Letters to the Editor, December 1, 2017
Citizens cannot be forced to respect nation
I am opposed to a version of China’s national anthem law being enacted in Hong Kong.
Just because people here object to this proposed legislation does not mean they do not love their motherland.
They just object to what is a form of coercion. Nothing can be gained by trying to force someone to show respect.
We continue to enjoy freedom of expression in Hong Kong. However, a national anthem law could restrict some of that freedom, especially if it would mean people facing punishment through the courts. And protests against the anthem, such as the booing at soccer matches, will only get worse.
We already have the National Flag and National Emblem Ordinance, and that will do for Hong Kong. It is more flexible than the new anthem law.
The proposed legislation has a lot of grey areas, such as what happens if you don’t stand up when it is played. So, it would be difficult to enforce and could lead to strained relations between the police and public.
There are so many negative aspects regarding a national anthem law, and I do not think it is appropriate for Hong Kong.
Kitty Kwan, Tai Wai
Bill for ousted lawmakers is outrageous
The Legislative Council is claiming HK$3.1 million each from the four opposition lawmakers disqualified for incorrect oath-taking.
This is based on the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law (“no corresponding entitlements shall be enjoyed”).
This administrative decision is especially outrageous, as section 13 of the Legislative Council Ordinance says elected members are confirmed in office seven days after election, unless they withdraw. So the offenders were legally Legco members, and drew salaries and expenses perfectly legally under what were then-established laws, yet are retrospectively banned from “enjoying entitlements”.
It is against natural justice to strip people of money properly paid at the time, and it would be persecution not to recognise a quantum meruit (the law’s language for what a job of work is worth) for work (and expenses) actually undertaken, even though they were later retrospectively stripped of office.
So, even if they cannot enjoy “entitlements” under the Basic Law, the ex-Legco members should receive a financial credit for the work they did do, including expenses.
That would be just and also counteract the impression that the Legco Secretariat is a willing party to political victimisation.
Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels
Waste charge scheme not a fair system
I have some reservations about the government’s proposed “polluter pays” waste scheme. I am not convinced by officials’ claims that charging by bag of refuse is the fairest system.
There will be nine types of bag, with the cheapest at 30 cents and the biggest (100 litres) costing HK$11.
For those who are better off in society, paying for say three of the largest bags once a month would be effortless.
However, households on low income will struggle with the fees. They already find it difficult to pay for daily necessities and are often forced to live in unhygienic subdivided flats.
I also think there will be some people who would not want to pay the waste collection charge and so they would just dump rubbish in the street, either in or beside a bin.
Unfortunately, many people will try to find ways to avoid having to pay anything.
For these reasons, I remain unconvinced that this proposed scheme is the fairest way for us to adopt the polluter pays principle.
Katrina Tang, To Kwa Wan
Teens should take care with virtual reality
With advances in technology and new devices, we are seeing a rapid growth in the popularity of virtual reality (VR) globally.
Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a new Oculus VR stand-alone headset which will go on sale early next year.
This will make users’ online experience more immersive, interactive and exciting.
VR technology is an integral part of video games, allowing people to really “enter” the game. While I appreciate what has been achieved, there are some drawbacks to VR technology. I am concerned about what effect overuse of, say, a VR headset, could have on your health. For example, it could cause eye strain.
If you keep it on for very long periods, would there be a risk of headaches?
It could be a problem for children and teenagers, if they were not monitored by parents and spent hours wearing VR headsets. Being young and impressionable, they even might have difficulty distinguishing between the real and the virtual worlds.
Some youngsters could become addicted to these VR devices, which would lead to psychological problems. While we should welcome VR technology, we have to be aware of the potential drawbacks.
Wong Cheuk-ling, Kowloon Tong
Still beloved hometown, despite woes
I agree with Peter Kammerer’s views on Hong Kong (“Asia’s world city? Hong Kong is mediocre at best, if we’re honest”, November 21).
There are aspects of the city where things have got worse, including the economy. We have fewer tourists and retail sales have dropped.
Inflation is still an issue and it is hurting people, especially those on low incomes.
Property prices are among the highest in the world, poverty remains a serious problem and the gap between the rich and poor is getting wider. In other words, life for many people is getting harder in Hong Kong.
All citizens have to deal with our high levels of air pollution and it is made worse by traffic congestion. This is bad for our health, especially for people with respiratory conditions.
Citizens are under a lot of pressure and not just in the workplace, as the strain starts in school. Many children suffer from stress as they struggle to do well in exams.
However, despite the disadvantages and the problems in Hong Kong, I still love my hometown.
Melanie Sin, Sha Tin