Letters to the Editor, December 4, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 December, 2016, 12:17am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 December, 2016, 12:16am

Tougher law is needed to fight bribery in city

One of the goals of the Basic Law is to help maintain Hong Kong’s long-held reputation as an international finance centre.

Successful ­anti-corruption efforts are key to this.

While the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s efforts to eliminate ­corruption from the police ­system have led many to say that Hong Kong has been effectively tackling bribery, it is actually lagging behind many jurisdictions, especially the UK with its Bribery Act.

Two of the main deficiencies of Chapter 201 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance lie in how it fails to classify bribing foreign officials and failing to prevent ­bribery as offences.

Hong Kong is connected with many countries, and in particular with the mainland, and failing to outlaw bribery of foreign [or mainland] officials means that bribery can occur with impunity and that a bribing culture will thrive. By not ­making failure to prevent ­bribery an offence, an ethical culture cannot be promoted within companies and there will still be numerous opportunities to bribe. These missing clauses should be added to the ­ordinance as soon as possible.

Another flaw of the ordinance is how it does not provide enough checks on the chief executive and ensure that officials investigating the chief executive are impartial and independent. In particular, the ICAC commissioner and secretary for justice, who usually lead such investigations, are both ­appointed by the chief executive. The Legislative Council should immediately act to rectify the current situation.

We must not become too complacent. We must push the government to continuously improve our laws, unless we wish to let other cities overtake us in the business world.

Jackie Ann Connor, Sai Wan

Legislators surely knew Legco’s rules

I refer to the article by Perry Lam (“Oath saga shows ugly side of colonial legacy”, November 4).

One legacy of colonialism is a respect for the judiciary and the legislature, and their procedures. Presumably Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang were aware of the requirements for elected lawmakers before signing up for election, including ­taking the oath of office. Yet, ­instead of taking their oaths and then working with fellow lawmakers to facilitate and direct change over the course of their tenure, Yau and Leung chose to act at best like children and at worst like hooligans.

Their disrespect for the Legislative Council and the Hong Kong people who elected them can be attributed to a sense of entitlement often found in pampered millennials and the disruptive antics of lawmakers such as “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung.

Helen Cheung, Ho Man Tin

Visitors were unimpressed by long wait

I thought it was going to be my lucky day when my flight arrived on time at 3pm at the airport. It only took 10 minutes to clear ­immigration and pick up my bags and then I had a pleasant trip on the Airport Express to Hong Kong station in Central. That’s when the trouble started.

I walked to the taxi stands but the problem was that there were very few taxis. The trains came and left, disgorging even more visitors, and it took 50 minutes before I got a cab. Arriving in Central at 3.45pm, outside the rush hour, you do not expect ­difficulties. The eventual ride to Pok Fu Lam proved the roads were clear.

This is not a good introduction to the city for foreign visitors. When we eventually left, there were well over 100 unhappy people waiting for the final leg of their journey. Behind us in the queue were a couple from the UK who were here for a book fair. They were not impressed but then said philosophically, it was only once a year for them.

Norman de Brackinghe, Pok Fu Lam

Use brownfield sites to build new homes

In her letter (“Use portion of country parks for housing”, ­November 30), Michelle Wong says that if we took 10 per cent of the country parks “we could swiftly solve our housing ­problems”, but she is mistaken.

First, developers already have a vast supply of land in the New Territories that they are not developing, thereby creating artificial scarcity. There is no indication that more supply would change that.

Second, there are thousands of hectares of brownfield land that can be converted for development, more than enough for a few more million Hong Kong residents, provided the proper built-density is used.

Third, a few thousand more hectares could be used, if the government abolished the ­unfair and unnecessary small-house policy.

Maybe when Hong Kong has a genuine land-supply problem, it will be time to consider some marginal encroachment into green zones. However, the ­current situation has a lot more to do with political impotence than land availability.

J. C. Clement, Jordan

Child labour a national and global problem

I refer to the report (“Under 16 and working 16 hours a day… Chinese clothes factories import cheap child labour from across China”, November 22). Concern has been expressed internationally about child labour, as it harms children and destroys their future when they should be having a happy and contented childhood. They are the hope and future of a nation. But, ­millions of deprived children in China will not grow up in a carefree environment.

The reason this problem exists in the country is that there are still a lot of poor ­families. They cannot afford to send their children to school and need them to go out and work. Companies hire them as they provide cheap labour and are less likely to misbehave.

Children of all ages in many countries have to endure this existence. They have no choice and are punished if they are disobedient. They will never see the inside of a school classroom and will grow up illiterate and ­unskilled, with no chance of ­improving themselves. Their families face a never-ending ­cycle of poverty.

The central government must ensure that all children in China go to school and that the laws banning child labour are strictly enforced. Also, there must be more education so that there is greater public awareness about how wrong it is to employ children.

Chloe Choy, Sha Tin

An important meal that you must not miss

Researchers have found that an alarming number of children in Hong Kong skip breakfast as they grow older (“Breakfast ­better than extra lessons, study finds”, November 28).

Having breakfast is very ­important and it can have an ­adverse effect on children, physically and mentally, if they skip this meal. This growing trend of children missing breakfast to take part in activities like tutorial classes is a cause for concern. It highlights the fact that local students­ lead busy lives.

I know from experience that skipping breakfast is bad for you. If I miss it, I have less energy throughout the day.

Parents should educate their children about the importance of having a healthy lifestyle. The government should also ­produce adverts encouraging young people to eat regular and balanced meals.

Wong Sum-yee, Yau Yat Chuen