Letters to the Editor, January 22, 2018
Increase birth rate with the right incentives
Given its status as an international finance centre, to maintain its prominent global position and remain competitive, Hong Kong needs well-trained and talented personnel in various sectors and jobs.
We have never been able to recruit everyone we need locally and it is getting more difficult because of the city’s falling birth rate and ageing population.
Therefore we have to recruit suitably-qualified people from countries in the region and from the mainland.
This method of filling vacancies for essential jobs will continue indefinitely, but the government could also learn from policies adopted by the Singapore government.
It offers financial incentives to well-educated citizens to start a family in an effort to increase the birth rate.
It is important to try and get more births in Hong Kong, because we are having to compete with other cities in the region which can also offer attractive packages to suitably qualified professionals from mainland China.
I hope that with the right government policies that include attractive incentives for young couples, we will eventually be able to recruit more talented local young people who have the qualifications and talent that the city needs.
Simon Chung, Kwun Tong
Latest rise in postage rates is really unfair
The latest stamp price increases, just a couple of years after the last ones, are unreasonably steep.
The price of much international mail has gone up by almost a third.
Falling mail volume due to electronic communication has changed the economics of the postal system. However, massive price increases exacerbate this volume decline, while penalising unfairly those who must or choose to send an item of mail.
This approach has failed in other countries, such as Britain, where above inflation stamp price increases have reduced use of the postal system by many people which in turn has led to declining service standards.
Hongkong Post should learn its lesson and develop a strong future business plan which does not simply stoop to price gouging as a monopoly.
Christopher Ruane, Lantau
Solving gender imbalance does take time
In 2016, China switched from its one-child to a two-child policy. While this radical change by the central government was welcomed, I do not believe the problems created by the old policy can be solved overnight.
China will continue to be dogged by its one-child policy and the birth rate will remain relatively low. And, like other societies, it will continue to have to deal with having an ageing population. The government will have to come up with more policies which enable it to look after its increased number of elderly citizens.
Another serious problem caused by the one-child policy was a gender imbalance and that cannot be dealt with quickly. Because in traditional Chinese society, families prefer a boy to a girl, couples would often have an abortion if they were told they were having a girl.
There was little education which might have helped to change outdated attitudes, especially in rural areas.
Samuel Yu, Tseung Kwan O
Ageing society problems will still be there
While I think the Chinese government was right to end the one-child rule, the positive aspects of the new two-child policy will not be evident straight away. The fact is that with its ageing population the country will have workforce shortages in certain areas as the one-child rule led to a serious shrinkage of the birth rate.
It will take some time for that to change, as young couples adapt to the new regulations and make the decision to increase their family size.
The problems other societies with ageing populations face will affect China, including having to make more welfare payments.
In the long term, hopefully, we will see an increased workforce, which will boost the economy and tax revenues, but as I said, this is not something that is going to happen overnight.
Laurent Li, Tiu Keng Leng
Wood planks in care homes breed insects
I have noticed that in some care and nursing homes for the elderly, wooden planks are placed on beds and mattresses are then put on top.
However these planks are breeding grounds for some kinds of insects and so the operators of these homes often use strong insecticide.
Clearly, this is not good for the health of these elderly residents, especially in such confined spaces and given that many of them already have existing and chronic conditions.
I urge the relevant government department to look into this and identify the homes that are using these planks and spraying them.
There is a simple solution that the department can implement. It can just get these homes to replace the wooden planks with plastic ones that do not attract insects and so would not have to be sprayed.
I urge officials to deal with this matter in a timely fashion as protecting the health of elderly residents must be considered a priority.
K.M. Nasir, Mid-Levels
White elephant projects could be avoided
I think the ticket prices announced for the high-speed rail link from Hong Kong to the mainland are quite high.
For example, the HK$260 ticket to Guangzhou South station will cost HK$50 more than the existing through train from Hung Hom to Guangzhou East.
This will also be more expensive than trips made on cross-border buses and ferries, so travellers have other cheaper options than the high-speed express.
I think the high price will put off some potential passengers and I am worried that the express rail link will end up as another white elephant.
I hope that when it is considering future substantial infrastructure projects, the government will listen more closely to those experts and politicians who say that the high cost cannot be justified.
Lynette Tang Wing-yan, Tseung Kwan O