Letters to the Editor, December 11, 2016
Legco queries refusal was wrong move
Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah’s recent refusal to take queries from the four lawmakers facing disqualification for improper oath-taking caused an uproar in the Legislative Council.
When some lawmakers accused Tsang of trying to impress Beijing, he said it was the collective decision of the government following legal advice to this effect.
Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen has admitted receiving a letter from the government on October 31 which stated that public officers attending Legco meetings would only respond to questions from members who had “duly taken the Legco oath in accordance with the law”.
Founding chairman of the Democratic Party, Martin Lee Chu-ming, accused the Department of Justice of making a mistake that even a rookie would not make.
In my opinion, Lee is wrong to say that the department made a mistake. Politics cannot interfere with legal justice. The department is obliged to give legal advice on legal issues without any political consideration.
The role of politically appointed officials is to reduce resistance by way of negotiation and modify their proposal so as to better balance all interests for the common good.
What I can see here is that politically appointed senior officials failed to think politically. They ought to know that refusing to answer queries in the Legco would invite criticism. They needed to consult the justice department for advice on handling issues and any consequences.
Jane Tse, Sha Tin
Rapid action needed on ageing society
Hong Kong citizens are no strangers to the problem of an ageing population (“How an outdated care system is failing our elderly”, November 18).
In fact, there has already been much discussion about how a greying society would affect Hong Kong’s economy .
According to the Census and Statistics Development, Hong Kong’s population will peak at 8.22 million in 2043 and then decline to 7.81 million by 2064. Population ageing is expected to be most rapid in the coming 20 years, with the proportion of over-65s reaching 23 per cent in 2024 and 30 per cent in 2034. This is a problem which has to be addressed before it is too late.
The most obvious cause of a rapidly ageing population is undeniably the low birth rate. High living and property costs act as deterrents for young couples to have babies. Moreover, social values and pressures see them spend their lives pursuing their careers and saving up for an affordable home. It is difficult for them to think about marriage, leave alone having children.
The low birth rate has caused a big age gap between the older and younger working forces. The older generation is retiring, leaving the inexperienced younger set behind.
This will cause a sudden surge in medical expenditure for the government, as the elderly need more medical care but at the same time they no longer have adequate income. The financial burden will then fall on the younger working force.
Huge medical expenditure alone cannot cause the collapse of an economy, but with the lack of experience in all kinds of businesses, who knows what the aftermath may be. The departure of the senior well-trained workforce would possibly hurt industries, and therefore the Hong Kong economy as well.
Raising the retirement age to 70 years, as some suggest, is an ideal solution. With the retirement age set higher, there would be a stable workforce and economy. There would be more time for the younger generation to learn from their seniors and businesses can still run smoothly after the seniors retire. It is indeed an effective remedy.The next step is for the government to take action.
Cindy Chong, Tai Kok Tsui
Equal rights for all is hallmark of progress
With the unveiling of the rainbow-coloured lions in front of the HSBC headquarters, the debate on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights has been ignited once again.
A survey by the Equal Opportunities Commission carried out this year found more than half of the respondents thought that anti-discrimination laws on sexual orientation were necessary.
However, there is still a vocal minority vehemently opposed to what they call “the gay agenda”. Some activists oppose the colour scheme of the lions in Central, claiming that HSBC customers and shareholders would be offended. Another reason cited is that traditional family values would be harmed.
But the so-called “traditional family value” of marriage between one man and one woman was not as widespread in traditional society as many think, as polygamy or the keeping of concubines was common.
Roger Wong, organiser of a signature campaign against the display, said: “This kind of policy literally forces every shareholder, willing or not, to recognise the homosexual lifestyle.”
I am surprised by this statement, as HSBC’s policies do not force people to recognise the LGBT lifestyle, the same way that anti-racism laws do not force people to recognise the non-Chinese lifestyle.
Discrimination against anyone for who they are is an absurdly backwards notion in our modern era, especially if who they are does not affect anyone else. The “gay agenda” is simple: to ensure LGBT citizens are treated equally as people.
As a world-class metropolitan city, passing a law against discrimination should not be something that needs to be debated, yet it is the regrettable reality in Hong Kong.
Yeung Ryan Wai-Yen, San Po Kong
This festive season, cut back on plastic
I refer to your article on new technology to reduce plastic waste (“New technology could help break down city’s plastic problem”, December 6).
With the festive season around the corner, perhaps it’s time to think about ways to cut our use of plastics.
Celebrations of different festivals also produce a lot of waste, especially plastic. Gifts are often carried or wrapped in the material, while many Christmas and Lunar New Year decorations are made of plastic.
Christmas is nearly here, so how can we have a greener Christmas?
First of all, shops and supermarkets should reduce the use of decorations and reuse these. Since they need a lot of decorations to attract customers, they use as many eye-catching installations as they can to draw customers and promote their commodity. But then the decorations just end up in the trash after the event.
Second, we should also try to reduce the use of plastic in wrapping and carrying our gifts.
I urge everyone to protect the environment as they celebrate.
Yoyo Li Fung Lan, Yau Yat Chuen
Ocean Park has lost its unique draw
Ocean Park recently announced it will increase ticket prices after it was hit with a record deficit (“Ocean Park sees record HK$241.1 million deficit, announces 13.8pc entrance fee rise”, December 7).
I was very disappointed at the news, especially to learn about how Ocean Park is losing its attraction as a tourist destination among mainland visitors.
I remember when I was young, I would visit the marine park with my father and my relatives from the mainland, as we wanted to introduce our relatives to this unique and wonderful theme park in Hong Kong.
However, although the Ocean Park MTR station will open soon and hotels will be established in the area as well, I feel I have no reason to go to the park any more.
The advertisements of Ocean Park have failed to draw me in recent years, and I feel it now lacks a unique selling point to draw overseas visitors.
It is not uniquely Hong Kong any more, and has become just another commercial theme park.
If Ocean Park could launch an intensive drive to add more elements specifically related to Hong Kong, we would be more willing to support this Hong Kong theme park again.
Peggy Wong, Kwun Tong