Letters to the Editor, February 6, 2016

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 February, 2016, 12:16am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 February, 2016, 12:15am

CY fails the elderly and students

I refer to the letter by Jason Lui (“Policy address failed city’s elderly and stressed-out ­students”, January 25).

Firstly, I agree that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s policy address lacks sufficient support for the elderly and the government failed to act on universal retirement protection which many Hongkongers want and need. If the government implemented such a scheme, many elderly would benefit from a basic living allowance. It has ignored these concerns and instead just pays lip service to citizens.

Moreover, the policy address failed to tackle the problem in the education system which puts students under high pressure from homework and exams. High scores in school are the top priority and this leads to the existence of stressed-out students.

Recently, some parents complained about the Territory-wide System Assessment tests for Primary Three students. Since extra work is needed to prepare for tests, children are under severe stress, with a lot of after-school assignments daily. This is an indication that the education system in Hong Kong is not effective.

Lastly, the housing problem needed to be handled in the ­policy address. The government dawdles in dealing with this issue, and has kept many ­citizens waiting too long for public housing flats. The adminstration should immediately take action so that more citizens can have a comfortable place to live.

In conclusion, more government measures are needed now to make Hong Kong a more ­successful city.

Cathy Yuen, Tseung Kwan O

Policy address falls short on retirement plan

Chief Executive Leung Chung-ying in his annual policy address last month aimed to give direction and guidance on the future of Hong Kong but he undoubtedly disappointed many citizens. Despite running to more than 300 pages, it was not effective in dealing with the ­obstacles which remain real to many in the community.

One 66-year-old cleaner can barely earn a living and afford a tiny loft of a mere 80 sq ft. The ceiling is so low he cannot even sit up straight. Despite the elderly support and care mentioned in the policy address, the cleaner’s grim situation ­remains unchanged .

On the surface, the policy support for the elderly seems to be generous but increasing the supply of subsidised residential care places can help only a few. Retirement protection is the key but C. Y.’s address gave little mention to this .

Another proposal offered was to inject HK$1 billion into a scholarship fund to draw ­students from other countries to come and study here. Wouldn’t the cash be better spent on local students? It is dismaying the government gives priority to overseas students when local youngsters face a shortage of government-funded places on degree courses at Hong Kong universities.

That HK$1 billion could be better spent on various schemes to equip local students with ­different skills so as to raise their competitiveness.

Cayla Chiu, Kwun Tong

Action urgent on landfills and pollution

We face two major problems in Hong Kong – landfills nearing capacity and bad air pollution that affects our health and well-being

In recent years, the shortage of landfill space seems to be reaching a critical point. The three landfill sites in Hong Kong will be completely filled soon, according to some research, if the level of waste continues to grow at the same pace.

It is time for the government to act without delay.

Waste reduction and recycling must be promoted and thereby levels of waste can be ­reduced gradually.

Moreover, not only should new landfill sites be identified but some resources that are now mostly ignored should be ­targeted for recovery.

Another major problem is air pollution. Most of the polluting gases come from Guangdong and Hong Kong needs cooperation with the government there to limit the negative heath ­impact on citizens and on the city’s image.

It is the responsibility of all Hong Kong citizens, not just the government, to limit polluting practices.

Brenda Wong, Tseung Kwan O

Beware the short-term interest groups

I refer to the article by Chandran Nair (“Chance to take stock”, January 25), and agree with the premise that short-termism in capital markets is dangerous to long-term growth potential.

The article references the “flash crash” of May 2010. The marketplace in effect went into an unexpected flat-tailed spin. Equity prices of some of the world’s biggest companies were in freefall. The potential systemic significance of the crash was not the crash itself, but the uncertainty if it could recur.

The last three truly systemic stock market crises – October 1987, August 1998, and the credit crunch which commenced in 2007 – were roughly separated by a decade. So with the caveat coincidence of course does not imply causality, the chance is we were due another crisis. The issue is what are the possibilities for the chance to take stock?

The conventional response is regulation that thin slices ­trading. The state of affairs today is a diverse and distributed patchwork of exchanges and multilateral trading platforms. The platforms are tied together by algorithms exploiting discrepancies in prices circulating among them.

Participants and regulators found the flash crash deeply unnerving; electronic trading takes microseconds to process an ­order. Crash stop intervention algorithms leave decision ­makers with a few seconds to consider their positions. Speed is the new frontier, and financial markets can no longer be viewed as self-stabilising.

The context of decision ­making has moved forward to a rapidly changing adaptive boundary. But there is a chance to pick up decision making data points to inform a regulatory framework.

Cross-country regulatory controls and compliance requirements can be expensive, and offer arguably lower performance “efficiency”. This may not be popular as the burden will eventually fall on the end customer. However if decision-making for “one country, two markets” at the macro and ­micro levels is to be managed, there will be considerable head wind from powerful short-term interest groups.

Danny McConnell, Tseung Kwan O

Clamp down on two-legged pests of TST

I love visiting Hong Kong but hate walking along Nathan Road.

The continual barrage of unscrupulous tailors and sleazy point men trying to unload their tacky tailoring skills and fake Rolex watches on the unwary white tourist is nothing short of harassment.

Why does Hong Kong allow this behaviour to continue in what is otherwise a modern ­civilised city?

Justin Culmer, Vancouver, Canada

Good time to cut back on sugar and salt

I refer to the article (“The bitter truth”, January 18) which highlights the dangers of consuming too much sugar.

Soft drinks and desserts are popular in Hong Kong but a can of cola can contain 10.6g of sugar per 100 ml and a pineapple bun can have 13g per 100g. Excessive consumption can lead to diabetes, and heart disease and Chinese New Year is a timely reminder of the dangers of high sugar intake.

It’s not just fortune cookies, crispy honeycomb, peanut puffs and Nian Gao fritters we should be wary of – too much sodium is another serious problem .

At this time of year we may be tempted to have more pork, peanut cookies , and salty kumquat but less junk food and regular exercise will lead to many health benefits, including lower stress and cholesterol levels.

Kenneth Chueng Ho-yeung, Po Lam