Letters to the Editor, June 27, 2016

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 June, 2016, 4:58pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 June, 2016, 4:58pm

Firefighters have solid public support

I refer to Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok’s remarks last week about the Ngau Tau Kok fire (“Halting operation against Ngau Tau Kok blaze not an option, security minister says, calling for support, not censure from public”, June 24).

I watched him deliver that speech on TV and it drove me absolutely mad. When the public was genuinely concerned with the safety and well-being of our firefighters, Secretary Lai twisted and characterised such sentiments as mere criticisms of the firefighting strategy.

In so doing, he deliberately and untruthfully turned the public against the firefighters, even though the public genuinely supports our firefighters.

Meanwhile, he sidestepped the fact that it was the Buildings Department that advised the Fire Services Department on the structural integrity of the building, which provided critical input into the Fire Services Department’s firefighting strategy.

Many of us have strong faith in the dedication and professionalism of our firefighters. However, we seriously doubt the ability of those senior government bureaucrats who are more concerned with their political careers than the livelihood of the public and, in this case, that of the firefighters!

Andrew Lee, Tung Chung

Time to step up building inspections

The tragic loss of the lives of two firemen highlights the woeful inadequacy of the Buildings Department and its failure to ensure safety regulations are implemented and adhered to. One only has to walk the internal staircases of virtually any building in Hong Kong to see them obstructed with debris; the recent trend for “mini-storage” has seen warehouses carved up with scant regard for regulations on what is placed within them – there are no checks to see if items stored are inflammable or toxic.

The Buildings Department has failed completely in its own Mandatory Building Inspection Scheme, and as a result, we have two firefighters dead.

The government is to blame; it does not insist that smoke detectors are installed in all buildings. Safety is always second to profit and this must stop.

Mark Peaker, The Peak

The young do worry about retirement

The public consultation on retirement protection ended on June 21, and Hong Kong seems to be faced with a choice between a rights-based universal retirement scheme and means-tested protection for (some) elderly.

Baptist University’s Centre for Youth Research and Practice, together with the non-governmental organisation Hong Kong Policy Viewers, ­conducted a territory-wide ­survey between April and June this year. We asked working youth between the ages of 20 and 34 for their opinions on this issue, and we received 627 responses.

The study found that young people would feel more confident and less worried about retirement if the government were to provide a universal retirement scheme. They felt that a universal ­scheme would ­enable economic risks to be shared.

The worst scenario, they felt, is for the government to provide no retirement protection at all.

The survey found that almost all the young people (92 per cent) had thought about retirement and would like to take ­action to save retirement ­income through personal savings and investment.

However, only half (51.8 per cent) were actually saving for their own retirement and a third (35.2 per cent) were saving for their parents’ retirement, and the problem was worse among low-income earners (earning less than HK$15,000 a month).

Overall, young people ­support having a universal retirement scheme. The study contradicts the popular perception that young people are not ­concerned about their future and see retirement schemes as a long-term financial burden.

It also reveals that young people are under great stress to be self-reliant and contribute to their parents’ retirement, and that this pressure is made worse by low salaries and insecure jobs.

We hope that the government will take these views into account when making a decision on retirement protection.

Dr Sharon Leung, Dr Chan Ka-ki, Shiu Ka-chun and Au Yeung Tat-chor, Centre for Youth Research and Practice, Hong Kong Baptist University

Missing Zhou Enlai’s tactful diplomacy

At the recent Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, tensions ­between the US and Chinese ­officials over the South China Sea were palpable.

US leaders have been getting friendly with the leaders of Singapore, India, Vietnam and Japan. No doubt this is partly due to a concern shared between the US and some Asian countries at what they perceive to be China’s ­aggressive posture in the South China Sea. With China’s present foreign policy, its leaders risk provoking the US and several Asian countries to gang up against it.

In contrast, at the Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955, then Chinese premier Zhou Enlai (周恩來) adopted a conciliatory, moderate and broad-minded attitude towards other Asian countries, allowing China to get along with governments which did not share China’s communist ideology. Zhou’s gracious and wise diplomacy won over Asian governments that were previously distrustful of China. His tactful diplomacy enabled China to be a major participant in the Bandung Conference, while the US boycotted the conference.

The current Chinese leaders have lost the brilliant touch of Zhou in winning friends among Asian and African countries. I hope the leaders in Beijing will regain the Zhou touch and the Bandung spirit.

Toh Han Shih, Happy Valley

Adopt a pet, instead of buying one

I agree with correspondents who have urged people who want a dog as a pet to adopt one rather than buying one from a pet shop.

If I were to adopt one, I would go to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I wish more people would take this view, as too many people show a lack of concern for the plight of homeless dogs and cats. Questions have been raised about the conditions in some of these pet shops and the well-being of the dogs.

We must try to raise awareness of respect for animal rights. With greater awareness, we will hopefully see fewer animals being abandoned. The government should urge people who want to have pets to opt for adoption.

Hebe Ng Yik-huen, Tseung Kwan O

Encourage an early start in charity work

Teenagers in Hong Kong seldom get involved in charity work. Though some schools do emphasise the importance of helping others, a lot of youngsters appear to pay no heed to this. I wish teenagers would not be so selfish. They need to realise that there are many ­citizens who are less fortunate than they are, and they should be willing to assist needy people.

I hope we will see a change in attitude, and more young people will recognise their social responsibilities. This is the best way to ensure we have a harmonious ­society in Hong Kong.

Yolanda Yue, Yau Yat Chuen

Students should cherish their food

We Hong Kong students should be ashamed of the amount of food we waste (“Help students reduce food waste in school”, May 29).

We can eat and buy what we want. But we should remember those who live in poor countries who can hardly have a proper meal a day. Hong Kong students are careless about their food. We order a lot, yet do not finish the food. The next time you order, think twice.

Oscar Au Yeung, Tseung Kwan O