Letters to the Editor, November 15, 2013

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 November, 2013, 3:36am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 November, 2013, 12:47pm

Assets could blur city's poverty line

The government has received measures of praise and criticism for its poverty line, which was unveiled in September.

The line, drawn at half the median household income, puts roughly one in six Hongkongers under the poverty threshold.

Critics have said it is short-sighted and have pointed out certain grey areas in the poverty report. However, the poverty line does indicate a commitment to work more closely with the underprivileged.

The line will enable the Legislative Council to enact welfare policies that target the right groups in our society who are in the greatest need of help. If it results in effective policies, then it will certainly make this administration more popular.

However, I feel one of the grey areas is that assets are not counted when defining the line.

My concern is that some people who own property might still be deemed to be in poverty and get economic aid.

Such help is a misuse of resources, with people getting assistance who do not deserve it, while some working poor deemed to be above the poverty line miss out. This would be in spite of the fact that they are on low incomes and having to cope with rising inflation.

They belong to a group of people who are genuinely in poverty.

Therefore, while I welcome the introduction of the poverty line, I think a clearer definition is needed, and policies derived from it will be more effective if there is an accurate valuation of a person's assets.

Ng Ka-man, Kwun Tong


Disappointing response to storm disaster

Your editorial ("Let Hong Kong's kindness prevail", November 12) was a well- written request for Hong Kong people to be generous in assisting the Philippines in its time of need.

The levels of aid from China and the reaction of the chief executive in Hong Kong where thousands of Filipinos work as domestics has been very disappointing; it seems politics has got in the way of humanity.

How come a country with the second-largest economy in the world gives so little when compared to Britain or Australia?

I noted your report on the Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who is on the record as saying the aid requests to the typhoon-struck Philippines will be processed according to "procedure and humanitarian policy" ("Hong Kong disaster relief effort begins after Philippine typhoon", November 11). This is a shameful comment when immediate help is needed.

We know this is coming from the botched Manila hostage crisis three years ago.

The two incidents are not connected and the government of Hong Kong should be more forthcoming (as it is for disasters in China and elsewhere) than it has been here.

Michael R. K. Mudd, Wan Chai


Priority must be to help Philippines

I refer to Lai See columnist Howard Winn's piece ("Hong Kong should donate", November 12).

He reminds the generous people of Hong Kong and the government that it is disgraceful to remember differences, and insist on compensation for the Manila bus hostage tragedy, at a time when the Philippines is dealing with this huge natural disaster caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan. The government there has enormous problems to deal with and we should not be insisting on compensation right now.

Hong Kong has always been generous when it comes to disaster relief.

The government has a healthy surplus and should be willing to make a donation without strings attached.

This has nothing to do with threatened trade sanctions, no visa-free access or banning Filipino maids.

Is it now the case that, post-handover, we will only donate to calamities that strike China?

This is a time to forget any differences between Hong Kong and Manila, and help the Philippines in any way we can.

A. L. Nanik, Tsim Sha Tsui


Sanctions threat a sorry state of affairs

I am grateful to Alex Lo for his column ("Aquino apology call reaches fever pitch", November 9). Finally, a voice of reason and cool-headedness in the midst of all this grandstanding politicking.

The South China Morning Post represents the voices of all people living in Hong Kong, and that includes more than 200,000 Filipino residents who have had to quietly endure racist sentiments stoked by biased reporting from the local media.

Hongkongers need to realise that there are some 150,000 domestic helpers in their homes right now, taking care of their children and ageing parents, preparing their food and safeguarding their properties. Do you really want to alienate the very people affording you a lifestyle of relative comfort and allowing Hong Kong to be an economic powerhouse?

Like it or not, our histories are so intertwined, no amount of sanctions can easily untangle them.

Whatever resolution Hong Kong manages to get at this point will be a pyrrhic victory, one won at the price of damaged relations between our two cultures played out in our homes and businesses.

No doubt, the bus incident is a most tragic event and we feel the loss of the victims' families. But 1,000 more Filipino lives are lost in similar tragedies that go unreported and uncompensated. It's easy for Hongkongers to get on their self-righteous soap box - they enjoy relatively good governance, a highly effective infrastructure, and a rich economy. For Filipinos, it's all the opposite.

An apology from Philippine President Benigno Aquino won't bring back the dead. Adding insult to injury, the victims' families fail to realise their loss is being used for political gain by their own leaders.

Cathy Chon, North Point


TV licence protest was wake-up call

I felt very proud to be from Hong Kong when I saw the large numbers of citizens who protested outside the government headquarters in Tamar on October 21, over the decision not to grant Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV) a licence.

HKTV clearly has many supporters, not just in the city, but also abroad.

This was illustrated by the appearance of British singer Kashy Keegan, also last month, at Tamar to show his support for HKTV. I really appreciate the perseverance shown by protesters and by staff at HKTV.

The rally on October 21 was a wake-up call.

It caused people to reflect on their views and highlighted the strong social cohesiveness in the city.

Felix Lam, Tseung Kwan O


China time signal can be received

I refer to the letter by Tobias Brown ("Cannot get China's signal in Hong Kong", November 4) in reply to my letter ("Time service widely used by the public", October 29).

In response to Mr Brown's question, we contacted the National Time Service Centre, the provider of the 68.5 kHz broadcast time signal, and have been reassured that the signal can be received in Hong Kong. We are also aware of devices which could be synchronised to the centre's time signal in Hong Kong. The reliability of signal reception would naturally depend on the device being used. Users may wish to also contact the device supplier for technical advice on signal reception issues.

As regards Mr Brown's suggestion of installing time signal broadcast equipment in Hong Kong, the Observatory did consider such an initiative many years ago. We concluded it would not be the most cost- effective option to enhance the Observatory's time service; in particular, a rather large piece of land would be required to install the radio transmitters.

The widespread use of the time service provided by the Observatory through the internet has proved to be a more cost-effective approach. We will continue to keep abreast of the latest technologies to further enhance our services for the public.

Mr Brown is welcome to contact us directly at 2926 8451 or (hymok@hko.gov.hk) for further discussion regarding time services and other related issues.

H. Y. Mok, for director of the Hong Kong Observatory


Organ donor scheme should be highlighted

Because of traditional Chinese beliefs, many Hong Kong citizens are still reluctant to grant permission for their organs to be harvested for transplants.

They still hold to the belief that the body must be kept whole after death so they can enter another world. They will not be able to enter that after-life if their organs have been removed.

This contrasts with Western countries where people do not hold to such traditions and many citizens register as organ donors, which will give other people the gift of life.

I do not think there is sufficient promotion of the organ donor programme in print media or on television.

It might also help if there were some incentives. Some countries offer tax rebates if people register as donors.

The government must step up its promotion campaign so more people know about the scheme. Also, the rule saying permission must be given by the donor's family, even if the patient agreed to be a donor, should be scrapped.

Wendy Tsang Sze-wing, Sheung Shui