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Letters to the Editor, December 13, 2013

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 December, 2013, 3:09am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 December, 2013, 3:09am

Third runway would worsen airport woes

I refer to the article by Joe Ng, vice-chairman of the Board of Airline Representatives ("A third runway is key to HK's sustainable growth", December 4).

He says aviation is worth HK$88.9 billion to Hong Kong. Where does he get that figure from?

Like all these so-called benefits to the economy, the figures are somebody's conjecture, from organisations hoping for government subsidies.

If the airlines are so keen on a third runway, they should fund it themselves. Current estimates of HK$130 billion will probably double by the time of completion.

I flew into Hong Kong from Bangkok on Sunday, December 1, on flight CX702. The plane landed on time but it took one hour for the baggage to arrive - hardly world class.

The explanation by a member of the airport staff was "lack of manpower". Is this due to a shortage of labour or management reducing costs at the expense of the travelling public?

I would suggest to the management that before starting new programmes, it should fix the existing problems. A third runway, with increased passenger traffic, will only exacerbate such problems.

The key to Hong Kong's sustainable growth is the central government, not a third runway. Once the renminbi becomes a fully convertible currency, Hong Kong's place in the world will diminish rapidly.

Its financial sector will be vastly reduced and the port will go into terminal decline. It will become just another, probably second-tier, city, living on government handouts and loans, as its leaders do not have the political clout or the ability to grow the city.

Entrepreneurs will continue to make money, as they do all over the globe, but the city will fade into obscurity.

There will be no need for a third runway.

Michael Jenkins, Central


Public write-in could make election fairer

Frank Ching's support for political parties nominating a chief executive election candidate is an improvement on the current cabal of vested interests and political conservatives ("Party place", December 4).

But there are disadvantages to such a system; and in referring to US elections, he does not mention write-in votes, a vital element in US democracy.

The disadvantage of party nomination is that it maintains the domination of large established groups.

That may be fine if, as in America, there is a long history of competition within each party. But if both parties are captured by vested or financial interests, democracy suffers.

So the vital point is that citizens retain the right to "write in" a candidate not nominated by either party, if they don't like the nominated candidates.

This keeps the parties on the straight and narrow. Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy all won write-ins in state nominations.

President Lyndon Johnson was so shocked in 1968 by the 41 per cent gained on write-in by Eugene McCarthy in New Hampshire that he decided not to run again.

And in 1992, there were more than a dozen presidential nominees outside the main parties; and one independent, Ross Perot, with no party affiliation at all, achieved 19 per cent of the vote.

To add parties is helpful, especially with a low hurdle to qualify as a party. To let the people nominate is better.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels


Montessori 'village' must be preserved

Our daughters Lauren and Morgan have attended the International Montessori School at Tin Hau since 2011.

The warm and vibrant community of the school has made the past few years some of the happiest in our children's and our family's lives.

So it was with great distress that I learned that there is a threat hanging over the campus ("Tin Hau school on shaky ground", November 28).

In the book It Takes a Village, Hillary Rodham Clinton points out that "decades of work on behalf of children have taught me that no family exists in a vacuum, many parents need support to become the best parents they can be".

For me and my family, the International Montessori School at Tin Hau is a big part of our "village".

It is much more than the place where our daughters have made excellent academic progress.

It is also where they have learned to be independent, through taking care of younger classmates and attending overnight camps.

It is where they have learned about community service, through activities such as Box of Hope, Food Drive and the Shek O Beach Cleanup.

And it is where our daughters, my husband and I have found some of our closest friendships.

The teachers, staff and parents at this school have bonded in the past three years to create this strong and caring community which we consider part of our home.

Successful schools and communities do not come by easily - and when they do, they should be nurtured, not destroyed.

Forcing the students and families to move out of the Tin Hau site would tear these bonds apart and throw the children, parents and staff into disarray, for no good reason.

The Hong Kong government, as the ultimate landlord of the Tin Hau site, gave assurances to the school in November 2012 that the Tin Hau school would be secure.

I strongly implore the administration to stand by its promise, and give our International Montessori School "village" the security and stability of a long-term lease so we can get on with raising and educating children and contributing to Hong Kong.

Yip King-sze, Tai Po


Benefits of dolphins vs helicopters

I refer to the letter by Barry Law Ming Chak ("HK's future in the hands of today's parents", December 5).

I agree with him that parents play an important role in shaping the characters of the future pillars of Hong Kong.

Dolphin parenting, which teaches through fun, is very different from what is known as helicopter parenting.

Dolphin parents allow their children to overcome the hurdles they face by themselves.

They want their children to learn from all those experiences rather than simply forcing them to sit and study. This will enable them to deal with the challenges they will face in the future. They will be prepared to deal with the tough times we all face in life.

These children are more likely to grow up being sociable and creative, and by developing these skills, they can also perform well academically.

Also, within such a family unit, there is a better chance of nurturing a good parent-child relationship.

Very often, helicopter parents neglect the feelings of their sons and daughters and this can harm parent-child relationships. Dolphin parents are always supportive and caring.

They will share their life experiences and encourage their children to be tenacious whenever they fail to achieve something.

Judy Chow Shuk-in, Kowloon Tong


Hypocrisy over alcohol advertising

Governments around the world, including Hong Kong, have been increasing their efforts, through education, to persuade people not to start smoking, or for smokers to give up.

Ironically, they all benefit from the high taxes they impose on the sale of tobacco.

If indeed smoking poses such a high risk to people's health and leads to putting financial pressure on countries' health services, why not simply make tobacco products illegal, as has been done with drugs such as opium?

Similarly, the consumption of alcohol has no real health benefits, and can damage organs such as the liver and kidneys. Excessive drinking is the cause of many deaths and it leads to public disturbances caused by people who are intoxicated and to people being arrested for drunk-driving.

