Letters to the Editor, September 24, 2015
Ex-top official was criticising chief executive
I refer to the comments on the city's state of affairs by Chen Zuoer , former deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office ("Colonial holdovers hurt city: ex-official", September 21).
In one bold stroke, he has removed any lingering fantasy we still have of democracy, and shown us the true face of a diehard communist. But unlike some angry legislators, I was not upset because, if you read it carefully, Chen's speech really sounds like a no-nonsense evaluation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the governing team's poor performance, rather than harsh words for the citizens of Hong Kong.
Chen is obviously very unhappy with many things that are happening in our city; put simply, the place is badly governed. What troubles me is that, given the situation, why has the central government repeatedly given unequivocal support for an incompetent governing team? If a business is being run poorly, we do not usually chew up the rank and file; we fire the management team. This is the common-sense approach that has made Hong Kong successful in the past.
A second point that greatly intrigues me is Mr Chen's comment that Hong Kong has failed to de-colonise in accordance with the law.
Since we are no longer a colony, what might still remain, one suspects, are probably insignificant vestiges of a dying mindset. How do you change people's mindset according to the law? Are there even laws that empower a government to do that in civilised societies?
Or, is Mr Chen thinking of something less abstract - like renaming street names with a colonial link; forbidding people calling themselves John or Mary; banning non-Chinese publications such as the South China Morning Post that were passed down from the colonial days; or getting rid of English judges, together with their symbolically colonial weird-looking wigs?
I am really at a loss. Please, Mr Chen, show us the way.
R. Siu, Happy Valley
Internet link in apartment is erratic
I live in Pok Fu Lam in a low-rise building surrounded by taller apartment blocks.
My building has three floors, with one apartment per floor. The bandwidth coming into our building to be shared by three families is just eight megabits per second.
Had we known this beforehand, we probably would never have moved into the flat. With school assignments, office work and entertainment all dependent on the internet, having an erratic connection has been nerve-racking, to say the least. Our repeated requests and complaints to PCCW have proved futile.
One customer service representative actually told us that it was "not profitable" for PCCW to invest in high-speed cable for our building as it has only three subscribers.
There is a new building coming up next to ours and we thought it would be a perfect time for PCCW to lay new cables and extend the cabling a few metres to our building, but there was no response to our petition.
Needless to say, our landlord has no interest in footing the cost for new cables, which is what PCCW is suggesting to us.
It is shameful that in a city that prides itself on being modern and well-connected, there are pockets such as ours in the midst of residential and commercial buildings having high-speed internet that are stuck with such a poor connection.
Hong Kong is in virtually a monopoly situation when it comes to telecom services, with areas carved out between players. Therefore, some innocent customers are not getting what they are paying for and have nowhere else to go. This is shameful.
Niru Vishwanath, Pok Fu Lam
We can cut back on waste during festival
Hongkongers will be celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival this weekend.
They will admire the full moon, buy lanterns, play with glow sticks and eat mooncakes. However, not all citizens think about the adverse effect on the environment of some of their actions.
For example, lanterns are often discarded. And glow sticks cannot be reused and they are plastic tubes which contain a glass capsule and chemicals. They end up in landfills in large quantities.
Also, people have more mooncakes than they can possibly eat, so, again, they are thrown away, adding to the huge volume of food waste generated in Hong Kong.
We can all ensure a greener Mid-Autumn Festival. We should only buy as many mooncakes as we are likely to eat.
We can reuse lanterns next year and simply do away with glow sticks. Having dinner and admiring the full moon with family and friends are also enjoyable ways to celebrate.
If we all make the effort, Mid-Autumn Festivals in Hong Kong can become more environmentally friendly.
Katrina Lo, Tseung Kwan O
Make playing experience fun for children
I refer to the report ("Safe but dull playgrounds fail to test children", September 9).
Following research (by filming at five typical playgrounds), the Playright Children's Play Association and Unicef have concluded that playgrounds in Hong Kong are dull and lack diversity. And they are now working with the different government departments to create a more entertaining environment.
There are too few choices on offer for children and so they will often just climb slides or play with flowers and ignore the rest of the equipment that has been set up. In a sense, this reflects a prevailing attitude in Hong Kong.
The priority is to learn so that you can earn a good living. Some adults who hold this view will probably think that spending quality time playing is not essential for children.
Childhood plays a crucially important role in our lives. Being able to have a happy and contented childhood can give a young person a great start in life.
It can help them develop positive character traits, such as empathy and creativity.
It is more difficult for children to enjoy the experience of playing if they are faced with boring playgrounds.
People who have had a disappointing or unhappy childhood are less likely to grow up as well-rounded adults.
No wonder you see so many bad-tempered and rude Hongkongers. And in the long run, society pays a heavy price.
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has failed to produce well-designed facilities and make good use of the available space.
It needs to carry out a reconstruction programme at these playgrounds, for the sake of our children and the well-being of society.
Lui Yu-wu, Kwai Chung
Long history of Chinese settlements
I read with interest Danny Chan's article ("Ethnicity as a political tool", September 21).
It is unfortunate that Mr Chan has uncritically reproduced the pernicious received wisdom that the Chinese of Malaya and Borneo are in some sense less indigenous than the so-called Bumiputeras.
Chinese settlement in the Straits dates to at least the 15th century, with the genesis of the Peranakan culture, which remains to this day self-consciously Chinese by patrilineal descent.
Both the Peranakans and later arrivals from Canton, Fukien, and Hainan played an essential role in establishing the political and economic structures of contemporary Malaysia. By the late 18th century, Hakka clan associations engaged in mining in Borneo had established the Lanfang Republic, which aspired to pay tribute to the Qing dynasty.
Kuala Lumpur was founded by the Hakka adventurer Yap Ah Loy, who was, incidentally, born a few miles northeast of Hong Kong.
It is especially troubling that the dubious truisms of [Malaysia's ruling party] Umno are repeated by an ethnic Chinese academic. They have been used to justify a self-evidently counterproductive range of "positive discrimination" measures in favour of the Malay majority and to the detriment of the industrious Chinese and Tamil minorities.
Discussions on the role of ethnicity and culture in contemporary Southeast Asia should be welcomed, especially in the regrettable absence of a shared and balanced historical memory in the region, but this requires both nuance and broader reading.
Mak Long, Sai Ying Pun
Ensure elderly citizens get decent pension
The government has failed to introduce comprehensive retirement and pension policies and this is a problem in an ageing society.
Some senior citizens are struggling financially, which is why you see them on our streets picking up cardboard to sell for recycling.
It may be they were not able to save sufficient funds for retirement when they were working and now they cannot enjoy their old age. I sympathise with the plight of these people.
Last year, a government-commissioned study suggested a pension of HK$3,000 for every Hongkonger over 65, saying it could be paid for by contributions ranging from 1 to 2.5 per cent of employees' salaries, paid by employers and workers. I do not understand why the government will not back such a scheme.
The pension system should be reformed and if a special tax is needed to pay for it, then it should be introduced.
Au Yeung Kwong-fai, Tsuen Wan