Letters to the Editor, April 27, 2013
Advantaged few controlling the many
I write to echo the views of Paul M. F. Cheng ("We badly need anti-monopoly legislation", April 24).
He is right to lament that Hong Kong has never had a level playing field. Like the colonial regime, the SAR government continues to promote policies that have enabled a few families to control the livelihood of the majority, from real estate and electricity to telecommunications and food supplies.
Mr Cheng said the growing number of demonstrations seemed to indicate a more unhappy and unstable society, which is marked by a widening wealth gap. The ongoing dock strike, he rightly said, could be the tip of an iceberg.
Your columnist Alex Lo also commented on the strike ("Strikers right to put tycoon in the dock", April 24). I agree with his criticism of Canning Fok Kin-ning, boss of Hutchison Whampoa - parent company of port operator Hongkong International Terminals - for comparing the strike to the Cultural Revolution. Fok's remark was ridiculous and demeans the great historical tragedy of the Chinese people. I agree with Lo the striking workers have legitimate grievances.
They wanted to expose their appalling working conditions and demand higher wages in the absence of legal protection that would allow for collective bargaining. As Lo said, HIT has enormous clout over subcontractors who are nominally the dockers' employers.
I urge Li Ka-shing and his son Victor to intervene. They should find an honest broker to work out a deal acceptable to both sides.
The Li family should know many Hong Kong people have huge sympathy for the plight of the dockers and have donated more than HK$5 million to support them. It is in everyone's interest for the industrial action to reach a satisfactory conclusion and Mr Li should help to bring that about.
Emily Lau, legislative councillor
Children need help to police their world
I refer to the article on a teenager in the United States who committed suicide after being tormented by her peers ("Sex-assault suicide case: 3 held", April 13).
This report and similar articles make me wonder if there is something seriously wrong with the world we live in.
How can educated children make such serious mistakes and not feel any remorse? Schools have programmes on birth control and how detrimental drugs can be, so why not have one on cyberbullying?
This is one issue that all schools must teach children in a way they understand, about different aspects of bullying and how it can shatter their lives and leave them unable to reason out their problems.
This has become a global problem and it should be addressed with utmost importance, with rules which children have to adhere to.
My heart goes out to parents who live with their loss and are left wondering where they went wrong in bringing up their children.
I hope in the future we are able to bring up our children in a world of awareness where they can protect themselves and help others.
We need children to police their world and make it a better place for them to live in.
Lata S. Daswani, Mong Kok
Ivory-tower comment on economy class
I refer to Chad Lykin's article ("A plan for business travellers to go economy. But will it fly?" April 24).
It's easy for an assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong to suggest that business travellers fly economy class instead of business.
Perhaps he should try flying the 14-plus hours in economy to Europe and back several times a month before commenting.
Jon Yau, Mid-Levels
'Auto-brake' device would curb speeding
I refer to the letter by Leung Ka-yan ("Speed control device better than training", April 23).
Taxi drivers are well behaved and I see far less speeding in North District where I live, because the roads are narrow and are always full of vehicles. From Tolo Harbour to Sheung Shui ring road you will see traffic jams at virtually any time of the day or evening, making speeding difficult.
Your correspondent suggests curbing speed in taxis by installing a speed display device, similar to what exists in minibuses. Instead I would like to see the Transport Department fitting a speed handicap device which would not allow the vehicle to go beyond a speed of 80km/h.
A speed display device puts the responsibility on the passenger to point out a problem. This might lead to conflict between cabbie and customer.
Pang Chi-ming, Fanling
Argument for opt-out defies law and logic
I refer to the letter by Eugene Raitt, chairman of the Hong Kong Direct Marketing Association ("Personal data privacy opt-out rights really a cause for celebration", April 19).
He asks if L. Chang ("People should have opt-in choice over personal data", April 16) has it right when saying the onus is on the consumer under new legislation, as if the answer was "no", but then makes clear L. Chang is 100 per cent right.
He then suggests that consumers have a "concomitant responsibility to decide whether to opt out".
Where Mr Raitt gets the idea that consumers are there to help him and his mates do business, I do not know. We have no such obligation, and the law should not compel us to help him, or steal our time through needing to deal with direct marketers in any way.
Opting in is fine. Otherwise keep out of our hair, Mr Raitt.
Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels
Glum students exhibit culture of complaining
Some students have claimed that the Diploma of Secondary Education exams are too difficult this year.
They have complained via Facebook about the problems they are encountering and have blamed the Education Bureau. Some candidates even took to wearing black as a sign of their dissatisfaction.
I appreciate that many students want to enter university, seeing a degree as a means to a good career. But if it was easy to get in, then these degrees would be devalued.
It is becoming common in Hong Kong to complain. However, we should not object if an exam question is difficult.
Everyone has their own level and you need to be satisfied with your own abilities.
Ho Po-shan, Ho Man Tin
More must be done on urgent waste crisis
Elaine Yau's article ("Trash flow problem", April 22) reminded me of actions taken by the Cheung Chau Island Women's Association. These volunteers transported kitchen waste to a community facility, where it was sorted and turned into compost.
With a prosperous economy, people now take food for granted. Supermarkets have signs declaring "fresh food every day", which leads to a greater food waste problem. Also, because of traditional culture, where Chinese will show off their wealth by ordering a lot of dishes, there is a great deal of waste in restaurants.
The government's [proposed] food waste treatment centre on Lantau is a positive move but the capacity is way below the volume of such waste generated each day. We have only a few years left before our landfills reach saturation point so there is an urgent need to deal with our refuse problem.
The government must act now before it is too late. The Lantau waste treatment centre must be much larger, and, to raise public awareness, there should be a levy charged on refuse. Also, restaurants should offer discounts to customers who order smaller meals.
I once saw a supermarket employee sprinkle bleach on unsold, date-expired, dumped bags of bread to deter scavengers. Think how much it would mean to poverty-stricken Hong Kong citizens if they could buy unsold perishable goods from stores at discounts.
Also, such produce could be transferred to food banks.
Priscilla Yip, Tsuen Wan
Recognise and respect ranks of hero helpers
I refer to L. M. S. Valerio's letter ("Unlikely to follow Brazil's fine example", April 22).
I agree that Hongkongers do not treat people with some specific job categories very well and tend to stereotype or even discriminate against them.
Domestic helpers are definitely one of these groups.
Their working hours are unacceptably long and their workload covers all of the housework.
They have to be on standby 24 hours a day. Many are woken up at night to deal with so-called "emergencies", from changing nappies for babies to helping with an elderly member of the family.
However, such hard work does not earn them proper respect.
I think Hongkongers could be more considerate.
They could put themselves in the shoes of the foreign domestic helpers and try to understand how it feels to have to work abroad just to provide for your family.
I do believe domestic helpers are heroes of their home country and family.
Oscar Wong Chun-yeung, Kwun Tong