Letters to the Editor, April 21, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 April, 2015, 5:11pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 April, 2015, 5:11pm

Ip picks biases that suit her purpose

It is probably not surprising that Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee's views on discrimination are a little unbalanced. While she has been vocal in encouraging Hong Kong people not to be prejudiced against mainland tourists in the recent "locusts" debate, it appears she is unashamed in her clearly discriminatory views on Filipino helpers and their "sexually predatory/social climbing" ways ("Ip stands by 'seductive' maids claim", April 18).

Her latter views appear to rely solely on anecdotal stories of expat women who have sought her assistance to protect their marriages from these "evil helpers".

The reality, based on more than just a few stories, is that women who have no power and no money (and, in small Hong Kong apartments, no privacy), are much more likely to be victims of abuse than cunning manipulators.

However, as mentioned, this imbalance in views is not unexpected. Ip needs to keep her northern bosses happy - because their nod is critical to her bid to be Hong Kong's next chief executive. And finding a minority group upon which to heap prejudice in order to distract people from their domestic woes is always a good ploy to get votes.

Let's just hope Hong Kong people want a leader with more consistent values.

Kym Fortescue, Wan Chai


Pity the defenceless married men

Shame on you, Regina Ip, for not providing a law that forbids foreign married men in Discovery Bay from bedding their domestic helpers.

My heart also goes out to those poor defenceless foreign men under such onerous attacks, with the odds clearly stacked against them and not even the law to come to their rescue.

Personally, I always lock my husband up in a basement (legal) before I leave the house, for his own protection.

Michelle Han, Clear Water Bay


Many ways to control bed bugs

In January, the Global Bed Bug Summit attracted over 400 participants to Denver, Colorado. As it is an active season for bed bugs in Hong Kong, let me convey to the bed bug victims here in Hong Kong how the Americans have been doing battling bed bugs. The outburst of bed bug cases in the US, which started about 15 years ago, has tailed off eventually.

There is good and bad news. I learned from the summit that the amount spent on fighting the problem has plateaued for the three years to 2013, which means the bed bug problem remains, but it has not worsened. The bad news is there are no silver bullets in sight to resolve it.

The common methods to treat bed bugs in the US involved both the passive and active methods. The passive ways include the use of monitors, traps, mattress encasements, clutter removal of hiding places, desiccant dusts to detect and trap the bed bugs. The active approaches are those that include the use of steam, vacuum, heat treatment or cryonite, and chamber fumigation.

There are several problems with the use of chemicals: firstly, there are many products but too little efficacy information; secondly, it poses a threat to health; thirdly, they have limited application value once they have dried; fourthly, they have no effect unless there is head-on application against bed bugs; and lastly, many populations of bed bugs have developed resistance to the chemicals.

Apart from the above physical and chemical measures, added to the list is the use of sniffing dogs for detection.

For the near future, the problem of bed bugs will continue to trouble households in the US. And because of the convenience of international travel, it is conceivable that the problem might be exported to Hong Kong or to all major cities in China.

The potential of bed bug outbreaks is likely inevitable, as increasing pockets of infestation in major cities have been recorded to date.

Dr Eric Cheng, senior lecturer, division of building science and technology, City University of Hong Kong


Artists need support to develop craft

Jake van der Kamp, in deriding the folly of spending HK$23 billion on a parking lot [at the West Kowloon Cultural District], describes leisure as the pre-condition for creating a cultural hub ("To encourage the arts, spread city's wealth widely", April 14). That strikes me as exactly right as concerns the appreciation of significant artworks; less so about their creation.

True, many successful writers and artists alternate between high-pressure work and free-spirited exploration almost at will. Struggling artists do not enjoy the same privilege, however. Moreover, many great artists of the past - think of Michelangelo or Shakespeare - and a host of less known but equally proficient ones worked under gruellingly tight schedules. What they had in spades was not time but craft.

Craft takes time to acquire, and can only be passed on by good teachers, ideally in small groups. For this to materialise, an investment in education must be made. Yet all we hear is talk of no reduction in class sizes, as there is a decline in birth rates.

It is in this context that the thought of spending billions on an utterly mundane piece of infrastructure ought to give one pause.

Giorgio Biancorosso, Happy Valley


Healthy, happy children need their playtime

Unicef Hong Kong has called on parents here to allow their children more playtime. Yet, teachers, tutors and parents are giving more and more homework to the kids.

Nowadays, children aren't allowed to play outside if they haven't finished their homework, even if they asked for a break. I have heard children arguing with their parents over homework at 11pm.

It is true that academic performance often determines the children's future. But is giving so much homework really good for the children?

Games can relax the children. Under high pressure, children cannot do their homework properly, which is a cause of countless battles between nervous parents and tired children.

When the pressure becomes unbearable, children will suffer mental problems.

Teachers and parents should remember that health is much more important than academic performance. Without health, an excellent academic performance is not worth anything. Let the children kick a ball and breathe the fresh air outside.

Henry Wong, Kennedy Town


Difficult to get airspace concession

During the presentation the Airport Authority was giving to the Town Planning Board on April 10, Wilson Fung Wing-yip, the authority's executive director of corporate development, broached a future master plan being drafted wherein a study would be carried out into the need for a fourth runway or even a replacement airport.

Better late than never, this planning work.

But it is hoped the logistics of the planning work will not be "cart before the horse" this time, so that the need for a fourth runway or otherwise will be identified before resources are committed to add the third runway to Chek Lap Kok. For it is patently obvious that there is no possibility of adding a fourth runway at Chek Lap Kok.

The crux of the "third runway at Chek Lap Kok" airspace cloud we're under is simply whether the mainland authorities had given the specific blessing for traffic from the third runway to turn north so that at least two of the three runways can be operated independent of each other, to enable a total capacity of 102 movements to be achieved.

The rest is empty talk.

This is by no means an easy concession to grant, considering the criss-crossing between each other's traffic, as can be seen on the diagram attached to the report "Airspace conflict could hold back third runway" (January 23).

If it was easy, it would have been granted for traffic from the present north runway to turn north, to enable the present two runways to operate independent of each other, achieving far more than the 68 movements an hour projected for later this year.

The quest for this concession is what started the umpteen tripartite meetings, starting before 1997.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan


Development must balance different needs

Since the number of passengers has rocketed, the airport undoubtedly needs expansion. Nevertheless, I do not agree with the current plans on the construction of the third runway.

To begin with, the government is not concerned with and does not want to put any effort into environmental conservation. The area where land reclamation will take place is a habitat for many sea animals, including the Chinese white dolphins. The government has proposed to build a nature reserve after building the runway. This is useless as the sea animals are not going to come back after we have destroyed their habitat and polluted the sea.

I am not against the construction of a third runway, but the government should strike a balance between the natural environment and the economy for sustainable development.

Tracy So, Yau Tong