Letters to the Editor, November 10, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 November, 2015, 5:04pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 November, 2015, 5:04pm

Ethnic labels fail to capture diversity

Alex Lo made the good, if somewhat unoriginal, point that ensuring children from non-Chinese-speaking families learn Chinese properly is the key to mitigating the discrimination they face in society ("Language skills key to helping minorities", November 4).

However, in then going on to discuss how best to do this for "ethnic minority" children, he takes a narrow view, and further promulgates the misconception that our labour force is only made up of "locals", that is, Chinese-speaking people of Chinese descent, and "ethnic minorities", which he seems to understand as being people of Pakistani, Indian and Nepalese descent. It is a misleading categorisation that I see repeated time and time again in your newspaper.

What about those young people who were born and raised in Hong Kong but which fall into neither of these two categories? If local children are those coming from a Chinese-speaking family background, ethnic minority children from a Southeast Asian background, what about those children from a variety of ethnic groups who come from an English-speaking background?

Your paper often conveniently uses the category "expatriate"' for this group of youths, often implicitly suggesting they are of Western descent. This is also misleading. To be an expatriate suggests you have a home country to return to: many don't or have decided to make Hong Kong home.

Just semantics you may say, but not so. Our use of language shapes our understanding of issues, and in this case leads to policy oversights and wasted human resources.

The government should make use of the next census to find out more about its youth. It is only when the full story is understood that good planning for Hong Kong's future can be made, capitalising on what makes Hong Kong a truly unique Chinese city: that it not only attracts an international set, but that it actually has a home-grown international base, which, you could argue, is the reason for the former.

Sarah Rigby, North Point

In need of a flexible work culture

Labour unions in Hong Kong have been clamouring for standard working hours to lighten workloads. However, legislation is not the answer.

If you work fewer hours, you'll make less money. Under standard working hours, some employees may not earn enough to meet their financial obligations. As a result, they may need to take on part-time work on their rest days.

No doubt working less will give people a better work-life balance, but those in low- and middle-income households usually don't have this option. They would prefer to be working more.

Another drawback of the proposed legislation is employers may use it to exploit their workers, by forcing them to finish the same amount of work in a shorter time. The fear of losing their jobs will make people agree to taking on more work. This will make employees more stressed out.

Shortening working hours is not the best way to lighten employees' workloads. A flexible working system may be more effective. With more flexible work schedules, employees can arrange time to spend with their family or have some fun.

Tam Kit-ching, Sha Tin

Children must have good environment

China is ending its one-child policy because it fears it won't have enough workers as its population ages, but that's only half the story ("Two-child policy too little, too late: demographers", October 30).

First of all, the government should help families who want to have two children, for instance with transport and milk powder.

But if the government really wants its people to have a second child, it should tackle the problems of air and water pollution first, as these problems are quite serious on the mainland. The central government could create tougher laws to ban dirty discharges into the sea, for example, and enforce them strictly.

If the government solves these problems, the two-children policy will become more attractive to people. This will help alleviate the problems of a greying population.

Marco Chan Hei-yin Tseung Kwan O

City has role in UK-Sino friendship

After many years as an urban councillor and legislative councillor during Hong Kong's pre-1997 colonial days, I still retain a positive interest in Sino-British affairs.

President Xi Jinping's maiden state visit to Britain, accompanied by China's first lady Peng Liyuan , was a "political blockbuster", to say the least.

Even before the visit, Prime Minister David Cameron announced to the world that Britain would be the first Western country to join the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

At the state banquet for Xi at Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth said the UK and China have "truly a global partnership" and referred to Xi's state visit as a "defining moment" for the future of Sino-UK relations.

The Chinese president said China and Britain, with their outstanding civilisations, have been influencing each other for centuries. He also said "a growing China-UK relationship benefits both countries and the world as a whole".

As the Financial Times reported, the visit "marks a momentous geopolitical shift".

Back to Hong Kong, where do we now stand after that highly successful UK state visit? Mr Xi, through his meetings with top British political leaders, laid a solid "golden era" foundation for Sino-British economic relations, in which the Hong Kong SAR must continue to play its vital economic role beneficial to both countries.

The visit is a reaffirmation of the "one country, two systems", linked to the rule of law and the common law, which will revitalise Hong Kong's competitive spirit and support China's new economic initiatives, such as the "One Belt One Road".

This will in turn attract even more British and European companies to use Hong Kong as a stepping stone to do business in Asia.

Hilton Cheong-Leen, To Kwa Wan

System at airport clearly problematic

On reading the article "Airport may boost night flights" (November 4), I am left questioning why our supposedly state-of-the-art airport in Hong Kong is struggling to cope with the current flight load.

On checking Heathrow's performance, it handles annually 470,695 air transport movements (2014 figures). Chek Lap Kok struggles with 420,000 annual movements because of a 68 movement per hour limit. One has to wonder why this is the case when we are comparing two dual-runway airports.

Reading recent reports ("Air cons required to prop up radars", November 1), a guess may be that the current air-traffic control system is struggling to meet current operational requirements, with temporary air conditioning units blasting cold air on the computers to keep them in service and prevent screen "freezing".

I can only presume that Heathrow has a fully functioning air-traffic control system where it can accurately control live air traffic to yield tighter arrival and departure times.

A third runway at Chek Lap Kok will not fix the wobbly lemon of an air-traffic control system, just yield some headroom for the Airport Authority to kick the can further down the road.

Methinks the funding required for the third runway may suffer from "scope creep" as a reliable new air-traffic control system is added to the mix in a couple of years.

Ian Johnston, Discovery Bay

Sustainable marine policy long overdue

I am concerned about ocean trash in Hong Kong, which endangers marine life in our waters.

NGOs should have more clean-up operations and undertake studies of marine pollution. They can submit the results of studies to the Environmental Protection Department.

Second, they should oversee government policy and see how it is dealing with marine rubbish. They should press the government to make the necessary changes to the environment. It should be aiming for sustainability.

Last but not least, it could raise public awareness about the importance of ocean conservation.

Through promoting and organising workshops, it can help citizens have greater knowledge about this problem.

In fact, the volumes of ocean rubbish are already posing a serious threat to marine ecosystems.

If we are not able to deal with this problem, which appears to be getting worse, it will damage global ecosystems and this would be bad news for humans and for the well-being of citizens.

Liu Wing-lam, Sha Tin