Letters to the Editor, September 03, 2016

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 September, 2016, 12:16am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 September, 2016, 12:16am

Likely pitfalls of standard hours policy

There is no doubt that if a standard working hours law was ­enacted it could guarantee occupational safety and staff health.

In addition, employees would get paid for overtime, thus preventing the ­problem of overtime without pay. Some say the policy could help employees achieve a work-life balance and thus benefit families and society as a whole. To some extent I agree. But the Chinese have a saying that goes, “One chicken dies, the other cries.” The promise of overtime wages will inspire staff to work longer in order to increase their income.

A standard hours policy will hurt companies in the service sector, such as retail, hotel, insurance and real estate businesses. Some might shut down because they could not cope with higher operational costs.

Finally, the policy will lead to two problems. First, the labour shortage will become more ­serious and lead to lower quality of service. Second, it will trigger higher costs and inflation, and weaken the purchasing power of the less-privileged.

Justin Ho, Tseung Kwan O

Punishing workload affects health

It is clear from articles and ­surveys that Hong Kong has some of the longest working hours not only in Asia but the world, with Hongkongers clocking the longest working week in 2015.

Compared with Western countries, leisure time for Hongkongers is too short. The work week in most Western countries is around 30 hours while Hongkongers toil for 50.11 hours weekly on average. The difference works out to 20.11 hours, which is a huge number.

Apart from such long hours, workers in Hong Kong normally only enjoy 17 public holidays, while other Asian economies such as Macau and the Philippines enjoy 20 and 19 days, ­respectively. The public should be aware of the negative impact of insufficient leisure time.

Lack of leisure not only ­worsens quality of life, it can have a negative impact on physical health.

Some experts have demonstrated that overworked people may easily suffer from heart ­disease or the flu, or bouts of dizziness. It is not rare to hear that a Hongkonger died of a heart attack induced by long working hours. Also, a recent survey by an American university indicates that the pressure index of Hongkongers is much higher than that of citizens in Western countries. It also shows that the pressure index and working hours are correlated.

A Chinese University of Hong Kong report also demonstrates that those with less leisure time have a higher risk of mental illness.

Kelly Kwan, Tseung Kwan O

Sub-degree holders merit fair jobs deal

I refer to the letter by Ronnie Tse (“Give more help to sub-degree students”, August 9).

Earning levels of sub-degree holders are nearly the same as those with a secondary school education. This is unfair.

Sub-degree holders spend more ­effort, time and money on ­studies, and should be treated better in the workplace and have higher living standards than those with just secondary school education. Also, they should not be looked down upon.

If there is no difference ­between the salary and treatment of sub-degree and secondary school graduates, students may not want to consider sub-degrees in the future. I hope the government can face up to and resolve this issue.

Emily Yeung Ching-Yi, Sham Shui Po

Soy packaging must warn of cancer risks

I refer to the report (“Soy sauces contain potential carcinogen”, August 16).

Soy sauces and seasonings are common condiments in Chinese dishes. However, more than 11 of 40 soy sauce samples tested were found to contain the chemical compound 4-methylimidazole, including those from popular Hong Kong brands. The chemical is thought to cause cancer if consumed in large amounts.

I am disappointed with the reason why Hong Kong does not have regulations and safety standards for soy sauce, which is that the risk of reaching cancer-causing levels is extremely low. However, I still believe that regulations are needed.

Manufacturers often add chemicals into the sauces in ­order to increase colour intensity. There could be instances where, if pregnant ­women ­consume these sauces it might harm the foetus.

Hong Kong should take ­reference from ­other countries and pass laws to govern the business, and put warnings on product packaging if levels exceed Centre for Food Safety ­standards.

Coco Chow, Tseung Kwan O

Home cooking the only way to a healthy diet

I refer to the letter by Taffy Wong (“Healthy diet is becoming far too expensive”, August 26).

Your correspondent should know restaurants will never use olive oil to cook food. Chefs always choose cheaper low-grade saturated oil for cooking and deep frying, which is bad for health. Also restaurants would never cook their menu without sugar, oil or salt, because ­customers usually dislike dull dishes and prefer strong tastes, such as sweet and sour or spicy. In fact, cha chaan teng are willing to cook all kinds of food, but customers want condiments such as oyster and soy sauce that can be carcinogenic.

Home cooking is the guarantee of an economical, healthy diet. We should promote more home cooking and healthy diets.

Edmond Pang, Fanling

Call to caution as slim does not equal fit

I refer to the report (“Fitness may mask dangerous levels of cholesterol”, ­August 10).

It said people who may look fit or are of normal weight could be suffering from high levels of bad cholesterol. So even slim people can be unhealthy.

Many believe that having a slim body is healthy, so they do sports as well as go on a diet. I think having a well-balanced diet and active lifestyle is the best, but please don’t overdo it because that will have adverse effects.

Also, I suggest that the ­government provide free health checks for low-income families so that they can become aware of any latent disease.

Yuen Ka-ki, Yau Yat Chuen

Vegetarian world not a farsighted idea

Kathy Lee’s letter (“Think twice before setting animals free”, ­August 24) makes a lot of sense, until the final paragraph.

If a substantial number of people become vegetarians a substantial number of animals will be released into the wild, which, it appears, is precisely what she does not want to ­happen.

I have great respect for vegetarians and their beliefs, but they are not looking very far ahead.

If we all became vegetarians it would not be long before a growing number of people would start telling us that we should not eat plants either ­because they have lives and ­feelings too (there are already some with this view).

What do we eat then? Pebble cutlets, anyone?

Peter Robertson, Sai Kung