Letters to the Editor, July 8, 2017

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 July, 2017, 9:01am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 July, 2017, 9:01am

Traditional city businesses lack edge to succeed

I refer to the debate over whether the Hong Kong government should help preserve local ­traditional businesses.

I believe such measures ­cannot strike at the root of the problem. Some local traditional businesses are being eliminated because they lack competitiveness. They are usually small and independent, and so lack the economy of scale. So their prices are higher than those of big firms and less attractive to buyers.

Government measures are unlikely to help resolve this situation. Resources can be put to better use in sectors like the economy and technology, which can increase Hong Kong’s gross domestic product and its global economic ranking.

Both Singapore and Hong Kong are among the four Asian tigers. In 2000, Hong Kong had the higher GDP, but Singapore is now ahead. The Straits Times says the reason is the Singapore government’s decision to have “new economy” sectors like ­e-commerce and data technologies to replace ­traditional businesses. This proves that preserving traditional businesses would not help the development of Hong Kong. We should move with the times and make the best use of our resources.

Shirley Lee, Hang Hau

Lion City is roaring ahead of ‘world city’

It is ironic for Jake van der Kamp (“Singapore is falling behind Hong Kong, just do the math”, June 26) to accuse me of selective counting in my letter (“Frog-in-well Singapore still leaping ahead”, June 21), when his ­personal consumption figures for Singapore ignore the basic fact that up to 37 per cent of a Singaporean’s monthly income is channelled to a forced savings scheme known as the Central Provident Fund (CPF), ­compared to just 5 per cent for Hong Kong’s Mandatory Provident Fund. These savings earn a higher-than-market interest rate of 2 to 6 per cent. Singaporeans may use them for a variety of investments, including property ­purchases from both the public and private sectors.

An overwhelming majority fund their first house through this scheme, without having to fork out a single cent from their disposable income. Personal consumption expenditure is also lower because Singaporeans save more (on top of CPF contributions). They save a quarter of monthly income, compared to just 15 per cent in Hong Kong. This higher savings rate is possible because mean residential property prices as a function of yearly wages is about four times cheaper, the annual Housing Affordability survey by Demographia shows.

Singaporean households also had a higher median monthly income of about S$9,000 (HK$50,000) in 2016, compared to half of this sum for a Hong Kong family.

As for the city-state’s GDP per capita income at purchasing power parity (PPP), this was about US$88,000 last year, based on International Monetary Fund figures, about US$30,000 more than Hong Kong’s, even though the Singapore dollar has depreciated by 10 to 15 per cent against the Hong Kong-US dollar peg over the last five years.

If it is any consolation to van der Kamp, this difference in GDP per capita shrinks to about US$10,000 in nominal terms.

It’s fine if he wishes to stay convinced that the Lion City is falling behind Asia’s self-anointed world city. The air may be hotter and more humid in ­Singapore, but at least it is clear.

John Chan, Singapore

Allow children to learn from their mistakes

I agree that parents should be vigilant over smartphone use by children.

Setting a time limit and ­laying down some rules on gadget use by children can help to prevent them from becoming addicted to their smartphones.

However, constant monitoring by parents may cause young children to lose their capacity for self-control and independent, critical thought.

When it comes to disciplining children, I believe ­parents should offer them more freedoms, as this is essential for their personal growth.

Children must learn to deal with failure and the consequences of their actions, not just follow rules blindly without weighing how these affect their lives and future development.

Spencer Lee Hiu-ming, Sau Mau Ping

Addiction to gadgets harms young minds

I refer to the phenomenon of teenagers being pathologically addicted to electronic gadgets, such as computers, smartphones and tablets. This obsession can affect them in many ways, and interpersonal relationships may suffer. If a child spends all day playing video games or using social media like Facebook or Instagram to keep in touch with virtual friends, they may have no time for their parents in the next room.

Such addiction could also ­affect academic performance, as teenagers may neglect their studies and even play truant from school. Then again, if teachers or parents scold them for such behaviour, or embarrass them before their peers, this will only add to the pressure on today’s teenagers.

Pathological gadget-addiction among children deserves the full attention of adults. It is vital to prevent such overuse of smartphones or computers. The government, schools, as well as parents, have to work out a method to tackle the problem.

Emily Liu, Sheung Shui

Lynch mobs are not unique Indian feature

Aakar Patel’s article (“Modi’s theatrics ring hollow to victims of India’s anti-Muslim mobs”, July 2) is full of half-baked facts. The most powerful mob lynching in India took place on June 22, ­outside the main mosque of ­Srinagar city, in Indian-administered Kashmir, during Islam’s holiest month of Ramadan.

Both the mob and the ­victims were Muslim. Yet, Patel doesn’t shed any tears for these victims. For sure, incidences of lynching of ­any kind are most shameful and a blot on any nation. But its victims have ­included Muslims, Hindus and others, so it is inaccurate to claim it has been directed against Muslims. The government has arrested many of the criminals involved, but much more has to be done.

There have been reports of lynchings in other parts of the world. I wonder why India is ­often singled out. For example, as reported by the New York Times, there were 78 lynchings just in the year 2015 in Mexico. Compare that to 20 public lynchings in India last year.

Other countries have their own problems, whether it is ­racism and Islamophobia in ­Europe and Australia, or gun violence in the US, or drug killings in the Philippines. By and large, India is safe and secure.

Gurnani Gordhan, Lam Tin

Selfish Gobee bike users give city a bad name

I think that the bike-sharing app Gobee, which provides a platform for people to ride together, can strengthen our bonds with friends and family. It is also very convenient, as riders can get and park the bike anywhere they want, as long as there is a bicycle stand. This is more convenient than renting from a bike shop.

However, some Gobee bikes were found thrown into the Shing Mun River, or even left at some country parks. Such users are selfish indeed. Such misbehaviour caused the founder of Gobee bike, Raphael Cohen, to say he felt disheartened. Incidents like this seriously damage the image of Hong Kong people, ­giving the impression that they lack civic awareness.

Marco Kwan, Hang Hau