Letters to the Editor, July 10, 2014
Marchers with young children braved heat
As in previous years, I took to the streets along with hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong people on the anniversary of the handover.
This year's turnout seemed to be the biggest in the last 10 years, and contrary to previous marches when the demands were varied, this year the focus was mainly on achieving genuine universal suffrage and the northeast New Territories development project.
Young adults made up most of the crowd, but there were still a lot of elderly people and parents with their small children, some of them on strollers. For various reasons, the march was slow and one of the most exhausting.
I got stranded in Causeway Bay for more than an hour. While I was waiting, there was a heavy downpour. Most of the marchers maintained their patience throughout, for which we should be proud.
Indeed, except for arguments between some protesters and the police over the use of roads, the march was quiet and free of vandalism or any other forms of violence. Most of the marchers acted like law-abiding citizens in a free and democratic society.
I admired the parents who marched with their young children the most.
Given the long wait and slow procession, these parents often had to carry their children. Many chose to quit but some of them walked all the way to Central.
I am sure most of these children do not fully understand the cause their parents are supporting, but such passion and persistence will surely have a lasting impact on these children.
This year's march was very different from previous July 1 marches; 511 of the protesters who occupied Chater Road after the march and stayed overnight were arrested on the morning of July 2.
My friends and I, and indeed different sections of society, are sharply divided on the issue. Some of us are supportive of or sympathetic towards those who were arrested while some feel that these protesters have only themselves to blame.
Many people are afraid that those who resort to more so-called radical methods like Occupy Central may put at risk our economy and political future.
Only time will tell, however, at least for now Hong Kong citizens can still freely express opposing ideas without fear of being imprisoned or facing persecution.
Clive Chan, Lam Tin
Lawmakers setting very bad example
On July 1, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens came out onto the streets in defence of their beliefs. There was no rioting, vandalism or any other kind of disorder.
In contrast, there was mayhem in the Legislative Council chamber at a meeting a few days after the march.
Paper and other documents and a glass were thrown in the chamber by pan-democrats [during a question-and-answer session with the chief executive].
The behaviour of these lawmakers was in stark contrast to the orderly march.
This is disappointing, especially because ordinary citizens elected radical and moderate pan-democrats and trusted them to do the right thing for Hong Kong. And what about the moderate pan-democrats? Some of them walked out of the same meeting.
This does not set a good example as they are supposed to be seen as learned and upstanding Hong Kong citizens.
I was disappointed that they followed their radical colleagues out of the chamber when they should have stayed.
Christine Wong, Mid-Levels
End private hospitals' unfair charges
In refer to the article by Ng Kang-chung on the rising cost of medical care (and an ageing population) and the long waiting times at public hospitals ("System is sick and tired", June 22).
The government would like to see more people taking out medical insurance and making use of Hong Kong's private hospitals to relieve the financial burden faced by the Hospital Authority and the waiting times at public hospitals.
A government-commissioned study came up with the idea of having employers and employees each contribute 1 per cent of wages to "long-term-care savings accounts".
That option is to me the same scam as the Mandatory Provident Fund, where the biggest beneficiaries are the banks and fund managers and not the account holders.
In order to have more people buy private health insurance policies, the government should make contributions to such policies tax-deductible.
Also, it should set standard and maximum prices for medical procedures. This is what is done in developed countries, excluding the US.
This would put an end to the ridiculous system now used by private hospitals where they charge you much more for the same procedure if you opt for a private room to recover rather than a ward.
The charge for the private room should be separate and not connected to the medical procedure.
Also, if your doctor has an office in the private hospital where you are a patient, he should charge the same fee for a bedside visit as a consultation in his office.
At present, you will pay around HK$2,000 to get a bedside visit and around HK$400 for a consultation in the office, even if it lasts longer.
By regulating the maximum sums that can be charged the government can ensure that private health care insurance is affordable to a larger number of Hong Kong citizens, as clearly the cost of procedures affects insurance premiums. If more people buy private medical insurance, the public hospital system will face less pressure.
Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay
Mutual respect will defuse tensions
There have been recent reports about some mainlanders deciding not to come to Hong Kong.
The reason for this was connected with the incident involving a mainland mother who allowed her child to urinate in a street in Mong Kok and was filmed by passing Hongkongers who then posted the photo on the internet.
Some people asked fellow mainlanders online not to visit Hong Kong, in order to send the message that the SAR's economy would collapse without the money these tourists spend when visiting the city.
Mainlanders should recognise the importance of proper behaviour when visiting. But Hongkongers should try not to hold extreme views.
We should learn to respect each other to avoid conflicts.
Kelly Wan Lai, Kwai Chung
Reading can face stiff competition
I refer to the letter from Stephen Krashen, emeritus professor at the University of Southern California ("Summer reading helps literacy", June 23).
I strongly agree with those who argue that when motivating teenagers to read, you must recognise the competition that exists between gadgets, phone apps, social networking and books.
My thanks to Professor Krashen's research findings that high school students' reading score declined during the school year, but rose substantially during each summer break.
It sheds lights and gives some insights to me as a language facilitator.
I think learners could boost their reading power during summer by reading books or online reading.
Hong Kong is still in the top 10 in the Programme for International Students Assessment (Pisa).
We should promote reading both at home and in schools as reading is a prime life skill for everyone.
Teresa Chan, Tseung Kwan O
Frustrating experience on 'hotline'
I read with interest Andrew Stokes' letter ("Unable to report lost credit card", July 2).
I completely empathise with his frustration in trying to speak to a living human via the HSBC "hotline" as a similar situation happened to me recently.
After more than 30 minutes and several failed attempts, I eventually managed to speak to a Filipina lady (who I must say was very helpful and solved the issue at hand).
Fortunately, I was ringing on a Hong Kong landline so it was just the cost in my time and hair loss due to pulling it out in frustration.
However, in the spirit of scientific inquiry, I decided to ring the HSBC loans section. Once the phone was ringing it was answered within 10 seconds.
David Ollerearnshaw, Kam Tin
Shorter ban likely for punching
I refer to the letter by Andy Smailes ("Ban imposed on Suarez was excessive", July 3).
I agree that had Luis Suarez punched his Italian opponent on the jaw rather than biting his shoulder in the World Cup, the Uruguayan striker would most likely be facing a ban for several matches.
However, had it been the third time that the carnivorous one had felt it necessary to punch an opponent's jaw, a four-month ban would not be such a surprise.
Michael O'Neill, Tai Kok Tsui