Letters to the Editor, November 11, 2017

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 November, 2017, 9:01am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 November, 2017, 9:01am

Elderly with children also need helpers

I appreciate the initiative taken by the Hong Kong welfare secretary to offer subsidies to elderly people living alone in public rented flats, so that they may hire a domestic helper (“Subsidy proposed for single elderly to hire domestic help”, November 6). This is a very laudable scheme that will benefit a large number of elderly in the city.

I urge the government to consider extending this scheme to cover single elderly persons living with their children, as they also need the service of a domestic helper. In most households, both husband and wife work and hence do not have sufficient time to look after their ageing parents; so hiring a domestic helper becomes a necessity for them as well.

For this reason, no distinction should be made between elderly persons living alone and those living with their children.

By the same logic, it makes no sense to limit the scheme to those living in public rented flats. This has no relevance to the need for the elderly to hire a ­domestic helper.

Dr B. K. Avasthi, Discovery Bay

Obesity among city teens is a serious issue

I wish to express my concerns about the obesity problem among Hong Kong teenagers.

A survey by the Department of Health showed that one out of every five children and adolescents in the city was overweight or obese, and the tendency had increased among secondary school students.

What is causing this phenomenon? Social culture and schools are mainly to blame. The social factor relates to the fast food culture in a globalised world. Globalisation has brought many multinational corporations to Hong Kong to develop their business. They bring their unique culture and spread it to Hong Kong. For example, Western fast food culture has been popularised by chains such as McDonald’s.

A culture of fast food seriously affects young people’s eating habits. Because these eateries provide foods that teenagers enjoy, such as French fries and fried chicken, they are all very popular with young people. Such high-calorie and high-fat food leads to increased weight.

Adolescents who consume unhealthy food for a long period of time and do not know how to control their own weight can easily suffer obesity problems.

But school tuck shops are a problem as well. Most schools have these shops which sell a ­variety of snacks, such as cup noodles and hash browns.

Students do have many choices at tuck shops, but most items sold are unhealthy snacks.

Despite the fact that teachers and parents have reflected on this problem, the suppliers have to do business, so the tuck shops still sell fried foods.

Schools should teach young people healthy eating habits. They could organise lectures and workshops on a balanced diet. Parents should keep a close eye on what their children eat and stop them from consuming too much unhealthy food.

We can’t ignore the problem of obesity because it can lead to diabetes and heart disease.

Oriana Li, Yau Yat Chuen

Let hawkers showcase local food culture

I refer to Niall Fraser’s column on the food truck scheme being a poor substitute for Hong Kong hawkers (“Food truck scheme hard to stomach after glory days of Hong Kong’s street hawkers”, October 31).

The government started a food truck scheme for selling snacks or Hong Kong-style dishes in different areas around town, such as tourist spots. ­Unfortunately, the results have disappointed everyone.

Because of the high cost of the license and few patrons, the food had to be sold at high prices to meet costs.

It became so tough to turn a profit that three truck operators chose to quit, with only two from the waiting list willing to take their place in the scheme, which was rolled out in February with 16 food trucks.

News reports said it can cost as much as HK$1 million in monthly rents and initial investment to operate a food truck, while a hawker’s trolley only costs HK$8,000.

Moreover, because the pressure of maintenance costs is lower, hawkers can sell their snacks at a low price. Most ­importantly, the food they sell is very popular among locals.

The government has cracked down on hawking activities in recent years, citing hygiene concerns. But hawkers serve the community with their cheap and tasty street food, and are a tourist attraction as well. I feel the government should be more flexible about street hawkers. It is very hard for the grass roots to apply for a hawking licence. They only wish to earn enough to support themselves and their families. Why not give them a chance to do so?

Seeing as how some visitors to the city actually prefer to eat at unlicensed hawker stalls, maybe it is time to legalise such hawker activity.

Not only will this help the hawkers to find a stable livelihood, it can also become a cultural draw for tourists, like the night markets of Taiwan.

Patrick Leung, Sai Kung

Non-Chinese parents being left in the lurch

I refer to your report on the lack of English in preschool evaluation reports (“Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities can’t assess preschool quality as reports are not in English”, November 2).

Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city, where non-Chinese speakers (aged five and over) number more than 430,000. ­Ensuring quality education for non-Chinese pupils is also a pressing problem for society.

The government and the ­bureau have always advocated the idea of “integrated education”, saying pupils of different needs and ethnicities should study together. Therefore, it is ironic that the bureau is failing to support non-Chinese parents.

Without official education quality reports in English, these parents will struggle to find out whether these preschools suit their children or not. Eventually, they may be driven away from local to international schools. This not only goes against integrated education, but also hurts non-Chinese parents’ trust in Hong Kong’s education system.

Being a large-scale government organisation, the Education Bureau should be able to provide Chinese and English documents as references.

Priscilla Ko Ka-ying, Tseung Kwan O

Addiction to online gaming hurts studies

I refer to your article on free ­online games (“Are you being played?”, October 30).

Many players want to download popular games, especially if these are free-to-play.

However, they may have to pay real money during the game when they need some land or weapons, which helps game publishers to make money.

Teenagers are big fans of ­online gaming, but I think they must focus on studies and not waste all their time on this.

They can spend all day playing at the weekends, which will affect their school work. Their parents can get angry if they are so addicted to gaming, and this can lead to quarrels in the family. So it is best that teens limit their gaming time, so that their studies are not hampered.

Carina Cheung, Hang Hau