Letters to the Editor, May 6, 2017

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 May, 2017, 9:01am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 May, 2017, 9:01am

Minimum wage needs yearly update

I support those who have said that the minimum wage should be reviewed once a year (instead of every two years) because it is easier to keep pace with inflation and reflect the actual situation of the labour force (“Annual minimum wage ­review call”, May 1).

Although the government has raised the minimum wage by HK$2 to HK$34.50 an hour, it still failed to match inflation. It is reasonable to review the minimum wage yearly as most companies will also review their wages every year. It should reflect the current labour market and share of the benefits of ­economic development.

Of course, employers are not in a position to overpay employees. The sharing of economic benefits is realised through economic progress which benefits all sectors. Moreover, employers are under pressure to raise the wages of other workers and this will drive up overall wage levels.

Hong Kong’s labour market has several problems, including a shortage of workers, a mismatch of skills, lack of standard working hours or universal pension scheme and the need to scrap the offsetting mechanism for the Mandatory Provident Fund. The minimum wage agreement is a compromise during the lobbying process for these issues while retaining Hong Kong’s competitiveness.

Candy Kong Lok-son, Tseung Kwan O

Fee for waste can benefit environment

I back the government’s call to implement a waste charge in 2019. I think this levy can discourage people from dumping excessive volumes of rubbish. There are many examples of success waste reduction schemes overseas, such as in Taiwan and South Korea. They have been effective in reducing waste at source.

With less refuse being generated, the burden on our landfills and the planned ­incinerator will not be as great.

For the Hong Kong scheme to be effective, the government needs to raise awareness about recycling, such as where cans and paper can be left for ­collection.

Students might know about recycling but the government should educate the public about the classification of trash. And greater emphasis should be placed on food recycling.

Cherry Li Wing-lam, Yau Yat Chuen

Recycling key tool in waste management

Our enviroment secretary has admitted that the waste charge scheme rules will be hard to ­enforce.

An effective waste charging system will help the environment but I think the most important tool is to cultivate the habit of reducing waste. Even if the fee scheme’s enforcement is rigorous, some people will still find ways to avoid responsibility. Improving environmental awareness is the most effective and long-term way.

Germany has a system and some convenience stores have bottle recycling machines. You get money back and this incentive has allowed recovery of more than 90 per cent of plastic bottles. There are also designated shelves for bottles near rubbish bins.

Hong Kong produces 3,600 tonnes of kitchen waste daily and this is a serious problem. France is the first country in the world to set a policy on food scraps. Supermarkets cannot destroy unsold food which still can be eaten and needs to donate the food to charities. The supermarket gets charged a fee if it does not abide by the rules.

The French government also set a new policy that large restaurants must provide fee-less doggy bags.

The aim is to change citizens’ habits so that daily waste is reduced to a minimum.

Hongkongers should change their habits for the sake of the environment.

Kitty Kock, Kwai Chung

Using phones on roads not a smart idea

Technology is an inseparable part of life today. We see people clutching their phones nearly every second – even when crossing the roads, which could potentially be a death-trap.

The Pokemon Go fad is a case in point. Research also suggests that pedestrians listening to music are four times more likely to be exposed to risks when ­crossing a road.

A recent study of 14,000 pedestrians in Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Rome and Stockholm found that 17 per cent of people used their smartphone while walking.

The exact number of accidents in which the use of smartphones was involved is not known. However, we do not need to have the number to be convinced of the need to stay alert on the roads.

If it is true that the law should change with the times, the question is: 17 years on from when a law was introduced banning drivers from using a phone, is there a need for new laws which target reckless road users?

Using a mobile phone is a visual distraction to drivers; what about other road users? Even when not crossing a road, we may run the risk of bumping into others or injuring ourselves.

In response to the problems, two solutions are newly introduced in other parts of the world. The first is in-ground traffic lights embedded into roads, which have been trialled in some parts of Australia and Germany. Another measure is a fine and imprisonment for pedestrians who use their phones while crossing the roads.

If most of the problems are not caused by the technology itself, but users, it is worth asking if the billions of dollars spent on making our road network safer would be the most effective way of changing the bad habits of pedestrians who constantly ­expose themselves to risks.

Anina Law, Tai Po

Why should Disneyland get taxpayer help?

I strongly disagree with the government’s decision to make taxpayers finance Disneyland’s plans to expand (“Hongkongers will have to pay HK$5.45 billion for major expansion of Disneyland”, May 2). Why should Hongkongers be forced to pay for this?

The government argues that Hongkongers should pay for the expansion as they have an incentive to do so: the expansion will supposedly lead to more job positions, and improve Hong Kong’s economy.

However, this does not ­excuse using the populace as a money generator. There has not been any evidence backing the government’s claim that it will create more jobs, and its refusal to disclose Disneyland’s current financial figures makes this more suspicious.

What if the expansion fails to produce results? How will Disneyland justify the loss of HK$5.45 billion?

Without any form of proof, most of the population will not be convinced.

If you’re going to force 7.3 million people to give you money, at least give them a valid reason to do so with some ­discounts or benefits for locals.

James Wong, Tseung Kwan O

Organ donors need to be encouraged

Despite medical advances and new drugs and medical procedures, a transplant will sometimes still be the only hope for some patients with organ failure, but in Hong Kong the ­donation rate is still very low.

Because of the limited ­supply, anxious patients and families wait in desperation, so the government should step up publicity and education such as through advertising.

Heightened public awareness may boost the donor register and cut ­patients’ waiting time and enable them to start a new life, but there are hurdles.

Hong Kong minors are not allowed to donate and even if people were registered to donate organs after death, Chinese culture dictates the body is kept whole. Families should respect personal choices.

Oriana Li, Yau Yat Chuen