Letters to the Editor, December 18, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 December, 2016, 12:16am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 December, 2016, 12:16am

Some senior officials need a reality check

It is quite irksome to read that certain chief executive hopefuls and other government officials keep referring to their job as “serving the community”, as if it was some kind of altruistic ­sacrifice on their part.

They should be reminded that virtually everyone on the planet, from a pizza delivery man to a chairman of the board, is ­required to serve somebody.

In the case of government appointees, “serving the community” is the job requirement and these officials are not only paid handsomely for this, but enjoy an abundance of perks certainly not shared by the ­community at large.

Regrettably, many of these officials and lawmakers do not appear to be particularly good at “serving the community” and seem more concerned with maintaining their position and income rather than risking any move that may rock the status quo of vested interests and ­improve the lot of the community they ostensibly serve.

One only has to look at the current situation for evidence of this:

The continual infighting and political shambles that ­deliberately obstructs decision-making;

The lack of hope among Hong Kong’s younger generation, who know they can probably never buy a home of their own; and,

The extreme hardships faced by those older men and women who, without a pension scheme in place, must continue working as gruelling manual ­labour well into their later years – people who, over the years, have been genuinely “serving the community” and on whose backs Hong Kong was built.

What is happening now in terms of ineffectual governance, unaffordable housing and inadequate social welfare for the elderly is a disgrace for such a wealthy and developed society.

It is time for officials and lawmakers to take stock of their ­actual responsibilities to the people of Hong Kong and to ­aggressively address the real issues affecting the community.

R. Jones, Mid-Levels

Clearer clauses essential for travellers

A study conducted by Visa ­earlier this year predicts that international travel will increase by 35 per cent over the next 10 years.

However, travellers often overlook exclusion clauses ­hidden in the details, which is standard for any service ­provider, from travel agencies to airlines. It might just be one ­sentence that will make or break their claim when bad luck strikes.

Most importantly, this is true even when having taken out travel insurance. To what extent are travellers protected?

Looking back at the 2013 hot air balloon incident in Egypt, which led to the loss of life of nine Hongkongers, it is a sad example of why we should be cautious.

Six of the victims were not able to be compensated, owing to the fact that the policy ­excluded certain activities, ­including balloon rides.

The case continues to drag on in court, as families of the ­victims continue to argue that negligence was at play. This is one of the few defences that can ­override an exclusion clause.

We urge the government to mandate that exclusion clauses for travel should be made clearer at the time of entering into the contract.

Travel agencies should be held responsible for ensuring that policy coverage matches the activities undertaken during the planned itinerary and warn customers if there are any ­discrepancies.

In addition, the public ought to be more careful in their choice of activities, policies and service providers when travelling, whether they are ­doing so independently or as part of a package tour.

A few years back, there was a government commercial on TV urging travellers to take out ­insurance and check their policies prior to departure from Hong Kong. Why have these government publicity campaigns come to a halt?

Samuel Chan (and a group of business law students), University of Hong Kong

Try cutting back on waste this Christmas

I hope this year that more Hongkongers will choose to enjoy a green Christmas.

We will all be shopping for gifts and cards and, of course, for decorations. I urge people to think twice before making their purchases and consider the ­importance of being environmentally friendly.

There is so much consumption that generates large ­volumes of waste. It is the same with wrapping paper, decorations and cards, which get thrown away. To live a green Christmas, we need to observe the three “Rs” – reduce, reuse and recycle.

To reduce, we can minimise gift wrapping and send electronic greetings, instead of paper cards. They ­deliver the same message ­without the waste.

For the second principle, we can store decorations that are not perishable and reuse them next year. And we need to ­separate the Christmas waste and ­deposit the recyclable ­material in recycling bins.

By adopting simple measures like the ones I have ­described above, we can do our bit to protect the environment during the festive season and still ­­enjoy it.

Yuki Wong, Tseung Kwan O

Indifference towards credit score is risky

A recent survey found that many Hongkongers are unaware of their credit score and what effect it can have on their finances.

While most respondents said they knew their credit score was important, they also said they did not know what it was and did not intend to find it out.

I think the results of the ­survey show there is a serious problem, that is, that many ­citizens seem indifferent to their credit score.

However, a credit score is important. It can determine whether you receive a loan, a mortgage or a credit card.

Furthermore, if parents do not know much about credit scores, that makes them poor role models for their children. This could mean the children grow up and do not care about financial management.

The key to dealing with this is through education. Business management lessons could be added to the syllabus at all our local schools and it should be a regular subject.

Also, it should apply to all ­students. At the moment, only ­students who take economics or business, accounting and financial studies are likely to think about sound financial ­management.

The government should ­distribute leaflets in banks, in an effort to raise awareness and help citizens know more about their credit scores. It could also hold talks. With greater knowledge, people can plan their ­finances with more care.

Hopefully, then, we would see fewer instances of Hongkongers experiencing ­serious debt ­problems.

Jessica Tsui Kit-lam, Kwai Chung

Underground spaces work well in Japan

Japan’s popular underground areas, with their walkways and retail outlets, are seen as a model that Hong Kong could follow with its proposed underground spaces in designated urban areas.

There is a downside but, ­despite that, I support these ­proposals. Developing underground areas could help relieve overcrowding at street level and, with less congestion, we would see a freer flow of air, thereby ­reducing levels of pollution.

Shops and other attractions could be popular with tourists.

On the downside, these would be massive infrastructure projects and would result in ­severe disruption in the areas where they were being built, especially during peak periods.

These spaces have been ­successful where they have been tried, and not just in Japan.

In Korea, for example, in Seoul, nearly all underground stations have a mall. This would only work in Hong Kong at larger MTR stations such as Central and Admiralty.

Natalli Lo, Tseung Kwan O