Letters to the Editor, June 16, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 June, 2016, 5:19pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 June, 2016, 5:19pm

Attack foreign companies at our own risk

Hong Kong was founded on the principles of trade.

With virtually no natural resources but thanks to a hard-working populace, it has become the epitome of free trade worldwide. However, with current trends leading towards a downward ­spiral, this could end.

Direct investments to the city last year were around HK$12 tri­llion. That is a lot of money coming from countries which have faith in Hong Kong’s future. About 1,500 foreign companies have their regional headquarters here. There are also 120 diplomatic missions, each reporting daily on our state of play to their home countries. The eyes of the world are upon us.

Therefore, those attacking a foreign company in Hong Kong should think twice about the ramifications of their actions. Major French cosmetic firm L’Oreal has become the brunt of vicious attacks because it cancelled a pop concert featuring an activist singer.

This was a decision of the ­foreign company and it does not owe an explanation to anyone as to why it did so. Obviously it doesn’t want to be involved in any domestic political issues and this is correct. The ­actions by activists forced the company to close its sales ­outlets, thereby affecting its business. This is unacceptable.

The 120 foreign missions here will query if Hong Kong is a safe place to do business. Would their trillions of dollars be put at risk because of the narrow- mindedness of just a few? Hong Kong people need to think ­outside the box; they should put Hong Kong first, ahead of any personal vendettas they harbour.

Mark Pinkstone, Yuen Long

Bring in plastic bottle deposits, not dispensers

I refer to the article by Edwin Lau of Green Earth (“Tapping Taipei’s idea”, June 6) and the suggestion that water dispensers should be installed across Hong Kong to cut its reliance on plastic bottles.

Lau has genuine ­concerns about pollution caused by plastic and the ­dangers of micro-plastics in the sea which end up in our food chain. But his idea to have water dispensers across the city will create another hazard, increasing the ­danger of passing on communicable diseases.

Surveys and ­testing of water dispensers in hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and public buildings have shown that they are a ­hotbed for bacteria. Constant cleaning and sanitising would be required but even then, the danger of contamination will still be high. With our climate, large population and huge movement of tourists, to risk advancing the spread of diseases would be irresponsible.

This is not about environmental protection but public health; prevention is the key.

To solve the problem of plastics pollution, especially plastic bottles, the government must take decisive action against the producers who place such pollutants in Hong Kong in the first place. In many countries, retailers are asked to add a ­refund charge and accept the ­return of plastic bottles. They are then responsible for arranging proper recycling.

With a refund charge of HK$1 per bottle, I think our problem of plastic bottles would be solved to a great extent.

Educating the public will be a long-term affair and we also have to deal with millions of visitors to Hong Kong. Money talks and will produce results.

Thomas Gebauer, Lantau

Scholarship is yet another white elephant

I refer to the proposed HK$1 ­bil­lion funding for the “One Belt, One Road” scholarship scheme.

As a frontline secondary teacher for about 30 years, I don’t think such funding is what Hong Kong students need.

They are over-burdened by our flawed education and examination systems. For example, there is the school-based assessment for many ­subjects as part of the Diploma of Secondary Education exam and costly DSE exam fees.

Why doesn’t our government subsidise these youngsters to ease their immediate studying problems first? This would be more meaningful than, for example, asking them to learn Eastern European languages or to pay for more meaningless exchange tours.

When the language standards of our students, both ­English and Chinese, are the laughing stock of our community, how can they manage ­another language?

For decades, our young people have been used as guinea pigs as part of education reforms.

I hope the Education Bureau will finally think about our students’ well-being and not introduce another white elephant.

Kendra Ip, Hung Hom

Homework leaves us little time to sleep

Teenagers in Hong Kong suffer from different kinds of pressure.

They find it in the family and at school where they are bombarded with too much homework.

Some parents exacerbate the stress by monitoring their children’s homework and checking all the results of their tests. This can lead to a deterioration in the relationship between children and parents.

I am a Form Five student and I and my classmates often do not get enough sleep during the week because we have so much homework to do.

Students can help themselves through better time management and they should try and find the time to exercise and relax .

Yoyo Sin Lok-yiu, Cheung Sha Wan

Cost of red tape outweighs the fees collected

Recently, I needed to get a copy of my previous car’s registration certificate.

I was told I could get a copy from the vehicle records office at Queensway.

I went there and, after writing a letter explaining my reason for needing it, a copy was made. But, before I could receive the copy, I was told to go to the Transport Department in the nearby United Centre to pay HK$2.40 for the copying charge and then return to the vehicle records office to collect the copy.

Does it really make sense to collect such a small amount for copying a document? The overall cost of producing such a copy, given the staff and time ­involved, must surely outweigh the paltry sum of the actual charge made? Even if it is deemed necessary to make the charge, surely it can be paid in the same department where the copy is made?

I feel that this is a classic example of government bureaucracy which should be addressed, particularly if, as seems likely these days, the problem extends to higher levels of government.

James Dyer, Clear Water Bay

Help elderly cope with housing costs

Hong Kong is dealing with an ageing population.

The government has introduced policies to help the elderly, including the construction of purpose-built housing units. While this may appear to be a good idea, many old folk are living below the poverty line.

If they are given one of these units, they simply do not have the financial resources to live in them. They cannot afford the management fees, rates or utilities, in addition to having enough money for food.

To survive, some of these people still have to go out in the morning and collect cardboard to sell to recyclers.

When old folk are offered a unit, but cannot afford the expenses because their income is so low, they must be ­provided with the necessary subsidies to cover costs, such as management fees and food.

Suki Lee, Hang Hau