Letters to the editor, April 10, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 April, 2016, 12:17am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 April, 2016, 12:16am

It is important to fight age discrimination

In the report (“I’ll pursue ­equality for all: EOC chief”, April 1), the incoming head of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Hong Kong’s anti-discrimination watchdog, ­Alfred Chan Cheung-ming, is quoted as saying that one of his priorities will be to battle against age discrimination.

This will be in contrast to his predecessor, Dr York Chow Yat-ngok, who, despite being active in certain anti-discriminatory fields , appeared to neglect this particular issue.

I wish Mr Chan success in his fight against the most pernicious form of discrimination that exists in Hong Kong. I say this because I think it may ­adversely affect more people in a truly negative way than any ­other form of discrimination.

The mere fact, and it is a fact, that so many people are forced to leave their employment solely because of their age is a deplorable aspect of Hong Kong life. In many countries this is no longer the case and there is no reason why Hong Kong should lag ­behind in this area.

Mr Chan’s objective to maximise work opportunities for ­senior citizens is a laudable one.

I hope he can pressure the government to pass laws so that people of 60 and above, and sometimes even less than that, can continue in jobs that they are perfectly capable of doing, as well as more easily find jobs ­related to their expertise and experience. I wish him luck.

Chris Stubbs, Discovery Bay

Put needy families in the Bishop’s House

I refer to the report (“Loving and caring heart matters most”, March 29).

The archbishop of Hong Kong’s Anglican Church made this statement in answer to criticism of the church, which spent HK$13.4 million in 2006 on his residence at the upscale Pacific View complex on Tai Tam Road, when his predecessors lived at the church’s property, the Bishop’s House in Central. The Most Reverend Paul Kwong ­explained that the Bishop’s House is nearly 20,000 sq ft and has two floors and a basement and is obviously much too large for one person. I definitely agree, and love, simplicity and compassion are fundamental Christian teachings.

However, Archbishop Kwong could demonstrate a sympathy for his flock by subdividing this large residential premises to give homes to poor people.

Currently many families are living in less than 400 sq ft, so this vast mansion has space for 50 such needy families. Rather than genuine concerns for the poor, our churches often give the impression that they are more interested in enjoying the immense profits from the redevelopment of their properties.

Christian Rogers, Wan Chai

Learn from Singapore’s refuse solution

The paucity of discussion about waste in Hong Kong means that our city faces a refuse crisis that requires prompt and decisive action.

Successive governments’ waste management strategies have been a failure and our landfills will reach capacity in the near future.

We should look at what ­Singapore has achieved. It has done an excellent job dealing with its garbage problem, which poses no threat to marine ecosystems and uses some refuse for landfills.

The Semakau Landfill is ­Singapore’s first and only ­landfill situated offshore among the southern islands of Singapore.

It covers a total area of 3.5 square kilometres. It began ­operating in 1999 and is expected to remain in use until 2045, and this deadline may be extended if a variety of waste minimisation and ­resource conservation initiatives are implemented.

It is mainly filled with ash produced by Singapore’s four incineration plants. The refuse is transported in covered barges. This prevents the ash from being blown away in the wind.

Precautions were taken ­before the landfill was opened to ensure that the site is not foul-smelling and unhygienic and to protect nearby coral.

There is regular water testing to make sure that all the precautionary measures implemented are still effective.

I think Hong Kong can learn from Singapore’s successful strategy, with a balanced policy that prevents the landfills ­reaching capacity, protects marine life and guarantees further reclamation projects are ­possible.

Reclamation is important for Hong Kong, with its large population. With reclamation projects, more land can be made available on which to build homes.

Tina Yeung, Ngau Tau Kok

Impose heavy fines for illegal dumping

The case of the large waste hill at Tin Shui Wai that was so much in the news last month, exposes flaws in government policy.

Illegal dumping by construction firms is a problem in Hong Kong and the penalties are not harsh enough, because they are not deterring these firms.

They appear to be able to dump construction waste wherever they want. They choose a spare area of land, usually in the New Territories, and then act swiftly. By their actions, they are damaging the environment in Hong Kong.

The government should recognise there is a problem. It must come up with specific measures which target firms or individuals who dump waste. Penalties for those convicted should be harsher, including stiff fines and imprisonment.

Officials must also have an education drive in the construction sector so workers know the right and legal way to dispose of waste.

Hester Leung,Tung Chung

Refreshing departure from usual script

Germany’s President Joachim Gauck has spoken up for China’s political prisoners while visiting the country. He was taking a stand that we seldom see being taken by foreign diplomats while they are posted to the country.

What is significant is that he had made his speech at the prestigious Tongji University in Shanghai last month.

It was a coded speech which criticised the track record of ­repressive states and defended the importance of civil society.

Mr Gauck is a former Lutheran pastor, who vigorously opposed repressive communist policies in East Germany. He was welcomed with open arms by critics of Beijing’s crackdown on dissent. Unsurprisingly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “played down” Mr Gauck’s ­mission.

Mr Gauck did not arrive in China empty-handed.

He raised the cases of six political prisoners, including the prominent journalist, Gao Yu, aged 71.

She has written for the ­German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle so clearly he felt he had to speak on her behalf.

Although she is on medical parole, she has not been allowed to leave the country to seek ­medical treatment.

Brian Stuckey, Denver, Colorado, US

Barbaric dog festival must be scrapped

I refer to the report (“Activists join forces to oppose dog meat festival”, April 5).

I was totally shocked to read about this annual festival in Yulin (玉林), Guangxi (廣西) ­during which up to 10,000 dogs, and some cats, are slaughtered and eaten.

This is a dreadful festival and does not conform to any moral code that I know of.

Dogs are such loyal pets for people and are lifelong companions for so many individuals throughout the world. I do not understand how people could organise and get involved in this kind of barbaric event.

I agree with activists in ­various countries who have joined forced to fight against the continuation of this festival. Like me they see it as utterly ­cruel and immoral and want to see the authorities making the decision to scrap it once and for all.

The central government should be taking the initiative and ordering the local authorities to call a halt to it.

There should be laws in place which protect dogs and other animals from such cruelty.

Samuel Cheng Ka-ho, Sai Kung

Suu Kyi’s complaint was out of order

I refer to the report (“Suu Kyi ­‘angry at being interviewed by Muslim’ ”, March 27).

Myanmar pro-democracy veteran Aung San Suu Kyi had complained about being interviewed by BBC journalist Mishal Husain in 2013 because Husain is a Muslim, according to a new biography.

Husain kept pressing her on the plight of the persecuted Rohingya minority.

It surprises me that Suu Kyi have taken this attitude given that she is a veteran in the fight for democracy, and I think its sets a very bad example.

It was not a fitting comment for a Nobel peace prize laureate.

K. M. Nasir, Mid-Levels