Letters to the Editor, April 16, 2015
Set up border sales areas for parallel traders
Hong Kong has always been a free-trade port and it should stay that way.
The problems created by parallel traders taking large quantities of milk powder (and other products) to Shenzhen should not be dealt with by harsh regulations, penalties or having forced screening at the border.
The solution is to allocate small pieces of land in Hong Kong near the Lok Ma Chau border crossings - the control point and the station.
Allow all Hong Kong importers of cans of milk formula to set up booths and freely sell unlimited quantities.
Also allow Sasa and similar shops to be set up there without any limits or restrictions on what they sell.
The parallel traders would find it easy to get to these locations from Shenzhen.
They should be free to negotiate and buy as many products as they can carry by themselves back across the border to Shenzhen.
There would then be no more disruption to supplies of tins of formula to mothers who live in Sheung Shui, and no more chaos and congestion in places like Sha Tin and Causeway Bay.
Milk powder and cosmetics importers would make more money, and Hong Kong customs officers would not have to continue this cat-and-mouse game with the parallel traders.
It would be a win-win situation for everyone. Why can't the Hong Kong government understand this?
Navis I. Kim, Fo Tan
Have helpline number in suicide stories
Last week I listened to a very topical BBC World Service podcast The Why Factor about suicide, which said that there are over one million suicides worldwide per year.
The programme tried to analyse why people commit suicide and the catastrophic effect on those left behind, who are left wondering why.
It also highlighted the fact that whereas there is a doctor to fix your bones, doctors dealing with such conditions as psychological disorders are much less common.
Maybe, as a minimum, when a newspaper is reporting any suicide case, there should be a published helpline, which could help to prevent another casualty.
Further, more in-depth discussion on the complicated subject of suicide may help us recognise, prevent and support potential victims.
N. Pell, Happy Valley
Children in Syria losing everything
It was moving to see 700 Hongkongers participating in World Vision's "Run for Syrian Children", at Tseung Kwan O sports ground last month.
They wanted to express their care and support for the children suffering in that war-torn country.
The conflict, which has entered its fifth year, has claimed at least 220,000 lives, including 9,000 children. About 3.9 million Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries, while 7.6 million remain displaced inside Syria.
Because of the conflict, children are losing everything - family, friends, home, and any chance of an education.
In March, World Vision joined with 20 other humanitarian groups to criticise the UN Security Council powers. Despite three Security Council resolutions last year demanding action to secure protection and assistance for civilians, humanitarian access to large parts of Syria has diminished. Some 4.8 million people reside in areas defined by the UN as "hard to reach", 2.3 million more than in 2013.
More people are in need of help than ever before, including 5.6 million children, and the Security Council has failed to protect them or to alleviate their suffering. Ultimately, the Syrian people need peace. While a political solution is sought, civilians must be protected and assured access to humanitarian assistance.
Since May 2011, World Vision has been working in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq and assisted more than 1.8 million people through distributing blankets, hygiene kits and cash vouchers for food as well as helping Syrian children get back to school.
The Syrian conflict is the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world today and it deserves our continued care and support.
Amy Lau, senior communications officer, World Vision Hong Kong
Not enough back-to-work incentives
The chief executive announced in his policy address that the government would "increase the subsidised places of extended hours service provided by childcare centres and kindergarten-cum-childcare centres to some 6,200".
The aim of this measure is to tempt more mothers back into workforce, to help Hong Kong deal with its ageing population. While I back this measure, I do not think it goes far enough.
According to Social Welfare Department statistics, there are around 207,000 children aged below three. So 6,200 places will help only a tiny fraction of them. The government should foster a supportive environment for raising children, for instance, increasing the subsidised places to accommodate half of the toddlers who need them. I also welcome a pilot scheme to have childcare centres in government premises.
This is something that should be extended to cover different sectors in Hong Kong.
I would also like to see more workplaces offering additional family-friendly policies, such as flexible hours. If working parents enjoy a supportive environment, we could see a much-needed increase in the birth rate.
Mary Wong, Ngau Tau Kok
Internet can enhance learning
Many parents are now worried about the negative effect of their children using computers as part of their studies.
This is especially the case with those parents who left school with a low level of education. They are concerned that if their children spend too much time online, they could get addicted to the internet.
However, it is important to recognise computers can be an aid to traditional teaching methods. For example, students can have online debates. They can learn more on the internet about subjects they are studying.
I believe that more schools will incorporate online teaching.
Tory Liang, Ma On Shan
HSBC must look after its customers
I read with interest the story, "Charity shock at HSBC rejection" (April 12).
Having just moved back to Hong Kong, and needing to restart my banking relationship with HSBC, I have been struck by the level of incompetence that has made its way into the bank.
Given the noted problems that have faced the bank, it has now managed, through its failed leadership, to institutionalise an inability to act thoughtfully to address customer needs.
I must believe that on top of the thoughtlessness that went into the decision to deny this charity (Pour un Sourire d'Enfant) the opportunity to do its work, and my own modest, and negative, experiences dealing with the bank, there must be countless people and organisations getting similar treatment.
It is one thing to act responsibly in the wake of the bank failures in recent years. There is a need to take responsibility for ensuring that tax cheats, extremist terrorist groups, crooked business people, and the like, have no freewheeling ability to cheat or to fund dubious outlets for their nefarious activities.
However, HSBC and other bankers need to realise that many good and responsible people simply need to conduct legitimate business - personal and professional. And, this is where they have "lost the thread".
I can only say to HSBC and others that this is where strong, competent leadership is needed. Customers deserve better and HSBC can and should do a better job.
Mark Hooper, Pok Fu Lam
We should not let prejudice take over city
I note with interest that another "rude Chinese tourist" story has made scmp.com's most viewed section, with Amy Li's blog ("Why are Chinese tourists so rude? A few insights").
I do not think that such a blatantly discriminatory headline would be viewed as socially acceptable in most international cities, but it seems that anti-mainland rhetoric has become normal in our city.
I would like to urge Hong Kong residents to think hard about the anti-mainland sentiment running rampant in the city.
Hong Kong is an international city where people of different nationalities have generally mixed harmoniously.
While frustration with the influx of tourists that has sometimes overwhelmed the city's infrastructure is merited, it is wrong to react by allowing prejudice against mainlanders to take over our city.
Yes, being "pushy", "loud" and "unruly" is rude. But so is unabashed prejudice towards another group.
Amy Gunia, Happy Valley