Letters to the Editor, October 09, 2015

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 October, 2015, 4:42pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 October, 2015, 4:42pm

Protesters at HKU a bunch of sore losers

I refer to two articles on October 7, Alex Lo's column ("Futile search for smoking gun at HKU") and ("Silent rally gives voice to autonomy fears").

I agree with Lo that the rally held on the campus of the University of Hong Kong by staff and students on October 6, supposedly protesting against the university council's rejection of Johannes Chan Man-mun for filling the post of pro-vice-chancellor, was really groundless. The staff and students were just being bad losers, fretting over their failure to get their favourite ( anti-Beijing and pro-Occupy) candidate chosen.

If the university council is supposed to always accept without demur the recommendation of the selection committee, it would be merely a rubber-stamping organ. The filling of that post, and the council's decision not to go with Chan, had nothing to do with academic freedom. If anything, it avoided introducing a very political person into an administrative, non-academic post.

It's really the students, at whoever's behest, who have increasingly turned the campus into a political battleground, for example, protesting over the visit of Li Keqiang when he was vice-premier.

We have academics who are obsessed with opposing anything that emanates from Beijing, without the self-restraint necessary to form an orderly society for democracy to flourish.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

A civilised city would offer refugees help

I refer to the report suggesting that we shut our doors on those who are seeking asylum here ("Priest calls for closed door on asylum seekers", October 4).

There has been a concerted effort by the government and media over the past year to firm public opinion against asylum seekers.

Are we really being brought to our knees as a city by less than two-tenths of a per cent of our population? Can we honestly say that less than 0.0016 per cent of our gross domestic product being used to support asylum seekers is breaking us financially?

Many turn to illegal activities in order to survive because they are not allowed to work and are forced to survive on a HK$1,500 housing allowance and a food package of [around] HK$40 per day. Trying to survive on so little is virtually impossible in this city. Can we blame asylum seekers for trying to find some kind of work? Instead of shutting our doors, could we not find another solution? None of the asylum seekers I know want to be involved in illegal activities. They want to find a place in society where they can contribute.

The number of asylum seekers has more than doubled from 2012 to 2014, but arrests only increased by 32 per cent. The asylum seekers we have today are committing less crime.

More mainland visitors were arrested than asylum seekers in 2014. Almost twice as many visitors other than mainlanders were arrested in 2014 compared to asylum seekers. This among a group forced to live well below the poverty line of HK$3,600 per month.

Father John Wotherspoon says most would rather be in a Hong Kong prison than in their home countries. This suggests they are coming because they are desperate. Life on less than HK$3,000 per month is not exactly the good life.

It concerns me that Hong Kong, one of the most civilised, economically well-off, and safest cities in the world, would consider closing its doors to asylum seekers.

It disturbs me that a city in which 75 per cent of us are only two or three generations removed from arriving here as refugees has no heart for those in a similar situation to our grandparents. A civilised city would find a more compassionate solution.

Thomas Franz, Tung Chung 

MTR should target traders, not musicians

I refer to Thomas Tang's letter ("Musicians will feel even more marginalised", October 5).

I agree with him that the MTR Corporation's actions regarding not allowing people with large musical instruments to board its trains will have upset a lot of musicians in Hong Kong.

Because of its actions, the MTR Corp has come under fire.

It needs to take prompt action to deal with these grievances. The musicians deserve an apology. As your correspondent pointed out, the MTR's actions left them feeling marginalised.

In future, they should not have to worry whether they will be allowed to travel on the MTR network with their musical instruments.

There is clearly a need for more staff training so that regulations are applied consistently across the board.

This will avoid misunderstandings over the MTR's by-laws and how they are implemented by staff.

I certainly think that when it comes to cracking down on passengers with bulky items, the MTR should be targeting parallel traders rather than ordinary citizens. These traders are more worthy of attention than musicians.

I hope the MTR can resolve these problems and repair its reputation.

Cheung Chun-sing, Tseung Kwan O

Paltry pay rise for helpers is an insult

Foreign domestic helpers (for contracts signed from October 1) will get a HK$100 pay rise per month.

I think any individuals or groups that support this ought to be ashamed of themselves.

This is clearly another example of the poor being taken advantage of and of the many policies that breed greed, increasing wealth gaps.

Den Enguillo, Tai Po

North Korea reforms key to any unification

Day of German Unity on October 3 marked the 25th anniversary of German reunification.

I hope that what happened in 1990 will eventually serve as a model for South and North Korea, although it will be more difficult than Germany.

North Korea is infamous for its tight media control. Of course, there were controls in East Germany, but, unlike in North Korea, many citizens could still keep in touch with what was happening in the West.

Since reunification, the former East Germany has been given a lot of economic support by the rest of the country. But, East Germany had been one of the best-off countries in the Soviet bloc. The economic differences between North and South Korea are enormous. Also, in a reunified Korea, there would be cultural and other differences between citizens.

There will have to be major reforms in North Korea before there can be any talk of reunification.

Au Yeung Kwong-fai, Tsuen Wan

HK missing out because of poor English

I have reservations about Michael Chugani's view that Hong Kong's success is no longer dependent on overall English standards ("Time to end our obsession with English", October 6).

Despite the growing influence of Putonghua, attributed to China's economic prosperity over the past few decades, English is widely regarded as the international lingua franca.

Hong Kong, with its declining English standards, is losing out to other international cities, such as Singapore and Shanghai.

Therefore, I see no reason why we should not tackle the sad state of English proficiency in Asia's world city

There are cultural changes which have contributed to this problem.

Many local citizens are reluctant to use English even if they have a good command of the language.

Instead, they tend to use Cantonese and Putonghua when communicating.

The government and other public organisations must set an example, by using more English on official occasions, in order to improve the cultural atmosphere which encourages the use of the language among Hongkongers.

This has to be done if we want Hong Kong to maintain its image as an international city.

Ben L. P. Tsang, Yuen Long

Rent controls could help the homeless

I am writing about the homeless woman who was found dead in a 24-hour McDonald's outlet last Saturday.

When I pass by these restaurants late at night, I see many people inside who look to be street sleepers.

They are spending the whole night there and have been called "McRefugees".

They have nowhere to live because of the city's high rents. The woman who was found dead will have faced the same challenges.

Lack of affordable housing is still a serious problem in Hong Kong and it is something the government really needs to address.

Unless it introduces new measures, the problems of rising rents and not enough flats will persist. This leaves people struggling to survive.

With regard to street sleepers, the government has to provide more emergency shelters and ensure they can get the basic necessities of life.

In the long term, they will struggle to escape from a vicious cycle of dire poverty, with inflation keeping prices high.

For their sake, and others on low incomes, the administration must look into the possibility of introducing rent controls so that there is an adequate supply of affordable housing.

Rainbow Leung Wai-yu, Tseung Kwan O