Letters to the Editor, December 15, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 December, 2016, 4:50pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 December, 2016, 4:50pm

No justification for small print in contracts

An exclusion clause is used to limit civil liability in an agreement. Most readers will be aware that it is common to apply such a clause when forming contracts, especially in Hong Kong, which is widely recognised as an international financial centre with a huge number of globalised ­business activities.

Even though there are laws as well as a statutory authority to regulate the use of exclusion clauses in Hong Kong, there is no doubt their use can be open to abuse, mostly when it comes to consumer contracts.

In order to avoid liabilities, some sellers may make use of the small-print exclusion clause in the contracts, the intention being to hide the exclusion terms from consumers. In these cases, the exclusion clause is shown in a smaller font size compared with other terms and conditions.

This suggests the seller wants to limit the customers’ knowledge and awareness of the clause and exactly what it states.

I do not believe there is any justification for allowing small-print exclusion clauses to be ­inserted into contracts. This makes it easier for companies to take ­advantage of consumers.

I understand such clauses are needed. They promote economic development and provide business opportunities. However, more regulations must be introduced to ensure that consumers’ rights are protected, given that businesses already have superior bargaining power when they offer a contract on a “take-it-or-leave-it” basis.

After all, laws should exist to maintain equality and fairness among contracting parties. It is not right that one side is favoured at the expense of the other.

Cathy Cheung, Kowloon City

Fireworks at Disney making city’s air worse

Before legislators approve any expansion of Disneyland, they should look closely at the habits of the company; with its fireworks, it is polluting our air on a daily basis.

Various complaints and attempts have been launched in the past to stop this bad practice. Hong Kong’s air pollution levels are already serious and there is absolutely no necessity that the government, as co-owner of Disneyland, should pollute the air further.

Nowadays there are world-class outdoor 3D video-mapping technologies available, and displays using this kind of technology could replace the ­fireworks.

The Environmental Protection Department should suspend the daily fireworks display as soon as possible, certainly well before more taxpayers’ money is given for an enterprise which is an air polluter.

Thomas Gebauer, Discovery Bay

Shame our orchestra is left out in cold

The Hong Kong Philharmonic gave a truly remarkable performance last Saturday of ­”Mahler’s Mighty Third” – ­Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 3, a piece so ­demanding that very few ­orchestras attempt it.

From the menacing opening fanfare played by eight French horns, to Jarod Vermette’s powerful trombone solo evoking the Greek god Pan, the transcendent voices of ­Kelley O’Connor and the philharmonic’s women’s chorus, the thunderous organ-like closing chords and every note in ­between, the philharmonic proved that they are not just a world-class orchestra, but among the very best of world-class orchestras.

Conductor ­Jaap van Zweden and the performers were rewarded with a standing ovation and four ­curtain calls by the nearly full house. I was far from the only audience member to be moved to tears by the sheer beauty of the music.

And yet, the Hong Kong Philharmonic does not have a home. Although it most often performs at the Cultural Centre, it is not in residence there and is only a “venue partner”.

The hideous joke that is the West ­Kowloon “Cultural” District – a joke that has festered for over 10 years now – originally contained a plan for a concert hall that would be the permanent home of the philharmonic.

The current plan is no plan at all. The phase three buildings, including a music centre and two theatres, have been unfunded, and their target “completion” is “beyond 2020”.

Since the handover in 1997, successive governments have failed the Hong Kong people in the provision of cultural facilities. It is too much to hope that the current government could learn from the philharmonic how to work together to achieve artistic greatness.

If Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying wished to leave a positive legacy for the city, he could do worse than cut through the multiple layers of ineptitude, and provide the people of Hong Kong with the cultural district they have been promised but denied for so long, and a real home for one of the best ­orchestras in the world.

Dr Christopher Coleman, associate head,Department of Music, Hong Kong Baptist University

Health-check voucher will help the poor

I agree with the Hong Kong think tank that suggested an ­annual subsidy for low-income people aged above 45 in order to ­protect their health (“Voucher system proposed to screen for chronic diseases”, December 14).

I think such a measure can ease the financial burden for older citizens living below the poverty line, especially those with little education, as they can often get only low-skill, low-paying jobs. The proposed health voucher scheme will be a big economic help, as they are struggling to cope with prices rising for all commodities, as well as medical fees.

Chronic conditions such as hypertension and coronary heart disease are common in Hong Kong. Therefore, having a voucher scheme for screening to prevent such diseases is ­important.

Cheung Yuen-yan, Kwai Chung

Set aside areas for mums to nurse babies

The report on the cabbie who posted a photo of a passenger nursing her baby (“Outcry after taxi driver posts photo of breastfeeding mum”, December 5) highlights the problem of a lack of facilities for new mothers and their babies in Hong Kong. It is lamentable that some Hongkongers are still intolerant when it comes to mothers breastfeeding in public.

There are few nursing rooms in the city. Mothers often have no choice but to use a cubicle in a filthy toilet.

They should be able to have easy access to clean and pleasant facilities. There must be more designated areas for breastfeeding in public places, including restaurants and in the workplace.

Also, the government must do more to raise public awareness so that citizens accept mothers breastfeeding in ­public as natural and beneficial for the health of the baby.

Rainbow Leung Wai-Yu, Hang Hau

TSA drilling not a healthy way to study

The furious reaction of parents and teachers towards the revised Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) shows that the Education Bureau is ­ignoring public opinion (“Parents threaten boycott if Hong Kong schools resume controversial tests for nine-year-olds”, ­December 8).

The TSA has been criticised for putting too much pressure on primary schoolchildren. The bureau has pledged it will make adjustments, but this has not ­satisfied parents.

They object to the TSA, ­because it involves drilling of their children and this is not a healthy way for young children to study.

They should be able to treasure their time at school not have to constantly face tests.

The bureau needs to start making changes, not just with TSA but with the whole education ­system. It has to go beyond the single goal of students ­getting good exam results and recognise the need to help ­students enjoy their studying.

Kerensa Kwun Ting-yan, Kwai Chung