Letters to the Editor, December 2, 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 December, 2016, 4:44pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 December, 2016, 4:44pm

Chauvinistic attitudes are not helpful

I have read various reports in the press about the impounding by Hong Kong’s port authorities of a shipment of nine Singaporean armoured troop carriers.

It is truly unfortunate that certain chauvinistic elements in China have chosen to exaggerate what appears to be an honest oversight by APL – the commercial liner contracted to convey the assets back to the Lion City – into an international crime against the Middle Kingdom’s sovereignty by a harmless little red dot.

They continue to accuse ­Singapore of hypocrisy and ­taking sides to deter China. ­Deter China from achieving what, may I ask?

How can a city state which has been very upfront and ­consistent with its position – that peace is best sustained in the ­Indo-Pacific region via ­respect for international law and regular engagement between all powers – be considered ­hypocritical?

Asia is a most complex continent of many subregions with their own unique characteristics and challenges, including transnational threats such as ­terrorism.

Reducing this vast multi­cultural region into a theatre with two rivals struggling to be ­masters of it, that is, the US and China, with all other players as mere “servants” (who have to choose a side), is a chauvinistic attitude.

A huge Middle Kingdom that is growing in wealth and power can certainly afford to be more confident than to view every ­single act of cooperation ­between its friends – be it Singapore or South Korea – and the United States with suspicion.

No one benefits from international conflicts, ­especially ­between big powers.

Singapore has always ­respected the 1992 Consensus between Beijing and Taipei that it helped to broker along with Hong Kong, just as I am sure China looks forward to the peaceful reunification between the two Koreas one day.

One China does not mean one voice. There is ample ­evidence to show that Greater China is really not much ­different in this respect from other societies in the internet age. We really have so much more in common as human beings than some would like us to believe.

John Chan, Singapore

Older citizens should listen to young people

Yonden Lhatoo’s views on some of the city’s young activists struck a chord with me (“Hong Kong’s angry youngsters: they’re rebellious but not ­stupid”, November 18).

He said, “Our youth are the future, and I don’t see why a ­Nathan Law or a Joshua Wong can’t become one of Hong Kong’s top leaders some day”.

It is common for older generations to label youngsters as weak and immature, often ­because of political differences. But they need to realise young people are growing up in a ­different era, in a globalised, competitive, knowledge-based society. As students, we know we must get a degree to secure a good job, but we also need to acquire practical skills. At school in liberal studies we learn the characteristics of a good society and the values it should espouse.

I do not think one’s capability and knowledge have anything to do with age. In the Legislative Council election ­forums, I was shocked by the lack of basic knowledge of some older candidates on some current issues like parallel trading. I would say that age is not relevant when it comes to judging whether a person is knowledgeable about a particular subject.

It is irrational to dismiss the opinions of youngsters based on their age. It is important for young people to be able to have a say in policy making.

Woo Chung-yu, Lai Chi Kok

Trillions in the bank could help elderly

The whole saga of the two young new legislators who were disqualified for not taking a sincere oath is not relevant at all.

What is relevant is that, since the handover in 1997, our government (which we did not choose) has managed to ­alienate itself from the task of being true to our Hong Kong identity.

Instead, we have gradually given in to China-influenced ­demands. These include the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, the express rail link to Guangzhou, Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect and, of course , the utopian “One Belt, One Road”.

The trillions the government has in the bank are not spent on local needs.They are not used to revamp a tremendously inefficient bureaucracy where you have overlapping departments, for example, the Housing ­Authority, Planning Department and Development Bureau. These overlaps lead to decisions being delayed.

This massive surplus is also not being spent overhauling our outdated education system, supporting the elderly, or ­reforming a failing health care system.

The signals are clear that the vested interests are moving away from Hong Kong.

While many people might sell up and move out, many more poeple are staying and I fully support the fight that our ­younger generation is putting up.

If you can’t dream and if you can’t hope, then effectively you stop living.

Peter den Hartog, Tuen Mun

Live-in rule for helpers makes good sense

The law requiring foreign ­domestic helpers to live with their hosts is being challenged in a proposed judicial review, ­however, I would not support this rule being scrapped. ­Supporters of the ending of the rule argue that helpers who could live outside would have their privacy guaranteed and improve their living conditions, as many have very cramped ­accommodation in their ­employers’ flat. I think this view is far too optimistic.

Rents in Hong Kong have skyrocketed in recent years. Even a subdivided flat can cost over HK$5,000 a month, which is more than the monthly wage of domestic helpers. Many ­employers would not be able to help shoulder the additional financial burden of paying this rent for the helpers.

Also, most people hire these helpers to take care of their children or elderly relatives and they need them living in the home. They require the helpers to do more than just housework.

Supporters of scrapping the live-in rule also say it could ­reduce incidences of abuse and exploitation, but the government can address these issues, by firstly ensuring abusive ­employers are punished and by introducing a standard working hours rule for helpers.

Only a minority of helpers are victims of abuse, but the government should ensure that these helpers know where to turn for help if they are being abused and stiff ­penalties can act as a deterrent to employers.

Ingrid Ling, Tai Wai

Remembering quiet Stanley in a bygone era

Sylvio F. Bertoli’s letter (“Market has now lost its charisma”, ­November 24), brought back fond memories of visiting ­Stanley in the 1970s.

Of course, this was during the colonial period when the way of life was very different compared to today.

Stanley was spacious with far less traffic on the roads and you could enjoy the beautiful ­scenery of the south side of Hong Kong Island without ­seeing a lot of tourist buses or hearing a ­single visitor speaking ­Putonghua.

It was easy to find a table at one of the roadside cafes and enjoy a reasonably priced ­English afternoon tea, with egg mayonnaise sandwiches and warm scones, full of strawberry jam and clotted cream.

At that time, you could not have predicted how Stanley and its market would have turned out 40 years later.

Edmond Pang, Fanling