Letters to the editor, April 27, 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 April, 2016, 1:44pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 April, 2016, 1:44pm

The poor care about their children, too

It is unfortunate that the report on child abuse cases in 2015 should link the incidence to poverty (“Hong Kong’s worst areas for child abuse named”, April 17). The implication is that poor people care less for their children. This is just not supported by the facts.

There are multiple parameters that indicate the relative poverty in the 18 districts of Hong Kong, and Yuen Long is grouped with Kwai Tsing, Kwun Tong and North district in most of them. It is important to look at the age-adjusted incidence of cases. According to the 2011 census data, Wan Chai had the least absolute number of children in any district, whilst Yuen Long and Kwun Tong had the highest number.

Far more important than poverty are elements which we are still trying to define, such as social cohesiveness, and this is indicated in the observation made in the report that in the “older districts”, public housing tended to have more childcare support and lower numbers of abuse cases.

In the same edition of the paper, Professor Paul Yip is quoted in reference to his study of the worrying increase in youth suicide in the territory that there is no quick fix for a tragedy that has many causes (“To prevent student suicides, all of Hong Kong has to fight the battle – each and every day”).

People who love children do not abuse them, whilst children who love themselves do not kill themselves. Intuitively, the reduction in suicide and the reduction in child abuse would appear to be linked to improvements in “social cohesiveness” that supports not just the poor, but the lonely and isolated. These are complex issues but the first step in addressing the problem is recognising that it does exist.

The people of Hong Kong need to care more for each other, in all districts, in all sections of society, in particular the children. This is both a political and social challenge. It requires leadership from the government but also from those with influence in each community.

Andrew Burd, Tai Po

Ladies’ nights a commercial decision

Going to a bar or night club is not my cup of tea, but I feel I have to side with a coalition of bar operators that by charging women less on “ladies’ night”, they are not discriminating against men (“Defiant Hong Kong bar operators want to invite equality watchdog chief to ladies’ night event”, April 21). It is just a commercial decision on the part of the operators to attract more business by encouraging more women to come, without discouraging men. It would be discriminatory only if, on ladies’ night, a surcharge was placed on men’s entrance fee.

A spokesman for the Equal Opportunities Commission used an example of a policy in which men were charged lower entrance fees to a cinema as a clear gender discrimination. He was comparing oranges and apples. His comparison is valid only if women were being charged lower entrance fees to a bar night after night.

Let us assume a scenario in which the majority of cinema goers were women, where both genders pay the same entrance fee. If, in order to attract more men, the cinema operator instituted men’s days by lowering entrance fees for men, would that be discriminatory? I think not.

Hans Willy Kaseger, Pok Fu Lam

Watchdog should ask the men’s opinions

It is good that we have the Equal Opportunities Commission in Hong Kong, but it should not add weight to the oft-expressed opinion, “the law is an ass”. The law should always make room for common sense.

It is, surely, difficult to argue the case for discrimination where there is nobody who feels discriminated against. The incident that gave rise to the court decision might have been discrimination, as it appears that Club Legend did not make it clear that the men were being charged more than women for their drinks, but this is quite different to the situation in bars advertising a “ladies’ night” to which men knowingly go. Representatives of the Equal Opportunities Commission should visit such establishments and ask the male clientele what they feel.

To host a “ladies’ night” is a commercial decision that a bar proprietor makes, just as offering a discount or a gift to certain customers, at certain times, is a commercial decision that any business should be free to make; is this discrimination? Because of my age, I get concessionary fares on buses and trains, and for some concerts and theatre productions, and so do students; is this age discrimination?

Women can have babies; who are the Equal Opportunities Commission going to take to court over that?

Peter Robertson, Sai Kung

Stop beachside rubbish at source

The deteriorating cleanliness of the shoreline of Hong Kong’s outlying islands is worrying. I was appalled by the refuse found on the shoreline of Tung Lung Chau when I volunteered at a rubbish clean-up a few weeks ago.

The refuse was of various kinds – from typical domestic waste such as food packaging, food scraps, bottles and cans to commercial waste such as foam, sponge, oil drums and even seats believed to have been removed from buses which belonged to a major transport services company in Hong Kong. Given the tremendous amount, as well as the simplified Chinese characters on the wraps and packages, there is a good chance the rubbish had trickled in from outside Hong Kong waters. We suspect the refuse might have been disposed of from cargo and passenger ships passing Hong Kong; or from mainland coasts.

Perhaps expecting the nearby municipalities to act on a request to tighten up patrol along their shoreline to prevent the unauthorised disposal of waste is too idealistic. Nonetheless, there is more the government can do. For example, the Marine Department should patrol and monitor the coastal waters more closely. Any attempts to dirty the waters within Hong Kong should be prosecuted and offenders should be given stringent punishment. The department should also be allowed to report suspicious disposal outside Hong Kong waters to Chinese authorities.

After all, a clean marine environment relies on the effort of various parties on different levels – from individuals to the government. Each plays an indispensable role.

The volunteers, of course, should be appreciated for their effort and devotion to an unpolluted nature. However, such clean-up events will never come to an end if the waste is not minimised, if not neutralised, at source.

Joe Hung, Tseung Kwan O

Macau weather forecasters could do better

As rainstorms and thunderstorms are increasingly occurring in the mornings, there is an imperative need for accurate and confident predictions by the Macau Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau and appropriate decisions for delays and suspensions by the city’s Education and Youth Affairs Bureau to ensure the safety of its students. Following recent dubious decisions, the government agencies’ credibility in handling weather events has decreased.

The rainstorm delay on April 13 was one example in which the right call was made. However, on the morning of April 22, conditions were considerably worse, with rain falling at steady rates in excess of 30mm an hour, combined with frequent, nearby lightning. The meteorological bureau called a thunderstorm warning at 7.30am, but the education bureau was silent.

With no delay or cancellation called, parents risked the health and safety of their children to get to school. Thankfully, my child’s school made the ethical call to make on-time arrival an option, with no penalty, so that we could wait for the storm to subside.

This matter stems from the meteorological bureau’s confusion as to what a thunderstorm or a rainstorm is. Thunderstorms are often more dangerous as they include lightning and wind gusts. However, the education bureau permits a delay only if the meteorological bureau issues a rainstorm warning, but not a thunderstorm warning.

The ridiculousness on April 22 was capped when at 15 minutes to 9am, the meteorological department indicated that it would issue a rainstorm warning at 9.05am, after school starts. This gives great insight that the meteorological bureau doesn’t understand its own classification systems and that education officials fail to err on the side of caution when it comes to student safety. Clarification of this confusing and broken system is needed.

Luke Lienau, Macau

Students’ lack of focus in class to blame

I would like to give a student’s perspective to the issues Charles Loy raised in his letter (“The way English is taught in class makes many students lose interest”, April 10). He asked why students had to copy the same passage over and over. If they had not failed their dictation, they wouldn’t have to do it. Many students did not know the meaning and/or pronunciation of some of the words probably because they did not focus in class or take notes. Of course, it is possible some teachers did not teach them the words, in which case students should have looked up the difficult words themselves.

Mr Loy should not blame teachers in local schools for this problem, because many are responsible and well-prepared.

Chris Chan, Tseung Kwan O