Letters to the Editor, December 19, 2017
Profit motive is the source of inequality
Stephen Cheung’s article (“How business can profit all”, December 15) repeats a widely held view that private enterprise and the profit motive can together play an important role in solving Hong Kong’s many social and environmental troubles.
Like many people, Professor Cheung fails to understand that the pursuit of profit and private enterprise are indeed the source of Hong Kong’s problems. They cannot logically be the solution.
It is the blind pursuit of profit that leads to doctors poisoning patients in Causeway Bay beauty clinics. It is putting private enterprise before social well-being that results in the extreme levels of inequality and 20 per cent of Hong Kong people living in poverty.
It is to protect business that Hong Kong tolerates the air pollution, the heavy metals in the water and the gutter oil in its kitchens. Hong Kong cannot fix its social and environmental challenges while it believes that “business can profit all”.
Such thinking stems from an economic philosophy designed for the 19th century.
Graeme Maxton, secretary general, the Club of Rome, Winterthur, Switzerland
When fashion can be bad for your health
Fast fashion, with catwalk designs being cheaply reproduced for a quick sale, can have a detrimental effect on the environment, as can other aspects of the manufacturing of clothes.
The clothing retail and fashion sector can be problematic at all stages (production, consumption, care and disposal).
For example, a lot of chemicals are used in the production process, such as pesticides for growing cotton. Other chemicals are used in clothes factories for different processes.
The environment is threatened when these chemicals are not disposed of in a responsible manner. These can damage marine ecosystems when they pollute water systems. The health of humans is also at risk.
Individuals can make responsible choices, for example, try to buy fewer clothes. When they do make a purchase, they should try to find out about how the item of clothing was made, if organic material and ethical dyeing methods were used that cause less (or no) damage to the environment.
Also, rather than just throwing out clothes we no longer want, we should try to recycle them, putting them in clothes recycling bins. And we should look at what is available in second-hand stores before buying something new.
Sara Wong Kit-yu, Tseung Kwan O
Container deposit works in Australia
I have visited Hong Kong five times in the last decade and each time enjoyed all that this wonderful city has to offer. However, the litter is always noticeable.
In South Australia, where I live, they introduced container deposits for plastic and glass bottles some time ago. It started at the equivalent of around 30 Hong Kong cents and was raised to 60 cents, and then included the flavoured milk waxed cardboard containers.
The containers are taken to the recycling centres to redeem the cost or you can drop them off at charity sites.
This has been very successful and is now being taken up by other states, despite strong lobbying against it from the container manufacturers.
It works for us, so it might work for Hong Kong.
Garry Cooper, Aldgate, Australia
Life skills help when making career choices
I agree with those correspondents who have said that youngsters need more help in local schools when it comes to career advice. I believe teenagers need to be encouraged to pursue their dreams.
If young employees are able to achieve their career goals, they are more likely to be motivated in the workplace. But it is not always easy to come up with a plan for the future and schools are not always that helpful.
With the focus being so much on academic studies in schools in Hong Kong, there is often inadequate careers advice.
This has to change, and there must be classes in life skills to prepare teenagers for the adult world of work.
Schools need to try and find the right balance.
They should hold talks as a way of helping pupils to decide their future career paths.
More intensive advice should be available to teens who are confused about their goals.
Teachers and parents should always encourage teens to stay positive when considering their career choices.
They need to take a more relaxed approach and not put themselves under too much pressure.
Zoe Wong Sui-yu, Kwai Chung
Legalised Uber could really hurt taxi trade
The problem with ride-hailing app Uber operating in Hong Kong is that it is not legal here.
This can cause potential problems for its drivers and passengers, and concerns have been raised in the past about issues such as insurance.
I am also worried about the effect on the local taxi trade. If Uber was legalised and considered to be offering a better service, would large numbers of people switch to it?
Taxi drivers are often accused of being rude but, if Uber became very popular, many of them could lose their jobs. They already have to work long hours for low pay. If a lot of them became jobless, more citizens would be claiming welfare.
Yoyo Li Tsz-kwan, Yau Yat Chuen