Letters to the Editor, May 21, 2013
Comments on rape a gentle reminder
Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok has come under fire for advising women to drink less to avoid being raped ("Security chief blasted for rape remark", May 16).
His comments came as government statistics were released showing that rapes in the first three months of this year were up on the same period last year.
I believe that Mr Lai was simply advising ladies (regardless of their ages) to avoid doing anything that might increase their chance of being assaulted. He mentioned drinking excessive quantities of alcohol. He could also have mentioned being in an unfamiliar setting where there may be a greater risk. I think his intentions were well-meant, but in society where so many people are expressing grievances his remarks appear to have been distorted.
Of course, I agree that anyone has the right to drink as much as they wish. This is a personal decision. But, we must be aware of the risks involved. Also, if a women is inebriated and sexually assaulted she may have difficulty identifying her attacker and this would make it tougher to apprehend the culprit.
I don't think Mr Lai was trying to blame the victims. All he was doing was issuing a gentle reminder.
It is rather like advising people to take care of and be responsible for their personal belongings and to be wary, for example, of pickpockets.
There was no need for Mr Lai to withdraw his comment.
Barry Kwok, Wong Tai Sin
Philippines has faced provocation
In the spat between Taiwan and the Philippines over the death of a Taiwanese fisherman, we would do well to remember the extreme provocations that the Philippines suffers through the constant incursions into its waters of voracious fishing fleets from Taiwan and other Asian nations, and their brazen and provocative behaviour when confronted.
How would the Taiwanese coastguard react if faced with the same provocations by fishing fleets from the Philippines?
Dive resorts that I frequent in Southeast Asia complain often about fishing fleets from Taiwan, China and South Korea passing through and hoovering up everything in sight.
I am more often surprised by the tolerance for this kind of behaviour by the authorities in the Philippines.
Markus Shaw, Central
End Buddha's birthday as public holiday
The government should reform its ordinance which designates our annual public holidays.
Mother's Day (or rather the first Monday after Mothering Sunday) should be added to the list and Buddha's birthday should be deleted.
This could be achieved by a simple amendment of the ordinance. Buddha's birthday is a very rare public holiday. I could only find it in two other jurisdictions in the world, South Korea and Macau.
Even on the mainland and in Japan, it does not exist.
The holiday is not even recognised in Thailand where the vast majority of the population is Buddhist.
Abel Ng Yat-tung, Kwun Tong
No excuse for keeping birds in cages
The photograph of Pope Francis releasing doves at St Peter's Square made me wish Chinese people would think of setting their caged birds free as well ("Pope sets free two caged doves in St Peter's Square," May 16).
I realise it's not just local folk who keep birds captive, but the weird sight of those men who go out carrying shrouded bird cages and hanging them from trees to hear them chirp is, to me, one of the silliest pastimes on earth.
Perhaps that's not as bad as going to zoos to stare at caged animals or watching dog races in Macau, or going to bullfights in Spain. Nevertheless it's sad that humans don't care about the cruelty they inflict on dumb animals. All creatures want freedom, which makes it sad to see too many people taking pleasure from the musical cries of their captive birds.
M. C. Basquejo, Causeway Bay
Apex sales scheme was not a scam
I cannot understand how the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has come to the conclusion that the Apex Horizon sales scheme was a collective investment ("Cheung Kong loses out over Apex", May 14).
From what I have read, the owners of the individual rooms would not share in the collective profits of the business but would only receive income from their own individual room.
They would have to pay management charges rather than receive a share of the profit from the management.
How can this be a collective scheme?
It would appear, from reports , that some of the transactions were not very transparent, but surely that is a legal matter between the two parties concerned. The owners would have to abide by any rules and laws relating to the letting of hotel rooms and, presumably, pay taxes accordingly, on a commercial activity.
In other countries there are many similar sales made of hotel rooms which are not deemed as collective investments, in fact, it is a growing sector in Britain. Why is the SFC interfering in a commercial business transaction? It is not against the law to be opportunistic. Remember the phrase, let the buyer beware.
We do not all need to have our hands held when making investments or purchases. Some people, and I would suggest a high percentage of Hong Kong citizens, are quite smart enough to make their own decisions.
While I may not be an admirer of the property tycoons in this city, and the collective harm that I believe they have done, I think on this occasion the SFC is wrong.
While regulation is seen as a good thing to help prevent fraud and scams it seems that it does not deter crooks who are determined to cheat people.
The Apex hotel sales scheme was not a scam nor was it fraudulent.
The buyers knew that they were buying a hotel room to either live in or let as they felt fit, just like an apartment purchase.
How many cases of money laundering against the banks in this city, has the commission prosecuted?
How many banks were prevented by the regulations from selling Lehman minibonds, and how many banks were prosecuted for mis-selling?
Michael Jenkins, Central
Teens need well-rounded education
Over the last 10 years, thanks to the commercialisation of education, tutorial schools have grown in popularity.
They can help students with their exams, but they have to be careful before choosing to use these facilities.
Often these colleges advertise extensively and show how many stars their students can attain in exams.
However, education is not just about getting good grades. Teenagers who just concentrate on that will not become fully rounded people.
They need to get involved in activities which can help them to acquire other mental and social skills to flourish in society, not just turn themselves into exam machines.
Of course, good results in the public exams are important if they are trying to get a place in a university. But if all they focus on is that part of their education, this can be harmful to their prospects.
Teachers should recognise this and aim for whole-person education.
I appreciate teachers' time is limited and it is difficult to cover the whole of the New Senior Secondary syllabus.
But they need to try not just to concentrate on cramming for exams and introduce more interesting activities, such a debating contests, which enhances teenagers' communication skills. This will help to equip them as future pillars of society.
I think traditional and tutorial schools both have roles to play in Hong Kong.
However, the most important thing for students is to strike the right balance and aim not to become exam machines.
Lau Kin-lok, Tsuen Wan
ATM move bad business decision
I have been reading the letters in these columns from frustrated HSBC customers who are angry about the new ATM card which does not work in many overseas countries.
Recently I was stuck in Brazil without money as my new HSBC card would not work even in an HSBC machine.
A visit to the bank's Premier branch in the country did not help as the staff there told me I would have to contact HSBC Hong Kong.
HSBC's move to use only UnionPay for its ATM card is a bizarre and unwise business move by a company claiming to be the world's "local bank".
UnionPay does not work in many parts of the world, therefore, HSBC should do the sensible thing and add, for example, the Cirrus and Plus systems.
While banking with HSBC in Hong Kong is convenient, the risk of being stuck in a foreign country without money is scary. If this is not resolved quickly I will have to open an account with another bank.
Mohammad Abdullah, Causeway Bay