Letters to the editor, May 2, 2016

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 May, 2016, 4:19pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 May, 2016, 4:19pm

Contractors punished for being honest

The Buildings Department introduced the minor works control system in 2010 with the aim of improving building safety and providing the public with an alternative procedure for carrying out minor, small-scale works, without the need to obtain prior approval and ­consent from the Building ­Authority.

Over the last few years, the department has introduced new minor work items and changed the submission processing procedure. It attempts to play down its monitoring role by transforming the system into a self-regulating mechanism. As an industry practitioner, I am deeply disappointed with the development and would like to share my experience with ­readers.

I was appointed to carry out some building works and make a statutory submission on behalf of a customer. After one year, I was informed by the department that I had violated the regulation as the work I completed could not be categorised as minor work.

Certainly, I can’t avoid responsibility for the fault, but the current processing mechanism should also be blamed for this. The department should have clarified before I commenced the work rather than taking retrospective enforcement after one year. It not only led to a contractual dispute and customer dissatisfaction, but is also in ­effect an unforeseen pitfall for ordinary citizens and contractors.

Given the increasingly complicated submission requirements, it is unrealistic for the department to say that contractors should be able to comply with all minor work related regulatory requirements on a self-regulating basis.

The current system punishes law-abiding contractors while turning a blind eye to those practitioners who recklessly ­ignore the legal submission requirements and leave no audit trail for the authority to follow. The Development Bureau and the Audit Commission should critically review this system and how it is managed.

Goldman Chan, Sham Shui Po

Secessionists should opt to emigrate

I refer to the report, “Breakaway calls ‘are protected by law’ ” (April 25).

Perhaps it can be argued that the peaceful advocacy of “sedition” is protected under the Bill of Rights. But “secession” is a treasonable, altogether different thing, even the peaceful advocacy of which is unacceptable.

Grenville Cross drew comparison with calls for “withdrawal from the union” by Scotland, Wales and Northern ­Ireland. But that is not secession from a single state. That is an ­already separate state wishing to pull out of a union. Hong Kong is not comparable with these Celtic/Gaelic states forming a union with the Anglo-Saxon state. We are not such an alien entity.

Ironically in 2002, government officials were at first calling their proposed Article 23 legislation “secession and sedition laws” (Cliff Buddle’s article, “Sedition revisited”, April 25) as if the two are the same, only to see Bob Allcock retreating to say in a December 2002 speech the government’s proposed changes to the sedition laws “would limit the offence to ­conduct that incites serious crimes, violence or public disorder”. Perhaps on purpose to hide an insidious morph, there was no longer the mention of the different thing which “secession” is, and which is what the current “breakaway calls” are about.

The right thing to do with these secessionists is to immediately put them away to await trial under the appropriate legislation, not just for up to 48 hours.

More comparable with these Celtic/Gaelic states in the union would be the southern confederate states which attempted to withdraw from the American union in 1861. Their attempt was foiled by force by the northern states but even today it may still not be unconstitutional to seek to so withdraw.

Is that why the secessionists of Hong Kong are trying to form a confederate city state? My advice for them, a tiny minority, is to emigrate and not try to turn Hong Kong into a separate state, which they have no right to ­impose on the rest of us.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

It is important to ensure Legco quorum

Why is it that the pro-establishment legislators in the Legislative Council cannot get their act together to ensure that quorum calls by the pan-democrats fail? Quorum calls and filibustering by pan-democratic lawmakers are holding up progress in Hong Hong and making it a laughing stock internationally and an unreliable partner.

Why can’t the pro-establishment legislators agree to some sort of a “whip” arrangement and schedule attendance rosters, with backups, to ensure that important Legco meetings and committee meetings are always quorate?

Surely getting things done in Hong Kong, for the good of the city, is more important that losing a bit of time in the office and therefore, perhaps, income?

John Shannon, Mid-Levels

Rename landmark after Li Ka-shing

I could not agree more with Lam Pun Yuen (“Street names should honour native heroes”, April 27).

We should honour local heroes by naming streets after them.

Overseas there are airports and national holidays named after prominent people in that country, such as Martin Luther King Jr Day in the US, and Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. To the suggestions already made for streets named after Sun Yat-sen and Bruce Lee, I would suggest changing Kowloon Peninsula into Ka Shing Peninsula, ­because Lee Ka-shing has created thousands of employment opportunities in Hong Kong and it is only right that a prominent landmark in the city bears his name.

However, Queen’s Road should not be renamed, as it should be recognised that the British did a good job in certain areas. They helped turn Hong Kong into an international financial centre and the prosperous, modern city it is today, with its many high-rise buildings.

The British should be remembered for their good management skills.

Edmond Pang, Fanling

Think carefully before deciding to buy a dog

I agree with Bernard Lo about looking after dogs (“Responsible dog ownership is what matters”, April 5).

Often, people decide to get a dog on the spur of the moment. Maybe friends have told them how much fun it can be.

They might buy or adopt without thinking about the consequences, that they must be taken out for daily walks and groomed regularly and that in the case of dogs, they need companionship. Owners might ­gladly do these chores at first, but over a period of time, with a busy work schedule and ­juggling family and work responsibilities, they start to neglect the pet and it suffers as a consequence.

If they do form a close attachment with a dog, they must accept that its lifespan is far shorter than humans and its death can be a heartbreaking experience for a family.

It is important for parents to teach children the importance of treating dogs with dignity and respect so they realise their pet is not a toy and must not be ­mistreated.

People must think very carefully before deciding to take a dog as a pet. They could spend some spare time at dog shelters before deciding to get one.

The issue of abandoned dogs has to be tackled, given that thousands of them have to be put down every year.

Eunice Li Dan-yue, Singapore