Top ranking a poisoned chalice
I refer to the report ("Populist policies 'threaten HK's reign as freest economy'", January 11).
The US organisation with the pompous title, the Heritage Foundation, has given this top spot to the city "since the ranking started in 1995".
In the same issue, there was a significant report ("Pay outpaced by prices in decade of high inflation") saying that Hongkongers' "median pay rose by only about 10 per cent between 2001 and 2011, despite property prices going through the roof and food prices climbing steadily".
This period when Hong Kong has held top spot has been accompanied by increasing air, noise and light pollution, the demise of small businesses, escalating home and food prices, shrinking living spaces, an unbreakable supermarket duopoly, increasing wealth gap and much more. This has resulted in a marked degeneration of people's quality of life.
We must be thankful to this so-called Heritage Foundation for pointing out the error of our ways and hope that we will soon move down the list and become a society that cares for people, and not just a number that is supposed to tell us something about "the economy".
S.P. Li, Lantau
Rape reports tend to portray India unfairly
I refer to Kevin Rafferty's article ("Rape case shines a light on India's deep sickness", January 12).
I wonder how Americans or, for example, Catholics would feel if they read headlines like ("Latest US shootings show US's deep sickness") or ("Latest child abuse case by priest shines a light on the Catholic Church's deep sickness").
The article tries to portray India as a place where abuse of women, even gang rapes, is common.
This is simply not true, and it has more to do with the sensationalising efforts of the media.
Actually, the disgusting Delhi gang rape in December was a rare case, which is the reason it alone brought protesters out on the streets of the city.
India is as safe as for women as any other safe country in the world would be.
Of course, Delhi remains the crime capital of the nation in all aspects, not just rapes.
I concur with Rafferty's views that women travellers from other cities in the country are always more cautious when travelling to Delhi.
I have travelled by public transport in many cities in India, and can safely say that there is a huge difference of decency between the passengers in Mumbai, Bangalore and Ahmedabad on the one hand, and with Delhi on the other.
The crime situation in Delhi definitely needs to be addressed.
But even in this respect, India is not the exception. Every country has some cities that are more dangerous than others.
One of the main problems with the democratic system in India is that the law is too lenient with criminals.
I firmly believe that India should make the death sentence obligatory for all terrorists who wage war against the country - drug peddlers, rapists, murderers and those who swindle public funds.
I am not claiming modern India is immune from the problems mentioned by Rafferty, but it is definitely not alone in this respect.
You carried the report about film star Jackie Chan's comments on America ("US the most corrupt country, rants Jackie Chan", January 12).
There are so many positive points in present-day Indian society which are an example to other countries.
Kishore Sambwani, Pok Fu Lam
One-child policy must be updated
China has worked hard at trying to slow down population growth through its one-child policy.
However, the policy has led to different long-term social problems, such as gender imbalance and issues relating to the elderly and ageing.
Given the problems associated with the one-child policy, I do not believe it is sustainable in its present form.
I understand that the central government wants to keep population growth under control, but it could modify the policy. It could impose a tax for people wanting to have a second child. The amount they would have to pay would be linked to their income. Charging people only what they can afford to pay would ensure a fair system for everyone.
Sally Ho Wing-yin, Sha Tin
Sandwich is enough on short flights
My reaction after reading the report, "Saying goodbye to the 'chicken or fish' routine" (January 17), was, it's about time.
As someone who sometimes travels to the Philippines and Taiwan, I've often wondered why Cathay Pacific, and other Asian-based airlines, usually serve full meals during flights that take barely two hours.
After having been on budget airlines in the West which sensibly give passengers sandwiches, fruit and water on short hauls, I wondered why Asian airlines kept wasting so much space, energy and time providing big meals.
Now, with overall costs skyrocketing, Cathay has finally acquired some common sense.
Will the other Asian carriers follow suit or continue to ruin the environment with their big carbon footprints?
Beatriz Taylor, Cheung Chau
Kwun Tong health centre in a mess
Would someone from the government care to explain the existence of the Kwun Tong Jockey Club Health Centre?
I have no complaints about the professional staff or skills provided, merely the venue.
In this great city of wealth and prosperity, this health centre is surely a disgrace. Here, one finds patients awaiting treatment, jammed together and suffering in cold, dingy and ill-lit corridors.
When I was there, I found the toilets to be wet. They smelled bad and the discarded bloody bandage in the urinal almost didn't seem out of place.
I was shocked by the state of this health clinic. It is a far cry from certain, other, rather palatial clinics that are scattered across Hong Kong.
I have backpacked to some wild places and seen some pretty ordinary public health institutions. This one ranks very low.
I believe, in terms of conditions, that it is third-world.
I feel for those poor people of Kwun Tong district.
Can't the Urban Renewal Authority do something?
Barry Dalton, Sai Kung
Government records must be in archive
It is heartening to read that the Ombudsman has finally yielded to pressure from Simon Chu Fook-keung, the former director of the Government Records Service (GRS) and others ("Call for archive law to protect valuable government data from loss", January 5).
Perhaps he realises that Hong Kong's lack of official archiving deprives our city of an essential legacy.
The fact that no official documents from the offices of the chief executive or the financial secretary have been transferred to the GRS ("since 1997") is not acceptable.
Correspondence from these offices is the intellectual property of Hong Kong. It is not for office holders to choose not to reveal records. Their thoughts and actions belong to the people.
If it was acceptable in 1084 for the Zizhi Tongjian to record a "Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government", then the writings of our leaders should mirror the running of a modern Hong Kong.
Mark Peaker, The Peak
Pupils need extra aid for hearing device
The government should ensure that subsidies are given to hearing-impaired pupils who need to pay for an external device for hearing implants and its maintenance. After all, their parents are taxpayers and these implants are essential for youngsters with severe hearing impairments.
Education officials argue that the Hospital Authority should provide maintenance services for the devices as it carried out the implant operations. Whether it comes via the authority or directly from the government, officials must find a way to ensure that a subsidy is available.
Ho Kong-chun, Tseung Kwan O
Why this fixation with English?
With reference to the letter by Ronald Wong ("New policy can raise kindergarten pupils' standard of English", January 13), one is driven to ask one very pertinent question.
That is, why is there such a fixation in this particular correspondent's letter with "proficiency in English"?
He seems to take it as a given that such proficiency is somehow quintessential to the overall viability and well-being of the SAR.
I am flummoxed by such an assumption and seriously question any such requirement without one iota of evidence, one shred of logic, or one scintilla of statistic.
Vaughan Rapatahana, Tin Shui Wai