Kwai Tsing dock workers strike

Letters to the Editor, April 20, 2013

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 April, 2013, 3:25am

Time to put rogue bankers behind bars

I watched the US Senate hearings into the JPMorgan US$6.2 billion loss on credit derivatives.

Banks justify their huge bonuses, saying that they are needed to attract talent.

If the collection of mumbling, fumbling, buck-passing individuals who testified are the best talent available, it is not surprising that the banks are in such a mess.

A woman who said that she had "tried her best" admitted that she did not know what was happening in her own department. She was paid millions of dollars a year.

A senior manager stated that they did not understand what they were doing. The excuses went on, with blame being passed, particularly to those not present.

Of course this gambling was done in the knowledge that any profit went to the bank and money lost was insured by the Federal Reserve.

Elsewhere we have the Cyprus situation, where big depositors faced being "fined" 60 per cent of deposits to pay for banks' reckless lending. A robber who stole 60 per cent of your life savings would go to prison.

Major banks are being "fined" by regulators, almost on a weekly basis, for various offences, yet still nobody is criminally charged. The fines are not paid by the individuals responsible for the "crimes".

Barclays, implicated in the Libor fixing scandal, paid one of its executives a bonus of £18 million (HK$213.6 million).

A UK government report into the collapse of the Halifax Building Society heavily criticised senior management. The risk manager, who in 2004 alerted them to problems, was fired. The people named are still working in the finance industry.

The UK's Financial Services Consumer Panel highlighted "an ethical failure, for many of the recent banking scandals" and stated "regulations alone will not be enough, only organisational leadership coupled with a cultural change, will lead to improvement".

Cultural change would happen if criminal charges were brought against a number of these CEOs and chairmen. They were responsible for the culture and actions within the banks. A number of them behind bars may concentrate the minds of others.

Michael Jenkins, Central


Location key in unsuitability of incinerator

In his letter ("Why we now need modern incinerators", April 16) Oliver Lam is talking about the need for an incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau, and in the process criticises the letter by R. E. J. Bunker ("Incinerator will raise risk of collisions", April 11).

Mr Lam completely misses the point regarding this issue.

It's not the incinerator that is questioned, it's the location. Besides the marine traffic mentioned by R. E. J. Bunker, there are many more reasons for not building it there.

There are plenty of logistical, environmental and monetary reasons for not building the incinerator on reclaimed land.

All these have been mentioned numerous times in articles and letters in the South China Morning Post.

Ken Chan, Tai Po


Dockers' pay demands not unreasonable

There has been public support for striking dockworkers from Kwai Tsing Container Terminals, including from students.

The management of Hong Kong International Terminals has shown a lack of sincerity with regard to a pay rise offer.

There have been claims the dockers' wages are below 1997 levels. If so, then, given the high rate of inflation in Hong Kong, that is unreasonable.

Dockers have to work long hours and are often on call. Some have said they have kept working during a typhoon. Given these harsh working conditions, I think a 17 per cent pay rise is reasonable.

The employers should agree to the wage rise demand.

The dispute has now attracted international attention and it is having an adverse effect on Hong Kong's economy.

Jessie Cheung Ho-wun, Tsing Yi


Denunciation of Thatcher ignores facts

I refer to Michael Waugh's letter ("Good riddance to architect of greed cult", April 12) in reply to me ("Thatcher not only changed UK, but world", April 10). I am thankful to him for his damnation of me along with Margaret Thatcher - to be compared to her is glorious.

To correct his rather naïve view that Thatcher "caused the demise of British manufacturing", let us look at the facts.

It is hard to exaggerate the pitiful state of Britain in the 1970s.

Edward Heath's reckless economic policy left a legacy of high inflation.

The Labour administrations of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan made things worse. A refusal to accept that Britain could not spend its way out of trouble led to the International Monetary Fund having to rescue the country from bankruptcy in 1976.

The private sector was held hostage by the unions.

The country was paralysed by a rail strike, National Health Service employees worked to rule and ambulance drivers went on strike. Rubbish went uncollected and most infamous of all was the strike of gravediggers in Liverpool, which led to the dead going unburied and coffins piling up.

When Thatcher won office, she delivered on her promises. Having emasculated the unions by bringing them within the law, she was able to proceed with the strategy of restructuring the economy and dragging Britain into the 20th century.

As a result, not only was the country transformed, but so was our standing in the world and our ability to believe in ourselves and to compete.

Mark Peaker, The Peak


ATV justified in screening all of funeral

Well done ATV for showing the whole of the Margaret Thatcher funeral live on Wednesday evening.

Even BBC World did not give so much coverage and other channels even less.

Pearl didn't bother except for a rerun biographical programme later on.

ATV was justified, as Thatcher was key to the Hong Kong story. Once she realised, albeit late in the day, that Deng Xiaoping would not agree to a day's extension to the lease on Hong Kong's New Territories, she then supervised her team to get the very best terms possible for all Hong Kong residents; Chinese, Britons and others.

And looking ahead 50 years - the agreed period of Hong Kong's independence after the handover in 1997 - is a long time, but so far so good despite childish behaviour by some of our elected representatives.

Let's hope that Hong Kong can find its own Margaret Thatcher - and soon.

Brian Hughes, Sheung Wan


Free-to-air viewers getting raw deal

TVB has been critical of the government's proposal to grant more free-to-air licences.

However, as an average citizen and viewer of English-language channels in Hong Kong, I would support such a move.

I believe we need more of these licences because TVB and ATV have been exploiting us. It is clear that ATV's English channel has given up. The quality of its programmes is poor.

TVB Pearl shows whatever it wants any time it wants. Viewers are presented with endless nature and food documentaries, but where are the popular dramas?

On Wednesday evening I wanted to watch the crime drama Castle, in its regular slot at 8.30pm.

To my great disappointment, it was pre-empted by a documentary about Margaret Thatcher. I turned the TV off in despair. I hate TVB's arrogance. This decision was disrespectful to viewers.

Lawrence Choi, Tuen Mun


Travel alert makes HK laughing stock

The item in Lai See ("HK travel to Philippines surges despite government's black alert", April 17) more than adequately sums up just how ludicrous are the policies of some government departments, in this case, the refusal to withdraw this travel alert to the Philippines.

What is even more frustrating is the pig-headed attitude they adopt in refusing to act despite being well aware of how ridiculous this situation is.

At the moment Hong Kong is the laughing stock of the travel industry worldwide.

I suggest the Lai See article should be sent to all legislative councillors. Surely one or more of them can try to do something to correct the situation.

John Wilson, Kwun Tong


More to health than infectious disease control

Since the 2003 outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome, health care here has improved. Doctors have gained experience in the fight against infectious diseases.

However, I think citizens have become over dependent on the health care system.

Also, we now have a fast-food culture and many people eat these high-cholesterol meals every day, as they are cheap and convenient. People forget the importance of having a healthy lifestyle, with a sensible diet and lots of exercise.

The government needs to do more to encourage Hongkongers to exercise. It should also offer subsidies to those fast-food shops that offer some healthy items on the menu.

Kathy Chan Ching-yau, Tsuen Wan