Letters to the Editor, September 16, 2013
Sorting out MPF funds a real nightmare
I have just been through a torturous process of rationalising several Mandatory Provident Fund accounts.
There are many pages of forms with most banks simply to do a transfer between vendors. The forms must be submitted to both of the involved banks.
The forms are often nonsensical with appendices of notes. It seems many of the banks aim to make transfers as difficult as possible.
I am very happy for those employed by this huge scheme but feel sorry they have to deal with such awful, inefficient administrative practices. They must face numerous frustrated and confused punters on a daily basis.
As if the dismal returns are not enough, all this hassle is really adding insult to injury.
I wonder what the Hong Kong Monetary Authority is doing about it.
How did it invent such a monstrosity that was so far skewed in favour of the banks and providers?
The little people seem to be an inconvenience.
I have been spoiled by simple, effective Australian funds that charge a fraction of the fees, return better results, are often non profit (for the organisations) and most forms are a page or two at most - easy.
The public deserves better.
P. Gilbert, Fo Tan
Glass recycling sector needs subsidies
Hongkongers are throwing away huge quantities of glass bottles every day.
Less than 5 per cent of the city's waste glass is recycled and the rest ends up in our landfills.
Some business people and volunteers, such as the group Green Glass Green, organise collections, but this recycling rate is still very low. It is about time that the government came up with an effective strategy so that much more glass can be recycled.
In streets, housing estates and in schools you often see recycling bins, but they are only for paper, plastic and aluminium cans, not glass bottles.
The administration must add a bin for empty glass bottles at all these locations.
It is all about making it more convenient. If there are a lot of bins it will be easier for residents to drop off their bottles.
The government also has to allocate more resources and support glass recycling companies. I understand from watching television programmes, that some of these firms are struggling with small profit margins. They do not have the capital to buy more advanced technology which would enable them to have a more efficient operation and make new products from the glass, such as eco-bricks.
Subsidies should be made available so they can buy new equipment and reach a market that is potentially enormous.
Andy Ho, Tseung Kwan O
Fashion bash caused traffic gridlock
I was wondering if, through these columns, anyone in either the police force or Transport Department can explain to me and other ferry users at No 4 and No 3 piers in Central, the massive inconvenience caused to us on Tuesday night.
This was caused by private cars parked at the bus stop and taxi drop-off point and the fact that the police were doing nothing about it. They were parked there because of a Dior fashion show being held on the roof above No 4 pier. A large area of the ferry pier forecourt had also been sealed off from public use, which was being policed by private security guards telling people to go the other way round.
Traffic was backed up as far as Bonham Strand.
What would normally be a quick and cheap taxi ride after finishing a long shift at work became a long, exasperating and expensive lesson in how the rich and spoilt in Hong Kong are afforded privileges that allow them to monopolise public space to the exclusion of the public, and flout traffic laws that normal human beings would be penalised for.
Why was this allowed?
Patrick Barrett, Lamma
Offer officials flexible age for retirement
With the average human lifespan increasing most people are finding that they want to work longer so they can save up more for their retirement.
The Hong Kong government is looking into the possibility of extending the present retirement age of 60 in the civil service. Before any decision is made it is important to look at the pros and cons of such a policy change.
I can understand that people with a heavy financial burden to bear, perhaps because of family commitments, would benefit from this policy as it would offer them greater financial security. However, some people worry that if the retirement age was extended to 65 some senior officials would stay in their posts for a further five years and this would affect morale in the civil service.
It could damage the promotion prospects of younger officials seeking to further their careers.
Such a policy would require careful fine-tuning before being implemented and there would have to be feasibility studies.
I would suggest that the government adopts a flexible system allowing existing civil servants the choice.
They could retire any time between the ages of 50 and 65. Those who felt fit enough could stay beyond 60 if they really wished to.
Those officials who were already financially comfortable could retire earlier and rest or seek a new line of work.
Their departure would create job opportunities for younger civil servants seeking promotion.
Kwok Tak-ming, Wong Tai Sin
Recognise that visitors are different
There have been press articles complaining about the rudeness of Chinese tourists.
These complaints extend beyond Hong Kong to countries in the West.
Here, Hongkongers say that mainland visitors are rude, do not respect the city's culture and make no attempt to adapt.
However, I think when looking at this issue, some people can be a bit blinkered and consequently prejudiced.
Also, there may even be an element of envy, given that some of these visitors come with a lot of money and buy luxury products. I think they need to be a bit more open-minded.
I have some friends who come from the mainland. They are very nice and do not act in a rude manner.
We have to accept that people from other places are different, for example their education, and we should recognise these differences.
Natalia Yeung, Lamma
Curb activities of blatant drugs touts
I refer to the report about people offering illegal drugs ("Brazen touts making drug offers in Tsim Sha Tsui", September 2).
It beggars belief that Paul Grove, the Tsim Sha Tsui police divisional commander, claims the police are not aware of "any increase in drug-pushing activities among the touts in the area". Perhaps he means he has not seen any "increase" in the already high level of activity there.
In the five years that I have been working in Tsim Sha Tsui, I have seen and experienced a marked increase in the number of approaches by these touts and the brazenness of their offers.
Not only is the Chungking Mansions area a favourite hangout for these touts. but the large space in front of iSquare is equally popular.
On one occasion, when my teenage son and I were offered cocaine and I confronted the tout and told him forcefully to go away, he told me that I was the one who needed to go away and he wasn't going anywhere.
If any Westerner pauses for a moment in any of these areas, either to have a cigarette or to wait for someone, then they are approached within moments.
It is blatant, it is confronting and it needs to be stopped.
Bruce Barnes, Tsim Sha Tsui
Fewer buses on Tai Hang to Central route
Returning to Hong Kong from the UK after six weeks away, I was shocked to see the decimation of the bus service to Central, serving Lai Tak Tsuen and lower Tai Hang Road.
Now, we have just two buses, the No 11 and No 26 to Central. The No 23A has been cancelled and the 23B finishes running at 9am.
As a result, travelling to Central at midday is now challenging.
The No 26 runs every 15 minutes, while the No 11, supposedly every 12 to 15 minutes.
However, anyone who uses this service will tell you it cannot be relied on.
On Saturday, August 31, I waited for 40 minutes in Causeway Bay, from 5.45pm to 6.25pm. The number of people on the bus gave a new meaning to "cattle class".
Sunday is even worse, with the 26 reverting to its old 20 minutes schedule, and of course, no 23A, and as for the No 11, who knows.
By contrast, some routes in Hong Kong have a large number of buses. For example, the No 2 from Shau Kei Wan, has an almost indecent interval between buses of three minutes.
Can I ask the bus company and district council representative, why the residents of Lai Tak Tsuen and Tai Hang, have been singled out to endure what must be the worst bus service in Hong Kong?
Brian Langdon-Pratt, Tai Hang