Letters to the Editor, June 20, 2015
Pan-dem leaders should now resign
Now that the government's proposed democratic reform package has been defeated in the Legislative Council, I call on the leaders of Hong Kong's pan-democratic political parties to do the decent thing and resign their leadership roles forthwith.
With their intransigence and refusal to accept reality, they have failed Hong Kong and will have denied the people of Hong Kong the opportunity of electing the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2017 and all members of Legco in 2020, and probably for many years to come.
These so-called leaders should be held to account for this, and history, I am sure, will judge them accordingly.
It is time for new leaders to emerge, to take over the leadership reins of these parties, who hopefully will be more moderate and pragmatic than are the incumbents, so that Hong Kong can move forward again.
These new leaders must be prepared to talk to the government and to Beijing, and stop opposing almost everything the government proposes.
They must stop filibustering and participating in other childish activities, so that Hong Kong can draw a line behind these past few years, returning to our "can do" spirit, replacing the current "won't do" spirit which the pan-democratic political parties appear currently to follow.
John Shannon, Mid-Levels
Stray dogs policy cruel and ineffective
The government continues to adhere to the catch-and-kill approach when it comes to dealing with our stray dog population.
The government sends out teams to capture stray dogs and vaccinates them. If, after a designated period, they cannot be rehomed, they will be put down. Every year, thousands of precious canine lives are ended. This is an extremely inhumane, merciless practice, and it continues to this day.
Catch-and-kill is not a panacea. Studies have shown that, due to the "vacuum effect", no matter how many animals are removed from an area, the numbers return to the previous level eventually as surplus resources attract newcomers from surrounding areas. In other words, the number of stray dogs roaming around Hong Kong has always been more or less the same despite the government's efforts to catch and kill.
In fact, the remaining animals and newcomers may even produce more offspring.
Trap, neuter, return (TNR) is widely practised in places like Australia, Canada, the US and India. The idea is to capture dogs from the wild, then vaccinate and desex them before returning them to their original habitat. These dogs can be kept in check, epidemics like rabies can also be prevented.
I am disappointed with the lack of progress of TNR legislation in Hong Kong. Its introduction was first proposed to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department in 2000, yet suitable trial sites for stray dogs are still to be found for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Trials are needed before going ahead with the necessary lengthy legislative procedures.
How many more years do we have to wait before TNR is actually implemented? And how many more puppies have to be sentenced to death?
Hong Kong is lagging behind those countries where it has proved to be successful. The sooner we legislate, the more lives we will save.
Sharon Yip, Lai Chi Kok
Wu was city's finest-ever football player
I was saddened to read about the passing on of Hong Kong football legend Wu Kwok-hung. Wu was an incredible player with a marvellous talent.
He played at a time when Hong Kong football was probably at its peak; when many matches attracted full houses of over 28,000 at the Hong Kong Stadium and the standard of the game was at its best.
I had the privilege of playing against him and also playing in the same team as him on several occasions. I much preferred playing in the same team as Wu to be perfectly honest. For me, he was without doubt the finest player I have ever seen in Hong Kong.
I have no doubt that Wu could had held his own in any top league in the UK and Europe - he was that good. Silky skills, a wonderful footballing brain and an ability to score and make goals out of nothing.
Wu wasn't flash or cocky. He just used his natural skills and entertained us all.
With Wu, Kwok Ka-ming and other legends of the 1970s and 1980s, it is no wonder that Hong Kong managed to qualify for the first and only time for the second stages of the World Cup qualifiers, and also beat China in Beijing in the process.
Hong Kong is all the sadder now that it has lost one of its true sporting greats. My condolences to Wu and his family. I for one shall not forget him.
Peter Olsen, Discovery Bay
Very difficult customers do not help
In April, Hong Kong was ranked 39 out of 41 countries or regions in the Mystery Shopper Service Association's "smiling index" of the service sector.
It was judged among three places in the world where customers are most unlikely to see shop workers smile. It would appear that locals lack enthusiasm and courtesy at work.
However, I have noticed that not only is this a problem with workers, but also with some customers.
I realised this when out dining with my parents at a famous Western eatery when a mother sitting nearby argued with a waitress. Apparently, she was dissatisfied with the service of the restaurant. The mother wanted to cancel the original food order but the manager refused because of company rules. She was angry and kept on blaming the company.
People should develop empathy. There is unfortunately a complaint culture here.
In Hong Kong, so often, the mantra is "The customer is always right". This can mean local workers have to eat humble pie and perhaps be stripped of dignity even if the customer is not right.
They are there to earn a living. But if frontline staff face this kind of treatment then it is hardly surprising they trudge through the working day wearing glum expressions.
In the incident I witnessed, the manager was very polite.
Workers in retail chain stores receive adequate training in how to deal with customers, which enables them to deal with different situations in the workplace.
But some employees can be forced to go too far. Sometimes when you enter a store you are greeted straight away by staff, but it sounds disingenuous.
Hong Kong is a small, crowded city with a fast-paced and stressful lifestyle. We should show some understanding for stressed-out workers who do not smile.
Eric Yiu, Hung Hom
Foreigners see city as distress posting
It is pathetic to see the decline in the use of English by government departments when communicating with the public.
Hong Kong claims to be "Asia's world city", which it certainly is not now. I can give a number of reasons for the future decline of prosperity in the city.
Progressively it is becoming a Chinese city with the influx of mainlanders on a daily basis.
The use of English is neglected at all levels, including the public, civil servants, teachers and students and employers and employees.
Hong Kong is seen as a distress posting by foreigners as they find it difficult to lead a quality lifestyle, being pushed into a Chinese-only environment. Contrast this with Singapore, which is an English-speaking community. Expatriates think twice about postings to Hong Kong as they are uncertain about the quality of education for their children.
The city has become very expensive (especially housing) for foreigners who are permanent residents but are not on expatriate terms. Many are planning to leave so they can enjoy better living conditions.
Hong Kong is gradually losing its attraction for talented executives as it is no longer seen as an English-speaking city.
It is unclear whether it is a deliberate or indirect policy of the SAR government to discourage foreign talents to migrate to Hong Kong. The decline of English usage will drive away talented and experienced expatriates.
Raja Iyer, Mid-Levels
Higher rate needed for overtime
I believe that in Hong Kong after an employee has worked a specific number of hours in the day or week, the employer must pay overtime, which is higher than the normal hourly or daily rate. Such a policy will benefit bosses and staff.
Hongkongers are well known for their hard-working attitude. However, it is still difficult for many to make a decent living, because often they cannot earn much from working overtime. They are being exploited by their bosses. With set standard working hours, this exploitation could end. They could then choose to do the overtime or stick with the standard working hours.
Having a premium overtime pay rate can help companies, because employees who choose to do extra work to get additional pay will be more productive.
Some countries in the region, for example, Korea, have standard working hours legislation and it has proved to be successful. As an international city, we should keep pace with developments in the rest of the world when it comes to improving conditions in the workplace.
Shing Chun-yui, Kowloon Tong