Letters to the Editor, September 1, 2017

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 September, 2017, 4:58pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 September, 2017, 4:58pm

Strong attack on observatory was off-target

The Macau observatory came in for a lot of criticism over raising high ­typhoon signals too late in the day, as Typhoon Hato ­approached last month.

However, the former head of Hong Kong Observatory, Lam Chiu-ying disagrees (“Don’t blame Observatory warning ­signals for Macau’s Typhoon Hato mess, former top Hong Kong weather official says”, ­August 27). I think he has a point.

While Macau’s electricity supply was ­disrupted and low-lying areas were flooded, what was clear was that the government’s contingency plans (such as ensuring there was enough fresh drinking water) to deal with these ­problems were inadequate. That was the real problem in the storm’s aftermath.

Transportation also came to a standstill, and the government was slow to get the post-storm clean-up operations underway throughout the city.

These problems would have existed no matter when higher typhoon signals were raised. And, as Mr Lam pointed out, ­issuing the typhoon signal later than Hong Kong could be ­justified, because the storm hit Macau at a later time.

Hopefully, the government of Macau has learned important lessons and there will be better urban planning and improved infrastructure, especially to help residents in low-lying areas.

I also hope that future ­contingency plans will have been put in place so that, should a major storm hit the city again, fewer residents have to suffer from its effects.

Anson Chan, Tseung Kwan O

Low-paid staff in city are still being exploited

Hong Kong is ­known for being one of the ­world’s major financial centres.

However, when it comes to labour protection for workers on low income, like waiters, shop assistants, drivers, cleaners and ­(in particular) security guards, its record is shameful.

While the statutory minimum wage might help such low-wage earners from being ­totally exploited by employers, 12-hour workdays and no pay on rest days is not an uncommon arrangement.

For example, some of these workers will get no pay if, through no fault of their own, they are absent from work when typhoon signal No 8 or the black rainstorm warning come into ­effect. I hope the relevant government department will look into this matter.

Y. C. Choi, Sham Shui Po

South Korea’s missile defence system is vital

US President Donald Trump, in responding to North Korea’s ­firing of a missile over Japan, tweeted that talking to the ­regime was not the answer.

Pyongyang’s actions will worsen its relations with other countries, including its main ally – China. Many people fear that, by his actions, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could undermine efforts to find a peaceful solution, as he forges ahead with the country’s ­nuclear weapons ­programme.

However, despite the tough response from Trump, it should be remembered that the president of South Korea has cautioned against any form of military action against its northern neighbour. The government in Seoul is fully aware of the ­consequences of any action by the US. South Korea would face a devastating counter-attack from North Korea.

What is happening highlights the importance of the ­missile defence system that the US has installed in South Korea – called Terminal High Altitude Area ­Defence (THAAD).

It has met with a lot of opposition, from Beijing and from some South Koreans who ­complain about environmental issues and the cost. But, I think South Korea does need to provide more security to its people, and I hope THAAD will be fully operational soon.

John Hung, Po Lam

Insomnia may be caused by work culture

It seems that the habit of sleepless nights is becoming a trend with a lot of citizens (“Long working hours and digital ­devices blamed as more than 2 million Hongkongers suffer from insomnia”, August 26).

A study in 2012 found that four out of 10 adults in Hong Kong, or 2.2 million people, ­suffered from insomnia.

If this high figure is accurate, then insomnia is a serious ­problem in Hong Kong.

I think one problem is that we have a hardworking culture, and people often relax by going to bars and staying there until late. Normal sleep patterns are therefore disrupted and they could end up getting insomnia.

Many students are also not getting enough sleep, staying up late to play on computers and smartphones.

People who have not had a good night’s sleep will find it more difficult to concentrate on their work the next day. This will adversely affect work quality, and studies for youngsters.

Also, insomnia can lead to health problems. We all need to make sure that we are getting enough rest and avoid staying out late when we have to work the next day.

Christy Szeto Hoi-Ching, Kwai Chung

Taxi driver boosts gender equality hopes

I think it is really brave when women break into a line of work that has long been dominated by men (“Hong Kong women taxi drivers on why they love the job and how they deal with sexist colleagues and passengers”, ­August 28).

It is not easy for these ­women, as they can face ­discrimination from some male colleagues, as well as insulting comments from passengers who still hold prejudiced views.

I was particularly impressed by 72-year-old Anna Tam Choi-har, who has been behind the wheel of a Kowloon red taxi for 45 years, longer than many of her male counterparts.

Despite the ­difficulties she faced, she ­has persevered for decades.

The experience of these women emphasises the importance of having gender equality in the workplace. The government talks about the importance of achieving such equality, but it is still not a reality.

The gender of a candidate for a job should not be a concern for employers. They should only concentrate on the qualities of each applicant.

Sexual stereotypes are still prevalent. However, it is good to see attitudes are changing and many people are becoming more tolerant. I hope we will eventually see genuine gender equality in society.

Oscar Au Yeung, Tseung Kwan O