Letters to the Editor, March 18, 2014
Rigorous passport check needed
The Hong Kong Immigration Department, we are told, "has measures in place to prevent any stolen or lost passport being used" ("HK passport checks", March 10).
I do not doubt that officials live up to the claims that they then make in the report. But these claims miss the worrying point, raised by the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, that it seems to be easy to board a plane with a passport that has been reported stolen or lost.
Although it appears that, in this case, the two passengers travelling on stolen passports have no known terrorist links, the situation is still worrying.
It might well be that immigration officials in Hong Kong diligently check passports of embarking passengers against those on the Interpol list known to be lost or stolen, but what about holders of permanent Hong Kong identity cards?
They do not have to show their passports at immigration.
The only consistent check of passports is carried out at check-in.
So what the travelling public needs is an assurance that all airlines, throughout the world, are required to check passports against the list of those known to be lost or stolen, and that they are allowed access to the relevant information and the most up-to-date technology to carry out the checks.
Airlines are currently required to ensure that passengers have the relevant documentation to enter the country of their destination on sufferance of having to return them, at their expense, if they do not.
Why not add to that the requirement to check that every passenger is travelling on a passport that is not on the Interpol list of those lost or stolen?
Since the twin towers tragedy in 2001, there have been very inconvenient, albeit necessary, security checks at international airports; how stupid is it to miss an obvious one that, with modern technology, will cause a delay of only a few seconds.
Peter Robertson, Sai Kung
Local firms failing to be competitive
I refer to the report, "Carmakers wary of foreign deals" (March 10). Currently, the attitude of people operating mainland car brands indicates that there is an imbalance in the automotive industry in China.
I think that the solution to the current situation is to relax the foreign ownership limit of car manufacturers. Beijing should open up the market so that local firms face competition from the outside world. The foreign ownership limit was established to restrict foreign investment and create a favourable environment for local carmakers.
However, an imbalance was created.
The local firms became bigger but not stronger. They failed to make the necessary technological upgrades and so were not competitive.
Moreover, state-owned carmakers had a negative attitude and relied heavily on the government's protectionism.
I believe that the only solution is to relax restrictions on ownership by foreign companies in the automotive industry. The local firms can only improve if they are facing direct competition from foreign firms.
Local carmakers will be stimulated to invest and innovate aggressively, in order to survive.
In short, a sustainable competitive advantage of a company can only be created through global competition.
Barney Chick Wai-yin, Tsuen Wan
Construct casinos on Lantau
I strongly agree with the idea aired in a Chinese-language newspaper in Hong Kong advocating that casinos should be constructed on Lantau.
Casinos can promote tourism and offer more employment opportunities.
Taxes from casinos can also strengthen the government's revenues.
There are examples where cities and countries have benefited from casinos opening, in Singapore, Macau, Malaysia and the Philippines. But there should be certain restrictions imposed here.
Hong Kong citizens who wish to enter Lantau's casinos should pay an entry fee of HK$500 so that there can be a deterrent effect for local people. However, tourists would be allowed in free of charge.
I hope the government considers this option.
Lau Shui-sang, Kwai Chung
Government must give explanation
It saddened me that efforts by Ricky Wong Wai-kay to set up a mobile television service were rejected by the government.
At first I just saw him as a businessman trying to get a market share of this profitable industry. But I have come to realise that there is more to him than that. Of all the applicants for a free-to-air TV licence, the application put forward by Wong's Hong Kong Television Network was the best in terms of preparation. He wanted to provide Hong Kong viewers with more choice.
Nevertheless, despite his best efforts, he was turned down by the government. It has still failed to give a good reason for this decision.
I hope this refusal does not act as an obstacle to the development of democracy in the city. After the licence rejection, Wong did not give up, but tried to go ahead with the mobile network plan.
Regrettably, he encountered another setback. I hope members of the public can fight for their right to have more choices when it comes to entertainment. Also, the government needs to make its stand clear on this issue and offer a proper response to HKTV.
While Wong has had setbacks, I hope that HKTV will persevere.
Lam Ching-yee, Kwun Tong
Workload should not be too heavy
Teachers love giving out homework to their pupils.
While there are obvious benefits to this, such as helping with revision, too much homework can be bad for young people.
If they are overloaded the quality of their work may deteriorate.
They have only a limited amount of time in the evening when they return from school.
As young people, they need to be given enough time to sleep.
If they have to work late to finish all the tasks they have been set they will fall asleep in class.
I think teachers have to be realistic when assigning homework for their pupils and ensure that they are given a reasonable amount to do, but not too much.
Students should not be put under too much pressure.
Kathy Au Yeung, Wong Tai Sin
Graffiti is often just an act of vandalism
I refer to the letter by Swanie Chung ("Government should respect street art", March 13).
I fully agree with the government's decision to remove graffiti, tags and what some people call street art.
One should not forget that these "street artists" are defacing public or private property, without of course any approval from their owners, who will foot the bill for the cleaning of their walls or doors. Ms Chung says that " the government should respect street art". What about the "street artists" respecting public and private property?
And for street artists, I refer to those using chalk to draw scenes or portraits on the pavement, sometimes creating interesting optical illusions ( trompe l'oeil in French) and which can be easily brushed away. How many are just hoodlums who spray paint to mark what they call their "territory"?
If the French person known as Invader wants to express himself, let him go back to France where tagging has become an industry: miles and miles of graffiti and tags are found on walls, doors and even railway carriages and trucks.
Historical monuments in Paris are not even respected and the damage is such that the local authorities have long given up trying to clean the mess.
To call it art is an insult to the real artists and it is silly to encourage it.
Francois Moirez, Stanley
Drivers break rules with impunity
I refer to Chantel Cheung's letter ("Mainlanders should abide by Hong Kong's rules", March 14).
While I agree that mainlanders (and anyone) visiting this city, or any other, should abide by local laws and customs, we also need to take a long hard look at the behaviour of residents of Hong Kong.
For far too long now we have seen deliberate, intentional flouting of the law by locals, and nowhere is this more visible than on the road. Double parking, parking on pavements and in no-stopping zones, selfishly stopping in box junctions, lane jumping across solid lines, cutting in; all of these are practised with impunity and the situation is getting worse. It is as if the offenders have no concept of getting caught, or caring if they do.
The situation is contributing hugely to Hong Kong's traffic woes, and we are seeing little, if any, enforcement of the law.
The brazenness of these individuals is staggering, and it is making a mockery of Hong Kong's traditionally famous laissez-faire attitude. This attitude was fine when we could rely on our local population to follow the law; it appears that now we can't rely on this, and we need our police and traffic wardens to wake up and smell the coffee.
Andy Robinson, Wan Chai