Letters to the Editor, November 7, 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 November, 2017, 5:27pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 November, 2017, 5:27pm

Anthem law is controversial and confusing

The National People’s Congress Standing Committee has ­decided that the national ­anthem law will be incorporated in the Basic Law and will therefore apply to Hong Kong (“China adopts harsher penalties for ­disrespecting national anthem and paves way for measure to be adopted into Hong Kong law”, ­November 4).

It is still not clear how it will be enforced in the city, with questions raised about possible punishment for those who fail to stand up when the anthem is being played in public, and whether those who abuse the anthem will face custodial ­sentences.

I am against the implementation of such legislation. Citizens should be free to express their discontent with their government. You cannot enforce respect, it has to be earned.

If Hong Kong people are told they must stand up when the ­anthem plays, even when they have no wish to do so, this will just cause resentment ­towards the central government.

Also, from the press reports I have read, there appear to be a lot of grey areas with this new law. The legislation as it stands is meaningless and impractical.

Emily Leung, Tseung Kwan O

Respect is true when earned, not forced

I agree that the national anthem can help develop citizens’ sense of belonging to our country and we should never insult it.

However, it is difficult to ­define what is meant by disrespect of the anthem, since there are many grey areas in the new legislation (“What will get Hongkongers into ­trouble under ­national ­anthem law? Government called on for details”, ­November 5).

Anything which constrains normal behaviour is wrong. And once it is in force, citizens might be worried that they will break the law unintentionally.

Therefore, during the public consultation phase, the government will have to clearly explain what the law means. And, during this process, officials must take note of the views of all residents. It is better for a government to encourage all citizens to respect the national anthem (for ­example, through adverts on TV and online) rather than forcing them to do so. In schools, it can be explained to teenagers what is the significance of the national anthem and why it is important for the country.

Hongkongers are more likely to show respect for the anthem and maybe even sing it, if they are encouraged to do so through education, rather than being told they have to through a law.

Bethany Chang, Tsuen Wan

Get city back on track with e-payments

Although Hong Kong was one of the first places in the world to introduce a cashless payment system, we failed to keep pace with advances in technology and have now fallen behind (“Octopus blamed for lack of ­action on cashless payments”, October 30).

The Octopus card was introduced in 1997 for public transport and is now used by every sector of society, including ­students. But other cities and countries have moved on and embraced the new technology available for cashless payments. For example, in China there is a cashless payment by ­WeChat.

The government has to get the city back on track.

It could ­offer subsidies to help retailers (especially small, independent businesses) to buy the devices needed for making e-payments. They could get a further subsidy if they offer ­discounts to customers who opt to pay in this way.

E-payment services are still not very popular with many citizens. However, we must make progress in this area, especially as mainlanders have embraced the cashless culture and want to be able to make purchases using their smartphones when they visit Hong Kong.

Rainbow Or, Tseung Kwan O

Patients with rare illnesses need more help

I am glad the chief executive in her policy address pledged to help patients with rare diseases, even though the medication they need can be expensive.

Because there is a lack of public awareness, these patients often struggle to get the help and support they deserve. Fighting for their rights is an uphill battle.

There are insufficient resources and services for the victims of rare illnesses in Hong Kong. We all need to recognise these people as members of society who deserve our sympathy.

I hope the government and the Hong Kong Alliance for Rare Diseases can work together, to help these patients.

Yip Wing-yi, Yau Yat Chuen

English a must for preschool quality reports

It is not fair that more than 99 per cent of official education quality reports on kindergartens are not available in English (“Ethnic ­minority parents ‘in dark’ over preschools”, November 3).

This puts non-Chinese ­ethnic minority parents and their children at a disadvantage.

This is very unfair, especially since records show more than 11,500 non-Chinese children are enrolled in preschool education across the city.

Their parents work hard to save up and send them to a good kindergarten, and they want to be able to make the right choice.

The government must ­ensure that non-Chinese citizens can have access to the ­information they need about kindergartens, in English.

Kiki Hon Sze-kei, Kowloon City