Letters to the Editor, July 03, 2015

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 July, 2015, 3:48pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 July, 2015, 3:48pm

Time to reform Employment Ordinance

Hong Kong's political future should be bright, given that this is a vibrant world city, with a well-educated population and highly skilled workforce.

We also have a world-class civil service and the government should be praised for a job well done.

The recently concluded debate on the government's proposed political reforms has overshadowed all other issues, but there are other matters which still need to be addressed.

Indeed Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor alluded to this before Legco's crucial debate on June 18, saying that no matter what the result of the vote was on the reform package, over the next two years, the government would focus on economic and livelihood issues.

This will be welcomed by the people of Hong Kong.

One issue that is in urgent need of reform is the Employment Ordinance, which is in need of revision.

The formula for calculating severance and long-service payments is outdated and takes no account of present-day inflation.

The government of Hong Kong, legislative councillors and trade union leaders should ask themselves why it has not been adjusted to take into account changes in wages and inflation. Hong Kong is more affluent than it was when that part of the ordinance was drafted so the formula for calculating these payments needs to be updated as soon as possible.

The Occupy Central movement was just one example of Hong Kong people's desire for change. More and more citizens feel that their needs for education, housing and a decent retirement are not being addressed.

People feel let down when the government by its actions, or lack of them, shows that its priority is to make sure it protects the interests of the business community. So, who is representing the people of Hong Kong?

Ulf Anders Olsson, Discovery Bay

Reclamation work within nine-dash line

The report ("US forces 'step up flights' near Chinese waters", June 29), cited American concern "for freedom of navigation in the wake of China's intensive land reclamation in waters claimed by various other countries and Taiwan".

Various Chinese officials, including veteran diplomat Wu Jianmin speaking to the BBC in June, have pointed out that foreign aircraft and ships have not been denied innocent passage through these waters.

As pointed out by Alex Woo in his letter ("US has no business in South China Sea row now after 1951 refusal", June 21), these islands and reefs were claimed back from the Japanese pursuant to the Cairo and Potsdam declarations. In fact, they were physically taken over in 1946, followed in 1947 by the drawing of the 11-dash line (later becoming nine-dash with no change of position). Does the US not recognise this assumption of sovereignty?

That the US is not a party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea does not mean it can ignore the restriction to innocent passage by foreign aircraft and ships through the 12-nautical-mile territorial waters and the exclusive economic zones.

As to the other countries disputing Chinese sovereignty? With respect, they were still colonies in 1946 and 1947 and their colonial masters raised no objections then.

The Chinese reclamation works have all been within the nine-dash line.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan 

Americans in denial about gun violence

I watched a whole day's worth of CNN after the tragic murder of nine innocent people in the church in Charleston.

Out of all the commentary, all I heard was talk of the Confederate flag, comments like, "Let's remove the flag, got to take the flag down". I didn't hear the word gun once. Some crackpot was ranting about absentee fathers. But, hey, aren't we all some time?

The American people are living in major denial, unable to see the wood for the trees. When you wake up from your dream and realise that there are, by various estimates, anywhere from 270 million to 310 million guns in the United States — close to one firearm for every man, woman and child - you will understand that this is ridiculous by first-world standards.

According to an article by Humanosphere, the murder rate in the US from guns is higher than Pakistan at "4.5 deaths per 100,000 people". And "the US rates aren't much lower than gun homicide rates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (5.2 deaths per 100,000 people). Annually, the US has about two fewer gun homicide deaths per 100,000 people than Iraq, which has 6.5 deaths per 100,000."

Yeah, OK, let's lower that nasty flag first. It may solve all your crime problems.

David Howarth, Kennedy Town

Seoul's tourist magnet a cultural gem

Dongdaemun Market in Seoul is the most popular shopping and tourist destination in South Korea, which was first opened in 1905 in Yeji-dong.

It is originally one of the Eight Gates of Seoul that used to surround the city during the Joseon dynasty.

When I visited the market, I could understand why it is such a popular tourist attraction.

It has so much to offer, including historical buildings, and an art museum, food stalls and a clothing market. Also, with the city's well-developed transport system, it is easy to get to.

It made me think about Hong Kong and ask myself whether we have these kinds of tourist spots with so much variety for visitors.

Of course, Hong Kong is a small place with limited land resources which would make it difficult to create a tourist district like Dongdaemun.

However, when you walk along the streets in Tsim Sha Tsui or Causeway Bay, you can only find lots of different brand name shops from abroad.

This is in marked contrast to Dongdaemun, where there are malls selling trendy Korean-style clothes and other Korean goods.

No wonder K-pop and the country's television dramas have had such a strong influence around the world.

I have been dismayed to find that neither the SAR government nor the people of Hong Kong pays much attention to the cultural development of the city and there is a great deal of room for improvement.

The community needs to recognise the importance of our culture to the economy.

Hazel Yu Kam-mang, Ngau Tau Kok

Traditional local sweets hard to find

When you walk into a supermarket, you see a lot snacks on the shelves, all with attractive packaging.

It looks as though you are spoiled for choice, but so many of the snacks have a similar taste. It's hard to distinguish between the different products and equally hard to find real variety, for example, to get some of Hong Kong's traditional sweets.

In fact these traditional sweets are difficult to buy nowadays having been replaced in shops by Western products.

The local manufacturers presumably found it hard to compete as their sweets are handmade and the production process can be difficult. Also, people's tastes have changed and many prefer the Western sweets which are mass-produced and so are cheaper.

There are now fewer of the local shops that used to sell these handmade Hong Kong sweets.

Also, the manufacturers find it difficult to recruit young people and teach them the trade. So, faced with falling demand, the shops switch to products that they know they can sell.

It is a pity that these traditional sweets are so hard to find, because they are part of the collective memory of Hong Kong. But, given the competition traditional retailers faced from supermarkets, I suppose it is inevitable.

Sophia Kong, Sau Mau Ping 

Shops should rectify retail imbalance

The tourism industry is one of the pillars of the Hong Kong economy.

Most of the visitors who come here are from north of the border. They like the fact that it is an international city, and the great food. But the main reason is the quality and safety of some of the essential goods they purchase.

Because ensuring quality of products like milk formula is still a problem on the mainland, many of them want to purchase tins here. Of course, this demand led to the rise of the parallel traders in the border areas which caused a great deal of resentment among Hong Kong citizens.

For those mainlanders with more cash to spend, jewellery is also popular. When the number of mainland tourists was increasing, more jewellery shops opened. Meeting the demand of these visitors has created a retail imbalance.

The large retail operators and individual shopkeepers need to recognise this, and they need to try and redress this and find a better balance.

I doubt if you would find a single Hong Kong citizen in some of these jewellery shops.

Retailers need to also meet the needs of local residents, and offer us a greater variety of shops and restaurants.

Chung Ka-man, Tseung Kwan O