Letters to the Editor, March 31, 2018

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 March, 2018, 10:30am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 March, 2018, 10:30am

Hong Kong on right track with the elderly

Your correspondent, Fiona Bassinger, says Singapore must think beyond tradition in meeting the challenges of its greying population: this is sensible.

In Hong Kong, the government is going all out to provide more affordable homes for purchase and rent for the long waiting list of families with such needs, a good proportion of whom belong to our greying society.

During the years when I was a Hong Kong Housing Authority member, Singapore and Hong Kong public housing and community development officials kept in contact, updating each side on new trends in building and management in public housing.

Singapore’s main social ­“exceptionalism” – in my view – was its decision to provide affordable and decent home ownership for 80 per cent or more of all Singaporean families.

Ms Bassinger made several useful suggestions, such as ­encouraging more elderly women to work and on job training and placement. Hong Kong respects equal rights for women, and this also applies to their special needs and opportunities within our greying society.

In January 2017, when Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng ­Yuet-ngor was still Hong Kong’s chief secretary, her office issued a “Poverty Alleviation and Retirement Protection” report, with ­insights into the government’s ­future strategies in alleviating poverty and coping with key livelihood issues of our elderly.

Hong Kong faces formidable challenges in its public housing expansion programme, in alleviating poverty in a fast-changing technological society, and in comprehensively planning ahead for our ageing society.

The government has pragmatically decided to allocate HK$11 billion by way of a cash grant of up to HK$4,000 to 2.8 million residents who will not benefit from the tax rebates or ­increased allowances in the budget.

Most of them are in the lower-income groups, such as retired elderly people, who deserve such a special one-off grant.

Hilton Cheong-Leen, To Kwa Wan

Singaporeans too busy for tale of imagined rivalry

I am writing in response to Peter Kammerer’s ode to Hong Kong, at Singapore’s expense (Stop comparing Hong Kong with Singapore”, March 26)

Hong Kong’s gain of Mr Kammerer’s storytelling skills is sadly Singapore’s loss. This is most telling from his swiftness in rehashing the well-worn stereotype that the Lion City is a benign dictatorship populated by brainwashed, boring and docile robots.

How can the so-called rivalry between Hong Kong and Singapore ever be considered one-sided in the latter’s favour when the former has opinion makers like Mr Kammerer on their side?

Hong Kong is the place to be for him. So be it. I am happy for him, and envious of the city’s confidence, ability and humility to procrastinate with charm and give the city state a head start across a variety of industries, and learn from it at the same time.

And so must be the many Asian expatriates who continue to vote for Singapore as the best place to be in Asia, lest they too are dismissed by Kammerer as brain-dead zombies who are incapable of thinking for themselves.

Unlike some Hong Kong residents, pragmatic Singaporeans have simply too much on their hands chasing their rainbows, as dictated by the founding father of the republic, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, to be obsessed with this so-called tale of rivalry between the two cities.

John Chan, Singapore

Expand minds and job skills on working holiday

The Labour Department is processing main round registrations for the certificate of sponsorship under the Hong Kong/UK working holiday scheme.

The government’s Working Holiday Scheme covers several other European countries – New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan and Korea, and aims to give youngsters a taste of living and working in a foreign culture.

Going on a working holiday can be a unique and unforgettable learning experience for youngsters. It helps us acquire vital life skills. As newcomers, we may encounter culture shock and language barriers. To overcome these, we have to learn to be flexible and learn the local language, and interact more with people.

This develops our communication skills, self-confidence, ­resilience and interpersonal skills, and so enhances personal development. We are also able to interact better with the locals, and can gain an in-depth understanding of their culture, thereby advancing our knowledge and understanding of the world.

This international exposure and working experience enables us to increase our competitiveness in the job market.

Matthew Lin Kai-him, Tai Po

Vaping helps smokers who wish to quit

I refer to your report on more Hong Kong smokers taking up vaping (“Vaping on the rise as smoker numbers fall”, March 22).

The article said although fewer people are smoking regularly, there is an “alarming” trend of smokers turning to e-cigarettes, which has the government “very concerned”. Many people, therefore, have called for a ban on ­e-cigarettes. But I disagree.

Vaping devices do not burn ­tobacco, so the level of harmful chemicals released is believed to be reduced, making them a good alternative for smokers of conventional cigarettes.

Vaping is also an effective tool for smokers who want to quit, ­allowing them to simulate and replicate the experience of smoking traditional cigarettes. Instead of an outright ban, introduce regulation to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s. Let’s strike a balance, protect children on the one hand, and ensure the freedom of choice on the other.

Yip Wing Yi, Yau Yat Chuen