Letters to the editor, January 8, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 January, 2016, 12:37pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 January, 2016, 3:46pm

Any pension scheme needs contributions

I refer to the article by Albert Cheng, “Retirement plan payments would fuel the economy” (January 1).

Mr Cheng is in favour of a “retirement protection scheme”. A pension scheme, or retirement scheme, gives monthly payments to a person after retirement, depending on how much the person has contributed to it when he or she was working. In such schemes, people who have never worked and never contributed to the scheme, such as housewives, also receive a monthly payment. The majority source of funding for such schemes come from contributions by those who are working.

Hong Kong is now proposing a world-first “retirement scheme” in which nobody has contributed and nobody will contribute to, yet everybody over 65 will receive a payment. Only a place like Hong Kong will have a discussion of whether there should be such a scheme. In other parts of the world, those who propose such a scheme will be thrown into loony bins.

However, I agree with what Mr Cheng said about the Old Age Living Allowance. At present, it pays elderly in need – who are 65 and older and who have assets of less than HK$210,000 – HK$2,390 a month. This payment should be increased to HK$3,000 a month. “Officials can make this happen quickly – in the next budget, on February 24,” Mr Cheng said.

I agree. This is the least our coffee-sipping, French movie-watching Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah should do for the old people of Hong Kong.

Alex Woo, Tsim Sha Tsui

Airline’s arrogance is grating

From the time I first arrived in what was then Malaya, back in the year merdeka (independence) was declared, I had been a frequent flyer with Malaysia Airlines (MAS), beginning with its twin-engined Dakota DC3s and graduating through to its current fleet of aircraft.

However, an incident occurred in June last year that has caused me to resolve never to use MAS again. I have reached this decision not because of the two calamities the airline has lately experienced, or because of its frequent tendency to reschedule departures at the eleventh hour, regardless of disruption to its passengers’ onward itineraries, but because of the arrogant and cavalier attitude of its management in its failure to adequately compensate me for the baggage it has admitted losing more than six months ago.

This baggage went missing on a rescheduled routing from Bangkok to Manila on June 4, with the obligatory stopover at Kuala Lumpur. As a result of this setback, I suffered considerable stress and inconvenience, together with financial loss. I supplied the airpline with an itemised list of the value of both luggage and contents, amounting to 13,689 ringgit (HK$24,000). In response, I was offered US$600, equivalent to less than a fifth of the value I had itemised in my application for compensation.

The letter accompanying the airline’s offer stated that the liability of the carrier is limited to US$20 per kilogram loss “unless a higher valuation is declared”, a stipulation that only applies at the time of boarding the aircraft.

When I pointed out that no warning to this effect was presented to me when I checked in my bag at Bangkok, I was told it was contained in the small print I was supposed to have read at the time I booked my ticket online. I protested that few people have the time to read through the small print governing conditions of flight when making an online booking, but this was met with a shrug to indicate that, if so, it was their fault.

I was additionally informed that if I did not accept the offer pegged at US$20 per kilogram, this would be the airline’s last word on the subject. Well, it may be its last word but it is certainly not going to be mine.

Peter Moss, Kam Tin

Stamp out child abuse in schools

It is worrying to read about the teacher of special needs pupils who abused them by spraying alcohol sanitiser in their faces (“Hong Kong teacher punished special needs pupils, some as young as 6, by spraying alcohol sanitiser in their faces”, December 23).

The teacher, Ann Leung Pui-ki, was convicted of 11 counts of wilful assault causing injury to a child.

A child who has been abused will suffer many adverse effects. Physical abuse not only cause bruises and/or broken bones, but it can also inflict long-term and serious emotional harm. Abused children often find it hard to trust others and have relationship difficulties.

Regulating emotions is also difficult for many of them. They find it hard to express their emotions safely, so they suppress them, risking a dangerous outburst later.

The effects follow them even into adulthood. Many struggle with anxiety, depression or unresolved anger.

The government must take prompt action by increasing the inspection of schools to check for unlawful behaviour. It can also offer teachers guidance on how to keep their students healthy and happy.

Monica Li, Ma On Shan

Many share blame for landslide

Last month’s landslide in Shenzhen was no natural disaster, and several parties must share the blame.

First, the company that managed the waste dump that collapsed (which triggered the landslide) and the workers who had been piling up the construction waste, despite the obvious dangers, must all bear some responsibility. Next, local government officials must also be blamed. Residents have complained about the dumping but they were ignored. The authorities should have taken these complaints seriously. They should followed the law and ensured that the site was properly licensed.

This week, officials said some 58 people were confirmed killed (“58 confirmed dead in Shenzhen landslide disaster, dozens more still missing”, January 7). This was an accident that could have been avoided. People should think carefully about how their actions could hurt others, and hurt themselves.

Yu Sum Kiu, Kowloon Tong

No question TSA should be scrapped

As they stand, the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) tests puts a lot pressure on pupils because teachers drill them hard on how to get the correct answers. Having too many of these exercises only stresses out students, who will get tired of studying, which is not the aim.

Besides, students won’t get back the tests, so they won’t know what they got right or wrong. If they didn’t know what their mistakes were, they would not have the chance to improve. So the tests just waste their time.

