Letters to the Editor, August 5, 2014
Bill must be clear about best interest
Tan Kin Lian has seriously misunderstood the insurance industry's position ("Insurance law would protect consumers", July 27). Contrary to what he is led to believe, the insurance industry fully supports the principle of acting in the best interests of policyholders.
Indeed, this is exactly what we at the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers have been doing. We introduced measures to protect consumers for policy replacement and their cooling-off right in 1994 and 1996. On sales of investment-linked assurance schemes, we put in place requirements in the sales process to help ensure customers make informed decisions. They include financial needs analysis, risk profile questionnaire, important facts statement, suitability check and post-sales calls.
The relevant steps listed above intend to explain and set out in concrete terms what is required specifically to protect the interests of consumers. There is no room for misinterpretation. Our primary goal is to enable intermediaries to understand and fulfil their professional obligations and to be held accountable for any misconduct.
The main problem with the present bill is not one of principle. It is purely an issue of drafting - the bill requires intermediaries to act in the best interests of policyholders without explaining the steps which intermediaries must take to comply with this obligation. The meaning of "best interest" can be construed in many different ways. This lack of clarity would give rise to all sorts of misinterpretation and inadvertently open the door to potential legal action that could undermine the normal functioning of the market.
Seen in this light, the bill should be suitably amended to qualify the "best interests" requirement and make it clear and explicit. Among other things, we have proposed to the government that the above requirement be clearly defined in the relevant guidelines and that compliance with the guidelines would be taken as compliance with the law. We believe this is a sensible and practical way forward.
Peter C. H. Tam, chief executive, Hong Kong Federation of Insurers
People and cows at risk on Lantau road
The situation for humans and cows on South Lantau Road is abysmal. There are no or very few traffic police patrolling the road between the roundabout and Tai O.
The speed limit of 50km/h to 70km/h on this road is insane at best, as drivers have no incentive to drive carefully as they know there are no repercussions.
Cattle will continue to die at an alarming rate and I fear even with human casualties nothing will change due to lack of action by the Transport Department.
Kathleen Daxon , Tai O Community Cattle Group
Tragic accident just waiting to happen
We most definitely need more deterrents against speeding vehicles, especially in the villages of south Lantau.
Unfortunately attention sometimes focuses on cows but let's not forget our villages are also full of residents, their children, dogs and visitors. I recently witnessed our postman come within centimeters of being hit by yet another speeding vehicle.
Our villages and surroundings also have large numbers of holidaymakers. Many of them exhibit far less road sense than the cows and it will only be a matter of time before there is a tragic accident if nothing is done.
Steve Quilkey, Lantau
Get tough with these rogue shopkeepers
I have noticed that on some pavements shopkeepers put their goods for sale outside the store and on the street.
This action creates problems for pedestrians as many Hong Kong pavements are crowded and narrow. This creates a problem for Hong Kong that needs to be dealt with.
Different departments have differing responsibilities, and seem to be failing to crack down on this practice.
It is not clear to me which departments are responsible for keeping our pavements clear and punishing shopkeepers who encroach on the pavement.
The government should set up a task force to investigate the problem and how best to deal with it.
If shopkeepers know they are going to be fined if they put goods on the street this could act as a deterrent.
Shopkeepers should not be selfish and place these obstructions which make it difficult for pedestrians.
They need to practice more self-discipline and those who fail to do this must be dealt with by the government.
Karen Lee, To Kwa Wan
Import permit system not a good idea
The incident of the Shanghai Husi Food Company being accused of selling expired food to McDonald's in Hong Kong is a cause for concern.
Some people are arguing that tighter regulations are needed to prevent such an incident from happening again.
However, I am not convinced that requiring import permits for cooked meat will stop rotten meat getting into Hong Kong.
Applying for such permits will be an expensive process for traders. As there are few traders who will be permitted to import cooked meat, the supply in Hong Kong will fail to meet demand and prices will be pushed up. This will damage the local food market.
Also, applying for imported food permits is a complicated process in Hong Kong.
Importers first need to register and file as foreign trade operators. And there are many other steps that have to be followed.
I am not convinced by the argument that as traders need to get import permits for raw meat, so the government should follow the same rule for cooked meat.
However, cooked meat has a basic guarantee of hygiene. Bacteria may be present in raw meat, but the cooking process will kill that bacteria.
For that reason, I am not convinced that an import permit system should be implemented for cooked meat.
I believe that if the administration changed the rules and imposed this system, it could have a harmful effect on the import process of cooked meat and the businesses that use this kind of meat.
The government should think very carefully about all the issues before it decides to change the rules.
Alwyn Show, Fanling
Food fraud not just confined to mainland
The widespread reporting by media on unsafe and unhealthy food products processed by the Shanghai factory, a subsidiary of the OSI group, is another reminder that with international food safety standards and practices requirements, we the consumers are at the mercy of those producing the food that we consume.
Tainted food is not only a problem on mainland China, it is universal. There were reports in the Japanese media of some confectionary manufacturers falsifying expiration dates (sound familiar). There was also the horsemeat scandal in Europe.
These are not quality problems, they are fraud in the supply chain and it has no boundaries.
It is pure greed without integrity. Those interested in making a quick buck will do anything that will benefit them and do not care if fellow human beings are harmed by it.
Since 2013, the Chartered Quality Institute of the UK has been raising warnings and highlighting the occurrence of incidents, and how some prominent companies have failed to manage these incidents and their brands were damaged and image tainted.
Multinational companies have the resources and expertise to manage the supply chain and an obligation for the health and safety of food products imported and sold in Hong Kong.
Apologies can be made over neglect but consumers expect to see what improvement actions will be taken and want reports of results achieved.
Leslie Lee, Sai Wan Ho
Palestinians must get rid of Hamas
From day one until now (1948-2014) Palestinians have sent suicide bombers, fired rockets into Israel and kidnapped citizens, in an attempt to "win back" their territory although the state of Israel was designated with UN approval and agreed to by all sides.
Now after all these years their agenda remains the destruction of Israel.
Finally, Israel is taking action to show the Palestinians and their fraudulent Hamas government what it has been like to suffer the rockets, suicide bombers, kidnappings, accepting a ceasefire then breaking it and rejecting ceasefire proposals by Palestinians.
They brought this horrific scenario on themselves. Until they appoint a legitimate representative to negotiate a peaceful settlement, the insanity of war will not stop.
They must understand in order to achieve peace, stop firing rockets, stop using tunnels and renounce the terror organisation, that is Hamas. Only then will peace have a chance to come to fruition.
Herbert W. Stark, Mooresville, North Carolina, US