Letters to the Editor, March 15, 2013

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 March, 2013, 4:48am

Weasel words while allowing discrimination

The recent gestures on the part of the Hong Kong government to address the serious issue of human trafficking and bonded labour ("New strategy to close the net on sex traffickers", March 10) are less about a genuine attempt to crack down on crime and more about public posturing.

If the Director of Public Prosecutions Kevin Zervos was serious about curbing sex trafficking, enforced labour and abuse of domestic helpers, then it would be a relatively simple matter to abolish the laws and policies instigated by the government that discriminate against both domestic helpers and migrant workers.

It is these unequal laws that that give rise to these abuses in the first place.

The areas in which the government discriminates include the two-week rule, the live-in rule, and the refusal to treat migrant workers equally with others in terms of obtaining permanent residency.

If Mr Zervos really wants to end what he has described as "modern-day slavery" in Hong Kong then he should first address these government initiated policies that discriminate against migrants and contribute to the instances of abuse which he claims to be concerned about.

James Rice, Tuen Mun


Untrue that church rejects gay rights

Recent reports in the South China Morning Post give the impression that Christian faith is incompatible with a belief in the equal rights of sexual minorities. This is not true.

Within the Christian church a range of views exist about homosexuality and whether it is a sinful state or an inborn sexual orientation that is not sinful. Several Christian churches around the world ordain, bless and even marry homosexual people.

As ministers of Kowloon Union Church, we seek to lead a church community that welcomes all people, regardless of ethnicity, colour, gender, age, socio-economic status, mental or physical (dis)abilities, and sexual orientation. We warmly welcome people of all sexual orientation who wish to follow Jesus and be part of a loving community of Christ.

The history of Christianity shows the church repeatedly struggling to live out the radical inclusiveness of Jesus, who ate with society's outcasts and helped the "untouchables" of his day. Sadly, over the years the Bible has been used to justify slavery, apartheid, and the subjugation of women in much the same way as some now use it to oppose homosexuality.

The process of moving away from the viewpoints that oppress and damage others (for example, that slavery is acceptable, women should be subservient to men, homosexual people are sinful) and towards viewpoints that celebrate the wholeness and contributions of all these groups is a slow one. However, it is occurring.

On Sunday, Kowloon Union Church, with other Christian groups and churches, will launch a campaign called "Covenant of the Rainbow - Towards a Truly Inclusive Church".

This campaign promotes an inclusive and friendly attitude towards sexual minorities within both the church and wider community.

People's stories will be told via a video presentation, and we encourage anyone who chooses to listen respectfully to come and broaden their understanding of this issue. Every human being is a child of God.

We affirm equal rights for people of different sexual orientations and support anti-discrimination legislation that upholds their inherent dignity.

Reverend Phyllis Wong, Reverend Maggie Mathieson, Kowloon Union Church


Build medical learning, not private luxury

I think there is a demand in Hong Kong for the development of a Chinese medical hospital on land next to the Baptist University's Kowloon Tong campus ("University gains Legco support over land use", March 12).

On the one hand, it can provide vocational training for Chinese medicine students.

It would also have a key role to play in the development of the city's Chinese medical sector. Once construction was complete, citizens would have greater choice when deciding whether to see a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner or a Western-trained doctor.

Even if this hospital is not built, the land should not be used for a luxury residential development, as proposed by the government but rightly opposed by a Legislative Council panel. Given the problems ordinary people have finding affordable housing it would be inappropriate to have luxury apartments next to an educational institution.

The land is supposed to have an educational role and exclusive apartments do not fit in with such a role.

Maybe the government is concerned that if the Baptist University is given permission to build the hospital on this land it will eventually not do so.

However, I think officials should reconsider what is a wrong decision and approve the university's proposal.

Katie Lee, Ma On Shan


Wheels off logic in MTR bike rule?

Could the MTR Corporation please advise the logic of having to remove the front wheel of a bicycle before being allowed to travel on its trains.

Having to balance the bike vertically in a crowded carriage, exposing the front fork to passengers and holding the removed wheel in the other hand is not only awkward but serves no point, unless of course the MTR has a valid reason.

Sathish Gobinath, Central


No appetite for reducing food waste

I am concerned about how wasteful people are.

So often we focus on excessive use of electricity, but we often forget about the huge amount of food waste that is generated.

People love dining out and if they are in a group will order several dishes. But so often they will leave a lot of food uneaten on their plates.

We should all be trying our best to protect our environment and this starts with each individual.

When we are ordering at a restaurant we should consider what we will be able to eat and order just that.

It is the same when you shop for food. You should purchase only what perishable food you will need over the next few days.

I think if we all made an effort the volume of food waste could be reduced.

Lilac Lam, Sau Mau Ping


Husky that attacked puts people at risk

I was astounded to read that a Siberian husky which attacked, unprovoked, a 13-month-old baby in the centre of Mui Wo, Lantau, has not been classified as dangerous by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

There is no doubt among local residents, most of us dog lovers, that this dog is dangerous. As you reported, "the dog has attacked smaller dogs, and has killed at least one" ("Dog attack parents 'mad with system'", February 20). It jumped up and bit the baby in a bike seat and had to be pulled off by its owner.

As the little girl's mother Sharon Le Roux said, there was a large loss of blood and her daughter "was severely traumatised and in pain for several days" and now has a bald patch and a scar ("Decision on dog leaves children at risk", March 7). Had the child been on the ground, the attack would have been at face height and the consequences would have been more serious.

The owners know the dog's history, yet choose not to take responsibility for this dangerous animal. At this point, the law should step in to protect those who cannot protect themselves, namely local babies, toddlers, children, other residents and animals.

What on earth are the owners and the authorities waiting for? Would maiming someone be considered a serious enough injury in order for it to be put down, or does it have to kill a child?

The authorities' decision is not only a travesty of justice but puts the rest of us who live in Mui Wo, our families and pets, at risk.

Angharad Hampshire, Lantau


Hours law is in workers' interests

Some of your correspondents have pointed out that the present working culture in Hong Kong, which leads to many people spending long hours in the office, has to change.

They argue that it can have serious consequences for people's health and their family life. Although standard hours legislation is a controversial topic, with labour unions and employers' representatives holding differing views, a consensus needs to be reached in the interests of both sides.

If the vicious cycle of long hours continues, the quality of people's work will be adversely affected, which can damage the reputation of the companies they work for. This legislation needs to be enacted as soon as possible. It is a natural extension of the minimum wage law.

Employers have to realise that exploiting workers to maximise profits is unethical. People who are not forced to work for long hours will be altogether more contented and more productive.

Iris Tam On-kiu, Tseung Kwan O