Letters to the Editor, June 13, 2015

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 June, 2015, 5:28pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 June, 2015, 5:28pm

We miss so much of city's heritage

I could not agree more with Fanny W. Y. Fung's column ('On the trail of Hong Kong heritage", June 6) that we must do more to raise awareness of local cultural heritage.

In fact, examples of our heritage are to be found everywhere in Hong Kong, from ancient temples to colonial architecture. However, the lifestyle of Hongkongers is often so hectic that many of us do not notice these slices of local history and culture even in our neighbourhoods.

They are important because many of the historic structures which are associated with the collective memories of generations of Hongkongers have been bulldozed, such as Queen's Pier and Ho Tung Gardens.

At the moment, I am working on a liberal studies project about the archaeological discovery in To Kwa Wan last year. People I have interviewed, including historians and activists, believe that it is the lack of an up-to-date heritage policy, and the unwillingness of the government to take more action that has undermined heritage preservation in this city.

The government must overhaul its heritage conservation policy and ensure better promotion of the city's monuments and other aspects of our cultural heritage.

Only when the public awareness of heritage conservation is enhanced will locals and visitors have a better understanding and appreciation of our unique history and culture.

Ben L. P. Tsang, Yuen Long 

Give helpers more time to find work

In Hong Kong, we are very privileged to have access to a good education, a shelter, and a family that can support us.

However, the unsung heroes of Hong Kong are the foreign domestic helpers, who are a core part of many Hongkongers' lives.

They work hard to help us in our homes without having equal access to the privileges we are fortunate enough to enjoy. Often, on top of not getting enough pay, many are overworked and deprived of enough rest days. It is also not uncommon to hear stories of helpers who are physically abused or verbally harassed.

They should, for example, have access to quality health care.

Of the more than 320,000 foreign domestic helpers who live in Hong Kong, roughly 4 per cent of Hong Kong's population, the majority are from Indonesia and the Philippines, with many others coming from Thailand, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar.

They cook, clean, and take care of our families, yet they are subjected to different laws than other immigrants due to the private nature of their contracts. The separation of labour and immigration law makes these workers susceptible to abuse and, often, they are treated with disrespect and exploited.

When their contracts are terminated, they have just two weeks to find a new job. The government must withdraw the two-week rule.

This policy was created to prevent domestic helpers from staying in Hong Kong for too long without employment.

However, employers often take advantage of it and it makes helpers vulnerable as they have too much to lose if they get into a disagreement with employers.

They must be given a more realistic time frame to find a new job, say, around three months.

Also, the government should have programmes so that all helpers fully understand their rights.

Finally, the courts should impose harsher penalties for employers who are found guilty of abusing their helpers.

Deanna Yiu, Tai Wai 

Blatter's long goodbye is bad for Fifa

The end of Sepp Blatter's long tenure as president of Fifa and his semi-enforced departure clears the way to start reforming football's world governing body.

The culture of audacious impunity and rich self-entitlement that has long tarnished the movers and shakers of the world's most popular sport must be removed.

The process would be less contentious if Mr Blatter's backtrack was a clean break, and if he had left Fifa's top post with immediate effect.

He has said he will remain in charge until a special congress is convened. This prevents the appointment of an interim president. Such a person could start to implement the reforms that are needed and prepare for the next election for president sometime between December and March.

Many Fifa officials will probably resist cooperating with US and Swiss investigators and will not want to open details of salaries and internal procedures to public scrutiny.

Inertia on instituting safeguards against bribery will remain, as well as the uncertainties that tainted the bidding processes under which Russia and Qatar won their rights to the next two world cups.

It is time for Mr Blatter to vacate Fifa's throne unconditionally to allow soccer to emerge from the bottom of its deep pool of corruption.

Joseph Ting, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Debenture unfair to poor families

I refer to the report ("Elite school in Stanley gets flak over HK$1m priority admission scheme", May 28).

The priority admission scheme, which has been introduced by St Stephen's College Preparatory School, is unfair.

A HK$1 million debenture scheme will give "children nominated by holders an advantage in the admission process".

During the admission process, a nominated child will only receive one interview instead of three in the usual process.

This is unfair to those children who apply through the normal procedure. All children should face the same procedures to ensure a fair and comparable assessment.

Moreover, the scheme is an example of how extreme materialism promotes unfairness.

This kind of behaviour, in a supposedly fair and modern society, should be discouraged.

Education has long been the most common way for poor families to improve the standard of life of their children.

This unfair procedure will hinder that traditional form of upward mobility and further widen the gap between the privileged and the poor.

Education is not a business. The priority admission scheme is unfair to children who come from less wealthy families.

Financial conditions should not be one of the considerations in the admission procedure for this school.

Allen Wong, Tseung Kwan O

Get citizens involved in solar power

A WWF survey has found that most Hongkongers would be willing to produce renewable energy in their homes.

This shows that citizens want to be involved in initiatives which help the environment.

The survey showed they would be willing to invest in things like rooftop solar generators, if utility companies agreed to purchase the surplus electricity generated. I agree with WWF that, as more than 1,000 people were interviewed, this shows there is a high level of awareness about the need to have more renewable energy used for electricity generation rather than fossil fuels.

The government should coordinate with the electricity companies to implement a scheme. And as it would be expensive to install devices to generate electricity, the administration should be willing to offer subsidies to firms or households.

Although installation of solar panels is expensive, they last for years. Therefore, over time and as more people in the building used them, operating costs would drop.

Renewable energy is widely used in countries in Europe, such as the Netherlands and Switzerland. Also, in many countries, electric cars are more widely used than they are here.

Hong Kong has some catching up to do, but it should make the effort if it wants to remain economically competitive.

Christy Chan Sze-ching,Yau Yat Chuen 

No knowledge of consultation process

I was interested to read the letter by Professor Hon Chan, acting head of City University's department of English ("Very careful thought given to axing course", May 28), explaining the circumstances which led to the department's decision to end its fine arts programme in creative writing.

He says that the decision to end the master's programme was "initiated by the English department on the basis of its internal assessment and academic planning".

The announcement of the closure of the MFA came as a shock to almost everyone within the department.

They were unaware of the fact that they had been consulted, and didn't even know that a consultation process was happening. As head of the undergraduate creative writing programme, I was part of an MFA task force. We were convened in January, and met a total of two times.

On our second meeting on February 9, we did not recommend closing the MFA, but proposed ways of building upon and expanding its appeal and programmes.

Justin Hill, assistant professor, department of English, City University of Hong Kong