Letters to the editor, March 14, 2016
Those backing Brexit have sound reasons
Michael Sturmer writes as if everything in Europe is great and it is selfish and short-sighted “little Englanders” that would put everything at risk (“Brexit backers should consider consequences on the wider world”, March 12).
This is like being told to stay in an abusive relationship for the sake of the family.
Those supporting Brexit reflect a wide range of grievances – those who reject the increasing power of the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels; those who see the single market as entrenching the power of large business and their lobbyists, and those who see the folly of trying to engineer political union via a doomed attempt at economic union. But more than this, they want out of a project that is spiralling out of control.
The UK stayed out of the euro and Schengen Agreement, despite the best efforts of the establishment to railroad us in, but the overweening ambition of the project rolls on. Who asked for the EU to back a coup in the Ukraine? Who wants to allow 77 million Turks visa free access to our health, education and welfare systems?
Cold warriors in Washington, federalists in Germany and empire building bureaucrats in Brussels have brought us to this mess, they have already undermined the foundations of the post-war order.
Don’t blame Britain if the house falls down when we slam the door on the way out.
Mark Tinker, Stanley
Conflicting views in same department
There must be two Transport Departments in Hong Kong if we take seriously the letter by Irene Ho, assistant commissioner for transport (“Impact of more traffic on Lantau being closely watched”, March 11).
One Transport Department takes to our airwaves and promotes the use of public transport in lieu of private cars. This message attunes with the overall government message that mass public transportation is both the present and the future of Hong Kong.
The other Transport Department, of which Ms Ho is evidently a member, promotes the use of private cars over the use of public transport. This organisation is evidently unaware that south Lantau is served by a number of bus routes with frequent services, and a blue taxi service. Accordingly, it has apparently concluded that 25 private cars a day (due to rise, it has suggested, to at least 50) should be allowed to access the restricted South Lantau Road.
Ms Ho suggests that this is necessary to promote tourism and the local economy. If indeed this is the case, then clearly the answer to our dropping mainland tourism numbers is to open the border to all private cars coming from China. Over to you on this, Ms Ho.
Perhaps the two Transport Departments could talk to each other and unify their message in favour of public transport. This would justify the present expenditure on airtime, and those who love Lantau would be very pleased.
Clive Noffke, Lantau
No expansion of mainland visit scheme
With reference to Alex Lo’s column (“Opening floodgates a risky move for C.Y.”, March 11), the government would like to point out that while we are supportive of studying ways to continue to explore the mainland market and at the same time minimise as far as possible the inconvenience caused by increasing visitor arrivals, there is no plan to expand the mainland’s individual visit scheme at this stage.
The Hong Kong SAR government will continue to monitor the situation and maintain close liaison with the central government regarding the overall arrangement for mainland residents travelling to Hong Kong.
Aaron Liu, for Commissioner for Tourism
Population decline can be good for planet
Developed countries have ageing populations and low fertility rates and this is seen by some as a bad thing.
For example, in Japan, it is estimated the population will decrease significantly, which will place a huge burden on those who remain in the workforce.
However, in the long term, I think it can be seen as an advantage.
Decreased populations will put less pressure on the earth’s resources. This can lead to us reducing our carbon footprint and generating less waste.
Countries with smaller populations will consume less energy and in the future more renewable energy will be used. Overall, there will less pollution. Economic development may slow down, but we will have a cleaner planet.
There will probably be enough resources for the world’s population and therefore we should see a reduction in the wealth gap between rich and poor.
A drop in Hong Kong’s population could alleviate the housing problem with more homes for everyone.
Japan is now trying to look at dealing with the problems caused by an ageing population, such as replacing some low-skilled jobs with robots. This is better than Hong Kong employers grumbling about labour shortages.
I recognise that we are still in the early stages of societies having ageing populations, but it is important not to be too negative about it. We need to recognise that there could be an upside and see the advantages that will come from this major change in the future.
Mok Sze-lam, Yau Yat Chuen
Seek help in early stages of kidney disease
I refer to the report, “Silent killer: Hong Kong warning on rising cases of chronic kidney disease” (March 7).
There has been an increase in the number of deaths caused by chronic kidney disease in Hong Kong.
Some people might know there is something wrong, but delay getting medical help, because they are concerned they will have to pay for expensive medical procedures. They are worried about the financial burden that will be placed on them and their families. If they delay it, by the time they finally see a doctor, their condition could have become chronic.
A chronic condition can eventually lead to kidney failure. Other people do not seek help in the early stages, because they may have only a few symptoms and so are unaware they have kidney disease until the condition gets noticeably worse.
Delays in seeking treatment can prove to be fatal.
People need to recognise the importance of seeking treatment as soon as they are aware that there is something wrong. It always important for us to think carefully about our health.
Samuel Cheng Ka-ho, Sai Kung
Firms need child-friendly policies
I refer to the article by Sophia Chan-Combrink (“A study of inequality”, March 8).
Only 17 women have been awarded the Nobel laurels in physics, chemistry and medicine. This shows that there is a need to understand why so many women do not choose science as a career even if they have the ability to do so.
I think one reason is that they are attracted to jobs and sectors where there is greater flexibility with regard to working hours, workloads and the working environment, which is important when they want to start a family.
A career in science is very demanding and often intensive work, and women are concerned that such a career could clash with their childcare commitments.
If the government did more to encourage family-friendly policies in firms, then hopefully more women with the ability would choose a career in science.
The government should ensure that men and women by law are entitled to the same maternity/paternity leave entitlement.
It is an out-of-date cultural norm that women are regarded as taking most childcare duties when they should be shared.
This is essential if we are to ensure gender equality in future generations.
Men and women have the right to be able to achieve their potential and take up a career in science if they have the ability to do so.
In professions where women are under-represented, we have to ensure as a society that this is rectified and that the imbalance is ended.
Iris Law Ka-yee, Yau Yat Chuen