Letters to the Editor, November 14, 2013
Legco's display of big-bully mentality
I am writing to protest at the non-binding motion passed by Legco last Thursday calling for sanctions against the Philippines on account of President Benigno Aquino's refusal to offer an official apology on behalf of his nation to the victims of the 2010 hostage tragedy and their families.
I agree entirely with Alex Lo's column on this subject ("Aquino apology call reaches fever pitch", November 9).
As a Hong Kong permanent resident, I am appalled by the small-mindedness of our Legislative Council. I am particularly repulsed by the pan-democrats.
At the heart of the ideal of democracy is humanitarianism. Yet, on the eve of the arrival of Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, instead of showing concern for the people of the Philippines and in particular the families of the tens of thousands of Filipino workers in Hong Kong, without whose service the convenient and efficient functioning of so many Hong Kong households would be impossible, Legco passes this motion, which bespeaks a conceited big bully and "me, me, me" mentality.
We know the devastation that the storm caused in the central Philippines is phenomenal, with thousands feared dead, countless injured and hundreds of thousands made homeless.
Are these self-proclaiming, human rights-supporting pan-democrats going to propose some motion in Legco for Hong Kong to do its part in providing such assistance as it could to help the hapless victims of the storm? Or are they going stick to their "me, me, me" mentality, full of the sense of entitlement for Hong Kong people only and treat the Filipinos as a people less entitled?
Selina Lau, Sheung Wan
Demands for sanctions are just wrong
Thank you, David Chappell ("Bus hostage survivors must move on", November 12), for saying what I and many of my friends have been wanting to say for some time.
The Hong Kong government's posturing and public demands for sanctions against ordinary Philippine nationals, including stopping the issuing of visas to domestic helpers in Hong Kong, are well out of order and disproportionate.
This has got to such a degree that the whole way in which this matter is being handled has become a total embarrassment to the Hong Kong SAR and its inhabitants. This is especially the case for those of us who employ domestic helpers from the Philippines.
Of course we all feel the sense of loss of the friends and relatives of those who lost their lives or who were injured in the bus hijacking in Manila three years ago. However, I feel that our combined energies should now be better engaged towards the disaster relief for the millions of people affected by the ravages of Super Typhoon Haiyan.
Paul Croft, Tai Po
Light show at ICC bad news for residents
I write on behalf of a number of residents who live in apartments near the Olympic MTR station, across the Yau Ma Tei typhoon shelter from the International Commerce Centre.
For several months, starting around 6pm, there has been a grand light show on the gigantic walls of ICC, which can be seen by residents from One Silversea, Imperial Cullinan, Island Harbourview and all the way to Central Park.
The flickering light of the changing images enters our flats. It is very annoying and distracting, so much so that it disrupts our lives in our own homes. The light show goes on until 10pm every night and the same patterns are repeated non-stop. We have to draw our curtains to keep out this light show.
With the cooler weather approaching, it is getting dark sooner and so the show starts earlier. The large facades with moving lights spoil the tranquil night scenery and skyline of Hong Kong. Also, these light shows are a waste of energy and our earth's precious resources.
However, the ICC has turned a deaf ear to complaints by green groups earlier this year.
The task force on external lighting has been consulting the public on light pollution.
We appeal to it and to the government to intervene and ask ICC management to discontinue these shows, especially on the side of the building facing the Yau Ma Tei typhoon shelter. ICC is not following government guidelines for external lighting installations. This shows the guidelines have no teeth and that legislation is needed to regulate such uses of light.
S. Young, Tai Kok Tsui
Customers and shareholders are suffering
I refer to Howard Winn in Lai See discussing the HSBC ATM situation, where he commented that this "has caused some concern among those who think that this has provided another avenue for HSBC to screw them" ("The 64,000-dollar question about HSBC's ATM cards", November 8).
The concern is not misplaced, given the bank's record.
In the UK, the bank has allocated US$149 million in the last quarter to cover compensation for advice failings uncovered by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Also set aside is US$132 million to cover redress for mis-selling interest rate hedging products. US$147 million has been set aside in the third quarter for payment protection insurance compensation.
These come on top of all the other compensation payments and fines paid in recent years. All this has led to a lack of trust in whatever banks propose for their customers.
HSBC, of course, is not the only bank in the UK having to pay compensation for the mis-selling of these products.
Given that these practices seem to be part of the whole banking culture, one needs to ask the question, "Who is responsible?"
Certainly the board and the chief executives set the culture, but appear not to want to accept blame. Is it not the demand of the shareholders for an ever-rising share price that fuels these questionable practices?
The need to deliver on the promise of "increased shareholder value" by the highly paid CEOs, must, inevitably, lead to some shoddy business practices.
Unfortunately, these CEOs, far from improving shareholder value, seem to end up paying out the shareholders' money in fines and compensation for dubious practices, so their worth is questionable.
Constantly we read of questionable practices in all types of industries. Was business always like this, or is it just that with modern technology we find out more?
Is it stupid to pine for the days when companies grew their businesses by providing good value for their customer in the goods and services that they provided?
Michael Jenkins, Central
Big firms treat consumers with contempt
Stephen Vines lamented the bad behaviour of a big landlord holding on to his deposit without legitimate reasons ("Landlords appear to have more power than they deserve", November 6).
In fact, bad (even illegal) business practices have been pervasive among big companies in town for a long time.
We often read about: telecom service providers making their contracts almost impossible to lapse; monopolies charging customers fees when they hold on to their advance payment even if the service is not used; utilities asking for several-year-old original receipts to return initial deposits; and banks selling complicated products to the wrong clients.
Why do consumers always end up with the short end of the stick? Because companies are allowed to behave like this by the government, which does not include consumer protection among its priorities.
The government does window-dressing by setting up a toothless Consumer Council and washes its hands.
The effect of the inaction has actually trickled down the food chain to not-so-big companies and sometimes even small ones.
We read, for example, about beauticians doing procedures for which they are not qualified.
If not because of a blunder in the selling of Octopus card holders' private information, who knows what would have happened with protection of our privacy?
A government is supposed to create a level playing field for both sides of the business transaction.
As it stands now, it's all rocks for consumers.
Wilkie Wong, Yuen Long
Too much pressure is not helping
The problem of teenage suicide is serious in Hong Kong and I think a leading factor is the stress which some students feel because of their heavy academic workload.
Sometimes parents make things worse by organising a lot of activities for their children to make them more competitive. Even at an early age, they arrange for interview lessons for their children to ensure they get their chosen kindergarten place.
This puts too much pressure on such young children, who cannot express how they feel. As they grow older, this pressure can get worse.
Parents need to think about the feelings of their sons and daughters by listening to what they think and not just insist on the importance of acquiring knowledge.
It is better to encourage youngsters to try harder and thereby develop their full potential rather than forcing them to get involved in too many activities.
Tiffany Leung Cho-yik, Tsuen Wan