This is also a drain on taxpayers' money, because many of these people end up in court.

The health impairments are no less grave than those caused by smoking, but the government appears to be adopting double standards. Companies producing beer and other alcoholic drinks sponsor sports tournaments.

Children get the wrong message when they see adverts on TV promoting beer during live broadcasts of soccer matches. Why is this allowed when tobacco advertising is not?

I think this shows hypocrisy on the parts of governments. Surely they should be taking stronger actions to protect the health of their citizens?

Selwyn Saw, Ma On Shan


Bank took big cut of typhoon cash transfer

I recently remitted by wire transfer HK$3,000 (approximately 17,000 pesos) as a donation to my former domestic helper who resides in Tacloban, Philippines.

However, I was shocked to receive a text message from her just a couple of days later to say that her bank account with BDO bank in Philippines had only been credited with a mere 6,900 pesos.

I have asked my bank HSBC to investigate. However, subject to their response, the facts would sadly seem to suggest that banks are continuing to take their cut through exchange rates and commission/handling charges, even on donations intended to alleviate the desperate suffering of those affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan.

How can it possibly be acceptable for around 60 per cent of a remitted amount to be swallowed up in this way?

I am furious with what has happened, as the loser in all of this is my helper, who is the most desperately in need. Perhaps the banks concerned would care to respond through these columns.

Tim Drew, Admiralty


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This article is now closed to comments

Bank took big cut of typhoon cash transfer... by Tim Drew.
Your former helper should have advised you to use one of those remittance companies in World Wide house. There you get a decent exchange rate and low fee on the actual transfer. I imagine you initiated an 'old school' telegraphic transfer and opted for the receiver to pay both the sending and collection fee. This is why the actual money received was so low. Finally the exchange rate would have been pants.
Lesson learned.
Saw: "health impairments are no less grave than those caused by smoking"
The FACTS:smoking kills more people worldwide than Aids, malaria, TB, murders, illegal drugs, suicides, pollution & road accidents combined; of 7000 tobacco related ANNUAL deaths in HKG 23% (over 1350 persons) die from passive smoking - yet it is all completely preventable. 95% of nicotine addicts commence their addiction before the age of 19 hence tobacco taxation according to WHO is the most effective form of smoking prevention, putting cigarette affordability out of youth's reach.
In his book 'If I eat another carrot I'll go crazy' eminent Sydney cardiologist Dr Ross Walker explains that people who drink red wine moderately have 50% less chance of stroke & myocardial infarction than abstemious persons, beer drinkers have the same chance as abstemious persons whilst hard spirit drinkers have 50% more chance of stroke/ heart infarction than beer drinkers / abstemious persons & stresses how lifestyle choices/ diet affect the heart. Moreover drinking red wine does not kill people standing nearby you, unlike smoking where the sidestream smoke from the slow burning cigarette tip has a far more toxic chemical emissions than the smoker inhales as mainstream smoke.Smoking kills 1 in every 2 smokers, slowly & painfully, for profit quest
'We don’t smoke that shxt-we just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the young-the poor-the black & the stupid'
ahh HSBC - the Bank that likes to say Yes - please pay our outrageous charges
HSBC's response when I complained of a "service fee" levied on a HK$ transaction I had performed online: "The fee is only HK$60 if you perform the transaction yourself. If you had come to our branch, the fee would be HK$125. So you saved more than 50%"
Yet we all still act shocked when they act like complete dicks.
Some salient educational reading for Mr Saw: 600,000 Mainlanders die per year (mainly women & children) from 2nd hand tobacco smoke in China
Download the 4th edition of the Tobacco Atlas (in Chinese)
M Eriksen Judith Mackay Hana Ross
Download the 4th edition of the Tobacco Atlas (in English)
World Lung Foundation
According to The Tobacco Atlas, 38 % of all cigarettes consumed in the world are smoked in China, more than the other top four countries combined. 50.4 % of all men smoke, meaning that approximately 340 million people are at significant risk for death from tobacco-related diseases. Tobacco use is already responsible for 12 % of all deaths among men in China & that number could rise significantly.
China also produces 41 % cent of the world’s cigarettes & 43 % of the world’s tobacco, which is more tobacco leaf than the other top nine producing countries combined. Exposure to 2nd hand smoke is also a significant cause of mortality in China. According to The Atlas, 600,000 people die in China every year from 2nd hand smoke exposure, most of them women and children. In China, 47% of youth ages 13-15 are exposed to 2nd hand smoke in the home, further increasing the risk of tobacco related diseases & death for this generation.
@ "Third runway would worsen airport woes"
The biggest joke about the Airport Authority's claim for the "need" of a third runway is contained in their consultant's report which boldly states that the airport needs to expand to provide jobs for Hong Kong's workers............................... followed shortly by the A.A. publicly demanding labour imports because they are unable to secure enough workers.
@Michael Jenkins: Well said.

An underemphasized point in the runway debate is that airport service quality has been steadily deteriorating even without the increase in traffic that a third runway would bring. It used to be unusual for arriving flights to be assigned remote landing bays (where passengers have to take a bus to the airport terminal). Nowadays it seems most regional flights are shunted off to remote bays, adding significant time and frustration to the already unpleasant process of modern air travel.
@"the already unpleasant process of modern air travel."
You said it !
Why do so many people like to subject themselves to humiliating treatment at airports and the discomfort of being squeezed into tightly-packed dehydrating aluminum tubes?
When the Chinese high-speed rail network link comes on line in 2 or 3 years all this will change.
Well said. My question is why SCMP publishes publishes letters with such blatant ignorance (or lies). The differential health effects of of smoking and drinking are well established and widely known.


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