Letters to the Editor, July 9, 2013
CY's team close-knit and dedicated
This year's July 1 march in Hong Kong was the second to take place with Leung Chun-ying as chief executive.
Police estimated 66,000 took part; the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme said it was about 100,000; and march organisers put the figure at 430,000.
Press reports said the main theme was universal suffrage. Other themes were on public housing, the poverty gap, old age benefits and calls for the chief executive to resign from office.
This year the government and Mr Leung's supporters made a bigger effort to provide more celebration and entertainment events for the community.
Executive councillor Cheng Yiu-tong, who played a leading role in this respect, told the press that over 200,000, young and old, attended the events.
After one year in office, recognition of the all-out efforts of Mr Leung and his political team to focus on livelihood issues, such as public housing, doing more for the poor and the elderly, and the baby formula shortage, have begun to have some effect on public opinion.
Among the silent majority, more voices are urging that he and his political team be given a longer grace period to perform and deliver.
Mr Leung is Hong Kong's first non-establishment political leader to take the helm. So it is not surprising that he had many problems in putting together a viable team.
I think the worst is over and that he now has a close-knit and dedicated team, in both the administration and in the Executive Council, who will do their utmost for our city and our people. On July 1, Mr Leung reiterated that public consultation on universal franchise for 2017 and 2020 will take place at an appropriate time.
In the meantime, the seasoned and well-respected Cheng Yiu-tong has told the media that mid-2014 could well be a suitable time for public consultation.
I would urge those who have proposals for political and social change to continue to send in their views to the government.
Hilton Cheong-Leen, To Kwa Wan
Strange take on meaning of marriage
In his letter ("Court's ruling undermines marriage", July 1), Paul Kokoski stated his version of marriage.
I have been happily married for 13 years, just my wife and I, no children.
Since our marriage is not a child-centred institution, he states that my marriage is a "temporary commitment which prioritises the romantic happiness of adults" (over building a loving, lasting family).
Are we supposed to have children to make our marriage/love last?
Looking at the number of divorced parents with young children, I reckon we're doing pretty good without them.
Ken Chan, Tai Po
New lift permit shows relevant information
I refer to the letter by Leon Chan ("Inadequate details on lift certificate", July 4).
As Mr Chan rightly pointed out, the new use permit for lifts contains concise information and replaces the old safety certificate "Form 11".
The new use permit, which was introduced when the new Lifts and Escalators Ordinance (Cap. 618) came into force on December 17, 2012, clearly indicates the key information, including the expiry date, the installation address and a unique serial number to facilitate public surveillance.
The format of the new use permit was adopted after considering the views received during the public consultation on proposed amendments to the Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance (Cap. 327) and the opinions of major stakeholders in the Task Force for Preparation of Legislative Proposals to the Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance.
Nonetheless, we will review the format of the use permit, taking into account the recent views from users and stakeholders of lifts.
We plan to consult the Lift and Escalator Safety Advisory Committee to be established soon on this subject.
We welcome the public giving its views on our regulatory regime on lift and escalator safety.
Vincent Chow, for director of electrical and mechanical services
Government squandering human capital
Jake van der Kamp's ramble around the subject of Hong Kong's education system left me rather bemused ("International school model works fine", June 27)
Van der Kamp goes out of his way to be provocative, so I'm not going to waste words picking him up on the over-generalisations in his article.
All I would say is that he doesn't seem to understand much about the International Baccalaureate programme.
There is nothing "regimented" about the curriculum; on the contrary, it offers students a wide range of options as regards the subjects they study and the levels at which they feel comfortable to be examined.
It also encourages students to research and read around topics, rather than simply regurgitate information learned in class or from textbooks. I do agree with him on one key point, however: it is the local rather than international school system that is in need of review.
Despite the fact that, along with Cantonese, English is an official language in Hong Kong, the government has no coherent policy for providing subsidised school places for the children of local English-speaking families. Most of these families are permanent residents and, like van der Kamp, pay their fair share of tax. It is wrong that they should basically be told: if you cannot afford international school fees, your child must struggle along, without adequate support, in a local curriculum school.
The handful of Direct Subsidy Schools, that offer an international as well as local stream at much lower fees, simply do not have enough places to meet demand, a situation that will be compounded as the subvention to the English Schools Foundation is progressively phased out and more middle-income families are priced out of that market.
Is anyone in government looking at the big picture? By mandating a rigid divide between local and international schools and insisting that only schools providing the local curriculum qualify for government funding, the administration is discriminating against non-Chinese-speaking minorities.
It is squandering valuable human capital, in the shape of children who will be unable to achieve their full potential, and doing nothing to help narrow the ever-widening gap between "the haves" and "have-nots" in our society.
Elizabeth Bosher, Discovery Bay
HK near top of shameful league
As we congratulate the good work of customs officers who smashed an illicit cigarette syndicate in north New Territories and seized about 1.1 million sticks of contraband cigarettes on Sunday, we shouldn't forget Hong Kong's illicit cigarette trade is thriving.
Independent surveys consistently indicate cigarettes, for which taxes have not been paid, account for more than 40 per cent of the consumer market.
With 19 sticks being the duty free import limit, it is fair to assume that most of the cigarettes, for which duty has not been paid, are illicit.
This places Asia's world city near the top of a shameful league of tax evaders in the region.
Enforcement statistics present a picture with over 11,000 arrests of illicit traders last year, up from 6,033 in 2010. Despite the arrests, the criminal organisations behind the illegal trade continue to brazenly advertise their range of products and commonly post fliers in housing estates. The business is lucrative and consequentially represents billions in lost revenue every year.
The establishment of the advocacy group, the Hong Kong United Against Illicit Tobacco (HKUAIT), is designed to raise public awareness and garner public support.
There are no ulterior motives other than to protect the livelihood of some and curb a tendency for others to enter into undesirable business with organised crime.
The government is duty-bound to use its considerable resources to tackle the problem at source.
How it chooses to do so remains to be seen but the group will be looking for improvements and would welcome your readers' support.
Robin Jolly, convener, HKUAIT
More action needed to save great apes
It is estimated that at least 3,000 great apes are illegally trafficked every year and the number is rising.
They have become a lucrative commodity. They are sold by the hunters as pets or tourist attractions.
Chimpanzees will fight to protect baby chimps and so hunters have to kill a lot of them to grab the young chimps. This leads to a massive loss of life within a group of the animals.
Also, many captured young chimps die in during their transportation.
This trafficking is inhumane. Governments around the world must act to try to deal effectively with this problem.
There should be harsher penalities imposed on those involved in this illegal trade.
In the jungles they inhabit there must be more forest rangers. And there should be promotions to raise public awareness on this type of trafficking.
Flora Cheng, Tsuen Wan