Letters to the Editor, April 26, 2013
Behind clichés, tycoon Li is a force for good
We regret that the article ("Attack on tycoons with no conscience", April 22) helped perpetuate stereotypes at the expense of truth.
The Cheung Kong and Hutchison Whampoa groups - which are firmly rooted in Hong Kong - are a corporate family of 270,000 employees across 52 nations.
These employees provide for their families and contribute to their communities.
In recent years, Li Ka-shing has focused a great part of his time on philanthropy, including changing the way others feel about giving and improving life around them.
In 1980, to cultivate a culture of giving and help those in need build a better life, he established the Li Ka Shing Foundation to support creative, constructive, and sustainable projects.
To date, the foundation has given more than HK$13 billion to charitable causes throughout the world, a record second to none in Hong Kong, and probably in China as well.
In 2006, Mr Li urged a new spirit of philanthropy for Asia to transcend the traditional values of giving only to family and pledged a third of his assets to the foundation, which he calls his "third son".
Approximately 90 per cent of his giving is directed towards mainland China and Hong Kong, supporting education reforms that develop human capital, focusing on caring for the underprivileged, and providing free health care services for the disabled, children with cleft lips and palates, and hernias, terminally ill cancer patients, and the elderly.
Today the foundation draws support from a network of more than 400 hospitals as well as nearly 200,000 volunteers, and our work will continue to progress.
These are the facts that get lost when individuals and articles draw upon stereotypes and perpetuate misunderstandings.
The truth has deep, rich textures that cannot and should not be so easily dismissed with labels and clichés.
No one should be more sensitive to this than those who have lived their lives in public.
Amy Au, manager, Li Ka Shing Foundation
Waterfront farewell for 'grand vision'
I refer to the photograph accompanying your report ("Academic says promenade site need not go to PLA", April 20).
Recently I walked in front of the PLA Tamar headquarters and was confronted and confounded by the large elongated concrete structure shown. What is it?
Could it be a monorail track, a bizarre ventilation shaft, supports for a promenade deck, or a Stalinist-era Russian sculpture? Perhaps it is a frame to mark the extent of the PLA 150-metre-long berth. Certainly it is an eyesore erected on possibly the most important site in Hong Kong. It is truly ugly and restricts the view of the harbour and Kowloon.
In 2006, the government produced a document outlining "Victoria Harbour and its waterfront areas: vision, mission and planning principles", which envisaged that this harbourfront area was to become "an attractive, vibrant, accessible and sustainable world-class asset: a harbour for the people, a harbour of life".
The new Lung Wo Road already cuts a disfiguring scar across this prime public site. And now one is able to judge that our government planners and departments have let down the community by their dismal failure to match the "grand vision" for this area.
Frank Lee, Mid-Levels
Self-serving strike all about union power
It is the fifth week of the container terminal strike, with Lee Cheuk-yan's Confederation of Trade Unions mobilising these workers for a double-figure percentage salary increase.
The Lion Rock Institute has been and will always be in favour of efforts to increase the wages of workers, but what Lee has sought will not work.
Fifty years ago, it was Hong Kong that exported domestic helpers to the Philippines. We all know that it was the tool of free market policies and not unions that created the opportunities of job and career changes that has led to higher living standards in every income group.
One can see the economic impact in this strike. Products that are time-sensitive, such as apples and oranges, rose significantly in price immediately after the strike started, the least well-off in this way being worst affected by the strike by those with higher incomes.
With the labour shortage now partially resolved, the embargoed fruit swamps the market, leading to a 40 per cent price cut on produce that can be sold, and that which cannot be sold is spoiled.
This is environmentally wasteful and causes painful losses to the many innocent fruit-importing small and medium-sized enterprises. One questions whether Lee knows about the futility of strikes.
However, it is not ignorance that I fear led to Lee's strike.
By asking for a wage rise which is a multiple of the inflation rate, the unions are gambling that management rejects their demand. Why? Because unions want collective bargaining made law, which makes illegal the choice of those who want to work and not join a union. Workers crossing the picket line would be arrested.
Lee's priority is not the terminal workers' pay rise, but the larger legislative war.
We must see through this conspiracy and stop any further legislation that enlarges union bosses' power and does not further workers' interests.
Andrew Shuen, research director, Lion Rock Institute
Right to refuse cash for new quake victims
The Sichuan earthquake has reminded me of the devastating quake in the same province in 2008.
Shortly after we learned of the 2008 disaster, large quantities of money poured into the stricken area from all over the world, along with equipment and other basic necessities such as food. Hong Kong donated around HK$10 billion to the reconstruction five years ago.
Five years on, questions have been asked about how that money has been spent by the local authorities and how much went to redevelopment. It is not uncommon following a natural disaster to hear stories of corruption among officials and this deters some people from helping disaster victims.
When potential donors are concerned about possible acts of deceit, the impact can be tremendous. It is not surprising that a reasonable person will be reluctant to make a donation under these circumstances.
I see no reason for the government to spend taxpayers' money on a donation, and agree with lawmakers opposed to the administration's proposal.
Gravis Cheng, Yuen Long
Direct action would avoid donor waste
The Yaan earthquake in Sichuan province is unfortunate. As Chinese, we must all find ways to help.
However, I believe the Hong Kong government should learn from its experiences with the aftermath of the 2008 earthquake, and act more wisely.
I know a great deal about the SAR government's 2008 Sichuan earthquake efforts. As chairman of a non-governmental organisation working in the area, I have had the privilege of visiting the area and many projects there since 2008.
Sadly, I tend to agree with the scepticism of Hong Kong people who have expressed doubts about how our money has been used.
I have seen inappropriate structures and buildings being built. I have seen extravagance, and I have seen corruption. I have seen projects badly constructed and I have seen local officials not caring. In a nutshell, in most cases, I have been disappointed.
At a time like this, it is not only money that we need to give, but hearts and hands that we need to lend. Show the Sichuan citizens affected by this earthquake that Hong Kong people care, not by giving them a bit of money, but by lending a hand; show them that we care by our presence.
Let any money go direct to those on the ground.
I am sure that NGOs in Hong Kong will find ways to utilise every cent that Hong Kong people give for alleviating the pain and suffering of the people in the Sichuan area.
Let's not go through the middleman any more. Our concerns should be directed to the people.
Edward Ng, professor of architecture, School of Architecture, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Education the key to taming tech junkies
There have been a number of articles and letters about the problem of some people becoming addicted to their smartphones.
I have a smartphone and use it to keep in touch with friends and to watch videos. I exercise self-control and ensure that I do not use it too often or stay on the phone for too long.
These are convenient devices in our lives, but we should not rely on them too much. People will find that a user who is addicted to a smartphone will damage his or her relations with family members, with less face-to-face communication.
Overuse also has health implications. People can suffer eye strain and back pain if they spend long periods using the smartphone every day.
The government should use education to deal with this problem, explaining to people the risks they face from overuse.
Emma Yeung Tsz-kwan, Tsuen Wan