Letters to the Editor, November 20, 2013
Children's commission long overdue
Today is Universal Children's Day, as designated by the United Nations' General Assembly, in 1954.
Its purpose is not only to place a focus on understanding among children, but also to initiate action to promote their welfare.
It is wholly appropriate, therefore, that legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung should have chosen today to move a motion in the Legislative Council, calling upon the government to establish a children's commission for Hong Kong.
A children's commission, to protect and advance the interests of local children, and to give them a voice over matters affecting them, is long overdue. Such commissions are already functioning effectively in many other advanced jurisdictions, including Australia, Britain and Canada, and Hong Kong, tragically, is being left behind.
Many children now live in real poverty, and face great privations in their early years. This, inevitably, affects their prospects in life, and puts them at a serious disadvantage. Something must be done.
A children's commission will certainly not solve all the problems children face, but it can be a powerful agent for change. Legislators, therefore, must now seize the opportunity provided by the motion, not just to show how much they care for the most vulnerable, but also to send a clear message to the government that early action is vital.
Other vulnerable groups, including the youth, the elderly and women, already have dedicated agencies to safeguard their interests, and the case for children, with their particular needs, to be similarly protected, is now overwhelming.
Although Dr Cheung successfully moved a similar motion in Legco in 2007, the Donald Tsang Yam-kuen administration, most lamentably, failed to act. If today's motion is carried, the Leung Chun-ying administration, which has already shown a genuine concern for the poor and needy, must turn the proposal into a reality, and prioritise it in the next policy address, if not before.
Dr Cheung deserves great praise for his unstinting commitment to child welfare, and today the legislators must all rally round and do their duty.
The children of Hong Kong deserve no less.
Grenville Cross SC, honorary consultant, Child Protection Institute
China could have done more to help
If the government of the Philippines had introduced appropriate measures then I think the death toll caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan could have been lower.
The authorities have more time to prepare for a typhoon than an earthquake or tsunami. I feel they should have been better prepared so they could take appropriate action and try to protect as many citizens as possible. Also, they should have been ready to implement disaster relief measures as soon as possible after the typhoon had passed.
Many countries were willing to join in and help the Philippines in its time of need. I am sorry our motherland, China, was not willing to provide more support. Being the world's second-largest economy, it could have done more.
After a natural disaster, all countries should put aside national interests and political considerations and provide help.
Koey Chow Chau-yin, Ma On Shan
Passport worth giving up for Games
As someone who has actually given up their original passport in order to ski as a representative for Hong Kong in international competitions, I could not disagree more with Alvin Sallay's column about Alexander Glavatsky-Yeadon ("More than a flag of convenience", November 17).
Competing for Hong Kong is an honour and if one isn't willing to take the passport on the terms on which it is offered, then you shouldn't compete for Hong Kong.
Going to the Olympics is an even more prestigious honour, open to a very select few every four years.
Since Mr Glavatsky-Yeadon isn't ranked highly enough to represent his passport country, he wants to represent Hong Kong.
In that case, he should take citizenship rather than trying to have his cake and eat it. Going to the Olympics is potentially one of the great experiences of a lifetime, so it is up to him to weigh the trade-offs between this experience and forsaking his current nationality.
This is his choice to make, but there should be a trade-off.
Also, I am not ethnically Chinese, nor are several other people I know of who have taken Hong Kong citizenship, so it is wrong to infer that the Immigration Department turned down his application because he is not ethnically Chinese.
The department makes it very clear when one applies for citizenship that you will have to renounce your previous citizenship in order for your application to be accepted.
It is this step that Mr Glavatsky-Yeadon is clearly unwilling to take.
As a proud Hong Kong citizen, I don't want him representing our flag at the Olympics in this case.
Keith Noyes, Clear Water Bay
Obsession with work all too common
Accounting firm Deloitte has suggested that the government should double the tax allowance for children to HK$140,000 in the year of birth to encourage residents to have babies.
I think dishing out more financial incentives like this will have little positive effect on Hong Kong's low birth rate.
There are many couples with a good educational background and a relatively high income who may just have one child or none at all. For them, money is not a major consideration when deciding whether or not to start a family.
There are also a lot of men and women who never marry.
Take a typical accountant in a Big Four firm.
They will probably use most of their free time to work overtime, or do further studies in an effort to advance their career prospects. This leaves them very little time for dating or developing a relationship. And working long hours can leave them exhausted and hardly keen to start a family. This helps to account for a low birth rate.
The students' union at Chinese University got it right when it gathered students from the nursing and engineering faculties for a fun match-making activity. We need networks enabling people to meet new friends instead of just looking for new business opportunities.
These young professionals need to meet other young men and women for social occasions and avoid talking about business.
Also, married couples have to make the effort to take time off work and spend more time with their loved ones. They have to realise that there is more to life than study and work.
Benjamin Tse, To Kwa Wan
Charge will lead to more recycling
I believe the proposed waste levy is an efficient way to reduce rubbish.
People will want to pay less and so will try to reduce the volumes of waste created in their homes.
They will probably try harder to recycle more material and also reduce food waste. This can help to relieve the pressure on landfills.
There are advantages and drawbacks to the charging models that have been put forward, such as households buying pre-paid bags or collecting fees from buildings.
The latter model could be unfair, as flats in the building would pay the same charge and yet different households will generate different volumes of refuse.
Officials may have to find some way in which they combine the different suggested charging models.
Michelle Lo Ching-yan, Kwai Chung