Letters to the editor, December 13, 2015

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 December, 2015, 9:30am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 December, 2015, 9:30am

MTR board criticism unjustified

We note the remarks by Mr Philip Bowring in his column (“Don’t let politics guide investment”, December 6) that the MTR railway system works well and is well maintained. Our safe and reliable railway network serves 5.4 million passenger trips every day.

Apart from the hard work of staff and the long-standing culture of seeking improvement, a good corporate governance structure filtering through from the board at the top level has been instrumental to the corporation’s success.

In this connection, we take issue with Mr Bowring’s unfair criticisms of the corporation’s board members.

The corporation always ensures that the board has the appropriate balance of skills, experience and diversity of perspectives to oversee the execution of the corporation’s business strategy. MTR touches the daily lives of millions of people, not only through our railway services, but also through the communities which we build around our property developments and retail shopping facilities. Therefore it is right and proper that the board should be able to draw on a broad range of professional experience and expertise to ensure that the corporation is well managed.

Far from losing touch with reality and market principles, as alleged by Mr Bowring, the prominent business leaders, community leaders and professionals sitting on our board enable the corporation to better serve our customers and the community.

Furthermore, the suggestion that the corporation’s executives are just complying with the government’s wishes is totally unfounded. All directors of the corporation (whether executive or non-executive) are obliged by law to exercise their fiduciary duties and to act in the best interests of the corporation.

As regards Mr Bowring’s remarks on the agreement signed by the corporation and the government on November 30, 2015, we believe the proposed arrangements (including the underwriting of any further cost increases beyond HK$84.42 billion and the payment of a Special Dividend to all shareholders, including the government) are a viable and pragmatic solution to take forward the Express Rail Link project, which is very important for Hong Kong’s competitiveness and long-term development.

We appeal to the Legislative Council, the corporation’s independent shareholders and the public to support the proposal.

Gill Meller, secretary of the board, MTR Corporation

Football fans only hurting our reputation

I refer to the letter by Joyce Lau (“Behaviour of some fans not acceptable”, November 24). The booing and hissing by some fans at the World Cup qualifying match between China and Hong Kong – while the national anthem was being played – was disrespectful to the Chinese footballers and the country.

I understand we are furious with the corrupted central government. However, the qualifying match was a sports game, unrelated to politics. Bringing politics into the match was inappropriate. Not only that, hissing and booing is immature behaviour.

Instead of addressing the problems in our difficult relations with the mainland, these fans made matters worse. Besides, what they did hurt Hong Kong’s reputation.

People should learn to put themselves in others’ shoes. If you were a citizen in China, would you appreciate being looked down on by others?

We should learn to express our discontent in the right place, at the right time. This should not be seen as a way to curb our freedom of speech. Hong Kong’s freedom is not being threatened. As a civilised city, opinions should be expressed appropriately and wisely.

Natalie Chiu, Mei Foo

Unruly kids need to know there’s a limit

I refer to Yonden Lhatoo’s article “Keep screaming kids off regular flights to give us all some peace” (November 4). I understand how annoyed he felt to be startled out of sleep by loud screams from children nearby on an overnight flight when he was supposed to have been enjoying a few hours’ rest.

I have had a similar experience at a friend’s wedding. The new couple was toasting with champagne and delivering a vote of thanks to the relatives and guests when a few kids were playing and blowing soap bubbles. The bride’s heart-moving words were drowned out by the ‘braying bambinos’. The soap bubbles also kept floating among the buffet dishes. Imagine the effect on the guests’ appetite! There seemed no efforts, however, to stop them except for the occasional “ssshhh”.

Lhatoo’s suggestion about putting unruly kids on a separate flight may seem impracticable but I do agree that it is the parents’ responsibility to see to their proper behaviour in public. Parents are very much concerned about having their children dressed presentably. But do they realise that they impress others not so much by their appearance as by their behaviour?

Children ought to be educated on the importance of showing respect for others. They ought to learn to avoid selfishly seeking fun at the cost of others’ peace of mind.

The traditional proverb “spare the rod, spoil the child” still holds good. Appropriate punishment is necessary as children need to be aware of the consequences of improper behaviour. A culture of impunity will lead to the breeding of a generation with no regard or respect for the law.

Child education is of utmost significance to ensure the betterment of future society.

Chong Lai Kun, Macau

Architects can help foster craftsmanship

Christopher To, the executive director of the Construction Industry Council, wrote of the need for society to support the council’s work to “attract new blood and young people to join the construction industry” (“Mindset shift needed on craftsmanship”, December 7).

Take bricklaying. Why would any parent encourage a son to take up such a trade? Mr To “hopes to convince our younger generation that they have a bright future and great prospects”. The council’s first priority would have to be convincing architects and developers to include exposed brickwork as a design feature in their buildings.

Mr To could walk all the way from the council’s training academy in Aberdeen to the New Territories, and seeing an example of a brick building built in the past 10 years would be a rare find. Where are the students going to practise their craft?

As a craftsman bricklayer, I despair. The colours of well-fired clay bricks built in English and Flemish bonds, featured on many colonial buildings, are a thing of beauty. Seemingly never to be repeated!

John Charleston, Tuen Mun

Music scene can boost cultural status

In Hong Kong, we are known for our diversity of cultures. Yet our local culture appears to be withering.

Take the music awards as an example. The recent Mnet Asian Music Awards was held in Hong Kong for the fourth time. The Korean music awards had many of us discussing it for weeks. However, few today care about how the Hong Kong music awards went.

This lack of interest can be attributed to several reasons. Most importantly, we seemed to have stopped supporting the local music industry. Money and attention are on the decline.

It would be nice to see Hong Kong’s music prosper like back in the 1980s when we dominated the Asian market. It is time for the government and citizens to take action to give the industry a boost and build up our local identity again.

Harry Ng, Tseung Kwan O