Letters to the Editor, February 1, 2017
Welcoming pensions boost for the elderly
In his final policy address, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying introduced a number of social welfare measures for Hong Kong (“Means-tested pensions on the way”, January 19).
These measures will increase annual government spending on welfare payments by more than HK$9 billion on average. I believe they will improve the living standards of elderly residents.
I also welcome the scrapping of the “bad son statement”, which required children of elderly residents to sign a document declaring they would not provide financial support to their parents. Because of the stigma attached to it, many people would not sign this statement, thereby depriving older people of welfare benefits, including pensions, to which they were entitled.
Now they can apply without this statement and get all their entitlements. They will only have to declare they are “not taken care of by their children”.
Raising the amount of the means-tested old age living allowance will help those elderly people on low incomes in the short term. However, it is difficult to calculate if it will be enough for them in the longer term.
It is not easy to make accurate calculations in a city like Hong Kong, with such high property prices and rents. Even young people starting out on their career path do not know if they will ever have enough to get a mortgage and own their flat.
As other prices rise, some old folk might struggle to get by on their means-tested pensions. The government will have to keep an eye on this situation.
Koey Shum Nok-yu, Yau Yat Chuen
Order not right way to counter terror threat
Donald Trump’s executive order denying citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations entry into the United States has caused chaos and confusion, not only to Americans, but to people in other parts of the world as well.
Its aim is to curb the terrorist threat to the US (hence its title, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry), but I do not think it will achieve that goal.
The order initiates a 90-day suspension of issuing visas to people from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia. However, according to one source, the number of Americans killed by foreigners in terrorist attacks from these banned nations is zero.
If Trump wants to rid his country of any risk of a terrorist attack, then surely he should go further and issue a ban on citizens of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon, which are the countries that the hijackers in the September 11, 2001 attacks were from.
This ban does not address the problem of terrorism in the US. Also, it has led to widespread protests and increased many citizens’ dissatisfaction with the new administration.
It means well-educated and law-abiding citizens from the banned countries will be denied entry, depriving America of a potentially huge talent pool. It undermines the country’s legitimacy.
The ban could also place soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who are working with US military personnel at greater risk.
Students from these seven countries granted places at universities in the US and workers offered jobs will be barred from entering the country.
The US prides itself on the principle of “the American dream”, but many of these people might be forced to abandon that dream.
Instead of continuing with this ban, the US should enforce its vetting procedures for prospective immigrants, a system which is already one of the strictest in the world.
America has had a reputation for welcoming people of all races and religions, and it should protect that reputation.
A harmonious and peaceful society needs people from diverse cultures to be able to coexist.
When that harmony is undermined, it can lead to some people embracing extremism, and it could just as likely be a US-born citizen as a refugee.
Rachel Wong Lok-lam, Pok Fu Lam
Nations must speak out over persecution
As a Wall Street Journal editorial points out, the case of Chinese lawyer Xie Yang is a stark reminder that Beijing’s flagrant human rights abuses have shown few signs of diminishing under President Xi Jinping (習近平). The Communist Party’s efforts to target lawyers, such as Xie, are a case in point.
The plight of China’s political prisoners – Christians, dissidents and the lawyers who represent them – has seemingly fallen on deaf ears in the civilised world.
Despite evidence of persecution and torture, increasing trade with the communist regime is apparently more pressing in London and Washington than the repression of China’s beleaguered lawyers and dissidents.
Perhaps the Trump administration will take a second look at US-China trade relations.
In any case, doing “business as usual” with Beijing, while maintaining silence on the regime’s deplorable mistreatment of its citizens, is clearly out of the question.
As the Bible says, “Better is little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.”
Brian Stuckey, Denver, Colorado, US
Traditions of festival now often neglected
I have noticed that some traditions associated with Lunar New Year are becoming less popular in Hong Kong.
In the past it was accepted that as a Hongkonger you would celebrate this festival with your family every year, but this is no longer always the case.
Many citizens go for holidays abroad rather than visiting the homes of relatives.
They see the break as being just that, a holiday, instead of thinking about what Lunar New Year actually means.
I have also noticed that older relatives sometimes give younger family members a gift by e-payment and no longer use the traditional red lai see packets.
I understand that advances are being made in new technology, but I do not welcome this change.
The act of giving and receiving the red envelope is more important than the monetary sum which is contained in the packet.
It has a deeper meaning. Family members are giving their blessings and wishing each other good luck for the coming year. This is not really possible with an e-payment.
With the rapid growth of technology, it is inevitable that some traditions will be overtaken by developments online with more people using computers.
However, it is important, despite the fast-paced lifestyle in Hong Kong, not to lose sight of the history of Lunar New Year, and its traditions.
Anakin Tam, Po Lam
Offer 24-hour services at public clinics
I agree with Kenny Tong (“Overcrowding at A& E units is likely to remain”, January 24), that even with a higher fee a lot of people will continue to visit accident and emergency (A & E) departments in public hospitals.
One of the reasons for this is that many private clinics are either closed or charge high fees at night and during public holidays. Instead of paying these charges, many people would rather to go A&E.
There are Hospital Authority outpatient clinics, but they have restricted hours, being closed in the evening and on Sundays and public holidays.
If the authority changed that arrangement and instead provided a 24-hour service at its clinics, we might see a reduction in the number of patients visiting A&E units. This would mean better treatment offered to patients who really had a medical emergency.
Au Yeung Kwong-fai