Letters to the Editor, February 20, 2014
Prostitution and trafficking are bedfellows
The recent article about the crackdown on prostitution in Dongguan ("World's oldest profession still one of its most honest", February 15) seemed to treat prostitution as a matter of economics, inevitability and necessity, and even attempted to give it some virtuosity as being honest.
However, the stark nature of this "profession" was more clearly portrayed in the Sunday Morning Post article ("HK police fear influx after Dongguan vice raids", February 16) pointing to the associated vices of narcotics, money laundering and triad protection that always accompanies it.
There is one further ugly side to this profession which was not mentioned: that is sex-trafficking. Prostitution is a breeding ground for sex-trafficking. In China and parts of Southeast Asia, women, young girls, minors and children often fall prey to the deceptions and enticements of well-organised gangs of traffickers who will ruthlessly exploit these unfortunate victims and subject them to sexual slavery.
The process is subtle, well-rehearsed and eventually brutal, resulting in broken and willing slaves who have developed a dependency on their pimps.
We have to understand that trafficking has three faces. It is big business, organised crime and human exploitation.
While we may recognise and righteously denounce the first two, the third face of human exploitation is harder to recognise because prostitutes are taught to be great actors. Their livelihood depends on that smiling, seductive, compliant demeanour.
No girl wakes up one morning and decides that she would like to take up prostitution for a profession.
In Hong Kong, girls caught in illegal situations of prostitution are often treated as immigration offenders and quickly deported without any investigation of their circumstances, which might lead to trafficking charges being brought against the real villains, the traffickers.
The prosecution of traffickers takes time and careful preparation to build a successful case. Hence it is usually the girls who suffer most and the real villains often go free, only to reuse their unfortunate victims in some other country.
Make no mistake, this is a nasty affair and there is no compassion given by the pimps and traffickers because this is big business.
Men who buy the services of prostitutes must understand that by so doing they are actively facilitating and promoting sex-trafficking, whether the girl they are using appears to be perfectly happy with her situation in life or not.
Where prostitution flourishes, sex-trafficking will invariably be present and all the misery that goes with it.
Tony Read, Stop HK (Stop Trafficking of People)
Appreciation for art starts at a young age
The development of the West Kowloon Cultural District has been a hot issue in the last few years.
Facing the increasing cost of building materials due to inflation and difficulties in finding a suitable CEO, the building of the cultural district has not been easy.
I am glad to hear that its opening is coming soon, in 2017.
No one can deny the fact that the Hong Kong government has long neglected the development of art and culture. With the opening of the cultural district, I hope that it can raise public awareness and there will be a part specifically focusing on cultural development in the policy address in the future.
Instead of introducing the main idea or guidelines, we would like to hear some really useful, detailed and achievable measures.
It is important to expose young people at an early age to art and music.
Sadly, it is not easy for underprivileged teens to get in touch with art and music as the tuition is so expensive that the poor cannot afford it.
To make opportunities equal and increase the popularity of art, the government should introduce policies to cultivate art appreciation in schools.
By participating in art, such as drama or playing instruments, teens can gain confidence, get more experience and communicate with art groups all around the world to broaden their horizons.
Hong Kong is a well-known place for tourists. It has the sobriquet of "shopping and food paradise" and its scenic night view has attracted lots of tourists.
I hope that with the building of the cultural district, art and culture will become a significant symbol of Hong Kong and become one of the reasons tourists visit the city.
Koey Chow Chau-yin, Ma On Shan
Organisation of marathon could improve
I refer to the letter "Taking regular exercise beats one-off event" (February 17). A lot of participants were injured at the Hong Kong marathon on Sunday. Some had cramp and some were dehydrated.
Undoubtedly, not having enough preparation was one of the main causes of injury. Still, there was another reason.
The number of participants is increasing every year. This makes the runners feel more crowded on the course. The level of air quality in Hong Kong is low, making it more difficult for the participants to breathe.
Moreover, the planning of the route is not good enough. On Sunday, the runners had to go over flyovers and even through tunnels. It was really difficult for them.
I look forward to seeing better planning of the race route next year and I encourage people who would like to join the marathon to do enough preparation and training.
Christina Leung Oi-yee, Tseung Kwan O
Wheelchair racers deserve a fairer chance
I refer to the article "Wheelchair racers say time limit is unreasonable" (February 17).
A lot of people think that the wheelchair racers at the Hong Kong marathon should not be subject to a time limit and I am one of them. Limiting the time allocated to complete the wheelchair races is not reasonable.
Originally, these races spread the idea of integration for disabled people and encouraged those with disabilities to be more active. However, the rules of the marathon blot out this concept.
Participants in the marathon, including those in wheelchairs, had to go through a number of checkpoints, passing each by a set time. If they missed the cut-off point, then they were not allowed to continue the race, with no second chance given.
Only two of the six wheelchair participants were able to complete the race.
It could be argued that the time limit discriminates against the disabled and that the organisers do not care about the feelings of the disabled.
Hence, the organisers of the marathon should improve the regulation of the wheelchair races by removing the time limit for future races.
Wang Tsz-man, Tseung Kwan O
Rail should use one-stop immigration
As a Hong Kong resident whose business is based on the mainland, I travel regularly to Shenzhen (Futian district) and other parts of the country.
So I am looking forward to the introduction of the high-speed railway connection to cut my travelling time.
With the completion of the new high-speed rail link to Guangzhou and other mainland cities, it is my understanding that both the Hong Kong and mainland customs/immigration clearance activities for passengers will be completed at Kowloon station.
This would seem sensible and avoid the need for new facilities in the destination cities.
It would mirror the situation at the Shenzhen Bay Bridge.
Would the relevant government department please confirm that this is the case or, if not, can they tell us what the arrangements will be?
Martin Reynolds, Kowloon
Refuse tax scheme a waste of time
The government's decision to charge citizens for the disposal of waste means a tax will be levied on construction waste, abandoned furniture and domestic waste.
From my point of view, a garbage tax is not the solution to Hong Kong's waste problem. The tax does not deal with the root of the problem.
The government simply levies a tax on the disposal of waste. However, has the government ever thought about where citizens' waste comes from?
Most of our garbage, in the form of plastic bags and paper boxes, is from companies. The government is planning to levy a tax on the end users, but not the producers.
If we don't address the root cause of garbage, the effectiveness of the scheme will be in doubt.
Charging by building is not effective because there is no accountability. Charging by bags and household is not feasible due to the high population density in Hong Kong buildings. Moreover, there are plenty of illegal squatters and subdivided flats in Hong Kong. Is it possible to charge these units?
In Hong Kong today, many people realise that garbage is an urgent problem and they know they have to take action, such as recycling. However, they may lack the incentive due to limited supporting measures and recycling facilities. People only see recycling bins in the lobby of their buildings. Whenever they want to recycle, they have to go down to the lobby, which is very inconvenient.
To conserve the environment, we need a comprehensive scheme to help with Hong Kong's waste problem. Simply implementing a garbage tax is not enough to deal with such a severe issue.
Alice Lee Wing-ching Kwun Tong