Letters to the Editor, September 07, 2015
Larger pension is not best way to help elderly
I refer to the letter by Dr B. K. Avasthi ("Elderly folk deserve bigger allowance, August 24).
Your correspondent suggested that the government should double the Old Age Living Allowance, because of the high cost of living in Hong Kong.
I agree that the government should help ensure that elderly citizens can lead comfortable lives. However, I am not convinced by the argument that this can be achieved by giving them more money. I think there are drawbacks to such a suggestion.
First, doubling the allowance will add to the government's financial burden. Hong Kong has an ageing population and therefore a lot of elderly citizens. This would amount to a substantial sum.
With an ageing population leading to more pensioners and fewer people of working age, the tax revenue the government gets is likely to decrease while the amount it needs to pay out this allowance will increase. The government would eventually have no choice but to raise taxes, which would hurt people's living standards.
Even if it was agreed to increase the allowance, it should not be given to all elderly people as many of them are very well-off. They can get by with their own savings and do not need a government allowance. Giving it to them is a waste of precious resources.
I understand the plight faced by many old folk on low incomes, but there are better ways to help them than giving them more money.
The government should ensure they have more working opportunities. Many people over the age of 65 are still capable of working but cannot, because they are over the retirement age determined by some companies. Legislation is needed to stop firms imposing such a retirement age.
Also, the government should encourage companies to accept corporate social responsibility by providing services at cheaper prices to the elderly, such as restaurants offering discounted meals.
I accept many elderly people lead difficult lives, but increasing the Old Age Living Allowance is not the best way to help them.
Hilbert Chung, Sha Tin
Watsons will go back to bilingual labels
I refer to the letter by Randall van der Woning ("Why are product labels in Chinese?", September 1).
A. S. Watson Group apologises for inconveniencing our customer, Mr van der Woning, by only having Chinese product names on price labels at a Watsons store.
Due to the limited space of about 16.5 sq cm on the price label, and the requirements to comply with the new government regulation to include recommended retail price, we took out the English product description to ensure the Chinese text could be of a readable size.
We always take into consideration customer feedback, and will bring back the bilingual product description on price labels in the next few months.
We thank Mr van der Woning for bringing this matter to our attention.
Teresa Pang, general manager, public relations - retail HK, A. S. Watson Group
Incinerators and landfills cause pollution
I refer to the letter by Yoyo Tang Wing-tung ("Building more landfills never an option", August 27).
I agree with your correspondent that landfills do not offer an efficient waste reduction strategy. There are a number of harmful side-effects from building more of them.
For example, landfills can pollute the soil and ground water.
They also create unpleasant odours, which affect the lives of nearby residents.
Nor do I think building incinerators is a good policy for a government to adopt.
They can also create water pollution and air pollution with their emissions. They may also damage habitats of animals living nearby.
The best waste reduction policy is one where all Hongkongers reduce the volumes of rubbish they generate. This is the only way to get to the root of the problem.
No matter how many incinerators or landfills the government builds, if citizens do not reduce the rubbish they generate every day, the waste problem will persist.
We also need to create a comprehensive recycling system to reduce the pressure placed on our existing landfills. Citizens also need to cultivate the habit of throwing all recyclable material into the appropriate bins.
Only by reducing and recycling can we ensure Hong Kong has a better future with less waste.
Landfills and incinerators are not the answer.
Cody Lam, Fo Tan
No need to modernise tram system
I refer to the letter by Shing Chun-yui ("Trams will need to be modernised", September 1).
While your correspondent agreed with those who are opposed to the proposal to scrap the trams in Central, she said improvements needed to be made, such as air conditioning the whole fleet.
She also said the engines needed to be updated so that the trams could travel at faster speeds.
While I agree they must not be scrapped I do not think a modernisation programme is a good idea.
I think people have had enough of freezing air conditioning in offices and shopping malls.
Passengers enjoy travelling on the trams with a breeze blowing through the open windows. If all of them had air conditioning installed, this would exacerbate our air pollution problem. The whole point about the trams is that because they run on electricity and give off no emissions they are friendlier to the environment compared to vehicles.
Nor do I want to see them going faster.
Many of us enjoy our trips on the trams that are going at a leisurely pace, because this allows us to slow down.
In this fast-paced city, many of us lead stressful lives. These trips allow pause for reflection.
In fact, this slow speed is one of the reasons the tram is such a tourist magnet.
Visitors come here to travel on the only network in the world to operate double-decker trams exclusively. If they were gone we would lose that unique "ding ding" sound. All that we would be left with is a lot more vehicles causing additional traffic congestion.
The tram is one of the definitive symbols of our city. I am sure most citizens are strongly opposed to the network being dismantled.
Instead, the government needs to come up with a sensible strategy to reduce traffic congestion in Central, such as cracking down on the root cause, illegal parking.
As I said, modernisation of the trams will do more harm than good.
Kitty Cheung, Tai Wai
Schools have obvious advantages
A father in Hong Kong wants the government to approve his decision to take his son out of the mainstream education system for homeschooling.
He is not alone as many parents in a number of countries have done the same thing.
The Hong Kong father says he objects to Hong Kong's spoon-fed way of teaching, which does not help with personal growth. While I can understand why some parents opt for this arrangement, I do not support homeschooling.
Local schools have pretty much the same courses. They are a part of our society and help young people to learn what they need to be able to integrate into that society when they grow up.
They have regular contact with their peers and this interaction helps them gradually become more self-confident.
They also have tests and exams which again prepare them for the adult world. Exams help them to focus and have aims. Mainstream schools have obvious advantages over homeschooling.
Wu Hiu-tek, Tseung Kwan O
High rents not just hurting brand names
I refer to the article by Jing Zhang ("Hong Kong rents too high even for Gucci, so pity the small guys", August 18).
Even designer luxury brands like Gucci and Burberry are facing problems with high rents. Gucci has been in dispute with its landlord and says "it might consider closing stores in the region if the problem isn't resolved".
If these brand names are suffering, imagine what it is like for a small shop in a mall.
Even in Tseung Kwan O where I live, residents have been hit by rising rents. Everything has gone up in price, including food, but our salaries have not increased to match those higher prices.
As a Hongkonger, I am not satisfied with this state of affairs. The government needs to address this problem and deal with it.
Tiffany Chow, Tseung Kwan O
Highlighting inequality in Hong Kong
I refer to two reports appearing on the same day, "Kindergarten cost 'forcing parents to use food banks'" and "Officials to get HK$839m with no questions asked" (August 31).
What has happened to Hong Kong?
Over HK$1 billion a year [by next year] in non-accountable cash allowances for the city's civil servants while poor families are skipping meals in order to send their children to kindergarten.
Glenn Malcolm Turner, Wan Chai