No regard shown for shoppers
In praising the protesters at the Hung Hom Bay Centre ParknShop, and elevating his arguments to a political level, Andrew Guthrie ('Protesters should be praised for innovative ParknShop protest', May 10) has missed an entire human dimension of the issue - that of the rights and physical inconvenience of other shoppers.
By that, I am not referring to those potential shoppers in the streets, who, as Mr Guthrie suggests, can easily go elsewhere. I am concerned with the plight of shoppers (including the old and the infirm) trapped inside the store who were already queuing up with their purchases, and were thus greatly delayed and inconvenienced by the protesters' silly antics.
Given that Mr Guthrie acknowledges that different people can have different views and claims that political struggle sometimes includes violence, perhaps it is also permissible for shoppers and supermarket staff who are angered by those protesters to hurl verbal abuse and objects at the latter and physically shove them out of the store?
Our world would never become a better place if our activists merely looked at the big issues and failed to respect the basic rights and choices of fellow citizens.
Otherwise, it would merely be another form of tyranny in disguise.
Maggie W. C. Cheng, Quarry Bay
Fixed-rate mortgages the answer
The Hong Kong residential property market and financial markets are surely poised for the most painful tumble.
With our entire financial policy linked to that of the far weaker US economy, and with the absurd over-focus on keeping land supply scarce thanks to Hong Kong's biggest property company (aka, the Hong Kong government), prices have been pushed up. And, yes, it's a bubble. Don't listen to the estate agents.
It also means that when the rest of the world is doing well and the general cost of money increases as interest rates go up, Hong Kong will be doomed and in for a long period of property-derived misery as monthly loan repayments skyrocket.
There is a way of doing something about it and stabilising the market - having fixed-rate mortgages that apply for the entire life of a loan at a fair interest rate. Right now, these products are on offer but for a very short number of years and at a price over double the floating rate.
Such a long-term product could be offered by banks, but, of course 'why should we?' is their quiet response. Why, indeed, when the prospects of monthly mortgage repayments tripling and quadrupling are on the cards and their net interest margins increasing. The government adjusting the stamp duty rate by a smidgeon at that time to resurrect buyer enthusiasm will be a futile act.
Yet you can fix your mortgage in the US, that same economy to which we must inexorably be tethered for fear of our economic doom. You can get a 30-year mortgage in America at a fixed rate.
If we had the same product here, the imminent age of hyperinflation and unaffordable debt would be avoided. People could budget accurately for loan repayments, rather than take a speculative view on affordability, and the cycle would be broken.
Simon Osborne, Pok Fu Lam
Have yoga exercises in classroom
I refer to your editorial ('Our children suffering unnecessary pain', May 7).
You suggested a very practical solution, that 'getting the right balance has to be a community-wide effort' and that the 'process has to be driven by government policies'.
I believe that to attain this ideal of a disease-free society, the one essential factor is 20 to 30 minutes of yoga comprising correct breathing techniques and a few physical postures suitable for different age groups.
Yoga is a time-tested science of perfect health and a healthy mind and there are enough genuine teachers still available.
This pure science is no longer confined to India alone. Our government is spending millions of dollars and human resources to provide health care at various levels. If a part of this funding could be allocated to the provision of yoga education in every classroom for 20 minutes, maybe twice a week, the effects could be felt within a year.
I and many of my friends are living testimony to the efficacy of yoga as the king of all sciences. I urge people to give it a try.
K. P. Daswani, Mid-Levels
Ambulance policy will be time-wasting
Under a new policy, patients can request to be driven to a private hospital by public ambulances ('Take me to a private hospital, driver', May 5).
Hospital Authority medical staff are already overworked and resources will be misused. Before the policy change, all patients were taken to the nearest public hospital emergency room regardless of their condition and the urgency of treating it. The chief secretary of the Fire Services Department Ambulancemen's Union has said the policy will lead to arguments if patients insist on going to private hospitals.
There is no doubt the new policy can reduce the pressure on public hospitals since some patients will choose to go to a private facility. Yet ambulances are supposed to take patients in urgent need to the nearest public hospital.
They should not be seen as a form of public transport which can take us wherever we want.
It may only take a few minutes to transport a person to the nearest emergency room but the trip to the private hospital could take longer, and this could mean the ambulance is delayed getting to a number of people whose cases are urgent.
To me, it is not a good idea to have this new policy.
The patients can choose to be taken to the hospital which they want. It may lead to abuse of resources and free services.
People should be taken to the nearest hospital. A private hospital should provide its own ambulance service for those patients who want to go there.
Viki Leung, Kowloon City
Elite club proposal is impractical
The government's proposal for elite private clubs to allow schools, welfare groups and sports associations to apply to use their facilities during the weekend may appear to be a gesture of goodwill. However, it is impractical, if not downright stupid.
Clubs have to cater to the needs of their members and their busiest time is during the weekend. What good would it do if leasing conditions were changed and the clubs could no longer function normally? Also, the government proposes outside bodies should approach private clubs directly. Who in the club will manage these booking arrangements and ensure the public groups are treated fairly?
Who will provide the extra funding to the external organisations to hire coaches to help the target groups learn a new sport, or engage in an activity that requires specialised training?
The government should focus more on distributing wealth more equally and more realistically rather than going ahead with measures that are potentially divisive and impractical.
Kris Chui On-yan, Mong Kok
Textbook prices hurt poor families
I think the problem of rising textbook prices is getting worse. It is imposing an even greater financial burden on parents.
Families on low incomes just cannot afford the price hikes. The government should be taking action to deal with this problem.
The administration is already unpopular with many citizens. That can only get worse if it does not find some way to help these families. It should be trying to ensure social harmony.
Katiryn Cheung Suen, Hung Hom
Minimum wage law has grey areas
While the minimum-wage law will help some low-income families, it appears some employers are trying to evade their responsibilities.
Aspects of the legislation are vague and this loophole has been exploited.
The government should fine-tune the ordinance and define clearly if workers should be paid for lunch and toilet breaks.
It should already have done more in the area of education, because some employees may not be clear about their rights and whether they are being cheated.
Yu Kam-ling, Sheung Shui