Letters to the Editor, February 25, 2018

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 February, 2018, 10:17am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 February, 2018, 10:17am

Look beyond pay hikes for KMB drivers

Reports of KMB raising the basic and overtime pay of full-time drivers show Hong Kong’s largest franchised bus ­operator is trying to ­improve welfare benefits for its drivers (“Pay rise for KMB drivers after bus crash casts spotlight on staff welfare”, February 21).

This came amid intense pressure to address drivers’ grievances after a KMB bus crashed in Tai Po on February 10, leaving 19 people dead and at least 67 injured, in Hong Kong’s worst road accident for nearly 15 years.

KMB staff union leaders had blamed the on a lack of training on new routes and cost-cutting measures, reiterating long-running concerns about an underpaid and overworked pool of 8,300 drivers.

Therefore, though the pay hikes are a good move, I believe KMB should focus on working conditions and training as well.

Raising the monthly basic pay for full-time work to HK$15,365 may encourage more drivers to join the company or existing ones to stay on, but I believe KMB should introduce more policies to ensure drivers get adequate rest and breaks between shifts.

I wonder whether the rise in overtime pay will not ­inspire drivers to work longer shifts, sacrificing rest and perhaps jeopardising their reaction times and safety.

William Wan, Clear Water Bay

Lack of homes more pressing issue than golf

I refer to the article by Naomi Ng on proposed plans to build housing on the Fanling golf course (“Don’t pit sports against housing, Hong Kong Golf Association head says”, February 20).

Danny Lai Yee-june, the association’s CEO, urged the government to look for land elsewhere and not build new flats on part of the 170-hectare Fanling golf course, as it would damage the international golfing image of Hong Kong and affect the development of the sport here.

The government’s Task Force on Land Supply proposes building 4,600 flats on the eastern part of the course, or taking back all 170 hectares to build 13,000 homes. A public consultation is expected to be launched next month.

I believe that tackling the housing shortage is more important. The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course, which also satisfies the criterion of hosting international competitions, can be used instead.

Moreover, the Fanling golf course is not really useful for the public, as playing the game is too expensive for most in Hong Kong.

The equipment required is ­unaffordable for most Hongkongers, and the high fees for joining exclusive clubs like the Hong Kong Golf Club are also a deterrent. Therefore, playing golf can hardly be counted as a popular sport and entertainment for most Hongkongers.

Also, the Fanling course was utilised by non-members only 40 per cent of the time last year, the rest by members who can afford its exorbitant fees.

The club has only about 2,600 members at the Fanling golf course, where joining fees for ­individual members range from HK$200,000 to HK$300,000, and for corporate membership it is as much as HK$17 million.

Concerns have been raised about the around 160 trees with historical value on the course. But development plans could include measures to protect these trees.

Note that a poll by the Democratic Party found more than half the 1,076 respondents were in favour of building public housing on the Fanling golf course.

Alice Ma, Tseung Kwan O

High time city set standard working hours

I refer to Hong Kong labour groups and political parties protesting against working conditions and the wealth gap (‘“We are working like dogs”: Hong Kong workers’ groups march for standard hours and more public holidays’, February 28).

I think the Neighbourhood and Workers Service Centre and the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions were justified in their demands.

Working conditions in Hong Kong must be improved. Yes, the situation of grass-roots workers in Hong Kong may be much better than in developing nations, but that is no excuse. A UBS poll in 2016 found Hong Kong had the longest working hours in the world at over 50 hours a week.

Many people have to work their fingers to the bone to make ends meet, when a handful of people own most of the riches in this affluent city. If the situation of wealth disparity worsens, it is sure to threaten social harmony.

Hence, it is the duty of the government to raise the living standards of workers in Hong Kong.

Setting standard working hours should be the first point of action. That will not only reduce pressure on workers but also ­entitle them to overtime pay, which can improve both worker morale and living standards.

Tsui Kit-lam, Kwai Chung

Ice rinks will help kids pick up hockey

I am writing to support Robert Wilson’s complaint about the low number of ice rinks in Hong Kong (“High time city warmed up to ice sports”, February 20).

This gaping hole in our sports facilities deprives citizens not only of the ability to compete internationally, but also of access to the popular sport of ice hockey.

Kids don’t need frozen lakes and rivers to grow up playing hockey if rinks are available.

Many of our major-league hockey teams are in southern US cities. They also know that hockey is an economic powerhouse that draws large audiences.

The Zamboni brothers developed ice-rink technology and their famous ice-resurfacing ­machine in the southern California town of Paramount.

There is no reason why Hong Kong cannot be part of this important sport.

William H. DuBay, Ap Lei Chau