Letters to the Editor, May 11, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 May, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 May, 2015, 12:01am

Government must act on hours law

After a series of meetings and consultations, the Standard Working Hours Committee concluded that employees' working hours should be regulated.

However, instead of setting specific working hours for different occupations, the committee suggested that employers should reach an agreement with their employees on the hours of work and overtime arrangement through contract provision.

The proposal has drawn fierce criticism from lawmakers who represent the labour sector.

They have argued that this idea would not pressure employers to improve the working conditions of their employees and would, in effect, normalise the exploitation of employees.

A spokesman for the committee said any legislative framework should not be too rigid since the impact of the proposal is still unclear. I am not convinced by such a comment and think it shows a bias towards the business sector.

It is generally accepted that employers should pay a genuine price for over-utilising their labour resources. But, similar to the introduction of the statutory minimum wage, the chance of reaching a consensus is slim without government intervention.

The government needs to take a stand on this issue.

The administration should take the lead by reviewing the overtime arrangements of civil servants and demonstrate to Hong Kong people that the interest of the public is really top of its agenda.

Stanley Ip, Tseung Kwan O

Clean-ups at beaches make a difference

I could not agree more with Sally Lo ("More hands needed to clear beach litter", April 27).

Last month I was privileged to join WWF, Plastic Free Seas and other volunteers on a trip to the tragically named "Lap Sap Wan" (Trash Bay) on the south side of Hong Kong Island, where more hands are most certainly required.

This area is Hong Kong's Vanuatu, Maldives, Midway Atoll, or any other remote location where the by-products of our convenient and disposal lifestyles of the last few decades have been washing up.

If the debris were in its pre-processed form (oil), it would be considered a disaster. What most people see - the big bits - is only the tip of the problem. It is the micro plastic that is being ingested that we should all be worried about.

The good news is that Hong Kong (and the rest of the world) has some great people dedicated to cleaning up and educating people about how our consumer choices turn out not to be so convenient or disposal after all.

On the day I was at Lap Sap Wan, nine volunteers proved how easy it is to make a difference by collecting 2,064 plastic bottles in just 30 minutes. Imagine what we could do with more people.

The great thing about this activity is that just about anyone can do it. No special qualifications, experience or status are necessary.

We just need to care, and to be willing and able to change our habits.

Jo Wilson, Living Lamma

Puzzling Legco motion on reforms

The Hong Kong government is spending enormous sums of our money on promoting its political reform proposal. So it is surprising that it was apparently too tight-fisted to spend a few thousand dollars on hiring someone literate to proofread the English text of its motion to Legco.

When I read "In the event that the office of chief executive becomes vacant … the term of office of the new chief executive shall be the remainder of the previous chief executive", I have visions of the outgoing chief executive leaving an arm or a leg behind for his successor.

Rod Parkes, Tai Po 

Democrats should show united front

I hope that Civic Party members are not so gullible as to believe that opposition to the small-circle election for the chief executive will result in a dead end for the party.

Almost 20 years ago, through these columns, I raised a very similar concern when then lawmaker Christine Loh Kung-wai argued that she must consider joining the provisional Legco having been urged by her supporters. Legco at that time also had many democratic members who were not Beijing friendly.

The sky didn't fall and it won't now, in spite of what Alex Lo would like to suggest ("A stealth revolution in the Civic Party", May 2). The Civic Party should stay united with the other democrats.

Anthony Lee, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia

New rule has really eased overcrowding

I am a Sheung Shui resident and have noticed that there are now fewer people with unwieldy luggage on roads in the town, and at pharmacies and fewer Putonghua speakers.

To a certain extent, I think the new rule restricting Shenzhen residents to one visit a week has eased the problem of overcrowding.

Before the new rule was introduced, there were so many mainland visitors and parallel traders with huge bags, boxes and suitcases blocking pavements. It was really troublesome to residents. I don't know about the long term, but at least the policy is working at the moment.

Eileen Chan Hei-poon, Sheung Shui

Boom times for pharmacies now over

I think the new policy restricting Shenzhen residents to weekly visits to Hong Kong can solve the problem of parallel trading.

According to one survey, most visitors on multiple-entry visas were not staying overnight in Hong Kong. They simply used their visas to take back goods to trade. In other words, they were not here as tourists.

With residents from Shenzhen restricted to this once-a-week rule, Hong Kong will be less overcrowded and this will be more comfortable for local residents in the worst-affected areas.

I also think we will see changes to local retail business models. Many clothes and food shops closed in places like Sheung Shui and Fanling and reopened as pharmacies to meet the demand for daily necessities from parallel traders.

We will not see as many of these pharmacies in the future.

Cheung Ching-man, Fanling

Manny's loss may lead to presidency

Why did I feel like I was living back in 30BC, imagining the lions devour their human victims in Rome's coliseum while the mobs revelled in the spectacle, while reading an online blog about the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather?

Today's gladiators and their handlers who make colossal amounts of money providing this bizarre entertainment for the masses are an interesting phenomenon.

Simon Parry's fine article ("The making of Manny," May 3) that provides the background to a David and Goliath tale could be seen as relevant today as it shows how an economically depressed country will glorify any display of "superior skill" to counter the apparently overwhelming force of the developed world. Indeed Filipinos sometimes use the phrase "small but terrible" to describe anyone possessing true grit.

So the sense of having been cheated, after the Las Vegas bout, which was felt personally by many Filipinos, is understandable since it mirrors the frustration of not being treated fairly by those in power.

It's possible that, just as Corazon Aquino's death resulted in the wave of sympathy that catapulted her son into the presidency, Pacquiao's loss will do the same for his political career. That may be a stretch but another entertainer, former film star Joseph Estrada, was elected president.

May I just point out that amid the hoopla over Pacquiao's "magic fists", it's Filipino women with their magic hands (which don't earn them a fortune) who serve households everywhere with no fanfare.

Isabel Escoda, Lantau

Fight against corruption never ends

The ICAC is still held in high regard by Hong Kong citizens.

However, problems within the organisation in recent years have dented its reputation.

People are concerned about a possible growth in corruption and worried that graft might spread here as it has done north of the border. That would be totally unacceptable.

No one has the right to act dishonestly, no matter who they are or how rich they may be.

ICAC must maintain high moral standards and fight injustice.

There can be no fair competition when corruption is tolerated in a society. Therefore, all citizens have a responsibility to report suspected graft so that Hong Kong can maintain a clean business environment.

The government needs to launch a campaign raising awareness about the need to battle graft, and it should focus in particular on schools so that the message about the need to have a clean society is understood by the next generation.

Wu Yim-hung, To Kwa Wan