Letters to the Editor, March 16, 2017

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 4:19pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 4:19pm

Helpers queue overnight for new contract

We were astonished to discover that our domestic helper had to arrive at the offices of the Immigration Department sometime before midnight on Tuesday to ensure that she could get her contract renewed the next day.

She was obliged to spend the whole night there, with temperatures down to 16 degrees Celsius and no toilet facilities, to await the department opening at 8.45 on Wednesday morning.

Apparently the Immigration Department operates a quota system – only a limited number of applicants can have their papers processed each day.

If a helper arrives during ­normal office hours, they will simply be waved away by the department and told to form/join the line, which sometimes starts around 4pm for people to have their papers processed the next day. In other words, some applicants, to ensure they get a place in the line, wait upwards of 16 hours overnight to have their contracts renewed.

The government insists on helpers renewing their contracts every two years. It should at least provide sufficient staffing and amenities to ensure the process can be conducted during normal working hours. If it cannot do so, it should extend the length of contracts to, say, three years, thereby reducing the demand.

It’s even possible that the seemingly overworked officials who are actually processing the paperwork would welcome such an extension.

Would any member of the government mind if, say, their relative, was obliged to sleep on the pavement overnight with the temperature registering 16 degrees and no toilet facilities, to meet their own department’s ­requirements? l think not.

Angus Hardern, Mong Kok

Social media could help market art

I refer to the article on art and social media by Kate Whitehead (“Is social media killing art or bringing it to the people?” March 1).

The electronic devices we use to access social media affect our lives a lot. As the article pointed out, many of those who will visit Art Basel and similar cultural fairs are not interested in art. They just want to take a photo and then post it online so that they can impress friends.

It is mostly teenagers who are into social media. We love sharing the events of our daily lives on these platforms to get the attention of other teens. So they miss what is going on around them, even with their families.

Youngsters need to get the right balance and ensure sensible and limited use of new technology.

With regard to art, the limits and uses of social media should be recognised. If utilised effectively, galleries can exploit it as a marketing tool and artists can share their creative vision.

Cecilia Cheng, Kwai Chung

London bridge out of place in Chinese city

A replica of London’s Tower Bridge built in the city of Suzhou (蘇州) sparked heated discussion recently. Some people found the tourist attraction embarrassing because it looked so out of place in the Chinese city.

Indeed, it does not blend in with some of the striking and traditional landmarks of the city. Any structure should be compatible with the existing landscape, and that will not happen with something like this bridge.

The best architecture of ­Suzhou is renowned for being tasteful and delicate. Suzhou also has gardens dating back thousands of years, each with its own story. Tourists want to see those traditional sights, not a replica European bridge.

We have seen a lot of these copycat European structures springing up in various parts of the mainland, and they do nothing to enhance China’s tourism reputation abroad.

Any new buildings should be in harmony with the existing architecture of a city.

Ren Zhuoyan, Tai Po

Students must plan carefully for exam time

Students are preparing for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education examinations and it is important that they do so with the right frame of mind.

Students must pay close attention to the general instructions issued by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. This includes a careful reading of the candidates’ handbook and following the exam guidelines.

They also need to be well-prepared mentally. They should not spend all their time studying, but plan a sensible timetable that gives them time to relax as well. And they should also be prepared for the results not meeting their expectations, and prepare contingency plans.

Hugo Chui Tsz-kit, Sheung Shui

Rating, CCTVs can lead to better taxi ride

I am glad that taxi companies are trying to improve the service they provide in Hong Kong (“Taxi trade seeks help to raise standards”, March 1).

Generally, I think taxi firms provide a fairly good service. I have found that most cabbies know where I want to go and only charge what is on the meter. However, I have had some unpleasant experiences, when a driver refused to take me to a location he decided was too far away or drove too fast.

So, while I think taxis are generally OK, there is room for improvement. I also agree with the installation of closed-circuit televisions and the rating device for passengers. I believe these initiatives can help to raise ­service standards.

Kingslie Wong, Sham Shui Po

Will more US allies in Asia choose China?

While China takes a long view in its confrontation with America, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is playing a short game as he slow dances with China, even though the US has long been the major player in the Philippines.

China has methodically converted the South China Sea into the equivalent of a militarised water park, thereby attracting once solid American allies like the Philippines. Will our other Asian allies, including Japan and South Korea, contemplate their own accommodation with the Middle Kingdom?

Paul Bloustein, Cincinnati, Ohio, US

Chief executive hopefuls silent on developers

All citizens of Hong Kong are well aware that the major problem facing the city is the housing shortage.

However, none of the chief executive candidates appears willing to address or challenge the property developers and their interests.

Peter Wei, Kwun Tong