Letters to the Editor, October 06, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 October, 2016, 4:41pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 October, 2016, 4:41pm

ANZ a proud supporter of LGBTI rights

I refer to your report saying 12 banks had declined to support a Hong Kong petition on equal visa rights for same-sex married couples (“Hong Kong’s top ­investment banks ­reject petition for same-sex spousal visa”, ­October 2).

At no time was ANZ contacted by Community Business or any other third party and asked to participate in the petition, nor have we ever refused to support the referenced petition.

In fact, we have worked closely with Community Business, ­major banks and other parties for several months on strategies aimed at delivering equal visa rights for same-sex spouses.

Importantly, ANZ believes in the inherent strength of a ­vibrant, diverse and inclusive workforce where the backgrounds, perspectives and life experiences of our people help us to forge strong connections with our customers, innovate and make better decisions for our business.

We actively support the ­lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) community, with a focus on awareness raising and education sessions to promote respect and inclusion; providing support through networks, information and ­resources; taking action by ­ensuring unconscious bias is ­removed from policies and ­processes, and building community engagement through our various partnerships, which ­provide us with resources and subject matter expertise to ­inform our approach.

We are proud of our ongoing efforts to build, celebrate and ­leverage the diversity of our workforce and create an inclusive environment across our business in Hong Kong.

Ivy Au Yeung, CEO Hong Kong, ANZ

Exemplary role of financial services sector

I refer to the report (“Hong Kong’s top investment banks ­reject petition for same-sex spousal visa”, October 2).

Community Business started an online petition last year. We wanted to garner ­public support for our call for the Hong Kong government to amend the current immigration policy, which does not recognise foreign-registered same-sex partnerships and marriages for immigration purposes – particularly as regards the granting of dependent visas.

This was just before the “QT” case was due to be heard in the High Court in May 2015, in which a woman was challenging this policy.

We at Community Business recognise that some companies may not feel that a public petition is an appropriate channel for expressing support or to advocate for change, for example, in government policies or for LGBT rights. Not signing the petition does not necessarily indicate lack of ­support.

Community Business works with the banks and other leading companies on LGBT inclusion, and what many are doing to ­create safe, inclusive workplaces for their LGBT employees is ­exemplary and to be commended.

Even with the absence in Hong Kong of legal protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status, these leading companies are providing their LGBT ­employees with same-sex benefits and implementing ­inclusive policies and measures that go above and beyond the law and benefit all their ­employees.

The fact that these companies dominate our LGBT Workplace Inclusion Index and Awards shows their leadership and commitment.

In fact, the Hong Kong LGBT+ Interbank Forum, of which all banks ­mentioned are members, is one of the key ­organisations driving real and positive change within the ­finance and banking sector.

In our long-standing experience working with the business sector on diversity and inclusion, it is our view that no one in the Hong Kong business community has been doing more than the financial services industry to promote and ­advocate positive change in favour of LGBT rights and ­same-sex spousal recognition.

It is our hope that Hong Kong can truly be seen as Asia’s world city in supporting LGBT rights.

This can only be achieved through concerted collective ­action by all, including the ­business community, advocacy groups and the Hong Kong SAR government.

Daniela Chang, senior manager, marketing and communications, Community Business

China must act now on perils of air pollution

When my class went on a graduation trip to Shanghai, we looked forward to enjoying the Bund’s spectacular scenery, but were disappointed when we learned there was a yellow smog alert. This brought home to me the pollution problems China faces, and the central government must deal effectively with them.

International cooperation is important. All nations must work together and multinationals operating in China, like Nike, Adidas and H&M, must also play their part.

Also, the government must shift its focus from economic ­development to environmental conservation.

The health of citizens should always be top priority. Besides, economic development could stall if citizens fall sick because of serious pollution in the country.

The people of China are ­becoming increasingly concerned about the nation’s pollution problem. I hope the central government will listen to their voices and take action to alleviate the problem. I also hope that the next generation will be able to live in a safe and beautiful environment. But for that to happen, the government must take action now.

Hana Cheung, Po Lam

Limit gadget time to fend off myopia in kids

The problem of myopia is not just confined to the older generation, it also affects young people.

I think one reason more young people have eye problems is because they spend too long on electronic devices. Some parents spoil their children, buying them smartphones and tablets and letting them spend hours on them. When they look at screens without resting, it can lead to eye strain and conditions like myopia.

Parents need to impose time limits so their children do not spend too long looking at these computer screens. A total ban would be wrong and impractical.

Children need the gadgets to ­finish school assignments in the evenings and to keep in touch with friends, but they must learn to take regular breaks.

The government should also do more to educate students about the importance of protecting their eyes, by giving them guidelines about sensible use of smartphones and other similar devices. It should also provide subsidies so they can have an annual eye test.

Lai Kai-yan, Yau Yat Chuen

Wang Chau row reflects policy disgrace

Much has been said about the way development in Wang Chau has been dealt with, but what happened there explains much about the way the government has dealt with the whole issue of providing land for ­housing.

Green belts on government land were seen as easy targets, (despite the fact that they were not deserted nor de-vegetated, as stated by the chief executive in his policy addresses, but were instead fully ­wooded and occupied).

It is difficult to understand why the government cannot simply resume the brownfield site as part of the Yuen Long town development and offer the current zone A compensation rate. If the landowners do not like it, they can go to the Lands Tribunal, and if they win, the government will pay all costs.

Certainly, all statements by the government as to what type of green belt was to be used for housing were totally false, as ­evidenced by what happened here.

All professionals in government must be embarrassed at the way the bureaucracy has dealt with this matter, and ­allowing the shambles that now exists with brownfield sites to continue is not the way forward.

Allan Hay, Tai Po