Letters to the Editor, July 17, 2015

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 July, 2015, 4:43pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 July, 2015, 4:43pm

Embrace city's ever-evolving ethnic mix

After reading Zahid Mughal's article ("Integration of expat kids is only skin deep", July 14), I would like to clarify that "third-culture kids" is an anthropological term coined by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken, in their book of the same name.

The book outlines the social challenges that children born outside their "home" country face growing up and how these myriad influences will impact on their later lives. It is not "a glamour fad".

Hong Kong is host to many third-culture kids because it is an international business hub, and has a practice of hiring the best person for the job regardless of nationality. Our edge as a city has been built on our competitive nature, our can-do attitude and our work ethic.

These kids do not need to be told that integration is only skin deep; I can assure you we [expats] know it. However, our commitment to Hong Kong is proven through our many-generational ties, and our love for this place cannot be quantified by who we know or don't know, or by whether or not one supported the umbrella movement, which is a political question that only personal belief can answer.

Does Hong Kong want to become a city where people are labelled "exbrats" or "locusts"? Is this the best that we can be?

Our future with China is for more integration, not less, so how about we try to embrace Hong Kong's constantly evolving ethnic mix and celebrate who we are in all our variety?

Whether or not one is a third-culture kid has absolutely no connection to brattish behaviour, which is not limited to any particular person or group of people based in Hong Kong at this time or, indeed, to living in Hong Kong per se.

Karen Prochazka, Shouson Hill

Working-hour law could help balance lives

I believe the government should set a standard on working hours in Hong Kong.

Many employees in sectors such as retail, catering and transportation often work more than 54 hours a week, and for that extra effort they get inadequate financial compensation. This is an unacceptable state of affairs in our labour market. Compare this with, for example, South Korea and Japan, which already have standard working hours legislation.

Having such a law would be good for society. Employees (especially those in low-skilled positions) could then ensure the law would protect them from being exploited and they would be compensated for working longer hours.

Those who wanted to work just the statutory hours would have more spare time to spend with their families. They could have good private lives and a better work-life balance.

Members of low-income families who work long hours for low pay sometimes suffer from depression. With fewer hours, they could lead healthier lives, mentally and physically. They would need less medical help and would probably be more productive in the workplace.

The government should get moving on the setting of a standard on working hours.

It needs to hold discussions with the different sectors involved before making a decision on what kind of law should be drafted.

Sandy Shuk Ching-kam, Yau Yat Chuen

Iran's nuclear deal is a move to normal ties

The Humanist Association of Hong Kong wishes to congratulate the Iranian people, and the negotiators on Iran's team, for reaching a deal with the world powers on its nuclear programme.

The Iranian negotiators dealt patiently with these powers. The economic sanctions will be lifted in exchange for limiting Iranian nuclear activity.

We believe in the Iranians, who have always insisted their nuclear programme was for the purposes of generating energy, and we wish them well in the future.

This agreement brings to a conclusion what has long appeared to us as an unfair and protracted series of negotiations that have placed Iran in a negative light and caused long-term damage to its economy. Also, biased media reports tainted its reputation.

We look forward to seeing Iran take its proper role in regional affairs. Given the moderate stance of Shia Islam, which accepts other denominations within the faith and is tolerant towards other beliefs, it can act as a counterforce against religious extremism and fundamentalism.

It can only be positive that the rehabilitation of Iran will lead to normal relations with other nations.

Tony Henderson, Humanist Association of Hong Kong 

Does growing up with a dad, mum matter?

I refer to the letters on July 8 by Mark Peaker ("Long history of homosexuality in China") and Peter Stigant ("Same-sex union claims puzzling").

I agree that the history of Europe and imperial China has evidence of significant homosexual relationships between males.

The cases of Sporus, the feminised castrated "wife" of Roman emperor Nero, and of the homosexual warrior lovers of the Hoplite Phalanx in ancient Greece, who stood in single file during battle, come to mind.

However, apart from the bizarre "marriage" of Nero and Sporus, I have found nothing to show that there were same-sex marriages in these ancient times.

I turn to Christendom from its beginning in the fourth century as the religion of the Roman Empire.

Again the joining of one man and women, primarily for the production of children, was the only form of marriage understood and permitted. Thus we have had to wait to the end of the 20th and start of the 21st centuries before the very idea of same-sex marriage was even in the public mind.

Until the 1950s, sexual relations between males was a felony in Britain punishable with 14 years' imprisonment.

On the issue of same-sex couples with children, I am sure two dads or two mums can bring up their children with as much love and care as a dad and mum. But does it matter that a child of these couples will only experience life without both sexes in his parenthood?

I would argue that having a mum and dad does show a child the obvious differences between men and women.

A child or adolescent will witness these roles and help them to develop their own sexuality, free of any gender confusion there may be, particularly during puberty.

We must wait and see how the "offspring" of this new phenomenon turn out, as their lives progress.

I enjoyed as a boy my dad taking me to play and watch football games. My mum taught me cooking and knitting, and also instructed my sister in regard to boys, sex, dress, make-up and womanhood.

Would it have been the same if I had had two mums or two dads?

David Tolliday-Wright, Discovery Bay

Making right choices lowers risk of cancer

It worries me that so many Hong Kong citizens over the past 10 years have ignored the risks of developing cancer through unhealthy lifestyles.

Too many citizens get little or no exercise. They also have paid little heed to the importance of having a balanced diet with a lot of fruit.

It is estimated that at least one-third of cancer cases are preventable through having a healthy lifestyle.

My mother is a case in point. She smokes and seldom does any exercise. She has an unhealthy lifestyle, and I worry that she could get cancer. Many other Hongkongers face the same prospect.

The government should be doing more to raise awareness of the importance of healthier living. It should organise more cancer prevention campaigns, with adverts on the internet and on television, and through prominently displayed posters.

If people are made more aware of the importance of healthier living, they are likelier to try and make lifestyle changes, and this could prevent some of them contracting cancer. The most important thing is for people to lead more active lives.

There are countries in the West - Monaco, for example - where most citizens already have balanced diets and make healthy choices.

However, by contrast, many Hongkongers eat too much fast food. They need to plan to eat better, with a lot of fruit and vegetables.

They need to drink less alcohol, reduce their weight and get more exercise.

Anna Kan Sze-lun, Kowloon Tong 

Luxury shops fine, but keep culture too

The influx of mainlanders over the past few years has fuelled price rises of goods and property.

This has obviously had an effect on local citizens. But it has also had an impact on shops and restaurants. There are now more high-end restaurants and fewer cheap dai pai dong.

I also join with other teenagers who enjoy shopping in such places as Mong Kok and Lam Tin, where we can get good bargains. But the luxury-brand stores and chain stores have come to monopolise the retail sector, as mainlanders want to buy gold, jewellery and expensive clothes.

So while there has been a downside to so many visitors coming here from north of the border, we also have to admit to certain advantages.

With so many tour groups and new shops, there have been new employment opportunities for Hong Kong citizens.

Even so, I do hope that some of the unique culture in Hong Kong, such as the dai pai dong, will be preserved and that we will actually see more of them in the future.

Christy Lam, Tseung Kwan O