Letters to the Editor, July 25, 2016

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 July, 2016, 5:07pm
UPDATED : Monday, 25 July, 2016, 5:07pm

Retirement age must be raised for cabin crew

It is good to see that the Equal Opportunities chairman, Alfred Chan Cheung-ming, is declaring his support for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender minority (“EOC head urges law on gay rights”, July 19).

However, nothing has been heard about the larger demographic affected by the issue of age discrimination. A perfect example of the injustice was highlighted in Cathy Holcombe’s article (“Much ado about beauty”, July 19) regarding Cathay Pacific management’s view over the retirement age of their cabin crew.

The mandatory retirement age for Cathay’s cabin crew is 55. Likely those loyal staff have worked 30-plus years and are then thrown out to try and find work, at what is a difficult age to start something new. Long gone are the days when having only young and pretty (and less experienced) crew is essential. Paying passengers would much rather have experienced, mature crew members in charge of the cabin. These unflappable and motivated crew have spent decades dealing with passengers and handling safety issues.

As we have an ageing population, putting a greater burden on working taxpayers, why put good professional crew who are highly experienced out of work at 55? The flight attendants’ union has put these issues to ­Cathay management on many occasions and senior crew have agreed to sign a new contract, in line with junior crew.

Cathay’s answer is that it is not fair to junior crew. However, the vast majority of junior crew also voted for the retirement age to be extended to 65. They then have a longer period to reach a senior level. (Of course, some may stay just a couple of years, but the truly motivated and loyal crew members will remain).

Pushing for anti-discrimination laws or a change in companies’ outdated retirement policies makes perfect sense in both economic and demographic terms. Timely retirement will secure a less worrying future for many of the Hong Kong senior workforce who may be facing poverty or a struggle to obtain new worthwhile employment, having been retired late on, but before their productivity and skills diminish.

On becoming the commision’s chairman, Mr Chan pledged to chase all types of discrimination issues to bring Hong Kong in line with real world cities.

It is time to act on age discrimination.

Martyn Esdaile, Sai Kung

Philippines and China can resolve dispute

I refer to the letter from Keith Noyes (“Beijing copies US double standards”, July 15).

He summarised Alex Lo’s argument in his column (“On international law, US is a hypocrite”, July 12) as being that if the US can get away with doing something wrong, China should be entitled to get away with the same transgression.

I do not think that is what Lo was saying. He simply pointed out that when you look at similar disputes [to the one in the South China Sea], China was not the first country to follow this route.

I am not Chinese so I am not taking a subjective view on this matter. Western criticism of some of China’s policies is frequently groundless and somewhat biased.

When the US or the UK committed similar acts in the past, the normal response from the Western or Hong Kong media would be silence.

However, when it comes to China, that same media makes a fuss with full coverage and editorials and op-ed articles. I do not know why the media reacts in this way. I can only ­assume that it may be derived from arrogance, accumulated over decades and derives from the colonial period when some Western powers ruled other ­nations.

I see China’s overall goal as being the pursuit of global prosperity. I see no evidence to indicate that Beijing wants to ­become a global military superpower like the US.

I think that what Lo was ­saying in his column was that the US is not entitled to bully China over regional disputes in which it is not one of the affected nations. Not surprisingly, the US has not ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, so it is taking a two-faced approach to protect its own interests.

None of the Asian nations ­involved want to see the South China Sea territorial dispute ­resolved by use of force, except perhaps Japan, which has ­various maritime territorial disputes with other countries.

The dispute in the South China Sea between the Philippines and China must be settled by patient negotiations so that there can be a win-win situation for both nations.

Jungwon Sohn, Wan Chai

We must help all children use e-learning tools

E-learning is becoming increasingly popular as more households get a computer.

In my school, we use various forms of e-learning, such as language tutorial classes on YouTube and I use it to do homework.

I think the internet provides a great learning platform and it creates more of a level playing field. While only better-off ­families can afford to sign up their children for tutorial classes, anyone can log on and benefit from e-learning classes, as long as they have access to a computer.

Most of the material online is free. For that reason, I would like to see greater use of e-learning, as it provides a wider variety of learning platforms.

It is more difficult to expand e-learning in developing nations where so many children still do not have computers.

I hope developed societies can address this problem and ensure that more families living in developing nations have access to computers and can therefore benefit from e-learning.

After all, education can open so many doors and it can change the lives of young people.

As Nobel laurate Malala Yousafzai said, “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world”.

Every child in the world should have easy access to e-learning and all the learning opportunities that it provides.

Candice Wong, Lam Tin

Careless selfies can put other people at risk

Taking a selfie with the camera on your smartphone is becoming increasingly popular.

While there is nothing wrong with doing that, some people take a lot of these selfies and sometimes do not think about their surroundings and put themselves at risk.

It is certainly more convenient to take a selfie. In the past, you had to ask a passer-by to take a picture on your behalf and now with a selfie and selfie stick, you can take it for yourself. But there have been cases of people getting hurt, or even killed, because they were so wrapped up in taking the picture.

For example, some people have got too close to wild animals or taken selfies while driving and got involved in an accident. They need to realise that by their careless actions, they can put other people at risk.

Hebe Ng Yik-huen, Tseung Kwan O

Wonderful holiday in Hong Kong

I am prompted to write on my return from a week’s holiday in Hong Kong.

Wherever we went, we found people to be very friendly and some went out of their way to help us, whether it was the old lady in Kowloon chatting to us about Brexit or the gentleman on the packed number 15 bus back down from The Peak late at night who made sure we found our way to Admiralty MTR ­station. We are grateful to all the kind people we met.

I don’t think Hong Kong has a big name in the UK as a major holiday destination, but from our experience, you have everything going for you.

It’s a unique place where you can experience the Far East with the comfort of English being spoken and ­written.

We want to return again, ­although maybe in the cooler months.

Paul Blackett, Preston, England