporeans are turning to religion. What would that country's former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew say about that?
Lee Yiu-chu, Quarry Bay
Protection of citizenship key to progress
L.M.S. Valerio's letter ("Religious fervour holds back nation", January 15) puts the blame for the Philippines' social and economic woes on centuries of "indoctrination" by Catholic Spain.
It also hints at authoritarian rule as a way to economic growth and cites the example of Singapore. However, both the argument and the conclusion can be dismissed by facts.
Catholic countries like Portugal and Spain in the 16th century spearheaded the age of discovery and exploration, charting new waters and connecting peoples across continents in the first wave of globalisation. Spain also founded what is the oldest existing university in Asia, the University of Santo Tomas, in Manila in 1611.
Religion had some influence on those forward-looking endeavours, and it was clearly positive.
It was more than 100 years ago that Spain lost the Philippines to the United States, in 1898.
Quite frankly, well into the 21st century, seeing religion as an obstacle to development seems off the mark.
I have many Filipino friends who are devoted Catholics and at the same time are outstanding professionals in their fields.
We all know that people from the Philippines are very hard-working, and their cheerful vitality in the face of adversity is most admirable. The reasons for sluggish development lie elsewhere.
Enlightened leadership and people's access to education are paramount to achieve a measure of progress. I also believe in free enterprise in a market economy, and protection, and registration, of property rights. But probably most basic to ensure progress are the rule of law, separation of powers, and a guarantee of civil, social and political rights: the core concept of citizenship, now under threat by increasing inequality the world over.
Citizenship is key to development and also key to understanding the interplay between government and markets. The future depends on how well we defend it.
Juan Morales, Causeway Bay
Policy rethink needed to save rural beauty
I fully agree with Richard Peters, stating that our countryside is being spoiled by fairly uncontrolled building of small housing ("Beauty of New Territories being ruined", January 14).
There is an apparent shortage of building space and I believe, with better planning and design, we could create environmentally interesting villages without dotting the landscape with ugly high-rise buildings. It is high time for a policy change.
Peter Ortmann, Clear Water Bay
Questions go deep in alleged census fraud
I am writing regarding the allegations of "widespread data fabrication by census field officers" of the Census and Statistics Department ("Experts named to panel probing fake census data", January 11).
It has been claimed that some frontline officers faked data, rather than collect it, for example, when it came to subdivided apartments.
If the allegations prove to be true, then frontline staff responsible must of course take the blame for making up data, as they should adhere to a professional code of ethics, which should ensure that the data collected is authentic and accurate.
This is important, given that this information is critical to the formation of government policies.
However, senior staff of the Census and Statistics Department will also have to take responsibility if the claims are true.
After all, they were supposed to supervise these field officers and if one of the reasons given for what happened was heavy workload, then questions will have to be asked about why staff were given too much to do.
Following the inquiry by a government task force, Commissioner for Census and Statistics Lily Ou-yang Fong must make any changes that are deemed necessary to ensure that, from now on, only genuine and reliable data is collected.
Lau On-yin, Lai Chi Kok
More must be done for elderly in care
Many Hong Kong citizens nowadays work long hours so they can meet the financial needs of their families.
As a consequence, they find it hard to take care of elderly parents and sometimes have to send them to care homes.
Now, it has been revealed that in some of these homes, unskilled staff have sometimes given the wrong medication or doses to residents which could place them at risk.
This is a very dangerous and unacceptable state of affairs and raises questions about the overall level of care of the elderly in these homes. If some need special diets, because of, for example, heart disease or diabetes, will unskilled employees ensure they get the right food or will they be given dishes that could make their conditions worse?
In order to maintain the standards of workers in these homes and ensure the old folk get the right medication, it is essential to establish more community pharmacies in Hong Kong.
Staff at these pharmacies should be properly trained, with occasional reviews of their performance to improve quality of service. With more of these pharmacies in place, there is a greater likelihood of ensuring that elderly people get the care they deserve in care homes.
Cherry Yau Wing-yan, Sha Tin