Letters to the Editor, July 15, 2015
Focus should be on economy not politics
I refer to the article by Philipp Martin Dingeldey and Wan Tin Wai ("Losing its lustre", July 4), which provided a good summary of the challenges Hong Kong's economy will face in the future.
They made some valid comments about the viability of the four industry pillars.
I would like to add some comments on regional headquarters.
While the establishment of regional headquarters was an important part of the Hong Kong economy up to 2000, from my experience in the business world (I have lived here since 1971) this has changed.
Many companies have moved regional headquarters to Beijing and Shanghai (where the market is and for "face" reasons). And the regional headquarters hub for Southeast Asia is Singapore and then the mainland.
Also, with respect to trade, mainland companies are capable of importing and exporting without the use of a middle man in Hong Kong.
Also, Hong Kong's reputation as the centre for laundering hot money from the mainland will not last much longer. Just look at how President Xi Jinping's crackdown on corruption has spread to Macau ("Macau's sex trade under the heel", July 5).
It would be great if the government, politicians and bodies representing industry paid more attention to Hong Kong's future economic well-being than to democracy issues.
With respect to the latter, it may be useful to recognise that in 1997, Hong Kong simply changed its colonial master. It is a fact that it is part of China and this will not change.
Regarding economic initiatives and what hinders progress, Philip Bowring made very useful comments in his article ("Look beyond the mainland", July 5).
As one of former US president Bill Clinton's chief advisers once said "It's the economy, stupid".
To ensure Hong Kong's future well-being, the focus must be on the economy.
Jürgen Kracht, Tai Tam
Better road network can ease gridlock
Hong Kong enjoys a good standard of living, compared to most cities in the region.
However, we do have severe traffic problems and the road congestion in the central business district is serious. As it is the main business area in Hong Kong, there's a high concentration of retail outlets and office buildings. With a lot of traffic, the congestion is particularly bad during rush hours.
The government could expand the road network, with more highways, tunnels and flyovers.
It should also discourage increased use of private cars by imposing higher licence charges and registration fees and high fuel levies.
With fewer private cars, there will be less air pollution and more people using public transport systems such as the MTR.
Phoebe Lai Wing-sze, Kowloon Tong
We have to think about potential risks
The news about the inferno following an explosion at a "colour party" in New Taipei City, on June 27, was devastating.
What made it even more heartrending was the nightmare the victims experienced. For many of them, the treatment they will need will be a lengthy process.
It is essential that there is a detailed review by the authorities of what happened, to ensure this does not happen again.
Risk management, which involves risk estimation, analysis, interpretation and evaluation, is of the utmost importance. Anyone who wants to be the operator of an adventure or outdoor activity needs to be audited for compliance with safety audit standards.
This implies that the potential operator must show careful concern about safety - the safety of the participants and the staff in particular.
In the case of the colour party in Taiwan, I would be interested to know if the event organiser had been audited before being granted the appropriate licence.
Prior to the event, had there been any risk estimation? Were there people with recognised qualifications, skills and experience offering technical support? Had the powder been tested for its inflammability? In fact, there ought to have been a lot of careful involvement in the risk management procedure.
But, it is also important that participants at such events are aware of any risks involved.
Of course, people attending such a party cannot be expected to be experts in the field of health and safety, but they should ask themselves at the venue if they are satisfied with the safety procedures. For example, are there too few taking care of too many? Is firefighting and medical support within easy access?
Is the area too crowded, with the attendant risks if there is an accident? When we are taking part in an activity, especially one that involves a big crowd, we must do some risk assessment so that we are satisfied there will be safe evacuation in the case of an emergency.
Angela Chong, Macau
Self-discipline essential for smartphones
Millions of people around the world can no longer imagine their lives without their smartphones. This is especially true when it comes to teenagers who find these devices indispensable.
However, many youngsters are spending so long looking at the screens that there are unwelcome side-effects.
Looking at such a small screen for very long periods can cause eyesight problems.
Also, some teens forget the importance of face-to-face communication with other people. They neglect their relationships with family and friends. If they are using the smartphones primarily for functions other than their school studies, their academic results can suffer.
Teenagers need to recognise the importance of good time management.
They need to create a timetable for themselves so that, for example, they can plan the amount of time they will allow themselves to spend on a smartphone.
With a timetable that they stick to, young people can learn to divide their time properly and enjoy a variety of activities.
Parents should be encouraging their children to do this and not to spend too much time on their smartphones. They need to be made aware of the dangers of becoming addicted to these devices.
Janice Chan Sum-kiu, Tseung Kwan O
Traditional local shops need help
With the increasing number of mainland tourists over the past few years, more jewellery shops opened to cater to their needs.
As they opened, stores which were in demand by locals were closing.
Now that the restriction has been imposed for Shenzhen permanent residents to only visit Hong Kong once a week, there will be less demand from these visitors for the merchandise offered for sale by the jewellery shops.
I hope the government will offer help so that the local shops we are losing can stay open and some that have closed can return. I would like to see more sports shops and bookstores and I am sure there are other Hongkongers who feel the same way.
Jolly Chau Hiu-tung, Kwun Tong