Letters to the editor, May 15, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 May, 2016, 12:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 May, 2016, 12:15am

Raise elderly allowance to HK$5,000

The Old Age Living Allowance was introduced by the government in 2013 to supplement the living expenses of elderly people of 65 and above who are in need of financial support.

Its objective was “poverty alleviation”; hence it is a means-tested scheme so it benefits only the needy. The original amount was HK$2,200 per month, which has since been raised to HK$2,390.

Why give money to old rich people (which would be the case if the much-desired ­universal pension scheme principle is accepted), rather than utilise it for other useful ­purposes? This paltry sum would hardly make any difference to them.

Nevertheless, the government wants to do more for the elderly in need, which is why it embarked on a public consultation exercise on retirement protection. I have some suggestions for the government to consider.

First, it should raise the age of eligibility from the existing 65 to 70.

Second, there should be no fixed retirement age. Let a ­person continue working as long as he is mentally and physically alert and active.

These citizens who continued to work could not claim the Old Age ­Living Allowance until they reached 70. This would substantially reduce the burden on the treasury.

It would make the scheme financially sustainable in the long term.

Third, there is an urgent need to increase the amount of the allowance from the miserly HK$2,390 to HK$5,000, which is a decent amount. Let the elderly population enjoy their “golden age” in comfort.

Dr B. K. Avasthi, Discovery Bay

Do our shark nets meet basic standards?

I refer to the report, “Stay out of the water! Shark alert in Silvermine Bay” (May 8).

A shark was spotted outside the shark net at the Lantau beach on May 7 and the beach was closed.

A lifeguard said that it was difficult for a shark to chew through the net, but “who knows if there is a hole in the net”. Did lifeguards make the decision to close the beach on their own, or were they following guidelines from a superior?

Shark nets are taken ashore in winter for inspection and mending. We are only a few weeks into the swimming ­season. If there is one hole in a net in early May, will there be four or five by September?

The Bible makes a passing reference to mending fishing nets. People 2,000 years ago, or only 20 years ago, could not search online.

It took me two minutes to find an ad on Made-in-China.com for cheap shark nets which meet ISO9001 2000(3) standards. Hong Kong beaches installed shark nets a few years before 2000. Do the current shark nets meet the ISO9001 2000(3) standards?

Michael J. Sloboda, Tsim Sha Tsui

Kennedy Town park should be kept intact

I refer to the report (“Locals ­protest against park demolition”, May 3), about Cadogan Street Temporary Garden in Kennedy Town.

Many local residents are ­angry with the government’s controversial proposals for this park and have mounted a campaign to save it. They are ­opposed to the plan to get rid of it and fell the trees to make way for housing. As they point out, Kennedy Town is a busy area of Hong Kong Island with a lot of traffic and green spaces are scarce.

This park is a green lung with around 200 mature trees and so it is clearly good for the environment.

Officials point out that the government has to deal with Hong Kong’s serious housing problem and under the ­proposed development at the site of the park, over 600 private flats will be provided.

I understand this point of view, but I must side with local residents. Once this park is demolished, it is gone for good and cannot be replaced.

Kelly Wong, Cheung Sha Wan

Probe of profit tax loopholes is justified

I refer to your editorial (“Hong Kong must broaden tax base”, May 10) and the continuing ­debate on widening the tax base in the city. One item that stood out was that “only one in 10 companies pay profit tax”.

This is definitely a matter the Inland Revenue Department should look into.

It certainly appears as a strong possibility that some of the nine out of 10 firms that ­continue to operate year in and year out without having to pay profit tax are using loopholes as well as accounting practices that allow profitability and yet avoid paying tax.

Logic would suggest that a ­company cannot operate for very long without a meaningful profit.

Marian Schneps, Wan Chai

Make heavy rain warning system flexible

The fiasco in schools caused by the late issuing of the red rainstorm warning signal on Tuesday by the Hong Kong Observatory once again showed the over-dependence of citizens on government guidelines and the inability to deal with changes in their daily lives.

Weather is unpredictable, and people have to learn to react in a sensible manner. For example, they should make the decision whether or not to take their ­children to school.

Not every area in Hong Kong experiences the same weather conditions at the same time, and on Tuesday the present rigid system closed schools unnecessarily in many areas.

The issuing of the red or black rain signal automatically prompts a command from the Education Bureau for all parents to stop sending their children to school. The bureau shuts schools across the whole territory.

As we have seen in many instances, the present system causes more confusion, not less.

All the Observatory has to do is advise citizens on the likely ­effect of the predicted heavy rainfall on normal traffic.

Then the bureau, based on this information, can advise schools to take a flexible approach and make allowances for students who are late arriving or are ­absent.

Hong Kong parents, for no valid reason, are afraid of being penalised by schools for students who are absent.

This is why the colour signal system was introduced, so all parties could evade responsibility.

Schools in Hong Kong should adopt a more lenient attitude toward students’ attendance.

Parents here are overprotective. Children must learn to toughen up and deal with extreme weather conditions like heavy rain, rather than blaming the weather warning system.

Y. C. Lee, Central

We need a Legco that gets things done

I refer to the letter by John ­Shannon (“It is important to ­ensure Legco quorum”, May 3).

Some Legislative Council meetings are ended with no business discussed, because the number of lawmakers in attendance is below the quorum.

This means that the legislative process over some bills can take a long time. Another reason they can take so long is because of filibustering tactics adopted by some legislative councillors.

These delays cannot be ignored because they affect the lives of some citizens. There may be a law stuck in the consultation system, waiting to be passed, that could help needy citizens, including the elderly.

Social welfare policies are delayed which could benefit the whole of society and they cannot be implemented.

I hope that in future, the Legislative Council will be able to work more effectively in the ­interests of Hong Kong and its citizens. Surely our lawmakers realise that they are there to pass legislation that will be beneficial to Hong Kong.

Yoyo Li Fung-lan, Sham Shui Po