Letters to the Editor, October 08, 2015
Raise levels of awareness on phone scams
There was a sharp increase in phone scams in Hong Kong in the first eight months of this year and this is a cause for concern.
This telephone fraud has taken different forms, but there has been a steep rise in the number of cases where the fraudsters pose as mainland officials.
It is clear there is still a lack of awareness about this type of crime which has led to some people being duped into thinking the person they were talking to was, for example, an official from north of the border.
As you reported, in excess of "HK$100 million has been fleeced in just months" ("Join forces to beat phone scammers", October 5).
The government has a responsibility to try and raise levels of public awareness so that people learn to be vigilant when they receive a call from someone they do not know. They need to resist the pressure to make swift decisions over the phone which may prove costly. It has to be made clear to them that it is unlikely a mainland official would get in touch with them by phone.
The Hong Kong government can boost publicity with more advertising campaigns.
There also has to be more cross-border cooperation between the Hong Kong and mainland police forces to crack down on the phone fraudsters.
Wendy Wong Wai-ting, Sham Shui Po
Make voting compulsory in all elections
There have been calls for more to be done to investigate possible electoral fraud ("Few suspicious voter cases go to police", September 25).
I would like to see officials adopting a surprise check system to verify an address. But, what is really needed to remove the incentive for vote-rigging is a revamp of the voter registration and electoral systems.
All individuals eligible to register as voters should automatically be registered as voters. This can be done by transferring data from the Immigration Department's registration of persons office.
Also, voting should be made compulsory, unless there are compelling reasons such as incapacity. These two measures together will increase significantly the election turnout. This will dilute the fraudulent votes, reducing the incentive (for example, in a marginal seat) for falsifying addresses so people who do not live in these constituencies can fraudulently vote.
Many people who are eligible to vote remain unregistered.
People keep talking about wanting the "silent majority" to speak up. Therefore, I find it strange that politicians have not called on voting to be made mandatory. In this way, as has been illustrated in Singapore, the voices of ordinary folk can be heard.
Leung Ka-kit, Yau Tsim Mong
Caucasian tutors have the upper hand
Further to the topic of native English-speaking teachers (NETs) whom Kelly Yang called "token Caucasians" ("Train local teachers for better English," September 23), I wonder if she realises that there is an element of racism in connection with this issue. Not only does this exist in the Education Bureau but certainly among too many local parents.
I know of a couple of ethnic Chinese Antipodeans who faced resistance when they applied to the NET programme. And any Filipino with an education degree doesn't stand a chance because that nationality is believed to be fit only for domestic work.
It is no secret that local parents much prefer having Western-looking tutors for their children, instead of Asian-looking ones (they'll settle for an Indian teacher if he/she has a proper British accent).
And in tutorial centres, for a number of years now, any Western backpacker (preferably light-haired and blue-eyed) can arrive in the territory and be employed even without the right credentials or experience.
Isabel Escoda, Lantau
Youngsters should strike right balance
I refer to the letter by So Tsz-shing ("Teens should not just focus on exams", September 23).
In an exam-orientated city like Hong Kong, it is commonplace for students to spare no effort to do well in the public examinations.
Schools and parents are attaching too much significance to academic results. Youngsters grow up thinking that the key towards a promising career is to get a university place.
This means that they must lead more hectic lives than teens in, for example, Australia and the US. As well as going to school, many will often attend extra tutorial classes.
What young person would welcome this kind of high-pressure and busy environment? And yet this is the education system we must all endure, a system that encourages elitism.
I am not surprised so many Hong Kong citizens suffer from depression, because they are under enormous stress. Last year the UN-based World Happiness Report listed the city at 72nd among 158 countries and territories. Something must be done to help youngsters deal with their emotional problems.
I appreciate that some pressure can motivate students to do well academically. But, teenagers must be able to strike the right balance between academic and personal health.
If they lead healthy lifestyles, including having regular exercise, I think they will find it easier to do their school work and they will be better equipped to deal with stressful situations.
Edwin Tong, Sai Kung
Anonymous critics cause so much grief
Article 27 of the Basic Law protects freedom of speech for all Hong Kong citizens.
I welcome the fact that this right is enshrined in the Basic Law, but citizens should not think it entitles them to say whatever they want.
People need to recognise that they should use this right responsibly. They should avoid malicious comments that can bring emotional harm to other individuals.
In other words, free speech is not an absolute freedom with no restrictions.
I am particularly concerned about abuse of this freedom on the internet.
Some netizens make malicious comments about others and do so anonymously. This can be very hurtful for people. I think functions should exist online which prevent, where possible, anonymity.
Yuki Wong, Tseung Kwan O
Mainlanders are the future for city
The good news in the recent census projections through 2064 is that people in Hong Kong are living longer.
The bad news is that the total population will peak and then gradually decline, even with a steady influx of mainlanders.
The low birth rate presumably will remain low.
Couples in Hong Kong mention the high cost of renting a flat as the reason for only having one baby. Stress is also a factor.
I read a press report where a mother of one child said, "After coming home from work, I can't imagine myself having enough energy to review two sets of schoolwork."
Is anyone from the Census and Statistics Department willing to stand in front of a TV camera and predict that our current system of fierce competition in school, long working hours for adults and high rents will continue with no change for 50 years?
Women will outnumber men more and more, as most newcomers are women.
Localists should take note: native speakers of Cantonese are not the future of this city.
Mainlanders, and children with a Hong Kong father and a mainland mother, are the future.
Michael J. Sloboda, Tsim Sha Tsui
Retailers can try something different
I refer to the report ("The worst ever golden week, retailers moan", October 2).
I appreciate that there will be negative side-effects for the economy when tourist numbers from the mainland drop, but this could be seen as a turning point. It can mean our economy does not have to remain dependent on the mainland.
Shopkeepers who have complained because they geared their retail trade to demand from mainland visitors can look at how they can recover lost revenue by changing the type of shops they operate.
I understand mainland visitors who have been upset with the protests held here against their presence. However, they have to ask why the protests have taken place.
Many visitors from north of the border are rude. For example, they jump queues in a city where this is regarded as unacceptable.
The kind of extreme response of some Hongkongers is unacceptable, but mainlanders must also think about their own behaviour and how they can make the necessary improvements.
They also need to educate their children about what is considered proper behaviour here.
Hong Kong and mainland citizens should make the effort to get along.
Winnie Lee Wing-yu, Yau Yat Chuen