Letters to the Editor, August 19, 2015

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 August, 2015, 4:09pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 August, 2015, 4:09pm

Domestic helpers still see no progress

Last year, Hong Kong and the world learned about the torture suffered by 23-year-old Indonesian domestic worker Erwiana Sulistyaningsih at the hands of a Hong Kong employer. Erwiana's abusive employer was finally jailed for her crimes. But this success does not prove that others are safe.

After Erwiana's case, has the government taken any serious steps to ensure no such tragedy recurs? We do not think so. Rather, domestic workers continue to be abused and traumatised - as we know very well from their continuing flow into our shelter for assistance.

There is no lack of policies that could be reformed. We, as well as other organisations, have repeatedly pointed out the need to revoke the "live-in rule" (which requires domestic workers to live with their employers) and the "two-week rule" (which requires workers to leave Hong Kong within two weeks of the termination of their contracts).

Both make it harder for domestic workers to escape abusive employers. Yet, officials from the Labour Department and the Security Bureau have continuously rejected these calls.

Another step the government could take is to provide or subsidise shelter for victims of abuse - a most basic need, since an abuse victim loses her dwelling, as well as her income, as soon as she leaves an abusive employer. Yet how many shelters does the government provide for migrant domestic workers in need? Zero - not even a single bed.

Recently the Legislative Council's panel on welfare services consulted the public on providing shelter to migrant victims of domestic violence. We hope the government does not miss the chance to ensure victims of abuse can leave dangerous situations immediately.

Domestic workers are part of our society and deserve protection. It must prevent a repeat of domestic worker tragedies.

Doris Lee, for board of Bethune House Migrant Women's Refuge

No avoiding bombs that ended the war

Every year this month, the Japanese remember the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They remember it because Japanese people suffered, and not because these two events forced Japan's surrender in the second world war.

There are only two memorials to the war in Japan, one in Hiroshima and the other in Nagasaki - they allow the Japanese to portray themselves as victims of the war. In doing so, they promote the idea that they were unjustly targeted for the world's first atomic bombs.

The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki died and suffered from the bombs, but the blame lies directly with the imperial Japanese government at the time.

The Japanese army fighting in China and most of Asia committed murder, rape, torture, and the forced prostitution of women. Historical documents show that the Japanese were preparing its people to resist an Allied invasion of Japan. Millions of Japanese people would have died fighting for the honour of the emperor against a more powerful invading Allied army.

It was against this background that the bombs were dropped on Japan. Ultimately, they saved Japanese lives.

Japan was not a victim, but a war aggressor that terrified the world 70 years ago. The decision to bomb Japan was the right one.

Steve Lam, Discovery Bay

Unfair to demean China's pain

In your Insight page on August 14, two writers falsely claim that China is asking Japan for further apologies over the latter's wartime excesses. In "Politics of Remorse", Stephen Nagy states that the Chinese state is perceived to be "openly anti-Japanese", which he used as an excuse for Japanese politicians to take a hard line against China.

Likewise, in "Asia's search for truth and healing", Hans van de Ven states that "many Japanese are irritated by the constant demands for ever more profuse apologies".

However, China has not asked for more profuse apologies. The Chinese worried over whether Japanese premier Shinzo Abe will water down the Murayama apology.

We all know that the US and others feel the need to "contain" China. But we should not be complicit with Japan in dehumanising the Chinese people and their suffering.

Jim Robinson, New York

Education subsidies are not the problem

I have been a tertiary educator for 35 years and will shortly retire, so I gain nothing by future subsidies for others to receive higher education, but I support them nonetheless. Jake van der Kamp's opinion ("Job mismatch builds case for cutbacks in university budgets", August 6) that education has only one purpose - to fit faces to jobs that need such education - exemplifies the problem with Hong Kong: it is focused on money and nothing else.

Such views, despite mountains of evidence of repeated failure of not providing claimed benefits, are, as usual, ignored in favour of the same old neo-liberal dogma. Instead, the problem is education. We are "over-educating" our youth! Well, now we know. You can have too much education and this is inefficient!

Why do we even need secondary school for bus drivers (to use van der Kamp's example) and other low-skilled workers? Why waste money on education when children can begin working once they can read and follow instructions to maximise their utility?

If educated people are dissatisfied with their prospects, perhaps it is because of people, with the market-driven attitudes that van der Kamp embodies, making decisions based only on fiscal utility.

I would venture one thing he is right about, though: the system is badly broken. There are way too many people getting degrees in the junk economics which van der Kamp espouses, getting jobs thereafter and wrecking the biosystems we all need to survive for their own gain. Perhaps this is why young people are disaffected?

Richard Fielding, Lantau

Lessons, perhaps, to be learned

Singapore celebrated 50 years as an independent country earlier this month. Congratulations!

All week, BBC World News profiled this milestone, day after day, hour after hour: joyous celebrations, special programmes, live news reports and numerous interviews. Every BBC department got in on the act. How does a small country justify this coverage?

Hong Kong is light years ahead. But is it? Have we got something to learn?

Brian Catton, Tsim Sha Tsui

Tighten inspections on warehouses

The most urgent need now after the terrible accident in Tianjin , in which a warehouse storing chemical goods exploded, is to rescue the injured and settle down the residents.

Many want the government to find out the cause of the explosion immediately. This is important. But I think the first thing to do should be to check the safety of other similar warehouses. We can't have another such accident happening again.

The government should conduct regular spot checks on warehouses storing chemical goods. With up-to-date information, officials would know whether any rules were violated.

Furthermore, the warehouse involved in this accident was near a residential area. Such warehouses should be moved far away from the residential areas, to minimise the impact on people in the event of an accident.

Eva Chow, Tseung Kwan O