Some parents add to the stress by making their children do many practices. This can create tension in the parent-child relationship, and children may think that their parents only care about their results and not about them.

For these reasons, I think the TSA tests should be scrapped for Primary 3 students.

Shum Wing Yee, Lai Chi Kok

Academic freedom key to HKU standing

The letter by Leslie M. Tam (“HKU students not helping their university”, January 4) left me in a disgruntled puzzle over what has truly contributed to the drop in rankings of the University of Hong Kong.

Anybody who has studied or worked at HKU – the writer apparently included – should well appreciate the pivotal importance of academic freedom and good council leadership to a university’s global ranking.

May I steer your correspondent’s attention back to the initial source of public outrage: the students’ behaviour – described as “defensive”, “storming”, “protesting, yelling, and rude” by your correspondent – stemmed from the unfounded rejection of the appointment of Johannes Chan Man-mun as the university’s pro-vice-chancellor and, later, the appointment of Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, a hugely unpopular hardliner who had a hand in denying Johannes Chan the job, as council chairman.

Perhaps, as your correspondent pointed out, some of the student representatives should indeed feel ashamed of their leaking of confidential discussion in a council meeting. You may call it a blatant abuse of their power.

But I call it a rightful disclosure of the authoritarian discussion and handling of the meeting, without which the public would be kept in the dark about the flimsy reasons offered as justification for not appointing Professor Chan as pro-vice-chancellor. These “reasons” included not showing sympathy to a fellow council member who fell during a commotion, the supposedly low number of Google searches for his research, and the reduction of his years of remarkable achievements to being a “nice guy”.

I share your correspondent’s hope that HKU students could stop all their protests to initiate and implement real change – but that real change could only start by freeing the university from political interference, as has happened in the rejection of a job candidate who is capable but has pro-democratic leanings, and the appointment of someone unpopular but who is pro-government.

Sandy Leung Pui Sin, Tuen Mun

Artfully done infographics a joy to read

A pat on your collective backs, South China Morning Post! You deserve it. I’m referring to your summary of a year’s worth of SCMP infographics (”Art and knowledge”, January 2). You are rightly proud of them.

I’ve enjoyed these enormously over the years and have marvelled at the amount of information your artists have been able to fit into them in one compact and artistic page. Keep up the good work. It’s valued.

Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay

Bank’s offer to a select few rankles

I was informed by my office colleague that she got an offer from her bank, HSBC, that she could get a discount of up to 2 per cent on her tax due, if she paid it online via her HSBC credit card.

I, too, went to the branch she visited to find out about this offer. To my surprise, the customer services officer who attended to me was not even aware of this offer. The customer services officer promised to check and call me back on my mobile phone, but he didn’t.

The next day, I again visited the branch and was told by a customer services manager that the selection of customers for this offer was done by the card centre and she could not tell me what the criteria were. She apologised and said she would look into the matter.

I am surprised there was no information regarding this offer. How many more of these secret offers is the bank offering which I and many other customers are not aware of? HSBC proudly states that it is committed to providing a world-class service to its customers. Yet, all this gives me a feeling that the bank’s pledge is just lip service: it gets out of us what it can and, in return, has a secret way of giving only to select customers.

Anil Tejpal, Ap Lei Chau

Celebrities and politics don’t mix

In recent years, more and more celebrities are making social and political comment. One example is the actor Gregory Wong. Because celebrities wield great influence, people pay more attention to the issues they raise. But I think it’s a bad idea for them to get involved.

For a start, by commanding so much public attention, they may prevent other deserving voices from being heard.

Secondly, their adoring fans may blindly parrot their opinion, without thinking the issues through for themselves.

The differing viewpoints of these celebrities may also be a cause of conflict between their fans. When Canto-pop singer Hins Cheung made a comment last year mocking the travel alert imposed by the Korean government on Hong Kong, a quarrel erupted between some of his fans and K-pop fans. The argument had little to do with the real issue.

Moreover, how do we know that celebrities’ opinions were not designed by their agencies? It may all have been part of an image-making exercise.

At the end of the day, many fans who get involved in political activism do so out of support for their idol, not because they really understand or feel for the issue.

During the Occupy Central protests, for example, many celebrities like Denise Ho Wan-see got involved. Teenagers who supported them were out on the streets as well, but they might not have gotten the full picture.

Given this and other negative impacts, celebrities should stop broadcasting their opinions so much on social media or in public.

Abby Luk, Yau Yat Chuen

Secret arrests will deter patriotism

The case of the missing Hong Kong bookseller is unbelievable. Under the policy of “one country, two systems”, the mainland cannot just come to Hong Kong to arrest someone for having a different political opinion, if that is indeed what happened.

I am angry that this could violate our freedom of speech. In Hong Kong, we are free to make any comment about politics. For example, we won’t get arrested for complaining about the chief executive’s performance.

This is not the case on the mainland. Moreover, arrests on the mainland are often made secretly, with little information given to the public. The writer and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo ( 劉曉波 ) was convicted and jailed on unreasonable charges.

The case of the missing bookseller has become an international talking point. China should consider changing its attitude to try and accept different opinions. If China wants its citizens to be patriotic, it should treat them fairly and equally.

Leung Wing Chi, Mei Foo