Letters to the Editor, January 22, 2014

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 January, 2014, 4:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 January, 2014, 4:01am

Inaction by officials added to dog problem

Adam Bornstein makes several errors in his letter ("Desexing scheme for stray dogs has failed in Lamma village", January 16).

He is correct in the sense that the scheme has not yet been fully successful but it can certainly not be deemed a failure.

First, the reason for the numbers of feral dogs increasing over the years was that the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) requested that no trap, neuter, release scheme should be carried out there because they were planning to do a scientific trial whose validity they claimed would be compromised if an unofficial scheme was started before theirs.

Year after year went by and time was wasted by consultation after consultation - the result was the steady increase in the numbers of dogs, as observed by Mr Bornstein.

If the government had allowed the trap, neuter, release scheme to be started there when first requested in 2008, there would already be no dogs left.

When finally, last year, the department and SPCA decided not to go ahead on Lamma, a group started it unofficially last March.

The reason progress has not been more rapid is because, so far, it has not been possible to control the villagers who wish to continue "shovelling large quantities of dog food", as Mr Bornstein correctly puts it. Dogs with full stomachs do not enter traps.

Interestingly, it is not villagers in favour of the department's catch and kill policy that have been the problem but those who can't bear to think of dogs being trapped and neutered.

If the department ordered villagers to stop putting down food, this minimum of official support would ensure success.

John Wedderburn, Lamma


Maids clearly need better protection

The problem of abuse of domestic helpers is serious in Hong Kong.

In September, the employers of Indonesian helper Kartika Puspitasari were jailed after being found guilty of systematic abuse. Helpers who are subjected to this kind of abuse suffer deep psychological trauma. The government must recognise there is a problem and do what is necessary to stop such physical and mental abuse. People, including employers of domestic helpers, must recognise the importance of showing mutual respect.

Jessie Lam Sze-ting,Kowloon Tong


Officers' slow response was disappointing

I refer to the incident of alleged abuse towards Indonesian domestic helper, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih.

Like many other people in Hong Kong, I am truly outraged and appalled to hear these allegations.

This comes just months after the employers of Kartika Puspitasari were jailed after she was a victim of abuse.

I am also appalled by the seemingly slow response of police to this latest incident.

It was only after it had received international media attention that officers decided to follow up on the case. I was worried they might brush it aside and consider it "unimportant".

I'm relieved that the case is now being pursued, but I can't help but wonder, had it not been brought to light by the Indonesian media, would the Hong Kong police have even bothered to look into it?

Hong Kong has always prided itself on being an international, world-class city with the rule of law. Incidents of violence towards domestic helpers are not only sickening and shameful, but they damage Hong Kong's reputation as an international city.

Any apathy shown by police is completely unacceptable and makes a mockery of the city's legal and judicial system.

Andrew Nunn, Stanley


Courts must impose longer jail terms

It is always shocking to hear allegations of abuse in a developed city like Hong Kong.

Even one incident is one too many. But two alleged cases have now been revealed and it makes you wonder what kind of abuse is going unreported.

The present laws in Hong Kong aimed at protecting foreign domestic helpers are clearly not effective. Too often, agencies and employers treat these helpers as commodities.

The Indonesian government needs to take a more proactive and firm stance by cleaning up this business of what is tantamount to human slavery.

There must be tougher controls on agents and they must take responsibility to ensure that the helpers are not placed with unsuitable employers. These agents are running a business and earn revenue from placing the helpers. There should therefore be a strict code of practice for them.

The Hong Kong government also has to do more. It must have an effective monitoring system and employers must sign a declaration stating that they undertake fair treatment of these maids and that they will respect the helpers' right to leave the premises on their obligatory weekly day off.

Also, there should be stiffer custodial sentences for any employers who are found guilty by the courts of physically abusing their domestic helper. The message must be got across that the authorities in Hong Kong will not tolerate such abuse.

The helpers should also be taught how to use new technology, such as various apps on mobile phones, if they need to report any abuse.

The Indonesian consulate should have a phone hotline and arrangements with the Hong Kong authorities, including the police, so that any allegations of abuse are reported promptly.

There should be closer co-operation between the governments of Indonesia and Hong Kong to deal with this problem. Financial assistance must be made available to those maids who are victims of abuse, from a fund to which these governments, agencies and employers contribute.

Selwyn Saw, Ma On Shan


Appeal for adequate transport

A public consultation process has been held to gauge people's views on next month's budget.

I wish to make an appeal to the financial secretary ahead of his speech. I would like the government to provide the elderly and the disabled with an adequate Rehabus service. It would be much appreciated if this was done.

Wong Yu Yuen, Tai Hang


Computer games can help students

Students can benefit from some computer games, even though there have been warnings that they can prove harmful.

Games such as Sudoku are logic based and players need to think about what they are doing to successfully complete the puzzle. Another example is the crossword, where you can improve your vocabulary.

With some games, you have to work with, and compete against, other people. This helps a young person learn the importance of teamwork and improves their communication skills. And there are some games which help them to relieve pressure.

I accept that some people spend too long looking at their screens playing sometimes pointless games.

It is important to limit the time you spend playing computer games.

Nadia Lam, Tsim Sha Tsui