Letters to the Editor, November 30, 2015

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 November, 2015, 7:03pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 November, 2015, 12:22pm

Tough battle against human trafficking

I refer to the article by Monique Villa and Matthew Friedman (“To defeat human trafficking, we must first know its scale”, November 12).

They pointed out that the lack of accurate data is making it more difficult to crack down on ­human trafficking.

Police and volunteers in NGOs can only take effective measures to counter trafficking if they know the estimated ­number of ­victims. They need to know the scale of the problem they are ­facing before providing the support needed.

Getting an accurate estimate of the number of victims is hard as they are transported around the globe between countries. This makes it difficult for a single agency, or even a government, to acquire accurate statistics.

There must be greater cooperation between international NGOs and governments so ­effective cross-border policies can be implemented.

It does not appear to be a serious problem in Hong Kong and so citizens pay little attention to it. But the city is a destination for victims of forced labour and prostitution. Many of them are young women from the mainland and countries in the region such as Indonesia.

It is necessary to raise public awareness of this problem. We need to pay more attention to this problem. Citizens should be willing to donate money to NGOs which are ­helping victims of human trafficking.

Linda Ng Lai-yin, Kwai Fong

Parks have wrong terrain for apartments

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying,has suggested the possibility of building homes in areas of the country parks which are of low ecological value.

It could be argued that many citizens seldom go to country parks, so surely the land could be used to solve Hong Kong’s serious housing shortage. But is that really a valid argument?

There is no doubt that in this densely populated city, there are not enough homes to satisfy ­demand.

However, the proposal to build in country parks neglects the environmental and social aspects. Country parks are not in the right locations and do not have suitable terrain. Much of the land is hilly with reservoir watersheds. Also, commuting to urban areas of Hong Kong would be inconvenient.

Also, I wonder if this country park land would really be used to build public estates and Home Ownership Scheme flats for the middle or lower class, or would we see low-rise villas being constructed? If it was the latter, this would not help alleviate the housing shortage and would only benefit rich citizens and ­tycoons.

Country parks are very ­important for citizens so they can encounter nature and relax with their families at the weekend, even in those areas considered to be of low ecological ­value. There is a lot of unused land that belongs to the government and that could be used to build apartment blocks instead of country parks.

Also, there is land that caters only to the elite in society, such as private golf courses. Freeing that land for housing would benefit a much larger group of citizens than a private club.

I strongly disagree with Mr Leung’s suggestion, as it will lead to the destruction of important green areas.

Avis Lee, Ma On Shan

Bias towards professions the wrong attitude

I agree with what Bernard Chan said in his article (“You don’t have to wear a suit to be a ­success”, November 13).

It is not necessary to wear a suit to show you are a well-rounded individual and successful in your chosen career.

Mr Chan talks about the ­value of those people in society who work with “actual things”. You should not judge people by what they wear but by how ­capable they are in their jobs.

There is a Chinese saying about the strength of a horse being tested over a long ­distance. That is more important than the short-term good impression that is made by someone wearing a smart suit.

A job matters if it benefits society. Take a doctor and a construction worker. They both have important roles to play in society.

In some developed nations, such as Norway, non-professional jobs are recognised as being important. People in these trades are shown the same respect as professionals such as doctors and they earn good salaries. So a worker in, say, the construction sector might earn the same as a professional in the ­aviation industry.

In Hong Kong, we should ­appreciate the contribution to society workers make from all walks of life.

Emily Ho Tsz-ue, Sha Tin

Appalled by bad behaviour of latecomers

On Tuesday night I attended the Elton John concert at the Convention and Exhibition Centre and was ashamed of the Hong Kong audience’s behaviour.

A large part of the audience did not have the courtesy to arrive even close to the announced starting time for the concert. As many as perhaps a third drifted in up to an hour after the scheduled start. We ­arrived before the start and were not surprised that the audience mainly seemed to comprise ­older people over 30.

However, this changed after the band started to play at around 8.15. Most of the latecomers were young people. They showed no respect, grace or courtesy to either the artists or other members of the audience by marching in late and causing 45 minutes of continuing disturbance.

Many then decided it was the right time to trundle off to the toilet and then they started leaving an hour before the ­concert finished. They seemed to have no concept of the difference between a concert and going to a disco with a DJ where you can drink, talk and come and go as you please.

This was certainly not a ­reflection on the quality of the performance, as Elton John was outstanding, playing with brilliance, without a break, for 2 ½ hours. I hope the audience’s level of bad manners and total disregard for others is only a Hong Kong phenomenon, and not a global one.

Hong Kong is becoming more widely known for its bad manners. The rudeness to mainland visitors, rude behaviour at football matches and the arrogant incivility of the ­Occupy Central movement last year are further examples of a growing trend.

The city is becoming the barbarian neighbour to the mainland. Gone are the days when Hongkongers could point ­fingers at the gauche behaviour of mainlanders.

It is now Hong Kong that has a growing reputation for bad manners, especially among its young people. So sad, when it was previously known for its poise and respect for others.

Erich Beck, Mid-Levels

Body checks so important for elderly citizens

The government should review the system under which elderly residents are given HK$2,000 in health vouchers per year, given that social workers have ­suggested it is insufficient and should be doubled.

With the rising number of elderly, the government has made health care one of its ­priorities. However, average medical costs have risen and so I would support doubling the sum of annual vouchers.

This would reduce the pressure on public clinics where there are already very long queues. Therefore, it is important to get more elderly people going to private clinics.

It has also been proposed that if the voucher allocation is doubled, HK$1,000 should be set aside for body checks. These are important for elderly citizens as a body check is the best way to prevent diseases.

However, many older people lack awareness of the importance of having a regular body check, or they are struggling financially and cannot afford to have one.

By offering higher subsidies and stipulating that part of it must be used for body checks, it will give them an incentive to make an appointment at a ­private clinic.

The primary role of the government should be to build a safety net for people in need in society.

The government should not delay dealing with these important health care issues.

Tsang Yuk-kit, Tseung Kwan O

Pass laws to restrict sugar content in food

I refer to the report (“Sugary drinks common in Chinese-style dining”, November 17).

I can assure Dr Samuel Yeung Tse-kiu, of the Centre for Food Safety, it is not only in drinks.

Sugar is easily detected in drinks, because they taste sweet.

While this is not good for people, it is a choice they knowingly, although unadvisedly, make. But sugar is also added to most Chinese food, where it is not so readily detected.

It can cause problems for ­diabetics, particularly as most restaurants will not admit to the sugar content, even when asked.

The only answer is legislation.

We need laws to restrict the sugar content in food and drinks, to execute a mandatory policy of stating what that ­content is, and to initiate a ­programme of awareness, warning people of the dangers of high sugar intake. And we must have a programme of random ­inspections to ensure that restaurants conform with those laws.

Without all of that, restaurant owners and managers will always claim that leaving out the sugar will make them uncompetitive, and they will have a valid point.

Peter Robertson, Sai Kung