Letters to the Editor, October 03, 2016
Moderating figure in a troubled region
The late Shimon Peres had an admirable, distinguished and long career as a leading political figure, an acknowledged intellectual and a poet.
Above all, Shimon Peres was a moderating wise man, advocating peace in one of the most turbulent regions of the world. He never allowed his optimistic vision of the future to be undermined by the negative rhetoric that plagues this most unsettled and hopeless part of the world. His great vision qualified him as a great ambassador for hopeful and sensible coexistence among bitterly divided nations in the Middle East.
He was a wise father who tirelessly strove for peace and never gave up hope of reconciliation by trying to bridge the gap between bitterly opposed yet potentially close members of a family of nations, that have little option but to coexist for mutual benefit.
He was a great statesman that well and truly qualified for the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, that he shared with the former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin for their role in the Oslo Accord.
Peres had endless energy and was fully dedicated to his noble mission towards his country and humanity at large.
At the age of 93, he simply refused to retire from public life. In the past he was warmly greeted with full honours, as a state leader, by President Barack Obama in the White House. When he visited Beijing he met President Xi Jinping (習近平). He continued to meet with other world leaders.
While many world leaders mourned Peres, a spokesman for the Gaza Strip’s Hamas government, disappointingly, and degradingly, called him “ a criminal” .
However, it is not very surprising, as they are the very same people that were dancing in the streets of Gaza celebrating the 2001 September 11 attack on the twin towers in New York which resulted in the deaths of over 3,000 innocent people.
A lot of optimism is called for, to see Peres’ vision materialise, particularly knowing fully well whom we are dealing with while trying to negotiate peace in an environment of intrinsic antagonism.
Shalom Levy, Tsim Sha Tsui
Peres knew Israel had to remain strong
Shimon Peres knew peace is better than war, but not at any price.
He devoted decades of his life to ensuring Israel’s security before turning to the even more difficult labours of peace.
He knew that the only peace likely to be achieved with Israel’s enemies would come from strength, not from endless concessions as advised by Western “friends”.
Paul Bloustein, Cincinnati, Ohio, US
Good civil servants are rewarded
I refer to Goldman Chan’s letter on the promotion and appraisal systems of the civil service (“Top tiers of civil service perform badly”, September 22).
Promotion and performance management systems are important and integral elements of the civil service human resource management strategy.
Under the performance management system, good performers are recognised and rewarded, while substandard performers are identified for guidance and counselling. Supervisors make comprehensive and substantiated assessment of staff performance based on achievement of work targets. They also regularly communicate with staff, clarify objectives, and identify areas for staff improvement and development.
Promotion in the civil service is merit-based. Selection for promotion is based on performance, character, ability, experience and qualifications prescribed. Seniority will not be given weight unless no officer stands out. The system seeks to ensure that civil service posts are filled by officers of merit, proven ability and integrity.
Eric Chan, deputy secretary for the civil service, Civil Service Bureau
Crackdown could lead to mass evictions
There have been calls for a crackdown on illegal subdivided flats in Hong Kong.
Being a densely populated city, Hong Kong faces a number of housing problems. Many citizens have chosen to live in subdivided units, because although they do not adhere to safety regulations, it is all these people can afford.
If there was a crackdown, where would these people live given that there are not enough public housing flats to meet rising demand and there is a long waiting list for them?
Some of them could face the prospect of becoming homeless.
As I say people do not want to live in these units. The conditions, especially in terms of hygiene, are bad, but they have no choice because if they are able to find work they will only be on low incomes. These flats have a lot of vermin, including cockroaches and rats.
The safety issue is serious, for example, they do not meet fire safety regulations and there may not even be a fire escape or other exits where people can get out in the event of blaze.
Also, being in such cramped conditions means disputes will often break out between residents. Nobody should have to live like that; it really is intolerable.
The government must accelerate its building programme for public housing estates and develop more new residential areas where people can find affordable housing. Once it has more homes where people can be resettled, it can then crack down on illegal subdivided units.
Wong Cheuk-ling, Yau Yat Chuen
It is important to raise organ donor rate
Education is key to getting rid of misconceptions about organ donations which persist in Hong Kong.
Many citizens still hold to traditional Chinese values, one of which is that the body should remain intact after death.
Through education in schools, more young people can understand that registering as donors can save the lives of people waiting for an organ transplant. It needs to be accepted that saving lives is more important than holding on to this traditional belief.
Youngsters must understand the importance of this to counter what they may be told by parents and other family members. In the long term we can only see an increase in donations if there is a change of mindset by these young people.
I would support a policy where if people’s organs were donated their relatives would in future get priority if they needed a transplant.
This could act as an incentive, encouraging more people to register as donors.
The donor percentage rate here is much lower than in some countries in the West, so there is clearly a need for improvement in that rate, through education and providing the additional incentive I suggested.
Justin Lu, Tseung Kwan O
Hospitals’ bill estimates great for patients
I am glad that private hospitals in Hong Kong will issue bill estimates to patients for some procedures.
In the past it has been a problem, with patients not having a clear idea of how much a procedure might cost. Concern groups argued that this was a deprivation of patients’ rights. Now they will at least have an idea of the likely cost.
They can choose what they can afford, for example, the type of room, private, or semi-private, which can affect the overall cost. The downside for hospitals would be if a procedure ended up being a lot more expensive than the estimate because additional treatment was required and this led to a dispute with the patient.
However, I think in most cases this new policy will benefit patients and hospitals.
Vanessa Choi Wing-sze, Kowloon Tong