Letters to the Editor, September 10, 2016
Helpers at risk from high-rise cleaning
Last Sunday domestic helpers marched in protest over having to clean their employers’ windows and to call for a ban on the practice (“No more cleaning windows: protest at high-rise deaths”, April 4).
They also want higher pay, a limit on working hours and a clear definition of “suitable accommodation”.
As a spokesman for a group representing migrants pointed out it is the responsibility of the management of a building to clean windows and on high rises those doing the work need the right training and safety equipment. It is dangerous for helpers to clean windows on high floors.
The Hong Kong government is failing to protect helpers’ safety. By contrast, in Singapore there are guidelines on maids cleaning windows and it must be properly supervised by the employer and window grilles installed and locked during cleaning.
The government has laws to protect Hong Kong employees working at height, for example, at construction sites, but these do not cover domestic helpers. It has to make the necessary changes so that they are also protected.
Dickens Mok, Hang Hau
Tougher laws to curb rogue employers
I refer to the report (“How Hong Kong failed its domestic helpers”, August 21).
Working conditions for many domestic helpers have deteriorated and the government must deal with this problem as soon as possible.
They do not enjoy sufficient protection under the law if they are being unfairly treated by an employer.
Sometimes they are forced to resign before the end of their contracts and yet do not get paid all the wages they are owed. Legislation needs to be tightened to ensure helpers’ rights are protected.
There have been many campaigns and protests calling for improvements to helpers’ conditions, but the administration has still failed to act.
Some employers impose unfair and bizarre rules, such as restricting when helpers can go outside.
There is an urgent need to deal with any abuses and infringements of contract.
Domestic helpers are not slaves and should not be treated as such.
They deserve our respect and our support and it is important that their conditions improve and they enjoy greater legal protection.
Clovis Wong, Tseung Kwan O
Open more polling stations at next election
I was happy to see so many citizens turning out to vote in Sunday’s Legislative Council election.
I think this was because many Hongkongers became more politically aware and started thinking seriously about the future of society after the Occupy Central movement in 2014.
I was encouraged by the fact that so many younger people voted. But because of this much higher turnout, some polling stations were feeling the strain and there were long queues late into the night.
It seems clear to me that there were not enough polling stations and not enough officers to man them.
The government needs to be better prepared in the future and make sure it has enough polling stations so that people do not have to wait so long to vote.
It is important that the voting and the count should be able to stick to the planned schedule.
I hope that this trend of greater political awareness that we saw on Sunday continues that we see a high turnout at the next election.
Kitty Lui Sze-ki, Tseung Kwan O
Citizens should choose earlier time to vote
The government should take measures before the next major election in Hong Kong to prevent a repeat of what happened on Sunday when queues were so long that some people did not get to vote in the Legco election until around 2am on Monday.
It should open more polling stations to reduce the length of queues and make sure people do not have to wait so long before they can vote.
It should also urge citizens to try and vote earlier rather than waiting until the afternoon or evening.
Louis Fung Lam-lap, Sau Mau Ping
Talking about independence helps students
It is inevitable that people in Hong Kong will discuss the issue of independence, because it is a current affairs issue.
I think those who call for it are being whimsical because we are now part of China. However, the pro-independence movement is a response to the way we are being treated and the effect it is having on freedom of speech.
Young people are often criticised for not being able to think on their own and just listening to the opinions of others.
Talking about independence in the classroom with their teachers, can help youngsters to use their initiative, think analytically and express their own views. This can help rather than hinder their studies.
Students notice the issues that come to the fore in society and should be encouraged to talk about them.
Christy Wong, Sheung Shui
Tax incentives can lead to birth rate rise
Because of problems with Hong Kong’s ageing population there have been calls for the government to introduce more financial incentives that could lead to a higher birth rate.
Many couples are reluctant to start a family because of the costs involved and they feel they simply could not afford to have children.
With m ore elderly citizens and fewer young people to replenish the workforce there will be more labour shortages and the economic and technological development of Hong Kong will suffer. Therefore, I think it would be good to have policies which encourage them to have children.
The government could offer tax rebates (sometimes known as a baby bonus) for couples having a baby.
Also, more resources should be provided to the education sector which could lead to greater upward mobility in society.
The administration will certainly have to draft more policies so that Hong Kong can deal with the effects of having an ageing population.
Tiffany Chow, Tseung Kwan O
City can learn from Taiwan’s anti-litter drive
I refer to the letter by Krystal Wong (“Selfish citizens responsible for litter problem”, August 30).
The refuse problem in Hong Kong is getting worse and I think the problem is that some lazy citizens are just so thoughtless. They cannot be bothered to look for a rubbish bin and simply discard litter on the street or on the bus or minibus they are travelling on.
As Ms Wong pointed out these single items of litter add up. All this rubbish damages the image of our city.
In Japan and Taiwan schoolchildren have moral education and they are taught not to litter and to reduce, reuse and recycle. It is difficult to find a rubbish bin when you walk around and yet the streets are so clean.
The Hong Kong government can learn from Taiwan and Japan when it comes to tackling our litter problem.
Kaylie Lai Tsz-ki, Kwai Chung