Letters to the Editor, November 17, 2017

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 November, 2017, 4:37pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 November, 2017, 4:37pm

Dog-owning ban on estates needs a rethink

The death of a pet is devastating, (“Death that almost broke owner’s heart”, October 25). Pets are more than just companions, for older people whose children have left home they become substitute sons and daughters, and grieving for them “can be as hard as grieving for humans”.

My dogs are elderly and, due to a long forgotten “no dogs ­allowed” clause of a deed of ­mutual covenant, their eviction is imminent.

This rule on private estates needs re-evaluation. We are a sick society when we force people to abandon dogs, some of them very old. Many clauses in documents are written in such dubious ways it is easy to misunderstand their true meaning.

Where I live, the deed prevents residents from owning a dog while condoning the management’s right to keep one for security purposes.

The very notion that dogs are not allowed on the premises except as a guard dog demonstrates how inconsistent and out of sync with the present such clauses can be.

This regulation remained unobserved by estate residents for more than 30 years. Owners were oblivious to its existence, as there was no sign anywhere prohibiting dogs, nor any indication from the management that it was not permitted.

However, our harmonious environment changed once a minority group wanted this ­obsolete restriction ­aggressively enforced.

There are some dog owners whose thoughtlessness can cause friction, but to blame everybody is grossly unfair to those who are law abiding and follow the rules of dog keeping.

Nowadays we are swamped by TV programmes and news ­articles informing us how wonderful dogs are, how capable of heroism and of showing grief (“Dog in forlorn vigil for owner after China landslide”, June 25). They are not a commodity, and it is unethical and immoral for owners to be ordered to ­discard them as such.

In Switzerland, they have stringent animal welfare laws, it is illegal to violate an animal’s rights. As a so-called world city, Hong Kong should be following their lead.

Joan Miyaoka, Sha Tin

Belt and road schemes can help graduates

I agree with those who say that Hong Kong citizens, especially young graduates, can gain from the city’s involvement in the “Belt and Road Initiative”.

This development strategy was ­announced by President Xi Jinping in 2013 to boost the nation’s economic growth and its trade with other countries on the route of the old land-based and ­maritime silk roads.

It will improve connectivity between these countries, and bring about enhanced business, cultural and academic ­exchanges. More undergraduates from here will go to universities in the countries along the belt and road to study and vice versa, helped by funding from the Hong Kong ­government.

Hopefully, once they have graduated, many of them, with the experience gained during these exchanges, will start their careers in projects linked to the belt and road strategy.

Studying and then working in those countries will help them to broaden their horizons.

I certainly feel the initiative will offer me more opportunities when I graduate.

I hope that there would be a lot of belt and road career opportunities for young Hongkongers like me.

Jackie Lo, Tseung Kwan O

Somewhat less competitive but still top city

With Hong Kong dropping in the rankings of some global ­surveys, some are questioning if it is still a world city.

Hong Kong has enjoyed a dominant role in Asia as an international financial centre since the 1970s. That status was unaffected by the handover 20 years ago. I think it is still one of the world’s most developed ­cities, but it is said to be slowly losing its ­competitiveness.

Hongkongers enjoy a high standard of living and medical care, and the economy is robust. Hong Kong remains a multicultural city, with a media that has a reputation for transparency and trustworthiness.

Multinational corporations continue to base themselves here to do business in the rest of China. Overseas entrepreneurs invest a lot here and provide many job opportunities.

Mainlanders send their children here to be educated, in schools and later in our universities. However, all is not well, especially when it comes to the local education system.

The stress levels faced by ­pupils at primary and secondary level are among the highest in the world, and it is obvious they are being pushed too hard.

In the realm of politics, we have seen a lot conflicts in recent years, with many citizens taking to the streets to join protests.

They fear that Beijing is ­interfering more in the affairs of Hong Kong.

Despite the problems that we face and the obstacles ahead, I remain confident about the ­future.

We have the potential to make the improvements ­needed to progress. And I think we can succeed through ­perseverance.

Alice Cheng Chau-yung, Yau Yat Chuen

Allow helpers to feel at home in Hong Kong

The Labour and Welfare secretary has said that 600,000 ­domestic helpers will be needed in the next 30 years to take care of Hong Kong’s rapidly ageing ­population.

Demand for domestic helpers will also increase across the border, among well-off mainland families.

If we cannot offer helpers an attractive package they will go elsewhere, including over the border. Hong Kong will become a less attractive place to work.

The government will have to offer them more than helpers ­already working here get. For example, they will have to be ­eligible to apply for permanent residency after seven years, just like other expatriates.

Also, government monitoring procedures must be beefed up to protect helpers from abuse. For instance, you read of workers being forced to go outside on ledges to clean windows on a high floor of a block of flats. The laws protecting these helpers must be tightened.

The live-in rule, which says helpers must stay with their ­employer, should be scrapped. Many flats are so small that ­domestic helpers are forced to sleep in a bathroom or on the kitchen floor. This is wrong.

Samuel Yu, Tiu Keng Leng

Abuse by employers is unacceptable

I am appalled whenever I read reports about physical abuse by employers of their domestic helpers. I cannot believe they would treat another human being in this way.

The government has to ­review the relevant legislation and ensure that there is suitable protection for the more than 350,000 helpers who work here.

Apart from the documented physical abuse, some of these workers have their wages cut ­below the amount stated in their contract, and are not allowed to take their statutory days off.

Some of the helpers are ­reluctant to go to the authorities and ask for help, because they fear that if they complain they could lose their jobs, and they need these wages to feed their families back home.

Alice Lau Fu-yi, Tsuen Wan