Letters to the Editor, April 10, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 April, 2013, 3:20am


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Thatcher not only changed UK, but world

The death of Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven marks closure for a woman who galvanised not only her own generation, but those to come.

Loathed and loved with equal passion, Thatcher herself prized one thing more than any other - the success of Britain for all its citizens.

She never forgot her humble origins, nor the stern lessons of her father on the value of prudence - to balance the books and live within your means were the benchmarks of her life.

Thatcher was more a classical liberal than the Tory she will be remembered for. Indeed, Thatcher herself commented in 1983 that "I would not mind betting that if [former prime minister William] Gladstone were alive today he would apply to join the Conservative Party".

A conviction politician who was "not for turning", she led the United Kingdom through a period of economic turmoil and trade union warfare. She was a unique, yet divisive, person who changed not only Britain but the world. She will be remembered with passion, and history shall judge her as one of our greatest leaders.

May she rest in peace with her beloved Denis, and may we be grateful for the freedoms her foresight allowed us to enjoy.

Mark Peaker, The Peak


Fans showed Cheung spirit at memorial

It was not an ordinary Fools Day this April 1. Instead it marked a significant moment - the 10th anniversary of the death of Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing, one of Hong Kong's celebrities.

He was not only loved for his singing and acting abilities, but a caring and sincere personality that impressed those he met.

When I visited Times Square recently to pay tribute to the giant Leslie Cheung memorial, one of his fans asked me to take photos of her by the statue.

After I had done the favour, she addressed me as gor gor. It's Cantonese for "elder brother", but carries a broader connotation of friendship, even with complete strangers. After that, I felt that the world was so warm and touching.

Barry Kwok, Wong Tai Sin


Time for new law to cover electric bikes

With regard to recent letters about "dangerous" motorised bicycles, we cannot blame the police for simply doing their job, which is to ensure that everyone obeys the law.

Electric bicycles have a useful place in Lantau's traffic-free villages, but they need to be regulated. The real question is: who is responsible for keeping laws consistent with modern times?

I appreciate that the process of law reform can take a long time, even years. So, during the interim, does anyone have authority to override sections of outdated laws while new ones are being promulgated?

It is difficult to know who in government one should ask. Perhaps the office of the chief executive could inform readers.

S. P. Li, Lantau


Probe needed on outsourcing of workers

There may be an additional reason for our striking dockers to picket ParknShop supermarkets, other than their owner (Cheung Kong's Hutchison Whampoa conglomerate) also being the main operator of Hongkong International Terminals, the site of the strike.

Some years ago, it was revealed that ParknShop had outsourced many of its jobs, such as sales staff, to subcontracted firms, just as Hutchison Whampoa does now for much of its dock labour force.

It can be presumed that Cheung Kong/Hutchison employs the same cost-saving, union-busting, benefit-limiting tactics at Taste, Fusion and its other ParknShop stores.

It would not be surprising to learn that the conglomerate takes advantage of the same staffing subterfuge in other branches of its business, to avoid taking direct responsibility for the payment, terms of employment, benefits and rights of "its" employees.

Outsourcing of employees is so common in Hong Kong that it warrants investigation by local trade unions, legislators and the Labour Department.

While no doubt perfectly legal, it is a poor example of management ethics.

Barry Girling, Tung Chung


Lower tunnel tolls the key to fewer jams

I write regarding the problems of congestion at the Cross- Harbour Tunnel and the possible ways that have been put forward to deal with it.

The Cross-Harbour Tunnel toll is the lowest of the three crossings (the others being the Eastern and Western harbour crossings) to Hong Kong Island.

Using The Western Harbour Tunnel costs a heavy goods vehicle four times as much as the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, and it's five times more for a taxi.

From the drivers' point of view, the Cross-Harbour Tunnel is the most economical choice, regardless of the guaranteed congestion when lanes of crawling vehicles crowd the entrances on both sides of the harbour at various times of the day.

It seems fairly obvious that lowering the tolls for the other two tunnels would be the best way to solve the problem.

Traffic researchers have found that the daily two-way vehicular flows of the two newer tunnels are much lower than at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel purely because of more expensive tolls. Lowering the tolls would attract more drivers to use the other two crossings.

If the difference in the tolls of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and its two rivals was reduced, the vehicular flows would be distributed more equally to ease the heavy burden on the Cross-Harbour Tunnel.

Constance Lai Hiu-ching, Tsim Sha Tsui


China had no right to set up new prefecture

Your reference to China's "newest city, Sansha" ("One snag in Sansha cruises," Sunday Morning Post, April 7) rightly points out that the two million square kilometres this illegitimate jurisdiction comprises overlaps with waters and land features over which Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim full or partial sovereignty.

Unfortunately, the article fails to mention the real snag - that China's absurd territorial claim is entirely without basis in international law.

Nor is there any mention of the scores of Vietnamese who were murdered, and hundreds more abused, since Beijing seized the islands in the 1980s. The photo caption, which reads "Woody Island, Sansha City", is similarly misleading.

Jonathan London, Ngau Chi Wan


HK food labels scheme adds little of value

I am becoming sceptical about the value of Hong Kong's nutrition labelling scheme that purports to put the nutritional information of imported foodstuffs into a local context.

These labels, applied individually to each packet, bottle, jar or can, often obscure other important information on the container (for example, how to cook the contents), and frequently show nothing more than the original nutrition information from the supplier.

In many cases, the information is only provided in English, rather defeating the object I would have thought.

As to the accuracy of the labels, a packet of British table salt bought recently from a well-known supermarket indicated the contents to be 100 per cent sodium! As every schoolchild knows, common salt contains some chlorine. If you add pure sodium to your soup, it would spontaneously ignite.

David Sorton, Discovery Bay