Letters to the Editor, May 16, 2015
Pan-dems can learn from UK election result
One of several surprises, among the results announced in the general election in Britain, was that the Liberal Democrats, Britain's long-time centre-left political party, was devastated, losing almost 50 of its seats, and reduced to a small rump of eight seats.
Stephen Vines in his excellent article ("No reason for pan-democrats to walk into a reform trap", May 9) made me think of a lesson the Hong Kong pan- democrats, and the Hong Kong public, can draw from the British election.
The generally cited reason for the Lib-Dem collapse was its cooperation with the Conservative Party in a formal coalition for the past five years. The British public felt betrayed.
I think if the Hong Kong pan-democrats do not veto the government's so-called reform proposal and allow it to go through the Legislative Council in June, the Hong Kong electorate will punish them in a similar manner in elections next year for the new Legislative Council, similar to what happened to the Lib Dems on May 7.
In other words, they will be risking oblivion, for their perceived betrayal of their own promises and Hong Kong's core values, which they have always stood up for.
For that reason, I hope, like many other people, that the pan-democrats stick to their guns against great pressure, and veto the so-called reform proposal which has been foisted on Hong Kong.
Michael Share, Macau
Concessions needed on both sides
I refer to your editorial ("For HK's sake, let reforms pass", April 23).
The pan-democrats and central government remain poles apart over the proposed political reforms for the election of the chief executive in 2017.
However, why should the pan-democrats be the only ones who compromise? Under "one country, two systems", Hong Kong should be allowed to determine what policy will be adopted with the consent of the central government. However, the pan-democrats have to take responsibility for the stand-offs and confrontation and ask how effective they have been.
I do not think the Occupy Central movement and other protests have edged us closer to achieving democracy.
These actions were not constructive and caused turmoil.
I would like rational negotiations to take place in an effort to narrow the differences. And in the spirit of fairness, I would like to see concessions being given by both sides.
Chan Ka-wing, Sha Tin
SNP offers utopian society in Scotland
The general election results in the UK showed that clearly there has been a seismic shift in the mood and aspirations of people especially in Scotland.
It is interesting that a party that has achieved 1.45 million votes out of a total population of 60 million people is now the third largest in the UK.
Meanwhile, the UK Independence Party, which also has supporters across the UK, including Scotland and Wales, with 3.8 million total votes, received only one seat.
The Scottish National Party is promising a new, fairer and utopian society in Scotland, but while SNP grass-roots members give out donations at food banks, party leader Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers have awarded themselves pay rises, which means she now earns more that Prime Minister David Cameron.
I also find it ironic that the actor Sean Connery, who supports the SNP, is apparently so proud to be Scottish he won't live in Scotland, presumably for tax reasons.
The UK deficit in relation to its gross domestic product is among the largest in the world, and the SNP proposes to spend even more than Britain, or indeed Scotland, actually has, which isn't logical.
It was a Scottish-led (Blair-Brown) Labour government which emptied the British treasury for the decade after 1997.
Any SNP influence on the rest of Britain will only be negative and divisive since it opposes the very union of our country. Some of its supporters refer to the Union flag as "the butcher's apron".
However, interestingly, it was a Scots general Douglas Haig who sent a million Britons to their deaths in the first world war, most of whom were English, and a good chunk Welsh, Irish and Anzacs.
If any UK government invests in Scotland and creates jobs, the SNP will surely take credit, but for anything that goes wrong north of the border from here on, it will surely be somehow the evil doing of Westminster.
I've always been a believer in the union of Great Britain but it may actually be fairer on the rest of the UK at this juncture to actually cut ties fully.
N. Poole, Singapore
Paltry fine does not deter illegal parking
Mark Peaker is spot on ("Police lethargic about illegal parking", May 14): the fixed penalty of HK$320 for illegal parking is the biggest bargain left in town.
I even tried it one time and got to park all day in a convenient street location blatantly in violation of the law, for less than it would cost in a shopping mall car park.
I dropped a tissue accidentally from my pocket one time and a Food and Environmental Hygiene Department officer slapped me with a HK$1,500 ticket for littering.
I guess that errant loose tissue presented more of a public nuisance and social hazard than parking and blocking traffic illegally.
Hong kong really has its priorities right.
Bernard Lo, Mid-Levels
Teach children to lead healthy lifestyles
I refer to the report ("Cancer alert as unhealthy Hongkongers ignore warning signs", April 23).
More Hongkongers face the risk of getting heart disease and cancer. And a survey by the Department of Health has shown that many of them are not doing enough to reduce the risks they face of contracting serious diseases. They continue with unhealthy habits.
Consequently some people will die at a much younger age than they need to and this is something that has to change. Citizens must try to adopt healthier lifestyles if they want to live longer.
They need to eat sensibly (for example, avoid too much salt), exercise regularly and make sure they get enough rest.
It is important to get these positive lifestyle messages across at an early age, and therefore education is important.
Parents and schools should make it a priority to teach children about the importance of good nutrition and an exercise regime.
I realise it is difficult to kick bad habits, but we all have to try and cut the risk of contracting a serious illness by becoming more aware of the need to make healthy choices.
Tina Ho, Kowloon Tong
School is transparent about finances
I refer to the report, "Parents protest over school's fee rise" (May 14), which requires clarification.
The Canadian International School recently communicated with its parent community to provide full disclosure on its finances for the previous year, which was not mentioned in your story.
Tuition fees relate to operating income and one should compare operating income with operating surplus.
In fact, for the year ended July 31, 2014, the school recorded an operating fund surplus of just HK$10 million, and that would have been a loss of HK$5 million if not for donations contributed from the school's first annual fund, which raised a total of HK$16.5 million.
As noted in the accounts, annual fund money raised during 2013-14 is held on the balance sheet, mostly in the operating fund, but some in the capital and scholarship funds, and will be used for projects previously promised to the school community.
The report said that "the price of these bonds at the Canadian school has also risen substantially, from HK$300,000 in 2007 to HK$900,000 this year".
In fact, the price in 2007 was HK$420,000.
Canadian International School has always been and will remain open and transparent regarding its finances and anything else that may impact on the learning experience for our students.
Melanie Hnetka, development and communications manager, Canadian International School of Hong Kong
A rewarding career for young people
I agree with those who welcomed the decision announced in the chief executive's policy address to launch the Navigation Scheme for Young Persons in Care Services.
It enables youngsters with modest academic results to obtain a diploma in health studies and then work in the sector providing care services for elderly citizens.
This scheme can help deal in part with the shortage of caregivers for the elderly and it offers young citizens a career path. This is important, given how difficult it is to find a decent job in Hong Kong.
Youngsters have often been reluctant to do this kind of job, feeling it was unskilled, but now they will be awarded with a diploma, so will be recognised as skilled personnel.
With this qualification now being available, hopefully young people will not look down on the important job of being a caregiver.
The scheme also helps the elderly as more of them will be able to stay at home rather than having to go into a care home.
Katrina Lo, Tseung Kwan O