Letters to the Editor, August 24, 2013

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 August, 2013, 4:09am


Children must get the best care possible

It is a sad fact that some children cannot be cared for by their own parents, and equally regrettable that some governments leave care for children at the bottom of their agendas.

There are children on the streets in poorer countries and many in large institutions, generally in countries which do not have the financial resources, child-care awareness or the commitment to the care children should have as a right.

Hong Kong shares the mission of "keeping the family unit intact" where possible.

The first priority in Hong Kong is to enable such families to care for their children, in the provision of family services, home-care support and supplementary services such as day nurseries, kindergartens and youth centres. The focus is on the "strengths" of families.

As director of social welfare until 2003, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor emphasised the provision of residential and day foster family care for young children who could not be with their own families.

This service needs local social and cultural awareness, professional training and money, to recruit capable and safe families as well as to give them adequate support.

Institutions have traditionally offered group care, with cheaper staffing costs, the latter a major reason organisations that rescue children, often with a religious motivation, have started with the welfare institutions.

In mainland China, efforts have been under way in recent years, with the advice of Save the Children (UK), in the abandonment of institutions in favour of foster care and groups of two to three homes integrated within a community.

These homes, which offer small-group family care, care for two to five children, depending on the children's circumstances and the ability of the staff.

Although not the ideal form of care for younger children, these homes can be suitable for older children or those with close family contact.

Such homes in poor or developing countries may be a step on the way to proper family care, until such time as suitable local foster family homes can be assessed, recruited and matched for children, and an adequate supporting and monitoring system put in place.

Tom Mulvey, Wan Chai


China ivory trade a threat to elephants

I agree with the letter from Charlie Chan ("A ban on the sale of ivory is long overdue", August 21). It is very timely that the Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, has visited China to boost trade between the two countries.

It is also timely that a new campaign called "Hands Off Our Elephants" has been launched, strongly supported by Margaret Gakuo, the Kenyan president's wife.

While increasing trade between China and Kenya is important, what is also important is education regarding the plight of the elephant, the threat to its existence and exactly how ivory gets to the homes of the increasing numbers of middle class people in China.

It is estimated that there are only 400,000 elephants left in Africa, and at the current rate of poaching it is thought that in 10 years there will be none left on the continent.

It is time for the president of Kenya to stand as tall and honourable as the elephants that roam his magnificent country and insist that legal commercial trade is directly linked to the banning of the ivory trade in China.

Colin Dawson, Central


Poverty in Hong Kong is shameful

I strongly condemn the government for failing to alleviate absolute poverty in Hong Kong.

We are a rich city, with the potential to make sure every family is provided with the basic necessities of life such as food, shelter and education.

It is unacceptable to have 1.2 million people live in poverty in Hong Kong. It should be the first and foremost objective of the government to expedite measures that will eradicate poverty from the life of Hong Kong citizens.

I cannot accept that a wealthy government that handed out cash from a budget surplus does not focus on poverty first. This is absurd and some oversight is needed into what the government does next.

If I have to read about Hong Kong poverty again in the newspapers, then I will feel ashamed and lose complete confidence in what the government actually stands for.

If God were a human being, the first objective in his mind would be to save all living beings from poverty.

Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels

'Asia's pettiest city' is a more suitable slogan

Isn't it time a decision was made to drop the "Asia's World City" slogan?

Looking at local headlines in the newspapers over recent months, the issues for Hong Kong seem to be:

  • The unauthorised home improvements;
  • People buying excessive baby milk powder;
  • A man whistling loudly at police during a protest;
  • A concerned citizen, who happens to be a teacher, using the most common Cantonese swearing expression - in most people's view the equivalent to "bloody hell" - when harassed by the police.

"Asia's Pettiest Parish" may be a more apt slogan.

As a long-term resident, I am truly embarrassed.

Peter Mallen, Pok Fu Lam


Salute our wonderful police force

We should be proud to have a professional police force that has shown great discipline and tolerance this month.

Whether they were in Mong Kok, Tin Shui Wai or Kwun Tong, they just kept their head low and got their job done. In these cases, our police officers were taunted or even bitten as well as provoked with improper language.

It was only in the last few days that teacher Alpais Lam Wai-sze, who shouted abuse at a police officer in Mong Kok, was given a verbal warning by her school.

How ironic to learn that the prevailing social justice and public sympathy is seemingly tipped in favour of those who broke, rather than enforced, the law.

We must salute our city guardians, a true professional force whose tolerance is being pushed to the limit day after day as politically driven demonstrations become more intense.

Public trust in the police force must be restored to make all our lives easier. Otherwise all of us only have more to lose.

Dr Eugene Chan, chairman, Association of Hong Kong Professionals, Central


Time to shake off colonial mindset

In spite of Robert Highfield's negative comments about China, he has chosen to live in this city long after his retirement from the civil service ("Thin-skinned regime fears criticism", August 19).

It seems that he enjoys the shambles foisted on by Beijing. He mentions that ordinary citizens prefer the non-democratic regime run by the British during the colonial era. Is that so?

I guess Mr Highfield never bothers to avail himself to the virtues of Chinese culture, because he does not understand why China never interferes in sovereignty issues involving other countries. China has a human rights issue but it does not need critics to lecture it or favour it with advice.

Although China is not governed by a democratic system, its ruling Communist Party transformed the country into the world's second-largest economy in a span of 60 years while democracies in the West lurched from one financial crisis to another.

Mr Highfield also mentions that colonial governors used to go on walkabouts and were mostly greeted with enthusiasm. Did he not notice our chief executive is doing the same?

The only difference is that there are dissidents in society who take advantage of Beijing's generosity to stir up trouble in the run-up to the election for the chief executive in 2017. The dissidents are attempting a movement that cannot be won. Hong Kong will never revert to colonial rule. Beijing did not budge to Thatcher. Why should it concede to a group of vociferous dissidents?

Perhaps Mr Highfield should shake off his colonial mindset. He could interact more harmoniously with local people if he judges China not only on its negative side.

Sam Wong, Sha Tin


Storm 'danger' didn't stop family outings

The other evening I watched the news about Severe Typhoon Utor and that we had strong wind signal No8 which gave Hong Kongers a day off.

We saw people swimming at the beach, we saw people take funny pictures near the ferry pier and we saw people going out for yum cha with their family, something they "otherwise could not have done as they would have been at work".

Can anyone explain how it can be too dangerous to go to work, but not too dangerous to go for yum cha or for photo opportunities or, even worse, for swimming in the surf?

If those activities are not too dangerous to do, then it is certainly not too dangerous to go to work.

People who do undertake these activities should be fined heavily as they endanger the lives of our first-responders who have to come to their rescue when it all goes wrong.

Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay