Letters to the Editor, June 24, 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 June, 2016, 2:45pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 June, 2016, 2:45pm

Many elderly citizens willing to stay at work

I refer to the letter by Suki Lee (“Help elderly cope with housing costs”, June 17).

Your correspondent may underestimate the ability of many elderly people to continue working up to 65, and in some cases up to 75 or beyond, in the future. Those citizens therefore have an extended earning power and this means they can pay for housing, management fees, food and other necessities.

I see minibus drivers nowadays who are in their 70s. When I speak to them, they are still as alert and articulate as someone in middle age.

In Fo Tan in the office of a property agency, I saw a white-haired salesman, who must have been in his 70s, working with his computer and talking on the phone at the same time. Presumably he is on the same ­contract as his younger colleagues and so earns sales commission. People like him can pay for their housing and daily expenses.

The government and non-governmental organisations should be encouraging this growing trend by ensuring there are more at-home jobs for the elderly to earn money, where they could work with their computers, for example, in telemarketing. This happens abroad and we should follow the example set by these countries.

Edmond Pang, Fanling

Proposed pension level will be too low

I refer to the report, “Elderly set for means-tested pensions” (June 21).

It appears that the government will possibly set an individual asset limit of between HK$80,000 and HK$140,000 for the new retirement scheme, which would give eligible elderly people HK$3,230 per month.

The present Old Age Living Allowance is HK$2,390 per month.

I suggest that a reasonable limit of HK$120,000 be set as an asset limit for an individual, which will be fair to all. At the same time, the pension amount must be raised to at least HK$4,000 a month, since the likely amount of HK$3,230, which the government has in mind, is definitely not enough for an individual to live comfortably in Hong Kong. Why deprive the elderly population of this little ­indulgence?

Let them enjoy their “golden age” in comfort. I am sure the government can afford to help the needy old persons by increasing the pension amount to a fairly decent level.

Dr B. K. Avasthi, Discovery Bay

Governments must allay citizens’ fears

I refer to your editorial, “Come clean on booksellers’ case” (June 18), regarding stories surrounding Lam Wing-kee of Causeway Bay Books.

In January, when Lee Po, ­the major shareholder of the bookstore, was reportedly missing from the city, I wrote that, if illegal custody by mainland police was involved, Hongkongers could rightly suggested that “one ­country, two systems” had been distorted.

The recent revelations by Lam over his eight-month ordeal have reignited my concern. He has said he was intercepted by mainland law enforcers in Shenzhen, later detained in Ningbo (寧波) and interrogated by a ­“central special task force”, an informal law enforcement agency.

Of course, Mr Lam was ­arrested on the mainland, not Hong Kong. However, doubts have emerged again over whether Lee Po, who mysteriously disappeared from Hong Kong and later showed up on the mainland, was illegally captured.

Although he has repeatedly said he went to the mainland to help with an investigation, and has dismissed Mr Lam’s comments, what happened to him remains a mystery. Many Hongkongers, including me and Mr Lam, have doubts about him making such clarifications willingly even after returning to Hong Kong.

As I said in these columns in January, if there was any interference from the mainland authorities, it would be a blatant attack on freedom of speech and Hong Kong’s independent judiciary. This could have a profound ­impact on people’s confidence over the city’s political future.

The central and Hong Kong governments must act promptly to resolve the mystery over the missing booksellers if they want to restore confidence in “one country, two systems”. Our administration must show it is determined to defend the city’s “high degree of autonomy” and core values.

Ben L. P. Tsang, Yuen Long

Did old bins end up in one of our landfills?

I wonder what happened to all those perfectly usable waste bins that have just been replaced in Hong Kong.

Did they get recycled, sent to needy places on the mainland perhaps?

I fear that it is much more ­likely that they ended up in a landfill in the New Territories.

David Jones, Shouson Hill

Worth keeping assignments and TSA

Parents have renewed their criticism of the Territory-wide ­Systems Assessment (TSA). However, I disagree with them and feel that the TSA has some value and does bring benefits to students.

The parents argue that the TSA results in primary school students having too much homework, because they are given so many assignments by their teachers and have to revise and prepare for a lot of quizzes and exams.

When they get home from school, they do not have enough time to rest, so the parents want the amount of homework given out to be cut back.

In fact, students can benefit in many ways from these assignments. They help teachers to assess what levels different students are at, something that cannot always be done in the classroom.

Youngsters have differing capacities when it comes to absorbing knowledge; some learn faster than others. So the assignments enable teachers to recognise where individual students are at their weakest and help them accordingly. If necessary, they can modify their ­teaching methods.

There may be a case for ­reducing the amount of homework, but it would be wrong to give in to those parents who want it cancelled.

With a reduced workload, children can still do some assignments, but also have more time to relax.

Teachers should also look into the possibility of allowing students to do some of their homework during lessons. This ­enables them to ask questions and so problems can be dealt with promptly.

Despite the opposition of some parents, I hope schools will keep on giving appropriate assignments to students.

Winnie Lei Yuen-lam, Shek Kip Mei

Children often lose out at the starting line

Parents always tell their children that if they study hard, they can enjoy success in the future.

Often it is argued that even if you come from an underprivileged family, if you are diligent in school, you can escape poverty. But I wonder if this is really always the case.

I think students from low-income families in Hong Kong are treated unfairly.

There are many good Direct Subsidy Scheme schools, but their tuition fees have become quite high, around HK$30,000 to HK$40,000 a year.

They may offer grants to poor families, but some parents are ­reluctant to apply, fearing their children will be ­singled out by classmates because of their low-income ­status.

These parents cannot offer their children the same resources as those on ­higher ­incomes and cannot ­afford, for example, to sign their sons and daughters up for extracurricular activities.

It is argued that because of this they lose out at the starting line.

This problem persists because of the great income inequality in Hong Kong.

Sukie Chiu, Kowloon Tong