Letters to the Editor, August 27, 2016

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 August, 2016, 12:18am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 August, 2016, 12:18am

Employers and maids must know of rights

I refer to the article (“Employers are victims too: man wrongly ­accused of maid abuse wants to help others like himself”, August 8).

The case of abused Indonesian domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih has stirred ­heated debate about human rights and the ­unfair treatment of maids in Hong Kong.

Increased awareness of this kind of “modern slavery” has led to reinforcement of laws as well as services from local agencies, in hopes of preventing the exploitation of maids by their ­employers.

Undoubtedly,domestic helpers are an easy target for abuse, since they usually suffer financial predicaments in their home country.

Despite receiving unfair treatment and low salaries in Hong Kong, they feel their ­labour here can help their family back home lead a better life.

Admittedly, the percentage of exploitative employers ­remains really high because of the lack of adequate laws and regulations to deter unscrupulous employers from taking ­advantage of their helpers.

Also, with few aid organisations reaching out to maids,their voices are not heard enough.

Local agencies could try to make monthly insurance available to domestic helpers in order to provide financial support. The agencies should clearly list the amount of commission fee they would charge on the ­worker’s salary and provide ­contract papers written in their native language.

The government should conduct regular monitoring of local agencies to prevent them from depriving workers of their rights. At the same time, domestic helpers should be brave enough to speak out in case they receive any unfair treatment from either their local agency or employer.

It is a fact that both employers and domestic workers can end up as victims. To avoid exploitation,they should clearly understand their rights, be ­cautious when signing the ­contract and be ready to speak up if they face any inequality.

Rainbow Leung Wai-yu, Po Lam

Public housing woes call for better remedy

I refer to the report (“Public housing waiting time now 4.1 years as observers say government has failed to deliver”, ­August 12).

The housing problem is still a controversial issue in Hong Kong. According to the Housing Authority, families need to wait an average of four years to get into public housing.

This shows that the increase in supply cannot catch up with the substantial increase in ­demand in the short term.

Although the authorities are working hard to offer more flats, they face challenges such as public opposition.

Also, they need to get approval from different agencies to rezone and reclaim land. All these obstacles lengthen the waiting time.

I agree that the government should work harder on rezoning and reclaiming land so as to shorten the waiting time. However, many Hongkongers living abroad have public housing flats in Hong Kong which they have rented out. The government should clamp down on those owners as it is unfair to local citizens who are queuing for flats.

There is no doubt that the government should modify public housing policies and always keep people informed about regulations so as to eradicate any loopholes.

Cherry Yeung, Tseung Kwan O

Why city needs job creation, labour imports

The chairman of the Hong Kong Housing Authority’s Subsidised Housing Committee, Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, said the construction of public housing ­estates was facing lengthy ­delays. He attributed the delay to the shortage of experienced construction workers.

In view of the problem, representatives of building contractors called on the government to relax controls on labour importation in the construction industry. I agree with this opinion.

I appreciate the government’s efforts in encouraging young people to join the construction industry.

But what we need is experienced workers – the problem can’t be relieved by the introduction of “new blood”. Also, ­labour demand in the construction industry is cyclical, but there is already an over-reliance on the construction sector in creating job opportunities.

This is a worrying trend as serious unemployment will emerge if there is a market reversal. Moreover, the pessimistic outlook for the global economy has cast doubts on prospects for the local property market.

Many people believe that the boom in the construction ­industry is coming to an end and it will soon face a correction.

Labour importation is a flexible way to cope with short-term labour demand.

The superficial comments of lawmakers who opposed the suggestion will only sow the seeds for long-term structured unemployment.

The government should seriously consider importing labour and also focus on promoting job creation in other business ­sectors, like the creative industry.

Goldman Chan, Sham Shui Po

Poke-addicts veering from Christian way

I welcome Tony Cheung’s ­article (“Pokemon Go inspires religious debate”, August 10. It’s about time the 450,000 strong Christian community in Hong Kong made its voice heard over the Pokemon Go mania that has swept the city.

Christianity has been one of the most important religions in Hong Kong ever since British rule. But from the time of the handover to China in 1997, its development has been curbed.

Local churches reported youngsters dropping out around the “Occupy Central” period. Many who are steadfast regarding their political orientation opted to stay away from religious authorities who took a different stand. Our youngsters are getting more independent in their thinking these days.

Some atheists see Christians as dogmatic outdated moralists who adhere to unearthly principles and are always against wordly trends.

It is undeniable that we as Christians uphold different ­values. However, it is a fact that ­“dechristianisation” has eaten into our society.

People, especially youngsters, are veering away from matters of the heart and finding meaning and gratification in surreal and exciting digital ­pursuits instead.

I deplore this situation. I ­believe that no matter how times change, youth is still an invaluable period in one’s life and, as such, should be spent in a worthwhile way.

My friends and I hope that the addicted gamers would show some self-discipline and be ready to refocus on their ­studies when school starts in ­September. However attractive, it’s just a game.

Jacqueline Kwan, Mid-levels

Hospitals no place for fun and Pokemon

I am writing in response to the new trend in Hong Kong, Pokemon Go. As we know, Pokemon Go combines augmented reality technology and GPS to provide a new gaming experience.

However, there have been some complaints about the game, especially regarding Pokestop and Gym locations.

For example, the Hospital Authority warned that players will disrupt medical treatment if they try to catch pokemons on the premises, after crowds flocked to play. This will affect the safety of both patients and hospital staff, the authority said. So they want Nintendo, the company behind Pokemon Go, to remove all “game elements” from public hospitals, to ensure the safety of everyone there.

I think the government should take some action to ­resolve the social problems ­arising out of Pokemon Go.

Ronnie Tse, Tseung Kwan O