Letters to the Editor, September 09, 2015

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 September, 2015, 3:55pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 September, 2015, 3:55pm

Tough choices for voters in Singapore

Singapore's 17th parliamentary general election will be held this Friday and it will likely be seen as a watershed in the post Lee Kuan Yew era.

Official campaigns have been under way since last week and there is some fierce political competition.

From MRT stations to hawker centres, more candidates from various parties have been intensively lobbying voters, just like the salespersons during the annual Great Singapore Sale. The difference is what candidates are trying to sell are not products, but themselves and their political views and propositions.

In essence, this election is more like a bid, through which voters will choose the nation's next government.

In the retail sector, if there is a monopoly, there is little incentive to introduce a big sale with genuine bargains. It is different when there is competition. It is the same in politics. Politicians become more approachable and humble when they are faced with real competition. Competition is good in the business world and in politics.

Like businesses using various marketing tactics during the Great Singapore Sale, political parties have dazzling campaign strategies. They make attractive promises, but voters have to decide whether these pledges are realistic.

Just like when they are shopping in a sale, they have to look at the promotions and wonder if the items are worth buying. Consumers have different shopping preferences; so do voters.

Some consumers feel comfortable to choose products they are familiar with, while others, especially the younger generations, may prefer to try new products, even those with a limited track record.

However, consumers can take a product back if it is defective. They do not have this luxury in a general election. Moreover, shopping is about personal choices, which only affect the customer.

How you vote in an election can have far-reaching consequences for other people and for the nation. Voters should recognise their responsibilities on Friday and be more cautious.

Sun Xi, Singapore

Elderly need more than money

A lot of the discussion when people talk about the needs of the elderly in Hong Kong centres on monetary help, such as the Old Age Living Allowance.

However, we should not forget other tangible ways in which to help the city's pensioners and improve their quality of life. It is not always the case that money can do that. For elderly people to have a good quality of life, they need the care of their families.

Some old folk may be living in a comfortable care home where they are looked after and have sufficient funds.

They will get regular meals and health checks.

On the face of it, they would appear to have a good quality of life. But if their adult sons and daughters with their children do not make regular visits, they are likely to be quite unhappy. I think it is fair to say, especially for the elderly, that money cannot buy happiness.

Their children should recognise they have a crucial role to play.

They should be visiting the care home regularly, at least during weekends, to have a chat and a meal. These old folk want to spend time with their grandchildren.

Schools should also organise activities so that students can visit nursing homes and chat with residents.

These young people are future pillars of society and they should learn the importance of caring for our elderly citizens.

They made an enormous contribution to the city while they were working, and society should show its appreciation and citizens should make it clear they care about the welfare of our elderly residents.

Lee Hiu-ching, Tseung Kwan O 

Misguided MTR wrong about escalator

I agree with your editorial ("Escalator norm serves city well", September 2) and find that the MTR's efforts to promote a stand-firm etiquette laughable, but also annoying.

It seems that such a nannying approach is prompted more by legal and insurance considerations than a genuine response to safety concerns. The long-established convention of "stand right, walk left" works smoothly, and recent efforts to institute a uniform stand-still culture are counterproductive from the safety aspect. People walking on an escalator are aware, whereas those standing are often engrossed in their smartphones and oblivious to the final step, causing many to trip.

Friends gather in small groups to straddle the full treads and are so busy in their conversations that they get a rude awakening at the final step.

The majority still honour the unwritten code of leaving the left side open for those in a hurry, but some now following the MTR's instruction block the walking lane and cause frustration to those behind, who sometimes will push through in their impatience. Frustration can often create dangerous situations.

The MTR is trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist, and I intend to continue my lifetime's practice of moving on the left side.

However, the real escalator safety problem is the screen gazer. I have witnessed several instances of people who are so mesmerised by their screens that they have walked onto the wrong escalator.

Now that is dangerous, not just to themselves but to others. This is becoming an increasingly pervasive problem, not just on escalators, but also in concourses, on pavements and at road crossings. There should be a law that requires a person viewing a screen to remain stationary.

I. M. Wright, Happy Valley

Why Uber is proving so popular

Taxi drivers have protested about Uber being allowed to operate in the city, claiming they do not have the necessary licences and insurance.

By contrast, more than 50,000 people signed a petition supporting the car-hailing app.

Uber is certainly proving to be competitive in the city and does pose a threat to traditional taxi operators. It provides a better service.

They use very good cars and some are luxury models. A fare is stipulated beforehand, whereas a taxi driver on a long drive may make a detour, or there may be congestion, which ends up costing you more.

If allegations about Uber not having all the necessary documentation are true, this obviously raises safety issues. Clearly, there are advantages and disadvantages when it comes to Uber.

Annie Ip, Lam Tin

Education can help curb phone fraud

I agree with those who argue that advances in information technology and the close relationship between Hong Kong and the mainland have led to an increase in the number of phone scams.

Changes to legislation are needed, but education is important.

Some of the victims are professionals, suggesting that the fraudsters are showing more cunning.

Their calls sound more authentic, as if they actually come from a government department or large corporation.

Through education, the message can get across to more citizens that they must remain vigilant and protect their personal information.

We all have to be more cautious (particularly students and the elderly) when dealing with anonymous phone calls.

Emily Ho, Sha Tin