Letters to the Editor, October 12, 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 5:00pm

Bureau should clarify position on detention

The Security Bureau’s response to the detention by Thai ­immigration authorities of ­Joshua Wong Chi-fung is that it ­respects the right of other jurisdictions in exercising immigration control and it will not and should not interfere. Does this mean that the bureau finds it totally acceptable for a Hong Kong citizen to be detained ­indefinitely by the immigration authorities of another jurisdiction, without notification to ­anyone, that the citizen can be prevented from contacting ­family or friends and can be ­deprived of access to legal ­advice?

Does the bureau also mean that, as it will not “interfere”, it has no expectation of being notified when a Hong Kong citizen is detained? The bureau should make it clear then that no ­consular protection will be ­offered to the holder of a Hong Kong passport who is detained by ­immigration authorities ­anywhere.

Instead of the inane travel advisories which are issued by the government from time to time, it would be more useful for the bureau to give us hard information as to the powers of ­detention by immigration authorities in the most popular travel destinations, such as maximum period of detention before the person is brought ­before a court or must be ­released, and the extent to which there is an ­enforceable right to notify family and to have access to legal ­advice.

Or might that turn the ­spotlight on whether our immigration authorities treat the ­citizens of other jurisdictions in a like fashion?

Gladys Li, Admiralty

Training centre wrong site for public flats

I am concerned by the government’s decision to take back a newly opened soccer training centre (funded by the Jockey Club) in Sha Tin for public ­housing development.

While I appreciate that the shortage of public housing is a pressing issue that needs to be alleviated, that does not justify the administration taking any land it wishes to achieve its aims.

A balance is always important to meet the needs of different sections of society and to maintain sustainable development. As far as possible, all stakeholders should be consulted before such important decisions are made. Removing this ­training centre will definitely damage sports development in Hong Kong. It is important that there is sufficient space for ­different kinds of sports ­activities, including football training.

The Kitchee soccer training centre has comprehensive facilities and is on land designated for recreational use even though it only has a short-term lease.

We also have to look at it in terms of urban planning. Is this land really suitable for residential use?

Kitchee’s boss made a good point when he said that this parcel of land is rather small for building public housing, ­compared to other larger sites.

If homes are built there, an area of land available for recreational use will be lost forever. It ­appears that the government has picked this site because it owns the land and so it is ­relatively easy to take it back.

This issue also does not help the image of the government. And it does not help that officials are having to deal with ­another housing controversy in Wang Chau, Yuen Long, where a large public housing development was delayed on a brownfield site that is occupied by businesses such as a car park.

These two incidents would suggest that the government has not been sincere, nor has it taken sufficient care when ­selecting land for public estates.

It will lead to athletes having little confidence in the government’s desire to encourage sports in Hong Kong. We need a clear explanation from the government why it is targeting this soccer training centre.

Crystal Chu Yung-kuen, Kwai Chung

Has the ICAC now become complacent?

I refer to your editorial (“Zero tolerance for soccer ­corruption”, October 8).

Everyone should agree that a red card must be displayed to any ­corrupt practices.

However, parading a few lowly paid players when the ­Independent Commission Against Corruption ­uncovered an alleged HK$90,000 football betting scam will not fully justify the existence of the ICAC’s ­skyscraper office building in North Point.

There is a growing public perception that the ICAC does not show the same enthusiasm when it comes to dodgy New Territories land deals, fake small-house applications and building management collusion on renovations.

Such dealings normally ­involve many millions of ­dollars. It appears that ­whenever government officials or ­elected councillors are ­involved in brownfield or green-belt ­dealings, the ICAC is ­hesitant to even display a yellow card.

The graph on Jake van der Kamp’s column (“Glory days of the past do not absolve Hong Kong’s ICAC from its present problems”, August 15) illustrates how the ICAC’s performance has dropped, while costs have escalated.

One wonders if the ICAC is as independent as it states or is it becoming complacent?

Frank Lee, Wan Chai

Sugar levy is only a partial solution

I refer to your editorial (“Taxing sugar is a political minefield”, October 4).

More people are overweight with some being classified as obese.

Governments around the world are trying to address this problem and one policy that some have suggested and others have implemented is a tax on sugar, in particular, soft drinks which contain a lot of it.

I can see that it might help obese people to reduce weight. If a soft drink costs more, ­depending on how much sugar it contains, people may opt ­instead for diet brands.

The prevailing message in society would be to aim for low salt and sugar products.

Child obesity is not uncommon and it is becoming a more serious problem.

I think this is partly due the busy lifestyles we lead. Parents now have less time to prepare nutritious, healthy meals. Too often, people will choose fast food because it is so convenient.

Another problem is that ­children know very little about the importance of aiming for a healthy lifestyle and trying to eat a balanced diet. They do not ­appreciate that they should try to prevent illnesses rather than treat them.

In this regard, education is important.

The government should ­provide free talks to ­parents so they can calculate how many calories their ­children should consume every day and cook healthier meals.

There should also be food nutrition lessons in schools.

While a sugar tax might do some good, a long-term solution can only be found through ­educating parents and children.

Rachel Leung Cho-kwan, Yau Yat Chuen

Financial incentives can raise birth rate

I refer to Alex Lo’s column (“As population ages, politics turns infantile”, October 3). Being one of the future pillars of society, I am also worried about the ­ageing population.

As Lo points out, by 2041, more than 30 per cent of our population will be aged 65 or older. In 2003, only 12 per cent were older than 65. The local ­labour supply is shrinking ­continuously.

Many couples in Hong Kong can only afford to have one child given the high cost of bringing up and educating children here.

It will be difficult to import talented people from overseas as they will be sought after in their societies with ageing populations. The government must implement measures which raise the birth rate. With the right financial incentives, ­couples can be encouraged to have more children.

Connie Chan Ka-wai, Kwai Chung