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Letters to the Editor, March 30, 2013

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 March, 2013, 3:34am

Losing faith in HK after maids ruling

As a 26-year resident of the city, I have mainly always been proud of Hong Kong.

On Monday I felt shame, wondering whether I could even look at a domestic helper straight in the face, feeling that I and my fellow Hongkongers had somehow let them down.

As a pastor of an international church with more than 50 nationalities, including a good number of domestic helpers, I feel the need to declare that an injustice has been done.

I am of course referring to the appalling decision to refuse domestic helpers the same rights to residency as other foreign workers. The investment banker, say, here on a two-year contract, who returns to the head office for further instructions is treated differently and preferentially to those who serve our families and children.

Hong Kong churches looked at the story of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem this week as part of our Palm Sunday celebrations. I believe that He still weeps over Hong Kong today. We have the widest rich-poor gap in the developed world, a high teenage suicide rate, worsening pollution and a poor recycling record. They are all complex issues that, while in need of urgent action, will not be resolved overnight.

But on Monday, Hong Kong had a golden opportunity to tackle an issue in a way that would show the world that pragmatism and expediency could perhaps be made secondary to doing what is right - putting justice over convenience.

I have heard all the arguments against allowing residency for domestic helpers. I understand them, but at the end of the day, they are wrong.

It is time for us to speak out against this injustice and continue to push for a fair and just society.

Maybe as we celebrate the good news about Easter, it would be a good time to raise our voices.

Senior Pastor John Snelgrove, The Vine Church


TVB explains snag in Sevens coverage

I refer to the letters by M. D. Evans ("Station should have delayed news for final", March 26) and Rachel Hodson ("TVB viewers unable to see whole game", March 26), commenting on the broadcasting arrangements of the Hong Kong Sevens on TVB Pearl.

We fully understand viewers' disappointment for not being able to watch the entire final live on Pearl and wish to extend our sincere apologies for the incident.

The station has striven to bring this international sporting event to Hong Kong viewers. Due to injuries and other time lapses, the event, which was originally scheduled to end at 7.25pm, overran.

The station telecast the game until the very last second before making way for News at Seven-Thirty, which also announced the final result of the final as well as providing highlights footage during its sports news item.

Further, a special mini-programme was arranged at 8pm right after the news to provide a wrap-up on the result of the final and the cup presentation.

We are aware that the broadcast arrangements might not be the best and will review the situation for our coverage in the future.

I would like to assure your readers that every effort will be made to enhance our service and live up to our commitment to our viewers.

Janet Wan, manager, corporate and community relations department, Television Broadcasts Limited


England must not stray from team colour

While the Sevens was as always a roaring success, why is it that England so often decline to wear their national strip?

In previous years they have turned out in a bizarre yellow and orange outfit and this year they played no less than three times in a light blue strip that had no national connections whatsoever.

England receive massive support from their followers in Hong Kong (apart from in the Bowl final against Hong Kong on Sunday when this support was rightly transferred to the home team) and the least they could do is repay this loyalty by playing in the national strip - white.

Pulling on the traditional England shirt might also inspire a little more passion and imagination among the players than was evident in their first two games in the tournament.

Perhaps the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union could press this case with the England Rugby Football Union, or we may see even more bizarre colours next year.

Christopher Lavender, Mid-Levels


Battle against light pollution starts at home

The problem of light pollution is very serious in Hong Kong.

Although these lights look beautiful at night, they are doing harm to people and the environment.

Citizens must work with the government to reduce these light pollution levels. Individuals have to realise that they can make a difference. At home, if you don't need a light you should switch it off.

One of the black spots is Central because so many people work there.

The government could switch off some external lights. The main problem is that because there is no legislation to control this form of pollution, there is no incentive for people to switch off.

In the absence of legislation, we have to reach a consensus to reduce pollution levels.

Fan Pak-yiu, Tseung Kwan O


Fluorescent bulbs cause real sickness

I would like to reply to points made in Ralph Bishop's letter ("Don't buy into the myth of 'toxic' LEDs", March 24).

I became sensitised to modern fluorescent lighting after working in an office with a new automated lighting system.

Even short exposure now causes me lasting nausea and headache. It is not true that modern fluorescent lighting (compact fluorescent lamps and strip lighting) is the same as that which has been around for 60 years. I have been told my symptoms are probably caused by the very high flicker rate of the new fluorescent lighting.

Both compact fluorescent lamps and LEDs contain toxic materials. The former contain mercury, and the latter lead and arsenic. The light from both can cause symptoms like rash, headache, nausea, and concentration problems, both to people with existing conditions such as lupus and migraine, and to people with no other health problems.

It seems clear that people's very real health concerns about the new lighting need to be taken seriously by manufacturers and policymakers alike.

Rona Lee, Lancaster, England


Majority left in the dark about Earth Hour

This year's Earth Hour was held last Saturday.

Many felt it was a great success in Hong Kong, with a lot of companies and buildings participating. But not everyone agreed.

