Letters to the Editor, June 17, 2013
The politics of confrontation is bad for city
There is increasingly bitter divisiveness in Hong Kong's universal suffrage debate that was seldom seen before the new administration took power.
Whatever may be said about Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, our previous chief executive, he did some very good work bringing people to the negotiating table on several contentious issues.
Generally, people's opinions and demonstrations were respected.
There is already a dangerous new trend of particular interest groups "coming out" and supporting what is assumed, perhaps incorrectly, to be the government's future stance and demonising others who may not.
They tend to follow each other like sheep with a herd mentality.
If left unchecked, it appears Hong Kong might soon be facing a situation where two sides face off in the street, perhaps like Thailand's red and yellow shirt demonstrations in 2010.
The situation now in Turkey should also be a wake-up call that a civilised, developed society can quickly fall into a downward spiral of protests and violence, without proper leadership.
Both sides really owe it to the people to calm down, discuss and negotiate.
Divisiveness seldom has a happy or satisfactory ending. A read of history tells us so.
Patrick Gilbert, Fo Tan
Disciplined services get raw deal
Hong Kong is the safest city in the Asia-Pacific region, possibly even in the world, with a low crime rate and high detection rate.
We should applaud these men and women from the disciplined services.
Through their devoted work and the fact that they risk their lives to protect our freedoms, Hong Kong's prosperity is maintained.
The row over pay rises reflects badly on Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. There has been a lukewarm response to their pay demands ("Exco rejects calls for bigger pay rise", June 12). Mr Leung appears to have no intention of trying to repair his relationship with these public servants or try to restore their morale. I believe these people have the right to get a decent pay rise in line with the rate of inflation. They are always there to deal with crimes and help innocent victims of disasters.
Take, for example, the pilots and rescue teams of the Government Flying Service.
They often operate in treacherous conditions, like heavy wind and rain, to search for and save victims in rough seas.
Firefighters have to deal with an often very difficult and dangerous blaze.
The government should be seeking a dialogue with the unions representing the disciplined services and making the necessary pay rise adjustments. Instead, it seems to be avoiding this sensible option.
William Tsui, Tuen Mun
Better quality of life with hours law
I wish there could be a consensus in the workplace over statutory working hours legislation.
Employers feel that if such a law was passed, it would lead to an increase in the running costs of the company as they would have to hire more staff.
With costs up, they might be forced to cut wages and other things like bonuses and lunch subsidies. For these reasons, most bosses are against such a law being passed by the Legislative Council.
Most employees back it because they would have more time to rest and this would give them a better chance of enjoying the right work-life balance. Supporters of the law argue this would make workers more productive and the company would benefit.
I do think work-life balance is important.
Also, I do not approve of companies asking employees to work overtime.
Pang Chau-yuet, Tai Wai
Columnist's comments are spot-on
Michael Chugani's Public Eye column on June 12 was spot on.
From Edward Snowden (who thought he could come to blab and gain asylum here) to the Occupy Central folks (who dream of big publicity, with PLA tanks rumbling downtown for them) to the local bigots who hated losing a game to the athlete sons of Filipino "slave" mothers), Chugani was at his best - telling it like it is.
Hong Kong needs a good humour writer and I hope Chugani keeps highlighting this city's many ironies and idiocies.
Renata Lopez, Wan Chai
Make learning English more enjoyable
Many pupils in Hong Kong are struggling with language education and doing badly in tests.
Too many young people are using a kind of cocktail language in which they mix Chinese and English words. Their career prospects will suffer if they do not have a good command of both languages. People simply will not understand someone talking in this way.
The government has to strike the right balance and to do this means changing the way that languages are taught in the classroom. While Chinese is our first language, pupils must be given more opportunities to learn English.
We should follow the example set by some countries in the West. One of the ways they learn the language is through watching dramas and musicals. This helps them to improve their speaking skills, especially when it comes to articulation.
It is also a good way to increase word power. Repeating lines they really liked from a play can help them learn new words.
I would also like to see schools establishing an "English day". This would give pupils an opportunity to speak to each other in English. This form of communication is the best way to learn the language. Teachers should also allocate some time every day to converse with their students in English.
The government could launch a campaign encouraging young people to read English-language fiction, such as short stories. It would be good if this became a daily habit for teenagers. Reading fiction is an enjoyable way to become more proficient in the language and have a better grasp of grammar.
China is experiencing rapid growth and I appreciate that it is important for Hong Kong's youth to understand Putonghua.
However, the government must recognise that English is still the international language and students in our schools must be given every opportunity to learn it.
Vince Mau, Tseung Kwan O
Information on buyers still available
As today's business environment changes and the technology we work with improves, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) continues to review ways to assist in creating Hong Kong and overseas business opportunities.
The ever-increasing usage of e-mails for distribution of commercial messages can be overwhelming for overseas customers, resulting in their opting out of our database, which can reduce their connections with the Hong Kong business platform.
These factors, combined with global anti-spamming and data privacy laws, mean we must respect the concerns of our overseas business partners, and comply with relevant laws in overseas markets.
We are therefore unable to provide the list of companies as requested by businessman Mike Iqbal ("SMEs missing valuable list of overseas firms", June 13).
Readers should be aware, however, that to assist Hong Kong suppliers in exploring overseas markets, on top of our comprehensive promotional programmes, we have built and expanded our website (www.hktdc.com which offers a wide range of features for suppliers to contact targeted buyers.
For those who seek overseas buyers' inquiries/information on products that they are handling, buying leads may be searched at our website.
Simply type the keyword in the search box under Buying Leads.
All buying leads results will be displayed.
Regina Lai, head, marketing and customer service, Hong Kong Trade Development Council
Unable to get good conduct certificate
Applicants for a vocational position such as teaching in Britain who have lived abroad for more than six months require a good citizen certificate, good conduct certificate, police clearance certificate, or judicial record extracts to show "good character".
I asked the judiciary how to obtain this certification and was quickly informed: "I am sorry that it is outside the purview of the Judiciary.
"For your inquiry, please consider contacting the Hong Kong Police".
The police web page says, "The issuance of Certificates of No Criminal Conviction is a charged service provided by the Hong Kong Police Force which is solely in connection with a person's application for a visa to visit or reside in another country, or for adoption of children. Applications for the Certificate for any other purposes will not be accepted."
Any certificate would, in any case, be sent to the organisation concerned, not the applicant.
Has anyone been able to solve this conundrum?
Robert Coates, Lai Chi Kok