Letters to the Editor, May 17, 2014
HK lags in corporate governance
In Asia, Hong Kong has always been proud of its leading position as a financial centre.
However, we are losing our crown in the realm of sustainability. When we compare the three stock exchanges - Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen - we are losing our position to the other two.
Regular corporate social responsibility reporting was introduced in the Shanghai exchange in 2008 and in Shenzhen in 2006, while in Hong Kong, something similar, known as environmental, social and governance reporting, will not become mandatory until next year.
Obviously we have fallen behind. The Hong Kong government might play a laissez-faire role in the marketplace, but the business sector should think about its competitiveness, especially when compared to strong neighbours.
Market rules are actually the most basic tool to promote the disclosure of corporate social responsibility practices in the marketplace. I have read press reports which have made it clear that mainland firms are even more aware of corporate social responsibility than Hong Kong firms.
Companies here can hardly consider themselves superior to mainland firms when they are not even up to the basic international standards regarding disclosures.
I hope that the coming mandatory environmental, social and governance reporting will give Hong Kong firms the opportunity to become more competitive again in the international market.
Hollie Chung, Tai Po
Tighten up regulations on pepper spray
Police were criticised for the way they used pepper spray against people protesting against "white elephant" infrastructure projects ("Pepper spray use 'unreasonable'", May 6).
Critics said officers abused their authority, as they are only supposed to use pepper spray when they perceive that there is an "imminent threat" and are "at least 61cm away from their target". However, the security secretary said the spray was only used when a dangerous situation developed during the protest.
It is clear that there must be tighter regulation of the use of pepper spray. And if new rules are drawn up, they should not be kept secret.
This does not offer the public guarantees that officers are sticking to the regulations and therefore doing their jobs properly.
Tighter controls offer greater safety. I think, at the moment, officers could misjudge a situation, use the spray and hurt members of the public.
Also, well-defined rules that are known to the public could hopefully also offer greater protection to police officers.
I do not believe that the revised regulations would mean that officers had less power to control a demonstration that gets out of hand.
Candy Pang, Tai Wai
Protests tarnish city's reputation
I believe that universal suffrage is very important for Hong Kong so that it can develop into a more democratic city.
Citizens have wanted it for some time and look forward to the 2017 election for chief executive.
However, I do not think that the Occupy Central movement is the best way for people to express their views.
Hong Kong is an international financial hub. That status could be harmed if the operation of many companies in the central business district is seriously disrupted by Occupy Central. Also, traffic will come to a standstill.
Even worse, the image of Hong Kong will be tarnished.
Rachel Tam Hiu-lam, Sha Tin
Local players committed and professional
I was astonished to read some of the comments which were made by William Lai in his Rational Ref column ("Serie A the wrong style to emulate", May 1).
As an expatriate who has played football for nearly 20 years at a variety of levels in Hong Kong, I have witnessed plenty of the "anti-soccer histrionics" that Lai bemoans.
Not all of these histrionics, however, can be blamed on local Chinese players. Indeed, I have seen players of many different nationalities - including British and German - diving, feigning injury and wasting time.
Moreover, I have played against, and alongside, many local Chinese players who approach the game with the "honest, committed, hardworking" attitude that Lai rightly upholds.
To suggest, therefore, that local Chinese footballers flaunt an "almost effeminate, delicate and fragile nature" is not only offensive, it is also largely inaccurate. And to say that the antics of some foreign players are due to the influence of the local style of play is, frankly, nothing short of absurd.
I currently play in the Yau Yee League, and can confirm that the YYL cup final was indeed an exciting spectacle.
However, to imply, as Lai does, that this was due to a predominance of overseas players who "shun the local style of play" is a huge insult to the local Chinese sides that make up some 60 per cent of the YYL membership.
In particular, it is an affront to Antonhill, a team of local Chinese players who lifted the trophy a few years back after an enthralling final at King's Park sports ground.
Andrew Mitchell, North Point
Strengthen heritage protection
Many people protested against the demolition of Queen's Pier, Central in 2007 and I think they were right.
It was not just a popular public pier, but also had historical significance.
It witnessed the arrival of new governors from 1925 onwards and visiting members of the British royal family, including Queen Elizabeth in 1975.
It served as a living part of Hong Kong's colonial past. What happened to Queen's Pier highlights the prevailing culture in this city where tradition is not honoured and only what is new is valued.
Other treasured buildings have been lost over the years and I think this is to the detriment of Hongkongers, as they will lack a collective memory. A city, where the focus is just on profit is not a liveable city.
Queen's Pier was dismantled and its parts stored. It will be relocated, eventually; however, I think this will be a meaningless gesture on the part of the government.
Heritage protection policies must be strengthened before it is too late.
Helen Wong Yan-lam, Kowloon Tong
Clean streets before start of daily commute
I am concerned about the increasing amounts of rubbish that appear every morning on the section of Wyndham Street between Glenealy and Arbuthnot Road.
I walk to work along Wyndham Street every morning at 7.15am and I am confronted with heaps of garbage, scattered refuse and broken glass from uncollected beer bottles.
While some of the commercial establishments on Wyndham Street (for example, Wagyu) arrange for cleaners to sweep or hose down the pavement directly in front of their entrances, the cleaners simply dump the refuse elsewhere on the street.
That may be good for Wagyu, but it is horrible for everyone else.
Other establishments (for example, 7-Eleven, located across the street from the Centrium) make no effort to remove their refuse.
Heaps of rubbish accumulate along Wyndham Street, some in bags and some loosely scattered.
This refuse attracts rats and other vermin, presents obstacles to pedestrians going to work and is very unsightly.
Also, it gives our city a very bad image.
I am especially surprised that a leading, global franchise like 7-Eleven cannot set a better example for its commercial peers.
Hong Kong residents and taxpayers should not be forced to walk through garbage every morning just to get to work.
It should be the responsibility of the commercial outlets on Wyndham Street to completely clean up the refuse that they have generated, before commuters start their walk to work every morning.
Mark Baughan, Central
Focus on common goals, not behaviour
I do accept that some mainland visitors to Hong Kong behave badly, spitting on the street and talking loudly.
I also accept the argument of some Hongkongers that these visitors should recognise the kind of behaviour that is considered to be unacceptable here.
However, I do think that some local citizens can be a bit oversensitive, such as when a passer-by took a photo of a mainland toddler relieving himself on a street in Mong Kok. It was really a fairly trivial matter.
I have noticed a marked improvement in the behaviour of tourists from north of the border. I think most of them are trying their best to be polite.
We must recognise this and try to ease the tensions that have built up.
We should be looking at the common goals - that are of concern to mainlanders and Hongkongers - such as human rights and alleviation of poverty.
Fion Sy Hoi-ki, Yau Yat Chuen