Letters to the Editor, May 18, 2017

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 May, 2017, 5:37pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 May, 2017, 5:37pm

Peaceful island life a myth on Cheung Chau

After finishing my working life, I decided to retire for a while on Cheung Chau.

Having worked in Central, I thought it would be a nice place to move to: somewhere quiet, where I could sit and enjoy the sun, and smell the flowers amid a peaceful environment perfect for reading. How wrong I was. Living here is like being inside a tin drum.

The main cause of this is the motorised delivery trolleys that roar up and down the pedestrianised streets, with no ­regard for either pedestrians and cyclists, or for wheelchairs and baby strollers. The noise from their ­engines is 100 decibels or more. Everyone has to get out of their way or risk being knocked down.

There seem to be no regulations controlling them, no ­restrictions on hours of operation or noise level.

One was operating outside my flat at 7am last Sunday.

A friend of mine living here wrote a letter to the commissioner for transport in 2015, ­outlining what I have described and asking the same questions, but never received an acknowledgment or a response.

I can assure your readers that if they were to visit a waterfront restaurant on Cheung Chau any afternoon, they would find it ­impossible to have a conversation over the din.

J. May, Cheung Chau

Pension for all will not work in Hong Kong

The debate on whether Hong Kong should have a universal ­retirement scheme has been going on for years, and I back those who argue that it is not necessary.

Firstly, it will adversely affect the economy of Hong Kong. Such a scheme will impose a heavy financial burden on the government. It derives much of its income from land sales, but that money will dry up and there will eventually be a sharp drop in its revenue.

This will force it to increase salaries and profits taxes. It may even have to widen the tax base with a goods and services levy, and this could put off visitors and ­investors.

All these higher levies will hit the middle class the hardest, since they are the main taxpayers. People from the grass roots are largely exempt from tax, while the rich can easily afford their tax bills.

Finally, Hong Kong is famed for having a very free capitalist system. We have to realise that universal retirement protection is a form of welfarism.

You see European countries with such welfare systems, where many citizens prefer to take those benefits rather than work. A universal retirement scheme is simply not sustainable and will cause economic, social, and political problems.

Billy Sit, Tseung Kwan O

Better English skills require full immersion

I refer to the report on declining English-language skills in Hong Kong (“Speaking English is no longer child’s play for parents”, May 17).

In the Netherlands, parents do not speak English with their children. Until recently, schools did not teach in English and most still don’t. Nevertheless, last year the Dutch ranked first in an English-proficiency list of 72 countries where it was not the native language.

The main reason we are so comfortable with English is ­that we are surrounded by it from a young age. TV series, movies and pop music, and now of course the internet, are all in English, subtitled rather than dubbed. More importantly, English is seen as “cool” and sophisticated: young people aspire to speak it well.

So it is neither speaking with parents nor language of instruction which makes the difference: it is immersion in English-language culture and the status of English in youth culture. Here Hong Kong’s youngsters are at a great disadvantage.

Josephine Bersee, Mid-Levels

Upbeat people find it easier to face hardships

I was shocked to read that Hong Kong has slipped to 75th in the UN World Happiness Report, from being as high as 47th in 2012 (“Glee, myself, I”, May 9).

Cases of people suffering from depression have increased and the suicide rate among our students has risen. As a society, Hong Kong lacks the tools to deal with these problems, there is a lack of knowledge from both educators and parents.

The government should ­recognise this problem and not sweep it under the carpet.

Individuals also do not ­appear to know how to deal with some of the psychological problems they face. Adopting a healthier lifestyle is certainly one way forward. Doing regular exercise is a good way for people to deal with stress.

Happiness is about finding positive ways to enjoy your spare time, doing things that help you relax and unwind, such as listening to ­music.

However, I think the most important thing is for people to have a positive outlook about life and try to maintain that attitude even when they face obstacles and difficult times.

Having that kind of upbeat approach can help individuals throughout their lives.

Kam Yung-kwan, Yau Yat Chuen

Telemarketing sector in need of regulations

I am writing in response to the article on cold-calling (“Criminal sanctions an option to deter nuisance ­cold-callers”, May 12).

Cold calls are a real nuisance for many of us and regulations are needed for the telemarketing sector.

If the nuisance escalates, people might stop answering their phone for long periods.

That is fine if it is only an ­annoying cold caller, but they might actually miss an important call, for example, a change of time for an ­appointment with the doctor.

Also, if a company is being deluged by cold calls, that might stop a potential customer getting through, and so the firm could lose business and therefore revenue.

Telemarketers do not seem to care about this, because the more calls they make the better their chances of making a transaction. They are free of any ­constraints, which means it’s the consumers who suffer.

Therefore, we have to restrict the activities of telemarketers. Filter apps should be set up so that people can easily ­recognise what is a cold call.

Pauline Cheng, Kowloon Tong

Launch public drive to boost cybersecurity

Our daily routines in this digital age are ­dominated by computers. However, many of us still have only a very superficial understanding of the internet.

A lot of computer users do not know how to install anti-virus software or, even if they have it, they don’t know how to update it regularly.

Consequently, they become vulnerable to cyberattacks.

One way for the Hong Kong government to enhance cybersecurity is through education. It must launch a concerted campaign so Hong Kong citizens are made aware of the importance of cybersecurity.

Also, it will be important to explain to people, especially those who do not understand a lot about computers, how they can go about setting up safeguards such as firewalls, to ­ensure they can keep out ­hackers or ransomware attacks.

Parco Yu, Hung Hom