Letters to the Editor, June 22, 2017

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 June, 2017, 4:48pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 June, 2017, 4:48pm

Grenfell lesson for detached elite of HK

The lessons to be drawn from the Grenfell Tower disaster in London go beyond fire prevention and safety, and we would be wise not to pretend otherwise.

The backlash against both ­local and national governments has been fierce: people will no longer tolerate being patronised and ignored by an out-of-touch elite. The retribution will be ­severe – some will doubtless go to jail, and it may yet bring down Theresa May’s government.

There are parallels in Hong Kong that the elite ignores at its peril. There are many reasons for the resentment of the ­majority to be bubbling away: ­complaints about how damaging scrapping the MPF offset will be from a business community that has some of the lowest taxes and lightest-touch regulation in the world; public housing ­tenants are poisoned with lead in their water but nobody is found responsible; limousines are parked illegally every day but never get a ticket; old people are allowed to scavenge for scrap paper because a universal ­pension scheme is somehow “un-Hong Kong”, and so on.

At least the UK has an electoral system where the people can throw out the government and change the rules, rather than one stacked against them that makes change impossible.

Lee Faulkner, Lamma

Lam raises doubts with identity plan

Some of us have been looking forward with hope to Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor taking over as chief executive. This hope is based both on what we know of her personal qualities and on the interest that she has shown in the issues of deep ­concern to Hong Kong’s citizens in their day-to-day lives.

It was, however, troubling to learn that, in an interview with mainland state media, Lam ­propounded the idea of instilling from kindergarten a sense of “I am Chinese”.

What does this tell us about her previous, very welcome, ­efforts to reach out to the ethnic minorities in the community?

What does it mean for laudable initiatives – like the Hong Kong Police’s “Project Gemstone”– to proactively recruit from a wider pool, resulting in outstanding officers like Ifzal Zaffar making their maximum contribution to the community?

“Asia’s world city” is a ­slogan trumpeted for years, though it may sometimes have sounded hollow to non-Chinese residents of Hong Kong.

It is clear that Ms Lam will have many conflicting priorities. But, in her anxiety to prove her patriotism, let her not overlook the diversity that has helped to make Hong Kong so special and been the driving force of many of its great achievements.

Rachel Cartland, Mid-Levels

By-election lag erodes rights of residents

In January, you published our letter complaining about the ­delay in holding by-elections for the two Legislative Council seats left vacant by the disqualification of Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, one of which is for our constituency (“Delaying Legco by-elections until August is ­unacceptable”, January 13) .

Five long months have since passed, but all that Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen has managed to achieve is the loss of the names and contact details for all registered voters.

On March 27, it was reported that two laptops containing the personal information of all 3.7 million of Hong Kong’s registered voters had disappeared from a room at the backup ­venue for the chief executive election. To date, there has been no success in tracking down the culprit, or perhaps any information on this is too sensitive to be revealed to the general public.

The new cabinet line-up shows Mr Tam will leave the government at the end of his term, but he has yet to announce a date for the by-election. He maintains that the lost data is protected by strong ­encryption, and there has been no evidence so far to suggest it could be used to rig future elections. Well, there is one sure way of finding out, by holding the long overdue Legco by-election. Abuse of the data would be quickly identified.

Kowloon West and New ­Territories East have been under-represented for the entire 2016-17 Legco term. Residents of both constituencies have ­legitimate expectations that they will have the full number of representatives in place well ­before the 2017-18 term begins. Mr Tam must announce the date for the by-election ­before he leaves office on June 30.

Paul Kumar, for Tsim Sha Tsui Residents Concern Group

Food truck scheme suits city conditions

I am writing in response to Mike Rowse’s recent article on food trucks (“Why Hong Kong’s food truck scheme is failing to get into gear”, June 4). The article does not consider the unique environment of Hong Kong as it writes off the scheme.

I lived in New York and ­Sydney before moving to Hong Kong, and food trucks were popular in both cities. The ­difference is Hong Kong’s trucks are not ­allowed to park on the street and mainly target tourists.

I think this is a suitable operation mode for food trucks here. The concept may be borrowed from overseas, but its implementation can’t be a carbon copy. Narrow Hong Kong streets offer insufficient road space to accommodate both ­vehicular traffic and pedestrians.

My friends and I enjoyed a variety of dishes from food trucks at the recent Dragon Boat Carnival. Each truck had its own unique creative design and looks clean, much better than a hawker’s cart. Both locals and tourists were drawn to the event and I don’t see any problems with the scheme being positioned as a tourism project. Ultimately, it ­allows the trucks to have a wider pool of customers.

Chris Ma Sing Lap, Tseung Kwan O

Severance is right start in MPF reform

I support the government’s ­proposal to address the contentious issue of MPF offsetting by targeting severance payments first, though it is far from what unionists have fought for.

The mechanism that allows employers to offset severance and long-service payments with funds from pension accounts has long spurred criticism about ­infringing labour rights. Mandatory Provident Fund Scheme Authority figures show nearly HK$30 billion was offset in the 15 years to mid-2016.

Realistically speaking, it is difficult to cancel both types of offsetting in one go, as this would spark strong opposition from employers. Targeting ­severance payments is a practical solution.This is the first step, not the last. So we should take a moment to celebrate it.

Dickie Lai, North Point