Letters to the editor, December 18, 2015

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 December, 2015, 5:23pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 December, 2015, 5:23pm

Corporations must chip in for charity

I refer to the report (“HK firms ‘lagging behind on social responsibility’,” December 2).

The index was rated on a scale covering values, management structure, projects and the impact of their efforts. However, I did not see here a monetary value as to the amount that corporations are donating to charities.

At the Hong Kong Cancer Fund, we rely on donations to ensure that our free cancer care services are available to anyone in Hong Kong who is affected by cancer. As with many non-governmental organisations in the city, we do not have government funding or injections from the Community Chest.

We have noticed a trend over the last few years where corporations are successfully encouraging their staff to donate to charities either through volunteering hours or sponsorship. It is fantastic that we are awakening the public to the more needy in the community.

However, how do we encourage corporations to add to the monies donated? At present, there is no government incentive for them to do so, and there are no tax breaks for them as there are in Europe and the US. Yes, plenty of corporations do activate a dollar-for-dollar match, or give in their own ways. However, NGOs still have overheads and these have to be ­covered financially.

At present, 63 per cent of our yearly revenue is generated by the man on the street – how do we engage Hong Kong corporations to join in by adding their support to the masses?

Sally Lo, founder and chief executive, Hong Kong Cancer Fund

Time to get serious about illegal parking

There have been several suggestions in this paper about raising the fixed penalty notices for ­illegal parking to HK$2,500. Frankly I don’t think this suggestion is enough.

Let’s take a leaf out of Singapore’s book when it comes to dealing with illegally parked vehicles by implementing ­parking enforcement cameras in all the hotspots; 24-hour ­cameras would pick up the cars’ details automatically.

Registered vehicle owners would receive the HK$2,500 penalty notice by mail, plus the owner would also receive three demerit points from their ­driving licence. The owner would have to nominate ­another registered driver to take the points hit, if they had lent their vehicle to someone else. After five illegal parking acts, the driver would not only face a HK$12,500 fine but also lose their driving licence. The effect would be instantaneous.

The chauffeurs would not want to lose their licence and the poor traffic wardens, who up until now have been struggling to achieve something with the penalty equivalent of a wet fish, could be freed up to focus on other important illegal parking with a sort of roving brief. My vote would be to start issuing ­notices against cars and buses idling for hours on end.

Nigel Parsons, Wan Chai

Why should the fat cats avoid fines?

I refer to the report, “Time to pay up: Hong Kong parking fines to increase by 50pc from 2017 to tackle city traffic” (December 11). While most people will ­welcome the proposal, questions need to be answered.

Most of those vehicles that cause congestion, especially in busy districts like Central, belong to business leaders and other wealthy people. Whether the penalty for illegal parking is HK$500 or HK$5,000, it won’t act as a deterrent, because companies will pay for company- registered vehicles. All that will happen is that the little guys will be bullied. Vehicles registered under company names should have to pay five times the fine, with the stipulation that this money cannot be put as a tax deduction or outgoing expenses.

Secondly, the police practise selective enforcement. I am sure many of us have witnessed how officers just walk past Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz and other high-end cars parked illegally in Wan Chai, Central and Tsim Sha Tsui. This kind of malpractice by the police must stop and all acts should be reported and followed up by the authorities in the interests of fairness and proper law enforcement.

If the government can make these modifications, then it should push ahead with its ­proposals as soon as possible.

The bottom line should be that no one avoids paying the penalty, that all are treated equally, whether they be company directors, government officials, or the public. And the government must ensure fair, not selective, law enforcement by the police.

Joseph Lee, Quarry Bay

TSA pressure good lesson in managing time

I strongly agree with Rico Lam Man-ho’s letter (“Student must learn to handle the pressure”, December 14).

Many parents have blamed the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) for causing their children to have to do too much homework every day.

However, I believe most of these parents would have been subjected to the TSA when they were young. I think there is no doubt that the TSA test is very easy. I do not understand why parents are blaming it for the large amount of homework their children are faced with.

Also, it is important that ­students learn how to have good time management.

Young people do have a lot to learn. This can involve tutorial classes after school, and a lot of homework and revision. Parents need to recognise this and set a timetable for their children so they can organise their studies.

Parents can also help relieve the pressure by making sure they take their sons and daughters to a playground every week, so they can relax. Everyone ­deserves a chance to take a break, whether it is a child or an adult, so allocating an hour for playing is important.

With good time management, students and parents can handle the pressure.

Wong Nok-lam, Tseung Kwan O

Beware hidden hazard of meat hormones

I refer to the report, “HK ­ watchdog steps up war on meat hazard” (December 7).

The Consumer Council is getting “restaurant chains to ­disclose whether they use meat from animals fed on growth-promoting hormones”.

Some firms exporting meat to Hong Kong do not care what effect it will have on people. For example, clenbuterol hydrochloride, a banned [muscle-developing] drug is used extensively by mainland pig farmers.

This is a serious health issue which could have widespread implications for citizens. ­Importers here have to be aware of the potential problems and do their best to ensure that the meat they purchase does not contain such hormones.

Michelle Mai, Sau Mau Ping

Japan’s whale missions are not justified

I refer to your editorial, “Japan’s dogged pursuit of whale hunting despite global outcry puts at risk its international standing” (December 7).

It is regrettable that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to continue the practice of whaling in the name of scientific research.

The declining whale population is an undeniable truth. I was astounded that the country’s prime minister should make such a reckless decision. Culture or tradition is not an excuse to encourage the brutal killing of whales. They are killed for no good reason. It is ridiculous to justify hunting them in order to maintain a “tradition”.

Immoral acts, like whaling or shark-finning, should be abandoned just as foot-binding and slavery were abolished. There should be an immediate halt to the hunting of whales.

Whales are at the top of the food chain in the world’s oceans. Their extinction will upset the food chain and marine ecosystems.

Japan is taking advantage of a loophole in the international moratorium on whaling, ­which allows hunting for ­scientific purposes. The nations which signed this moratorium must come up with the necessary amendments that plug the existing loophole and international sanctions should be imposed on those countries which fail to obey the rules.

We should not wait until it is too late to save some species of whales.

Sheena Chung, Tsuen Wan

Bullet train for India will require change

Your report on the deal between Japan and India to build India’s first high-speed railway (“India to adopt Japan’s bullet train technology”, December 9), brought back images of the New Territories during the 1980s, on completion of the Kowloon-Canton Raiway Corporation’s dual-tracking and electrification of the railway between Hung Hom and Lo Wu.

What had, until then, been a single track railway line winding its way through the countryside, with the occasional diesel locomotive-hauled train competing with pedestrians and animals for right of way, was transformed into a modern, quiet, fast and efficient suburban railway. It took the sleepy villages and their occupants somewhat by surprise, requiring considerable changes of old habits before it became safe and reliable.

The railway culture in Japan, as it now is in Hong Kong, is very well developed.

It will be interesting to observe how efficiently and effectively the Japanese ethos can be transferred to the subcontinent, famous for its overcrowded trains and stations, and railway corridors that are often much more than just dedicated avenues for the passage of trains.

David Sorton, Tai Kok Tsui