Letters to the Editor, May 12, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 May, 2015, 5:49pm
UPDATED : Monday, 11 May, 2015, 5:49pm

MPF's fund expense ratio has dropped

I refer to the letter by Doug Miller on the Mandatory Provident Fund ("MPF nest egg should not be determined on whims of market", May 1) in reply to my letter ("MPF returns higher than inflation rate", April 20).

Your correspondent asked about the "comparable figure for management fees and the annualised percentage".

The average fund expense ratio (FER) of all MPF funds has dropped 23 per cent from 2.1 per cent in December 2007 to the current 1.62 per cent.

As for the MPF system's yearly annualised internal rate of return (which is net of fees and charges), it was 4.2 per cent for 2013/14 and 6.4 per cent for 2012/13. The annualised internal rate of return for 2014/15 is not yet available.

Your reader and others may wish to know that the average FER of all funds and the FER of individual funds are updated every month on the fee comparative platform on the website of the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority, which can be accessed online http://cplatform.mpfa.org.hk/MPFA/english/index.jsp

The annualised internal rate of return of the MPF System for every financial year is also available in our quarterly Statistical Digest (table III.5.I) which is also posted on our website for public viewing http://www.mpfa.org.hk/eng/information_centre/statistics/mpf_schemes_statistical_digest/files/Dec_2014_Issue.pdf

Betty Chan, head, external affairs division, Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority 

Pointless plea to stand still on escalator

The Hong Kong authorities' preoccupation with health and safety is sometimes amusing and sometimes very frustrating.

Take the MTR Corporation's continual exhortations to "stand still on the escalator and don't walk".

To Hong Kong's credit, people are learning to ignore the instruction - either standing on the right or if in a hurry walking on the left - as one would expect in an international city where time is money for many people.

This system has been in place for as long as I can remember in London. The London Underground has 430 escalators and carries 1.265 billion passengers a year.

As far as I know there has never been an accident because someone was walking on the escalator.

Why does the MTR underrate the ability of Hong Kong's population to match London's. Come on MTR, encourage an efficient use of your facilities and contribute to Hong Kong being Asia's world city.

Christopher Wood, Discovery Bay

Try to make mobile users more aware

The problem of what is known as "distracted walking" is becoming more serious.

It is a term for people who walk on the street while having their heads down looking at devices such as mobile phones.

Because they are not paying attention to their surroundings, accidents do happen and there have been suggestions that action should be taken regarding this, such as banning the use of mobile by pedestrians on streets.

I think the introduction of this kind of legislation would be impractical. Any law needs to be enforced and making sure this law was obeyed would mean deploying a lot of manpower.

How could police target all pedestrians who were using their mobiles while walking? There would not be enough officers to do this.

Also, it would be impossible to ensure all tourists knew about the law and for them it would not make sense, especially when they are using online maps to find locations in Hong Kong.

What matters is to raise public awareness about the risks posed by distracted walking to the people doing it and to other pedestrians. They need to be made to appreciate how dangerous it can be.

Wong Nok-lam, Sai Kung 

Many elderly citizens are traders

The aim of the new regulation to restrict Shenzhen residents to visit Hong Kong once a week is to solve the problem of parallel trading. I do not think it will be eliminated.

It may lead to a reduction of those traders who come from the mainland. However, a lot of Hong Kong residents are also involved in this trade. There are no visa restrictions being placed on them and they are free to cross the border with quantities of goods which are still in great demand on the mainland, such as baby formula and other necessities.

They will continue to be involved in this trade while they are able to earn high sums of money on a daily basis.

They can make much more than they would doing other jobs.

Some of these people may be elderly and they are concerned about being a financial burden on their families.

If they are involved in this trade they can ease that financial burden.

The business of parallel trading is still thriving and you still see large numbers of people at stations close to the border such as Fanling and Sheung Shui.

This leaves less space for local residents to walk along the street and prices of essential goods in local stores keep rising. This causes problems, especially for families on low incomes.

The government has to strike a balance. Revenue from mainland tourism is important, but the administration must do more to curb parallel trading.

Linda Yeung, Sheung Shui

Fines can curb misbehaving passengers

The issue of people misbehaving on public transport systems in Hong Kong has been getting worse over the last few months.

The culprits can be visitors from the mainland, but also Hong Kong citizens.

When these incidents happen and are made public it can adversely affect the image of Hong Kong.

There has been criticism of fellow passengers who use their smartphones to film or take photographs of these incidents and then upload them on the internet.

The internet forum then becomes like a kind of court with other online users acting as judges.

People who were involved in the incident are in effect "sentenced without trial".

It is up to the government to have by-laws in place which outlaw certain kinds of behaviour, such as taking off your shoes and putting your feet on seats while on public transport. And these by-laws should be enforced, with stiff fines imposed.

If passengers know that they can be identified and then punished, they are more likely to act properly.

If the government does not act the bad behaviour will continue.

Eva Chow, Tseung Kwan O

Firms do not always behave in ethical way

I am concerned about business ethics in Hong Kong.

Such ethics cover many areas, including how a company treats its employees and deals with its competitors, creditors, customers and the environment.

They relate to social and moral responsibility.

One area where there is room for improvement, is connected to the claims some firms make when advertising their products.

You read about a brand of toothpaste which can kill virtually all bacteria, but the manufacturer will stop short of saying by 100 per cent which would contravene the Trade Description Ordinance and get into trouble.

The Consumer Council should definitely tighten its control over the market, especially when it comes to advertising. The priority is to ensure consumers' rights are protected.

Also, I feel that there are a lot of grey areas and the government should look again at the ordinance and identify where it is necessary to lay down clearer regulations.

The government has to do more to maintain an ethical business environment in Hong Kong.

If it's widely recognised that business ethics are encouraged and adhered to by the administration and by companies, this could help Hong Kong's competitiveness with mainland cities.

The city would be likely to attract more foreign investors and enhance its status as an international trade centre.

Any loopholes in the ordinance need to be plugged and there must be clearer regulations.

Jasmine Poon, Yau Yat Chuen 

Human rights record has not improved

The case of Chinese journalist Gao Yu, 71, reveals the true colours of Beijing's repressive human rights policies.

Her seven-year sentence for allegedly sending internal Communist Party "Document No 9" to a US-based news website, a charge which she denies, says less about Ms Gao than China's dismal human-rights abuses under President Xi Jinping.

As The Wall Street Journal editorial put it, "Governments that lock up grandmothers for exposing paranoid directives will never be able to unlock the genius of their own people".

That even the elderly and infirm have become vulnerable to Mr Xi's "Leninist politics" and "thought control" is becoming increasingly apparent as the case of Ms Gao reveals.

Alas, there is little evidence that China's human rights abuses under Mao Zedong have diminished under Mr Xi.

Brian Stuckey, Denver, Colorado, US