Letters to the Editor, July 2, 2016

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 July, 2016, 12:33pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 July, 2016, 12:33pm

Let the elderly enjoy use of a proper venue

Every weekday and weekend, the elderly living in the Hung Shui Kiu district practises tai chi and some kind of kung fu exercise in the open sitting-out area adjacent to some residential buildings.

However, they are finding it hard to keep up with this pastime so essential for their physical health and social life.

The residents of the nearby buildings complain of the sound of the exercise instructions coming from their audio player. Besides, their practice is badly affected by rain and other adverse weather conditions. So, they frequently need to seek shelter, like “refugees”.

Sometimes, they have to run on wet and slippery ground to escape a sudden downpour, which can be dangerous.

It is encouraging that the chief executive advocated the principle of “ageing in place as the core, institutional care as backup” in his policy address, while the financial secretary spoke of improving elderly people’s quality of life and “healthy ageing” in his budget speech. In light of the government’s vision, the elderly people of Hung Shui Kiu sincerely hope that the government can provide them with a suitable covered venue for their community activities.

I note that a pet park is available in this district for use by households keeping pets; it has been built just next to the open sitting-out area mentioned earlier. I am sure the needs of the elderly will be properly catered for, too.

Winnie Chu, Yuen Long

New bins a failure of common sense

Common sense is a rare commodity in Hong Kong. There are numerous examples, but here are a few:

When individual words (or characters in the case of Chinese) are put together as a name, they lose the individual identities and form a single one referring to the person or place bearing the name. For example Sham Shui Po should be written as Shamshuipo, because the place no longer has anything to do with sham (deep), shui (water) or po (landing). It refers to a particular place. This treatment is the same in English, for example. Mary’s Gate becomes Marysgate, whether or not there was a gate named by a Mary is no longer relevant.

When people are moving, they won’t be able to read a lot on a wall. Yet many advertisers put small prints on billboards alongside the escalators at MTR stations.

The openings of the iconic orange rubbish bin at street corners have been reduced in size, with the purpose of making it less likely for people to leave big bags of rubbish in these bins. Will it work?

A good lesson should have been learnt from the building of footbridges across roads at wrong locations. People climb over railings even at their peril to cross where they consider more convenient. This is called the path of least effort, a conscious behaviour of living creatures. As a result, many of these footbridges are under-used, illustrating the limits of “administrative influence”.

Wilkie Wong, Yuen Long

Academy should honour its pledge

With regard to the article “We have to communicate better with young, head of Hong Kong’s top arts institution says” (June 22), the director of the Academy for Performing Arts, Professor Adrian Walter, rightly expresses concern that people may “get the wrong story”.

However, his comment that “it did not require a court to point out what needed to be done” about sexual harassment is a good example of “the wrong story”. He should know very well that my claim was for victimisation, after having reported handwritten student allegations about sexual harassment. (The claim was settled earlier this year with a HK$1 million payout to me.)

I would now ask Professor Walter to answer publicly the following questions:

Why was the South China Morning Post refused access to the academy’s sexual harassment and victimisation policies (“Hong Kong performing arts academy in HK$1 million sexual harassment payout to ex-employee”, April 9)? Why – unlike other tertiary institutions in Hong Kong – is it impossible for prospective students, concerned parents, stakeholders and the general public to access such information?

What provisions are in place to ensure that students are properly informed of their rights and avenues of redress when reporting potential instances of sexual harassment and indecent assault?

What provisions are in place to protect from victimisation those who report such instances?

What provisions are in place to ensure fairness and impartiality?

The student union formally raised serious questions regarding the protection of students, the lack of confidential reporting channels, the suspension of alleged harassers, and the lack of transparency. Has it been a given a detailed item-by-item response? Can this response now be made public?

In the spirit of “open and honest communication”, can Professor Walter reveal the total costs to the taxpayer as a result of first resisting and finally settling my claim of victimisation? Can he also explain why a considerably larger sum was offered on condition that I sign a confidentiality clause?

Finally, if the alleged victimiser was entirely innocent, why was he asked and agreed to contribute to the settlement payment?

Professor Walter rightly states that the academy is “owned by the people of Hong Kong”. Can he now give a full and frank response to them?

Dr Peter Jordan, Lantau

No place for blushes in a newspaper

I refer to your article, “‘What did he just say?’ New Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in his own words” (June 30).

If editors at the South China Morning Post feel too intimidated by the biological word “penis” and insist on changing it to p***s, paraphrase the whole story in the first place! I cannot believe the primary English paper in Hong Kong has turned into a nursery rhyme book.

Adrian W. Chan, Central

Right to shine light on helpers’ plight

Yet another excellent article from Philip Bowring in the Sunday Morning Post (“Blame Hong Kong’s failures of government on Carrie Lam and Co, not our political system”, June 25). The 300,000-plus domestic workers in Hong Kong are getting a very unfair deal.

Some are even victims of physical assault, and some of sexual abuse. Yet most victims do not lodge a complaint for fear of losing their jobs and being forced to return home.

Our ministers always defend Hong Kong’s policy by comparing us with Singapore, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, where conditions for the domestic helpers are even more harsh. But just because we are less bad than others does not make us good!

Our ministers live in ivory towers and thus do not understand this simple fact.

Parvez Kerawala, Mid-Levels

GOP eroding trust in US government

From day one of Barack Obama’s presidency in the US, the Republican Party has tried to block every measure he proposed (as promised by [Senate majority leader] Mitch McConnell). The Republicans consider their latest obstruction a “victory” as the Supreme Court couldn’t come to a decision on immigration (“Immigration win for Republicans could boost Clinton’s electoral prospects”, June 25).

So the Republicans can “hold their heads high” as they keep “winning” while American citizens keep losing their faith and trust in our system of government. Shameful!

Herb Stark, Mooresville, North Carolina, US