SMEs missing valuable list of overseas firms
The business environment is getting tough worldwide. Many small and medium-sized enterprises trading in Hong Kong are finding there are fewer opportunities.
My company has been in this sector for more than 10 years. In the past, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) provided an excellent service to local firms. For a fee, we could download its database containing the contact details of buyers from overseas who had attended one of its fairs. That fee was low and it was a win-win situation.
The material provided was accurate and easy to use as companies were listed under product categories. Also, we knew that all the names on the database were genuine buyers.
However, after making a number of requests, the TDC informed me that it was no longer offering this service. I was told that it had set up an SME centre which I could visit. I went there and found it was empty except for a few mainland tourists who came in and took pictures.
I asked staff about a list of overseas buyers and they showed me books dating back to 2009. The information was out of date and unreliable.
The material that the TDC now has on its database comes from a third party and it is not useful for those of us who wish to check and verify buyers.
I asked staff why the service had been discontinued and they referred to changes to privacy legislation in Hong Kong. They admitted many people like me had asked for a return of the old service.
These are overseas buyers; how can the Hong Kong legislation apply to them?
I appeal to the TDC to bring back this valuable service if it really wants to help local SMEs.
Mike Iqbal, Tsim Sha Tsui
More cycling lanes needed in urban areas
I was encouraged by K. W. Chan's letter ("Cyclists pose threat on Stubbs Road", June 4).
As a cyclist, I am aware of the dangers of peddling up and down this road.
Here, too, rush-hour commuters treat cyclists with disdain as if they, like rickshaws and sedan chairs, belonged to a past era.
Cocooned in the safety of their air-conditioned vehicles, motorists cut sharply in front of us, honk to eradicate us if that were possible and have no regard for segments of the cycling community, which is environmentally more conscious than they are. The government does not encourage the public to use bicycles as a transport mode in urban areas.
Cyclists feel it should promulgate the expansion of cycling lanes to separate us from the impatient traffic for the benefit of Hong Kong.
It requires the understanding of people like Mr Chan to help us pressure the government to do "something positively for this somewhat neglected sport".
Sathish Gobinath, Central
Protests are fine, but obey the law
Benny Tai Yiu-ting, the man behind the Occupy Central movement, is a law professor. So why is he advocating a protest campaign, in defence of universal suffrage, that could lead to people breaking the law?
Hong Kong people love democracy and we enjoy freedom of speech.
We are all entitled to make protests on issues, but at the same time to obey the law.
One of the foundation stones of our society is the rule of law and we should respect this and not undermine it.
Lai Yau, Fanling
Wrong name for arts hub building
The new arts venue at West Kowloon Cultural District is likely to be given "Chinese Opera" as its English name rather than "Xiqu".
This is because Xiqu has drawn some humorous comments given its resemblance to a Cantonese term meaning "private parts" ("Arts panel dodges jokers as it votes for venue name", June 5).
This is a rare opportunity to put forward what the art form should be called. Haiku is not called Japanese poetry, kabuki is not called Japanese opera; so why should xiqu be called Chinese opera? What's next? Calling noodles "Chinese spaghetti"? Xiqu is not a Chinese version of Western opera. Its roots go back to 300AD.
In the more organised and recognised form, it began in the Tang dynasty with Emperor Xuanzong (712-756).
It is older than Western opera, which has its origins in the 16th century.
If anything is to be renamed how about calling opera "Western Xiqu"?
Satoshi Kyo, Tsim Sha Tsui
Pupils' English standards must be raised
Hong Kong is an international city.
For that reason, it is essential that young people here become proficient in Chinese and English.
However, the way they are being taught in schools is making this difficult to achieve.
The rote-learning system of education is proving an obstacle, as is the fact that few have an opportunity to speak English in their daily lives.
Hong Kong is a bilingual society and those teenagers who are struggling to master both languages will often mix Chinese and English.
Also, thanks to new technology, they will often resort to the kind of shortcuts and jargon common when people communicate online. The government needs to recognise this problem and pay more attention to it.
It needs to promote appropriate programmes which will enable pupils to improve their language skills.
It must offer young people guidance, perhaps publishing articles in educational magazines that encourage them to make use of popular English-language newspapers and magazines in order to raise their language standards.
Teachers also need to move away from rote learning.
For example, they could hold a language week where youngsters could meet and talk with language experts and students who are good at English and who can share their learning experiences and point out some of the pitfalls to avoid.
Schools need to try to help their pupils have more contact with English in their everyday lives, rather than just concentrating on lessons in class.
Teenagers have to take responsibility and raise their level of English proficiency by reading more books and magazines. They should also sometimes try to talk to each other in English and not be afraid to make mistakes.
Vanessa Tsang, Tseung Kwan O
New town expansion makes sense
The government wants to further develop Tung Chung by reclaiming 134 hectares of land east and west of the new town.
One plan aims to develop more housing units while another focuses more on commercial development.
Tung Chung is located near the airport and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.
There is clearly the potential for more business and employment opportunities.
With more hotels and shopping malls, Tung Chung can become a new tourist attraction and visitors will also come to see the unique mangroves and wetland.
In addition, if more housing units are built, the population of the new town will increase, which will help to fill up the classrooms in local schools.
Conservationists claim that the reclamation projects plan-ned to make the expansion possible will undermine the measures put in place to protect the Chinese white dolphins.
For this reason, detailed environmental evaluations should be undertaken to ensure that any damage is kept to a minimum.
Hong Kong is already very crowded. We have to see reclamation as being inevitable as it provides more land for different uses.
Citizens, especially the younger generation, want to own their own homes.
The government must adopt a balanced approach by dealing with the SAR's housing problems, but also ensuring successful economic development.
Daniel Hui Yin-hang, Sha Tin
Invite talented stars with great future
I refer to the letter by Bally Bang, executive director of the Hong Kong Tennis Association ("Service return a winner with promoters", June 9).
I saw Maria Sharapova playing in Hong Kong, when she was still a teenager, just before she won her first grand slam title at Wimbledon in 2004.
As a tennis fan, I always like to see the talented youngsters who have so much potential.
Also, it costs a great deal less to bring them to a tournament here than established stars like Serena Williams fresh from a grand slam victory.
If Bally Bang and the HKTA adopted the approach of inviting the up-and-coming stars for a tournament in Hong Kong, it would save the taxpayer millions of dollars.
Last year, then world No 1 golfer Rory McIlroy was reportedly paid around US$2 million to appear in the Hong Kong Open and ended up missing the cut. Shortly afterwards, he won a top tournament in Dubai and it made Hong Kong look a laughing stock.
I hope the HKTA takes a different approach with its WTA Hong Kong Open.
Pang Chi-ming, Fanling