Letters to the Editor, July 31, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 July, 2016, 12:18am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 July, 2016, 12:18am

Dividend tax is not the right way to go

I refer to Alex Lo’s column (“Li’s remark about increasing tax is a bit rich”, July 16).

Lo said that “rich men like Li [Ka-shing] don’t pay much tax anyway with their billions of dollars in tax-free dividends”. Lawmakers “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Lee Cheuk-yan, unions, and some student activists have called for a dividend tax, or “rich man’s tax”.

While Lo may be just trying to drum up readership, he entirely misses the point. A dividends tax or a “total income tax” hits everyone who owns shares of listed companies, rich or poor. Yes, poor, because any ­decrease in income from the dividends hits the poor disproportionately to the wealthy.

Thousands of elderly Hongkongers hold blue chip stocks from decades ago. An elderly resident with 4,000 HSBC shares would have got an additional HK$1,300 a month (compared to the Old Age Living Allowance of HK$2,495). A 15 per cent income tax on this would be very significant to that person.

Furthermore, dividends have been “pre-taxed” in the form of profits tax paid by the company.

Listed companies pay out dividends after they have paid all of their taxes and obligations. If the government takes another income tax on the dividends, then the recipient in ­essence pays taxes twice. Some countries do that, but that doesn’t make it right. For the sake of the elderly and the not-so-well-off, not for the rich, a dividend tax is not the right way to go.

On the other hand, an additional 1 or 2 per cent corporate tax could add a handsome amount to the government’s coffers and, if properly used, could make a world of difference for many.

Gary Nest, Shau Kei Wan

We should be wary of online criminals

I recently read an article on the BBC website about how social media is the perfect platform for cybercriminals due to its interconnectivity.

In a busy developed city like Hong Kong, people rely a lot on the smartphone and its social media apps. While we can ­benefit a lot from these apps, there can be a downside.

Of course there are health problems resulting form the overuse of mobiles, including addiction, but people must also be aware, as the article points out, of the danger posed to them by cybercrimes. We all need to pay attention to what is OK and what is potentially unsafe ­online. ­Setting up anti-virus software can prevent an internet user experiencing a worst-case scenario.

We all have to be careful about sharing personal information and should set our social media account to private.

We need to be vigilant when we are using these networks.

Trisha Tobar, Tseung Kwan O

Peace-loving Muslims must take a stand

Random attacks on unsuspecting members of the public are ­becoming almost routine.

Murder has been committed on the streets, on buses and trains and in cafes throughout Western Europe and in the US, and there have been atrocities in the Middle East and North ­Africa.

It is very disturbing, and only in the last 18 months, there have been hundreds of victims of such attacks in Europe.

Virtually all of these attacks have been committed by Islamists and claimed by Islamic State or similar organisations.

In an attack by a man wielding an axe on a train in Germany, four Hong Kong citizens were seriously injured.

Although we accept that the great majority of Muslims are peaceful, there’s a minority that supports the action of the violent extremists.

Siddiq Bazarwala in his letter (“Vast majority of Muslims are peaceful”, July 17) describes these attacks as “heinous actions” committed by fringe groups.

What I find unsettling is that your correspondent then describes these murderous acts as a consequence of failed ­foreign policies by Western ­nations in Muslim countries.

There is no justification for the slaughter of innocent people. I would like to point out to Mr Bazarwala that Vietnam was colonised by the French and then the Americans, but the Vietnamese do not go on murder sprees. The same can be said about many other former colonies.

It isn’t so-called Islamophobia: it’s a logical conclusion, when people point to Muslims, since these acts are committed by Muslims. The peaceful Muslim majority should do whatever it takes to restore its people’s good name.

Marian Schneps, Wan Chai

Plastic cushion protects fragile groceries

I refer to the letter by Philippe Espinasse (“Supermarket’s new policy wastes plastic”, July 24).

He complained that ParknShop was using too much plastic, with inflatable cushions and bubble wrap when it makes home deliveries.

In fact, plastic cushions are very effective at protecting fragile items and preventing them from getting damaged.

Regarding the plastic bag levy, it was introduced to raise our awareness about the need to reduce volumes of rubbish, but we have to accept that aiming for zero waste is not feasible.

On my estate, there are many residents on low incomes. The checkout ladies in the supermarket often do not charge them the levy, but give them a plastic bag, out of sympathy. They usually provide a free bag for frozen meat and fresh fruit.

Edmond Pang, Fanling

Self-discipline key to enjoying new game

I refer to the report, “ Hong Kong goes predictably Pokemon Go crazy, and businesses try to cash in” (July 27).

I am concerned that some ­people are spending an inordinate amount of time playing ­Pokemon Go.

Now Hongkongers can download it on their smartphone and many of them ­appear to be immersed in it, to be point where it has taken over their lives. I can see the attraction, but users must be aware of the potential risks.

Some pedestrians are so ­absorbed in the game, that they become distracted while walking in the street. This can be very dangerous if they are crossing a busy road in Hong Kong and not looking where they are going. They obviously run the risk of being knocked down.

Also, people who become obsessed with it are spending most of their time in the virtual rather than the real world. This can damage relationships with friends and relatives.

Playing games can help you relax and relieve stress, but ­people must exercise self-control and not spend too long on Pokemon Go.

Anson Ng, Tseung Kwan O

Having the right attitude can ease stress

The education system in Hong Kong puts students under a lot of pressure. They are so focused on their studies that many find they have no time for anything else, even hobbies.

If the workload becomes too much, they may eventually lose interest in the curriculum.

While I accept that the pressure can be difficult to deal with, I think teens can help themselves by trying to cultivate the right attitude and good ­habits.

Students should think about the subjects that interest them and focus on them. If they are naturally drawn to a subject and work hard at it, they are more likely to succeed in school.

They should also try to find common reference points that link what they are studying to their daily lives.

If they are having negative thoughts about some aspect of school, they should think about them and see if they can be positive and resolve the problem. They can have a chat with the subject teacher about how to improve their performance.

Also, they need to recognise when they are feeling stressed and try to deal with it. If need be they should talk to their parents or friends, or to a teacher or school counsellor.

Students will do better if they deal with stress rather than trying to ignore it.

Kassie Chau, Shek Kip Mei