Letters to the Editor, June 26, 2015

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 June, 2015, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 June, 2015, 4:30pm

Three-year study in place on dog control

I refer to the letter by Sharon Yip ("Stray dogs policy cruel and ineffective", June 20).

Over the years, there have been calls from animal welfare organisations for the implementation of "trap, neuter, return" (TNR) to control the stray dog population and its associated nuisance, and to avoid resorting to euthanasia.

Overseas experience and data show that TNR is controversial and not yielding the expected results so far.

In view of the lack of concrete scientific data that confirms the effectiveness of TNR in a similar demographic setting as that of Hong Kong, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has agreed to facilitate the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Society for Abandoned Animals to carry out a trial for three years for further assessment.

Knowing that the smooth implementation of the trial hinges on the support of the community concerned, the department worked closely with the animal welfare organisations in identifying suitable trial zones and consulting stakeholders.

However, the process was not without challenges in the face of the diverse views towards TNR. Three selected sites had to be abandoned because of a lack of local support.

Only two sites, Cheung Chau and Yuen Long, were designated for the trial in the past year. Following the necessary legislative amendment that enables the two animal welfare groups to implement the TNR trial programme for stray dogs, the trial started on January 16.

To evaluate the effectiveness of this trial programme, the department has commissioned an independent consultancy to collect data during the three-year period.

We hope to see that with a well-managed TNR trial programme, a scientific, balanced and realistic result can be obtained to shed light on the way forward to control the stray dog population and its associated nuisance.

Meanwhile, the department will continue to promote responsible pet ownership, which is an essential way to reduce the number of stray dogs and the incidence of zoonotic diseases.

Dr Esther To, senior veterinary officer, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department

Man's best friend deserves better

I appeal to the authorities in Yulin , Guangxi , to end the killing and eating of dogs as part of its summer solstice celebrations. Photos on the internet show the dogs are treated with great cruelty.

The Yulin dog meat festival seems at odds with the Chinese people's tradition of honouring all living things.

Dogs are intelligent, faithful and loving benefactors to humans with disabilities. They are protective, gentle and playful with children and adults.

Dogs offer human beings love and ask for nothing in return. They do not deserve to be victims of the cruelty that happens at Yulin every year.

Carla Bolte, New York, US 

British refusal of helper's visa ruins a holiday

Like many British expats, we have been planning our trip from Hong Kong to Britain for the summer holidays.

As before on five occasions over the past eight years, we plan to take our domestic helper (the same one) with us to look after our daughter while she's on holiday from her international school in Hong Kong.

The new complex and lengthy visa form asks the employee's pay, but as we did not say "per week" or "per month", she was given "Refusal of Entry Clearance", even though her Hong Kong employment contract was attached, which specifies "per month".

This minor technicality means she now has a "declined" stamp in her passport, which could be a problem for future applications.

Also, my daughter will now not have a summer holiday with family and friends who are expecting her. My travel arrangements are disrupted, as we will not have someone looking after my daughter while I am working - supporting British businesses in China and the rest of Asia. And finally, flights and accommodation costs went to waste.

This decision by the immigration processing centre at the British embassy in Manila is ridiculous and unreasonable. The appeal process takes up to 28 days, too long for us before we go on our trip.

Why are honest people treated this way under the current visa immigration system? We have never had a visa problem with our helper before. I would also like to know why the visa is now much more expensive at £320 (HK$3,900).

Why couldn't they have contacted us if they had a query, or why couldn't we have talked to someone at the British consulate in Hong Kong or at the immigration centre in Manila?

I talked to a former British immigration officer based in Hong Kong, who is embarrassed with the way things are now handled since the cutbacks in the immigration and visa service.

These are questions that the British government and department responsible for visas and immigration need to address.

Jonathan Watkin, Discovery Bay

Help elderly with cheaper flats in country

Because of an ageing population and the increasing number of couples where both are working and have no children, in the future more elderly people will be living alone.

Many will resist moving into a care home for the elderly, and this could put them at risk if they are frail and need some form of supervised care. This is why more elderly housing must be made available.

Providing such units is the responsibility of the Housing Authority, but private developers also need to get involved so that citizens are offered more choices for their old age. There should be hostel-style accommodation and small self-contained flats.

I would also suggest that these new buildings be located in rural areas. The land, and therefore the units, would be cheaper, and it would be a more pleasant environment.

This building programme would help the government with its housing problem. By moving out of private and public flats mostly in the urban areas, and into purpose-built places in the rural areas, these elderly people will not be competing with young people for scarce housing.

It would also ensure that citizens have a better quality of life in their old age. They would feel less isolated, able to mix with other elderly people living in the same complex. And trained wardens would be on call if they needed help.

These elderly housing projects have a great deal of potential, given the future development of society.

Mok Sze-lam, Yau Yat Chuen

Always room to improve anti-graft fight

I agree with correspondents who have said that Hongkongers must remain vigilant in the fight against corruption.

A recent survey predicted that corruption would get worse this year, and I think that is probably true.

The government needs to tighten the laws against graft and keep encouraging people to report cases.

However, we also have to be realistic.

When comparing Hong Kong with the mainland, I think this city has done better in terms of its anti-graft efforts. So many senior officials on the mainland have been involved in corrupt acts accumulating large sums of money, we will probably never be able to quantify how much.

Even though the efforts by the authorities in Hong Kong have been successful at curbing crime, we should not give in to conceit.

In the fight against corruption, there is always room for improvement, and Hong Kong cannot stand still.

We need to keep looking at ways to improve what tactics are employed to fight corruption and make improvements where appropriate.

I hope Hong Kong can maintain a clean business environment so that the fight against corruption will continue.

Tiffany Wong, Kowloon Tong 

Youth need less e-activity, more sports

Nowadays, Hong Kong students are leading unhealthier lives than previous generations of youngsters.

Too often, they choose junk or fast food for their meals; they decide to play computer games rather than sport.

Many students spend hours every day in front of their computers or using their smartphones.

They often develop eye problems such as short-sightedness and muscle strain, especially in the neck.

With the bad diet and the lack of exercise, they face a greater risk of obesity.

With some, the enormous amount of time they spend at their computers can lead to them developing an addiction. By contrast, getting involved in a sport for pleasure, rather than competition, can help them to relieve any stress they feel in their lives.

If they play highly competitive computer games and lose, it can actually increase their stress levels.

Also, sport involves more interpersonal communication. There may be communication between computer game players, but it is not face to face.

It is important for young people in Hong Kong to spend less time at their computers and more time getting involved in sport.

Kolia Chong Chun-ping, Yau Yat Chuen