Letters to the Editor, February 7, 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2017, 4:50pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2017, 4:50pm

Traditional culture in city under threat

The main focus in Hong Kong is on economic development. Examples of this are the many urban renewal projects in the city and the government’s commitment to Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

However, in the rush to ­advance, the need to preserve our local culture is neglected. The Hong Kong government should be playing a leading role in efforts to keep it alive.

Large urban renewal projects can transform an area, and sometimes not in a positive way. Small businesses are pushed out and replaced by large shopping malls. This has happened in Sham Shui Po where hundreds of small traditional businesses have had to close their doors. Urban renewal can help with economic development, but the distinct ­features of the city – which give it its sense of identity – should also be kept alive.

These preservation efforts should also extend to language, and recognition of the importance of Cantonese in the culture of Hong Kong.

Keeping local culture vibrant helps economic growth, as it is one of the reasons tourists come here. They want to visit small, ­local stores and stalls and eat street food. Yet, the government has stopped ­issuing hawker ­licences, making it more difficult for visitors to enjoy this unique culinary experience.

The city’s government must recognise the need to save our ­traditional culture.

Bobo Man Siu-ying, Tiu Keng Leng

No substitute for praying in real temples

A local temple used social media to try and connect with young worshippers during Lunar New Year.

Many citizens visit temples during this festival to pray for a safe New Year, but I do not think you can depend on social ­media instead, because then the real ­meaning of prayer is lost.

At the temple, worshippers have to shake a divination stick and pay a vendor to read out their fortune.

The high-tech version of this – swiping a radio-frequency identification tag at a scanner to get a fortune-telling print-out – is not an adequate substitute. People can even get a reading on their smartphone, without going to the temple.

You can even worship ancestors online. Again, this is not appropriate, you should be visiting the graves of your ancestors.

Many citizens will have sent lai see using apps like WeChat, instead of handing over the red packets. But the physical act of handing over the packet is a way of sending a blessing to a younger person.

Social media is very convenient, but we should not lose sight of the real meaning of our traditional festivals.

Peggy Ho, Kowloon Tong

Elderly citizens will benefit from measures

In his final policy address, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying ­announced changes to the way some elderly people will receive benefits.

He did away with the “bad son statement”, requiring ­children of elderly welfare ­applicants to say they would not support their parents. Also, a new two-tier Old Age Living ­Allowance means some elderly citizens will now get a higher monthly payment of HK$3,435.

I support the scrapping of the bad son statement as it makes it easier for older citizens to get Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA). Many had been reluctant to apply because of the shame attached to the statement and this obstacle will now be removed.

Also, the higher monthly ­allowance may not represent a ­substantial increase, but an extra HK$940 would make a big difference to a lot of old folk.

But I am concerned about the decision to raise the eligible age for elderly CSSA recipients from 60 to 65. People under 65 will be entitled to a smaller sum, and I think it may not be enough to meet their basic needs.

The government has pointed out that it wants to encourage younger CSSA applicants to find work, but I still feel that this is ­unfair.

However, overall, when looking at all the measures that were unveiled, the advantages for older citizens outweigh the disadvantages.

I think the new policies should be supported by the ­Legislative Council and I hope the government will come up with more measures to help out ­citizens in need.

Vanessa Lee Suet-ying, Yau Yat Chuen

Simple and clean way to cut food waste

As Kassandra Wong Hiu-tung pointed out (“Reduce waste to prevent a landfill crisis”, February 4) Japan has done a lot more than Hong Kong when it comes to developing effective waste management systems.

Similarly, in the US many households have machines which grind up leftover food. This can then be turned into compost, which is rich in ­nutrients and perfect for ­gardening.

If done properly, the food can be broken down and turned into compost in a natural way that is odourless and complies with all the ­necessary hygiene standards.

A few years back, I was interested in buying a machine that would do this, but the ones I saw at an exhibition cost around HK$7,000. With advances in technology and greater demand to deal with waste at source, I would have thought that you could now find a device that will be set at a more affordable price for households. The government could also consider ­offering subsidies to people who wanted to buy one.

Dealing with food waste at home could ease the pressure on our landfills which are ­nearing capacity.

There is sure to be demand for compost from farmers and people with gardens.

Edmond Pang, Fanling

Trump trying to protect US citizens

A lot of people, including bosses of large firms like Microsoft, have expressed concern over US President Donald Trump’s ­immigration ban, impacting ­seven Muslim-majority ­nations.

Surely it is the duty of the leader of a nation to introduce the measures that he considers necessary in order to protect its ­citizens.

I do not think Mr Trump’s executive order was aimed at being anti-Islamic. However, it was a recognition of the fact that most terrorist attacks in Europe have been ­carried out by people originally from Muslim-majority countries, and some refugees and failed asylum seekers from those countries.

If Mr Trump had failed to take the measures that he and his supporters consider to be necessary to protect US citizens, he would have been blamed for any terrorist attack on US soil under his watch.

Timmy Chan, Tseung Kwan O

Breastfeeding mothers lack mall facilities

The government of Hong Kong is not doing enough to promote ­breastfeeding in the city.

In particular, I am concerned about the lack of adequate facilities in public places where mothers can feed their babies. Government officials accept that there is a problem, but have not ­addressed it.

Frequently, when I am in a shopping mall and look around, I cannot see any signs indicating where nursing rooms are ­located. This often forces mothers to find unsuitable alternatives, such as toilet cubicles.

Legislation is needed so that it becomes mandatory for all malls to provide nursing rooms. This will make it much easier for mothers to feed their babies no matter where they are in the city.

There must be a network of these nursing rooms in Hong Kong, because the present ­situation is not acceptable.

Fung Siu-chung, Hang Hau