More firms joined the WWF's campaign than last year, but I feel that there was little public awareness.

Many people kept their lights on during the hour [from 8.30pm], arguing that they did not even notice that the annual event was being held.

If that is the case - that there was a widespread lack of public awareness - then WWF must review its organisation of Earth Hour in the city and find out why this kind of behaviour persists.

It has to ask if there were enough adverts or news reports encouraging Hongkongers to switch off their lights. In my opinion there were not, and that is why so many people were unaware that it was Earth Hour.

I fully support this global campaign. I think it is an activity that aims to unite people around the world to protect the earth. It can help individuals to become more aware about the need for environmental protection, but there has to be a more concerted effort to spread the word ahead of this big day.

Also, I would like to see it become more frequent, perhaps twice a year.

Also, it needs to be linked to other campaigns related to environmental protection that are held by different green organisations.

I look forward to seeing improvements in the way the Earth Hour campaign is organised and hope to see more participants in Hong Kong next year.

Sheena Chung, Tsuen Wan


High life now a pipe dream for small traders

Let us never forget that Li Ka-shing, Run Run Shaw, Raymond Chow Ting-hsing, Allan Zeman and others all started out as entrepreneurs.

They worked hard to turn their ideas into reality, which was what made Hong Kong the city of so many opportunities and where dreams came true. But what about the small Hong Kong entrepreneurs today?

For how long must they fight outrageous landlords and even more outrageous rents before their spirit is broken? Is the government doing anything to rein in this virus of greed?

What are publicly funded government organisations like CreateHK doing to encourage creativity, which goes hand in hand with entrepreneurship? Does anyone know?

Hong Kong has become a very divided city of haves and have-nots, with no level playing field and a government that is clueless on what to do about this and how to create a vibrant city once again.

Hans Ebert, Mid-Levels


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This article is now closed to comments

Re: Losing faith in HK after maids ruling
My suggestion for Rev John Snelgrove’s Easter sermon
The Gospel of Matthew
20: 1 - 16
(an agreement is an agreement)
13: 12
(the law of Heaven)
[ see also Chapter Five of Lao Tzu’s Moral Classic]
25: 14 - 30
(human will and endeavors to prevail over fate)
And the reply to JE's letter I posted on Comments yesterday
Won't the gap between the rich and poor become worse if Hong Kong allowed 300,000 domestic helpers to have permanent residency? We would just be increasing the number of people in the lower income group. There would be more competition for lower level jobs, public housing and school places. Most people would be worse off.
People who say that Hong Kong should allow domestic helpers to have PM feel they are taking the moral high ground. dont ignore the poor of Hong Kong. There must be balance.
If Jesus went to a town that had 200,000 people waiting for a house, that had poverty, that had issues providing school places, that could not even feed their babies, with massive inflation requiring people to work 2 jobs while leaving kids at home.
Do you really think Jesus would see the solution to bring in 300,000 more people? Make people wait 5 more years for a house? Make kids travel further for schools? Make poor people pay more taxes?
The 300,000 Filipinos have earned far more than they would have back in Filipines (low cost of living country). If they had saved wisely then they can return to Filipines to a nice house, nice environment and have a great retirement. The poor in Hong Kong have nowhere to escape to. The lucky ones are trapped in their 300 sq foot homes and collecting cardboard and newspapers to survive.
Before religious leaders say things they should think of what Jesus would do. I think Jesus would be out helping the poor already in HK (hk must clean up their own poverty). Maybe the reverend thinks otherwise.
I have full British Citizenship. My daughter has full British Citizenship. My wife, my daughter's mother is classified as British National Overseas. SP Snelgrove be careful of wading into the waters of rights of abode and national identity in Hong Kong. In a city where so many of its residents were cast off as unimportant by the former colonial masters (contrast this with Portugals treatment of residents of Macau) shouldn't you be doing more for the Hong Kongers. I look forward to seeing your letter to the Times in London expressing outrage at how badly the UK has treated its loyal servants and how their selfish actions are not Christian.
We are also Christians and we obey the law and when we enter into an agreement, we stick to it.
An interesting letter from senior pastor Snelgrove. My question is what has pastor Snelgrove done in his capacity to help this situation of the maids? Perhaps he would like to tell us here. I would also like to ask pastor Snelgrove what is the vine church, is it a charity, a business, a church, I have never heard of it, does it look after the poor and needy, what does it do? Maids go to church, is his congregation made up of maids? Tell us paster Snelgrove.
Re: High life now a pipe dream for small traders
Half-empty observers should heed the pedestrian query of Spencer Johnson
and go a step further to ask: what to do now my cheese has been moved?
China’s Four Modernizations have speeded up creative destructions
HK’s days as an entrepot and manufacturer are over
Those who welcome cross-border wealth equalization
and resultant new opportunities
should only do much much better than before
Beware of short-sighted “democrats” and entitlement robbers,
fools incessantly blaming the government they increasingly relying on
They are harming themselves and others for self-gratification


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