Letters to the Editor, May 05, 2015
Increase maternity leave provision
It is not easy being new parents and working mothers and fathers do not get sufficient support from the government or their employers.
Maternity leave in Hong Kong has not kept up with what are considered best practices abroad. Working mothers in Hong Kong have to return to work 10 weeks after giving birth, but the International Labour Organisation recommends a minimum of 14 weeks. This shows that working mothers are not getting the support they need.
Women may also experience discrimination in some workplaces while they are pregnant or after they return to work, as some employers may feel they will be less efficient than other employees.
Some may even lose their jobs because the employer does not want to pay an employee who is on maternity leave.
These are problems that must be addressed.
Maternity leave must be extended to at least 14 weeks. This will give women more time to recover from giving birth and prepare them for their new lives as mothers.
The government should offer subsidies to employers to ensure they allow employees to take maternity leave.
This can help relieve the financial burden some firms will face with employees being on such leave. Companies and the government should be cooperating to ensure working mothers get the support they need.
Annie Mak, Kwun Tong
We must all try to cut back on our e-waste
Advances in technology are rapid in society, especially with devices such as mobile phones.
You regularly read about a new model coming on the market.
As so many consumers want to have the latest one, a great deal of electrical waste is generated in society.
The temptation to update and upgrade is aided by powerful advertising campaigns by the manufacturers urging people to buy the latest model.
Flagship stores around the world, including in Hong Kong, have special promotions in order to boost sales.
People are influenced by them and want to keep abreast with the latest trends.
Many may simply throw away the old model of mobile phone without thinking about where the discarded device will end up and what adverse effect this will have on the environment.
A great deal of electronic waste is shipped to underdeveloped countries. If it is not disposed of properly, it could pollute soil and water sources and pose a threat to the health of citizens.
People need to change their attitudes, act responsibly, and try to consider keeping their devices like mobile phones for longer periods.
Rowina Lo, Kowloon Tong
Upset by lack of interest in nation's past
I am keen for Chinese history to remain as an integral part of the curriculum in schools in Hong Kong.
I am concerned about its future as a subject following the decision taken by St Clare's Girls' School ("Chinese history cut for lack of interest", April 30). A poll found that fewer than 10 of 140 Form Three students picked Chinese history as one of their top three choices.
The fact that Chinese history is not popular with Hong Kong students is alarming.
There are fewer candidates sitting the Diploma of Secondary Education Chinese history exam.
The response from many young people, when asked why they do not want to study the subject, is that it is boring and demanding.
I am a Chinese history student, and it is a subject I hold dear to my heart.
It is frustrating to see young people show no interest in the subject and lacking the determination to study it.
We should be grateful we can study it in Hong Kong in an open way and it is important. It teaches us so much about our nation.
Before another school here decides to abandon Chinese history as a subject, the Education Bureau and the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority must work together to figure out what is wrong with the curriculum and the examination syllabus.
Prompt action is needed by officials.
Kiki Lo, Yau Tong
Let people know their hours at work
I believe there are many employees in companies in Hong Kong who work overtime and who do not get paid for this additional time.
We have a statutory minimum wage, which has just gone up from HK$30 to HK$32.50.
However, the Legislative Council has yet to discuss standard working hours legislation in Hong Kong.
Laws on working hours and a minimum wage have similar aims.
With the former, the purpose should be to protect the rights of employees and give them some stability on the amount of time they have to be at work so they can spend more time with their families.
However, any standard hours legislation passed by Legco would add to the financial burden of employers as they would have to pay for the overtime employees had to work.
The government and employers' representatives need to discuss this matter and try to find the right balance.
There should be agreed standard working hours so employees know where they stand.
However, it should be up to each company to discuss the matter and determine what its standard hours will be.
Cheng Tsz-tung, Yau Yat Chuen
Hong Kong needs more bookshops
So many mainland visitors come to Hong Kong to buy gold, but also food and other necessities.
To meet the demand they generate, you see a large number of shops selling gold and gold products and pharmacies opening in the streets of Hong Kong and inside malls.
Thanks to the activities of parallel traders, prices at many of these outlets keep rising.
However, Hongkongers do not want more of these kinds of shops. They want greater diversity.
In particular, teenagers would like to see more bookshops being opened in the city and more retailers selling sports equipment.
Students want to expand their knowledge. Easily accessible bookshops can help them do that. Also, with an increasing number of sports stores, more youngsters will be likely to exercise.
Matthew Ho, Tseung Kwan O
Third runway brings us closer to deficit
I disagree with the decision to build a third runway in Hong Kong.
I believe that the project, which is estimated to cost around HK$141.5 billion, is too expensive a project.
As a consequence, I think it will place a substantial economic burden on the administration.
Some economists have predicted that in the near future Hong Kong will have a structural deficit.
This means in effect that revenue generated cannot cover a government's outgoing spending. If large sums of money are spent on this project or work connected with it, then the time it takes Hong Kong to get to that position of being in a deficit will be shorter.
I am also worried about reclamation projects, which will destroy the habitat of the endangered Chinese white dolphin.
I cannot see a justification for the runway to go ahead if we lose the dolphins altogether. It should be a priority in Hong Kong to protect them.
If the third runway is built, the number of flights will increase. Consequently, we will have many more visitors, but we have to consider the effects on this city of overcrowding in future years.
If living conditions deteriorate in the city then residents will become more dissatisfied.
The government should have given far greater thought to all the issues connected with the third runway.
Officials should have asked if there really was a need for this project to go ahead.
Gigi Yang Cheuk-chi, Ma On Shan
New visa rule is a short-term measure
The decision to limit Shenzhen residents to one trip a week to Hong Kong was a response to the disruption caused by parallel traders to local citizens, especially those living in Sheung Shui.
The new policy can lead to a reduction in the number of parallel traders coming into Hong Kong and diminish the problem of shortages of some daily necessities. This has caused conflicts between mainlanders and Hongkongers
However, I see the new visa rule as a short-term measure.
Also, we have to recognise that many grey-goods traders are from Hong Kong and so the new visa rule will not affect them.
It has also caused some resentment north of the border as mainlanders feel they are being discriminated against by the Hong Kong government.
This could increase the hostility some of them feel towards Hongkongers.
Further measures are needed to curb parallel trading, such as setting limits on the weight of goods people can bring to the mainland from Hong Kong.
Lee Chun-tung, Kowloon Tong