Letters to the Editor, June 08, 2015
Wan Chai shipwreck worth raising
The Hong Kong Underwater Heritage Group wishes to express its support for the conservation of the shipwreck located at Wan Chai ferry pier, which has been reported as possibly being HMS Tamar.
Very little is known about the underwater cultural heritage of Hong Kong, which may include prehistoric sites dating back 7,000 years, shipwrecks and other sites from the Tang dynasty, as well as traditional Chinese sites.
The shipwrecks in Victoria Harbour were cleared after the second world war and the finding of one of them, possibly the most significant shipwreck in the recent history of Hong Kong, HMS Tamar, should be cause to celebrate.
The conservation of the shipwreck would show, particularly to the local community, but also to the international community, that Hong Kong places great pride in its history and heritage.
Many countries around the world, with the support of the United Nations, are implementing programmes and projects that care for and promote the value of underwater cultural heritage.
Shipwrecks are just one part of our underwater cultural heritage and Unesco estimates there are about three million shipwrecks spread across the ocean floor, with the great majority not having been located.
Some that have been found and systematically studied have led to history being rewritten.
The Wan Chai shipwreck, if it is HMS Tamar, may reveal aspects of our history not found anywhere else.
We encourage all those connected to the investigation of the Wan Chai shipwreck to work toward conserving and displaying it for the benefit of the Hong Kong community.
Rick Chan Kei-yip, Hong Kong Underwater Heritage Group
Time for pin numbers to be used in HK
When I first came here 18 years ago the Hong Kong banking system was one of the world leaders.
Since then the rest of the world has caught up and in some areas surpassed Hong Kong.
I have just come back from a trip to Europe and had problems with using my credit cards in some places due to not having a pin number to authorise my transactions. Pin numbers are used throughout the Netherlands and Germany.
Last year in Australia pin numbers became the only way for residents to authorise transactions.
We already have had the problem of obtaining cash from HSBC credit cards when overseas. When will Hong Kong banks catch up with the rest of the world and start using the pin number method for transaction authorisation?
Daniel Davern, Tsing Yi
Monitoring can ensure good quality
There have been complaints about poor-quality products coming out of the mainland.
It is said that customers will choose something that was not manufactured in China, because it is assumed the product from the mainland will be of poor quality.
However, I think some of the criticism is being made without looking more closely at this issue. The fact is that there are companies north of the border that make quality goods.
They are able to ensure a consistently good quality because they have an efficient monitoring system.
People should not just jump to often wrong conclusions about a product because of where it was made.
For example Apple has mainland factories that it closely monitors.
Tam Anakin, Tseung Kwan O
No mention of 'indigenous' villagers
Now that Lau Wong-fat has finally stepped down from the leadership of the Heung Yee Kuk, maybe his successor, his son Kenneth Lau Ip-keung, will read the Heung Yee Kuk Ordinance (CAP 1097), which was rewritten in 1997.
He will see that in the English version, at least, the word "indigenous" does not appear; the job of the kuk is to "represent informed and responsible opinion in the New Territories" and to carry out various functions for "the people of the New Territories". Under Lau Wong-fat's leadership, the kuk has become little more than a property development company for the indigenous villager diaspora most of whom do not even live in Hong Kong.
The ordinance says nothing about upholding the privilege to build a house in a village by someone who lives in the UK but once had a distant ancestor who lived in a New Territories village.
The Heung Yee Kuk should, in accordance with its controlling ordinance, be representing the people who actually live in the New Territories - that's what the ordinance states.
It is time the kuk started embracing the needs and aspirations of the thousands of people who live in the New Territories but who are not indigenous, and representing them as well as mainly absentee indigenous villagers.
Maybe then we can have a sensible discussion on the proper planning of New Territories' villages with the provision of adequate infrastructure, and housing policy based on need rather than desire.
Maybe then we can talk about the overhaul of the small-house policy, to allow sustainable, planned development of villages to replace the uncoordinated, socially unacceptable and environmentally damaging practices we are seeing at the moment.
David Newbery, secretary, Friends of Hoi Ha
Exam-oriented system puts off many teens
The education system in Hong Kong has always been exam oriented.
I am not saying this is all bad as this is a knowledge-based society and we need young adults with the necessary ability to join different professions.
However, the present system places too much pressure on teenagers, especially the Diploma of Secondary Education exam.
It has almost become like a battlefield. Winning the battle means getting a place at a university. This means many young people spend most of their spare time studying.
Some youngsters with ability but who have not done so well academically, will seek new opportunities in countries like Canada and Britain where attitudes are more flexible and their abilities are nurtured. This means we are losing talented young adults to these places.
The government needs to recognise there is a problem.
It should correct imbalances in the education system. Also, it should run campaigns encouraging local firms in different sectors, to not just focus on graduates when recruiting. It should look at other aspects of a young person. Someone may not have a degree, but has talent and could make a significant contribution to that firm.
Lam Tsz-wai, Kowloon Tong
Beijing should seek accord with Vatican
As China acquires more economic and political influence around the world, its leadership is projecting a kind of "soft power".
In other words it emphasises the importance of mutual support, friendship and beneficial investment.
This is something the US has done, for example, through its overseas cultural centres and entertainment industry.
This is to be welcomed as it can offset the kind of hard power you see with increased military expenditure. However, it has still to normalise relations with the Vatican.
This impasse has remained for decades. It is puzzling as other socialist countries have envoys in Rome.
Recently, Pope Francis was credited with helping with the thawing in relations between Cuba and the US.
Good political leaders are those who can drop reactionary, self-defeating ideologies and be willing to move ahead with the times.
It would be very beneficial for China's image if the central government reduced its control over the internal affairs of religious bodies and sought to resume full diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
Many people in Taiwan oppose reunification with the mainland, partly because of what they see as the Beijing leadership's shopworn Marxist theories about social freedoms and religion.
This attitude might change and cross-strait relations improve if Beijing could reconcile its differences with the Vatican.
Jonathan Kong, Cheung Sha Wan
New minimum wage rate is still too low
When the minimum wage was raised to HK$32.50 an hour, one employer said that companies were already paying cleaners HK$35 to HK$36 on average and she expected that to go up to HK$38.
She said, "If you don't pay more, you can't recruit enough staff" ("Wage raise does little to satisfy anyone", May 1).
I agree with those comments. With the new minimum wage rate introduced on May 1, you will not earn enough to pay for the essentials, such as electricity, food and transport.
A family from the grass roots will still be very poor.
Also transport costs for some will be even higher if their workplace is some distance from where they live. And this will be exacerbated if they have to use the MTR as the MTR Corp is raising fares. In fact costs are rising across the board. Even cheap meals at fast food chains are now more expensive.
Taking into account inflation and all associated costs and low-income families will have seen little benefit from the new hourly rate. It should be increased to HK$38.
Thomas Lai, Po Lam