Letters to the Editor, September 14, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 September, 2015, 12:02am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 September, 2015, 12:02am

Uninformed officials at a disadvantage

I refer to the report ("Reticent CY can't make people love him: Akers-Jones", September 7).

As a former director of the Government Records Service may I add to the excellent point made by Sir David Akers-Jones regarding decision making and the "lack of institutional memory" in government in Hong Kong.

While it is undoubtedly helpful for individuals, be they ministers or civil servants, to have a personal memory of how decisions were taken, it is not essential to good administration. But accurate, authentic and reliable records are.

It is the accumulated body of records documenting policy formation and its implementation that constitutes the institutional memory of government.

Properly managed in an accountable and transparent manner, in accordance with international standards and professional best practice, government records constitute a memory that is not subjective or faulty as human memory so often is.

If ministers in the administration wish to be better informed about policies and the process by which decisions were made, I would recommend that they "call for the files" and "read themselves in" in the traditional manner.

In due course it will be interesting to learn - perhaps through inquiries to be made by journalists of this newspaper - whether full and complete records were available to the ministers or whether some could not be located or had not been created in the first place.

Needless to say, archival legislation mandating and supporting the proper creation and management of government records would do much to ensure that the institutional memory is healthy and does not suffer from lapses or, worse still, terminal amnesia.

Don Brech, Causeway Bay 

Anti-mainland protesters go too far

I refer to the report ("Border town sees revival of protests", September 7).

It is understandable that Sheung Shui residents feel irritated with the overcrowding created by mainland shoppers [and parallel traders] and they have the right to demonstrate.

However, they have no right to employ any tactics which incite hatred towards mainlanders, be it verbal or physical abuse. Nor should they be proclaiming they are "re-conquering" Sheung Shui while waving the colonial Hong Kong flag.

They make mainlanders think all other Hongkongers are similarly unwelcoming and uncouth.

Consequently, some mainland citizens are avoiding Hong Kong in favour other destinations, like cities in Australia, where they can enjoy trouble-free touring and shopping.

I strongly object to the protesters' atrocious behaviour affecting Hong Kong in this way.

I urge the government to take more decisive actions against them. Just having secretary for commerce and economic development, Greg So Kam-leung, make some critical comments about the protests is not enough.

When it comes to the government response, it is better to have overkill than underkill.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan 

Women not degraded by pageants

I refer to the article by Shirley Zhao ("New beauty queen now seeks to influence her hometown", September 7) about the newly-crowned Miss Hong Kong, Louisa Mak Ming-sze.

It mentioned people who are criticial of these pageants "for degrading women".

I think these pageants allow the contestants to broaden their horizons.

They also help them gain more self-confidence. They need to feel very self-assured when facing a large audience and the judges and having to answer a variety of questions.

Also, these contests do not just focus on the contestants' looks. Inner beauty and their own qualities are also important.

They are able to talk about their attitudes towards aspects of life. It is good to see a young woman who is beautiful, and also confident and who can think independently.

I think critics are wrong to say that these pageants degrade women. The women who take part are showing that they have the confidence to step onto a stage in front of thousands of people.

As a matter of fact, I think they can be quite meaningful events.

Katie Lo, Tseung Kwan O

Cultural shift can raise standards

China and Japan have been in competition bidding to supply Indonesia with a high-speed railway system.

Some commentators hoped Japan would win the bid as Japanese products are considered to be safer and more reliable than those coming from China.

Mainland manufacturers have an unenviable reputation of producing inferior goods. There are regular media reports of a factory being found to have produced tainted food.

"Made in Japan" is synonymous with good quality. When you are shopping for an electrical appliance you are happy to see one from a major Japanese company.

I think it comes down to differences in culture.

With manufacturers on the mainland there seems to be a lack of a guilty conscience. They do not seem to care that the label "made in China" has such a bad reputation.

For some merchants and manufacturers the priority is to make the highest profit. They will cut corners and use the cheapest materials, even if that means the product does not work, or is even dangerous.

Many mainlanders will buy inferior goods as long as they can get some use from them. The quality may be terrible, but at least they are cheap.

In Japan, quality is of paramount importance. Ensuring the quality of a product matters more than earning a profit.

There are mainland companies making good products, but attention is focused on the plants making inferior goods.

The culture of "profit first, quality last" must change. Mainland company Haier is an example of how this can be achieved. In the 1980s, it was a financially-troubled company, producing many substandard goods.

The CEO Zhang Ruimin wanted to change workers' attitudes.

In front of them he actually destroyed defective fridges. He successfully developed a quality control culture in the company. Other mainland firms should follow suit and aim for good quality products.

Consumers also have a role to play by refusing to buy inferior goods.

With a change in culture, in time mainland factories will be able to produce quality goods.

Henry Wong, Kennedy Town

Desperate struggle for many parents

I refer to the report ("School to help pupils cope with tragedy", September 7), about a father and his two sons who were found dead on September 5 in a tragic "murder-suicide".

You reported that the older boy had autism and "attended Sha Tin Public School, a school for mentally challenged pupils".

Children with autistic spectrum disorder display social impairment, and repetitive and stereotypical behaviour.

However, the symptoms vary with different children.

This tragedy highlights the difficulties parents can experience who have children diagnosed with autism.

Some parents may lack even basic knowledge about this condition. And they may find it very difficult to look after their children. Because of this they can end up feeling very isolated.

The problems can be worse if the parents are on a low income and not well educated.

These families must be given more support. Schools, including educational psychologists and specialists in other fields, should be available in support groups that the parents can be invited to join.

This will give them a chance to share their experiences and difficulties with other parents who have autistic children.

The public also has to show more support for families with autistic children.

Felix Mak Hoi-kuoh, Kowloon Bay

Island cannot cope with more cars

I agree with Lantau residents who have expressed concern over Transport Department proposals to allow more vehicles to use south Lantau's restricted roads.

I do not think the government should allow more cars to have access to south Lantau.

Lantau is one of the most important havens for Hong Kong citizens. They go to the island to enjoy the scenery and to get some peace and quiet.

Being there helps them to unwind and relieve the stress that builds up because of their busy lives.

Residents fear this fragile and special environment will be adversely affected if more vehicles are allowed on these roads.

They worry that the air quality which is very good compared with urban Hong Kong and the simpler lifestyles that many people enjoy could be at risk.

Officials do not seem to have considered these potential problems.

Also, with a lot more cars there are likely to be more accidents. I do not see how these narrow and winding roads can cope with more cars and buses.

I would also be concerned about elderly residents who are not used to a lot of traffic on roads near their homes.

Justin Lu Chun-wa, Tseung Kwan O