Online Letters, November 7, 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 November, 2017, 4:04pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 November, 2017, 4:04pm

It is a common practice in other countries for citizens to respect their national anthem

The pan-democrats have called for a comprehensive public consultation exercise over how the national anthem law will apply in Hong Kong. However, a pro-Beijing politician has said that asking citizens about every detail of this legislation is impractical (“What will get Hongkongers into trouble under national anthem law? Government called on for details”, November 5).

It is important to have a proper public consultation process and not a cosmetic exercise. Citizens want to know what the consequences of their actions will be under this legislation. It would be wrong if they were arrested for breaking a law they do not understand.

I understand the motivation behind a national anthem law. It is important for Hong Kong citizens to realise that while we have “one country, two systems” this city is still part of China. We should be doing the same as citizens in other countries who show respect for their national anthem. The pan-democrats would argue there is a difference, because these countries are democracies which is not the case with China. However, we are taught in school to show respect for others and we should also show respect for this important song.

Perhaps the government should do more in the area of civic education where pupils are taught about showing respect for certain things in society. It could be included in the liberal studies curriculum.

Also, classes could look at the lyrics in the anthem and the history behind the song.

As I said, youngsters in other countries learn to show respect for their national anthem and I think this is a reasonable law.

Tor Yeung, Hang Hau

Imposing draconian law would just make tensions worse

Some citizens back the imposition of China’s National Anthem Law here, because of recent acts of disrespect that have been shown in the city. They say that having this legislation can avoid a repeat of these incidents.

However, I disagree and think that rather than solving these problems this legislation could actually make them worse.

Under this new law, someone could be arrested and prosecuted for maliciously modifying the lyrics or singing the national anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way in public. We will all be expected to stand up and show respect for the national anthem. Presumably, when we are walking in the street and it is played, we are supposed to stand to attention until it ends. But is this really necessary?

In the US, for example, there is no such law and yet most Americans show respect for their national anthem when it is played at different events. If the central government wants citizens to respect the national anthem then it should in turn show respect for these citizens and their views. It should listen to what they have to say and take note of their advice. As I said, I believe the problems surrounding the playing of the national anthem in Hong Kong will only get worse if this law is enacted.

Yvonne Lee Hei-yiu, Kwai Chung

Pensioners not getting enough help from the government

It is often assumed that with such a low tax rate, people in Hong Kong are well placed to save a lot for their retirement. However, this is not the case for all citizens, especially those on low incomes.

The government pension system is far from perfect and because of that many people cannot look forward to a carefree retirement. The Mandatory Provident Fund, while it helps, will not provide enough money for people in their old age. It does at least force employees to save and employers to make a contribution, but it does not go far enough. It will not meet the various expenses faced by pensioners, especially in this city with such high prices and inflation.

Also, many citizens are saving desperately to make a down payment for a flat. With the high price of property, this leaves them with little left to put aside for their retirement. Even if they get to own an apartment they could struggle with insufficient savings for daily necessities.

The government must overhaul its retirement and pensions policies. It must have a comprehensive strategy which can make a real difference to the lives of those old folk who are faced with poverty.

This is an international finance centre. None of our elderly citizens should be living miserable lives, because they do not have an adequate pension.

Lo Man-lok, Po Lam

Important to protect personal data when you are online

I refer to the report (“Are you being played?” October 30) about how free apps collect our data.

Popular apps take information and profiles of users and sell it on. Also through these profiles some of those developers of computer games can work out how people will play and those players who be willing to pay for extras. If your data is sent to other firms then you may get apps you are encouraged to buy.

Of course most of us use popular social networks like Facebook all the time and with any platform or app, we have to log in and we will have to give some personal information and details.

However, we do have to think more carefully about what they will do with that data and who it will go to when we register with a new app. It may not create any problems for us and we may welcome the offer of an app to purchase, because it is something that we want. However, I hope all internet users will think more carefully about what personal information they share online.

Chan Kei-wai, Sai Kung

Heritage conservation must not be neglected in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is famed for its international financial services and tourism. However, other important aspects of the city, such as heritage preservation, do not fare as well and are often neglected.

Over the years many important historic sites have been demolished to make way for residential blocks or high-rise offices. One of the most famous was Queen’s Pier in Central which was demolished in 2007 [the bricks are now in storage awaiting a new location].

Luckily, some have survived and been lovingly restored, such as the Blue House cluster in Wan Chai. In fact, its revamp was so successful it reached “the highest level in four categories, in this year’s Unesco Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation” (“Blue House complex wins prestigious Unesco award”, November 2).

At one point the Blue House was threatened with demolition and redevelopment, but luckily tenants, social workers and conservationists campaigned to preserve it. It was part of their collective memory and they desperately wanted to see it saved. There are so many lovely old buildings that we can only see in black and white pictures, but at least this Wan Chai landmark will stay with us.

It saddens me that these beautiful old buildings were lost because unscrupulous developers put profits before heritage conservation in their hometown. The more money they made the more money they wanted and they showed no respect for the city’s past. We need more people like those individuals who fought to save the Blue House.

The history and culture of a city are important. The heritage sites that remain in Hong Kong must be preserved.

Peggy Ho Shu-mei, Yau Yat Chuen