Letters to the Editor, June 24, 2015

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 June, 2015, 5:06pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 June, 2015, 5:06pm

Appalled by behaviour of rude expats

I have noticed a growing mistreatment of taxi drivers in Hong Kong.

Although I have experienced my fair share of taxi driver frustrations, I do feel compelled to speak up on their behalf given some recent observations.

I witnessed an event at Landmark in Central when two expats (or "exbrats") were refused a ride. The cabbie refused to take them because he could not understand the address in English. Instead, my sister and I hopped in.

As we slowly drove off, the two men became infuriated and felt the need to demonstrate their anger by kicking the back of the taxi. This offensive act lead me to ask the question - why were these men dressed so smartly but were acting like hooligans?

It made me wonder if you would see this kind of behaviour in New York, London or any city in Japan. Why do some of these expats feel they have more authority over the local Chinese?

Despite Hong Kong being a renowned international city, there are still language barriers.

On another occasion, by the luck of the draw, I was in a taxi where suddenly a drunken expat banged on the taxi window swearing at the driver for driving too close to him.

The first thought was that maybe the inebriated pedestrian did have a point, but then I realised he shouldn't have been walking on the road in the first place. That is what pavements are for.

People should think twice before they start bullying a taxi driver. They should show the same respect to them as they would to cabbies in their own countries.

Kathy Lo, Central

Don't blame mainland for marine refuse

A recent study revealed that more than 95 per cent of Hong Kong's marine refuse originates locally, near our shoreline, and 80 per cent was mainly a result of recreational, land-based activities.

This means that less than 5 per cent of the marine refuse collected is coming from the mainland. These statistics clearly show that most of the marine refuse in Hong Kong waters is generated by local people.

It is a very simple action to put your refuse in the many bins available. However, I would like to see an even higher level of awareness, similar to what is practised in Japan.

In many areas of the country, there are few dustbins because people are expected to take their refuse back with them. There is a high level of awareness about the importance of environmental protection.

By contrast, we have too many bins, but despite that, Hongkongers still fail to do their duty and use them.

There needs to be more education by the government. Only in this way will we see a marked reduction in volumes of marine refuse. Citizens need to learn about the importance of being environmentally friendly as the problem is getting serious.

The government plans to install more drinking fountains at beaches in the hope that people will bring fewer plastic bottles of water, which then end up being discarded in the sand or water. But I have doubts about how effective that will be as many citizens think this drinking water is not as clean as what they get in a bottle.

The government needs to focus on long-term measures that lead to real and permanent improvements.

I do hope we will see a cleaner environment in Hong Kong.

Angel Cheung, Tseung Kwan O

Some families in Hong Kong need helpers

Some correspondents have suggested, through these columns, that Hong Kong people living in small flats should not employ domestic helpers but do the housework themselves.

Not employing domestic helpers is impossible in Hong Kong, especially for the elderly and for couples who are parents who have to spend long hours in the workplace.

Domestic helpers can help lower a lot of the workload, such as cooking and cleaning, which are very time-consuming and just too much for some busy parents in Hong Kong.

One problem is that abuse of foreign domestic helpers is not uncommon in Hong Kong.

We should address the problem by reviewing the "live-in policy" and through education.

Also, agencies should look more closely at the qualities of potential employers.

They should also offer guidelines or courses to employers before they hire the maids so they are aware of their responsibilities.

I know a family who take their maid with them when they visit other countries.

I believe that employers can also get along well with their maids if they are given the right advice and education, and if, when necessary, they are monitored.

For some families, deciding not to employ a foreign domestic helper is not really an option.

Jonathan Kung, Tuen Mun

We cannot ignore ageing population

Hong Kong's ageing population is an important topic, as the number of elderly will keep increasing and the city has a low birth rate.

Having an ageing population creates a number of problems now and in the future.

We have more older people now because people are living longer and because of the baby booms at different periods, in particular, after the end of the privations suffered during the second world war.

With peace and stability, couples naturally had larger families and so it was not uncommon in Hong Kong for couples to have anywhere between three and five children.

Now, these baby boomers form a substantial proportion of our elderly population.

It is important to fully understand the difficulties our society will encounter with this social phenomenon.

With a shrinking workforce and more retirees, we could face a severe shortage of workers in key sectors, resulting in reduced productivity in the economy. With fewer people of working age the government could also see a shrinkage of its tax base.

As that happens, there will be less tax revenue.

We could see the government in future having to increase the tax rate for working people and using a lot of the income generated to pay for pensions and other forms of welfare for the elderly.

We must recognise these problems and the government must address them and find a way to deal with them effectively or we will face a crisis in the future that will be difficult to deal with.

Lin Shuyi, Sheung Shui

Youngsters need regular health checks

Obesity is a common problem among young people in Hong Kong.

Many children are overweight because they have bad dietary habits and lifestyles. According to recent research, the culture of fast food is more popular in Asia than anywhere else. And youngsters here do eat a lot of fast food.

I am also concerned about the psychological well-being of young people. They may feel depressed, for example, if they are experiencing problems with their studies or at home.

They would definitely feel better if they exercised more and had a healthy diet, but so many of them prefer to spend a lot of time in front of their computers.

I would like to see regular health screening of young people in order to help them switch to healthier lifestyle habits.

Tai Yin-mui, Shenzhen