Letters to the Editor, September 15, 2017
Beijing was wrong to shut down VPNs
I am concerned about the ongoing virtual private network (VPN) crackdown on the mainland.
This is an extension of the tight censorship which existed before this crackdown, with sites such as Facebook and Twitter already banned.
The debate on whether such censorship should exist is controversial, with supporters saying the authorities must have the power to limit the spread of sensitive information. They also argue that it is important to keep out violent and obscene material to protect young people. But what is also kept off the net, is criticism of the government.
Another reason the central government is tightening its grip, is that it only wants a positive image of the country to be presented to the outside world.
It wants China to be seen as a nation which is making huge strides in terms of development.
Social networking sites allow people to share news and views. They help people acquire more knowledge and encourage creative thought. Netizens in China now have fewer opportunities to visit these sites.
It does not help to just present the good news, the bright side of China. This harms rational and reasoned discussion, which should also look at the many problems the country is facing. Being able to see the good and bad helps citizens have a more objective view of society. For the sake of China’s future, different voices should be heard.
As a Hong Kong citizen, I am glad we enjoy a greater degree of freedom of speech. If China repealed its tight censorship regulations, there would be a greater sense of trust between citizens and the government. Obscene and violent material can still be banned, but not social networking sites.
Andy Yeung, Tiu Keng Leng
Policies for the elderly must be revamped
The Hong Kong government has failed to come up with an effective and comprehensive policy to deal with the ageing population in the city.
I agree with the chief of the Elderly Commission that the city needs to rethink various policy areas, including housing, planning and transport (“More action needed on Hong Kong’s ageing population, says Elderly Commission chairman”, September 9).
If the problems that society faces from having more elderly citizens are not addressed, then they will just get worse. I would certainly support the retirement age being increased.
As people get older, they have to spend more on a number of things, such as health care.
As some of these expenses can be a burden if they do not have enough savings or a high enough pension, the elderly may need to keep working and should be allowed to do so.
The Old Age Living Allowance (HK$2,495) is not enough to meet the needs of many of the elderly on low incomes or none. Moreover, they must pass a means test and if, say, they own a flat, their total assets might exceed the prescribed limits even if they have little in the way of a disposable income. I believe the means test is unnecessary.
Laurent Li, Tseung Kwan O
Sensible use of air cons yet to be seen in city
Last month, a scientist warned that due to the effects of climate change in southern Europe, the usage rate of air conditioners would soar. This, of course, exacerbates pollution and adds to global warming.
I think this also applies to Hong Kong, with its intensive use of air conditioners during the hot summer months. Most people just automatically switch on the air con when they get up, without thinking of the environmental consequences.
When I visit relatives and friends around town, I find they all have the air con switched on during the summer. But I have noticed that sometimes there is no need to do so, because there is a good breeze blowing in from outside and a fan is all that is really needed.
A friend told me she just could not live without the air con during summer.
Some teachers do try to explain the need to protect the environment, including limiting the use of air cons, but the message does not seem to be getting through to everyone.
Michelle Mai, Sau Mau Ping
Ferris wheel too small and in wrong place
It is a shame that an agreement has been reached to save the Hong Kong Observation Wheel.
I mean no disrespect to the operators or those involved in the new deal, but would like to point out that the wheel is too small, poorly named and in the wrong location.
This was a good opportunity to free up space for a better attraction and build a new wheel in a location better suited to observing the world-famous skyline of Hong Kong.
Consider the wheels in London and Singapore, in size, location, name recognition and success, they totally eclipse the wheel in Hong Kong.
I suggest that our wheel be replaced by something actually fun, like 18 holes of Hong Kong movie-themed championship mini golf. Also, I think a really good observation wheel should be put up at West Kowloon.
An observation wheel may seem frivolous in this location, but I doubt anyone at the Tate Modern is complaining about the London Eye.
William Furniss, Tin Wan
Local fashion designers lack display options
I refer to Jing Zhang’s article on support for local designers (“What Hong Kong fashion can do to raise its global profile”, September 12).
We are seeing more creative fashion designers on the international stage who are from Hong Kong, and some local universities offer fashion and design-related degrees.
But, while the sector is growing, opportunities for young designers are limited. They find it difficult to showcase their work in the city and are forced to set up stalls at weekend markets or sell online.
The government has offered extra support to the sector, but it could do more. Hong Kong is still a long way behind top international fashion capitals like Paris and Milan. Officials could work with design schools and firms to organise more fashion shows, so that the creations of local designers are featured more often on the catwalk.
Anthea Pang Yat-lam, Kwai Chung