Members of the Hong Kong Society for Community Organisation and local residents watch a live broadcast of the budget speech, in Sham Shui Po on February 28. Photo: Edmond So

Letters to the Editor, March 30, 2018

Targeted cash in budget adds insult to injury

The financial secretary did not want to lose face by going back on his word of no across-the-board cash handouts in the budget.

So he will only give “targeted” handouts to, unfortunately, a vague target of have-nots.

It is easy to produce evidence of having something, but difficult to prove one has nothing.

So vetting of applications entails elaborate checking of every declaration of not having something, and thus incurs costs which across-the-board handouts could have largely reduced.

It also stigmatises applicants as paupers and makes the handouts seem like insulting alms ­instead of wealth sharing.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po (left) and Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Law Chi-kwong, speak to the media after the handout was announced, at the government headquarters in Admiralty on March 23. Photo: Sam Tsang
It is estimated to benefit 2.8 million citizens, but that target would most probably fall short, since many would not apply, as they are likely to be deterred by the complicated criteria and the stigma. Also, many others are ­unable to apply because they are too old and/or ignorant to understand the application procedures.

The one-off grant purportedly targets the have-nots, in the face of the widespread outcry that the original budget did not benefit this group.

The “targeted scheme” will still fail to satisfy others who, while they don’t fall into the category of having nothing, still have very little. So it will end up as a handout scheme that pleases some but still offends many.

Rupert Chan, Mid-Levels

Lax web users perfect target for scammers

I am writing in response to your report on cybercrime (“ At least 2 million internet users in Hong Kong were hit by cybercrime in 12-month period”, March 27).

The Symantec poll cited by the article indicated that the rate of cybercrime in Hong Kong in the 12 months to last September was much higher than that in Japan and Singapore. That begs the question, what extra measures are we putting in place to tackle the wave of cybercrime?

I believe the root of the problem lies in the attitude of internet users. Advanced technology lets us access the internet with ease, but many of us do not realise that there are many traps in the cyber world. If we do not have a clear sense of protecting ourselves online and engage in careless browsing, we leave ourselves open to security risks and online scams.

More should be done to publicise the need for online caution, such as checking the URL of unfamiliar websites, and for stronger passwords, as well as for vigilance against romance scammers waiting to defraud lonely hearts.

Charmaine Ho, Kwai Tsing

Belt and Road offers hope to poorer nations

I refer to your article, (“ Why borrowers on China’s belt and road will go from euphoria to depression”, March 26). The key point seems to me to be the fact that these states are willingly taking on debt to rapidly modernise their infrastructure.
It’s easy to say in hindsight that Sri Lanka and Tajikistan made grave errors in borrowing from China, but consider the alternative, which seems to be for these countries to be mired in poverty, or borrow from Western dominated institutions such as the World Bank or the IMF. A push to modernise is not cheap, and perhaps the fear of the IMF, with its harsh restructuring policies, means that borrowing from China is the only realistic option.

Sandeep Chulani, Yau Ma Tei

Culture of anger behind most human misery

I’ve just read a particularly heated Eastertime opinion that “religion has been the root cause of almost all of the misery that is human history, and the sooner we can get past it … the better.”

I’d theorise, however, that rather than being the “root cause”, historically societal misery may have coincided with mainstream religiosity, due to common societal characteristics that breed some of the worst in collective human behaviour.

For example, mutual aspirational traits may have motivated a large quantity of western migration to North America, perhaps an insatiable drive for freedom from corrupt, bullish rulers and/or an increasingly “godless” society, which also eventually resulted in socially dysfunctional conduct.

Indeed, instead of big religion playing the main role in humankind’s dysfunctional conduct, could it be that general flaws in human nature are making popular religion notably dysfunctional?

Is humankind’s predominantly religious nature, given the high number of followers, making mainstream religion superficially easier to blame for our great social woes? Wouldn’t we see a reversed situation had we, conversely, lived in a predominantly atheist world, overwhelmed by the likes of the Khmer Rouge’s Cambodian killing fields and Russia’s often ruthless communist history?

Broad human nature may be to find and ardently follow some form of “faith” or another, be its leader the Holy Pope or Pol Pot.

Perhaps the most worrisome universal human trait, among the atheist and religious alike, is anger, and thus the reduced ability for rational thinking.

Frank Sterle Jnr, British Columbia

Easter is a good time to renew green pledge

Easter weekend is here, and once again it is time to choose environmentally friendly ways to celebrate the occasion.

To wrap presents for the Easter egg hunt, we could try to use old magazines or recycle gift wrap left over from Christmas or Lunar New Year. Giving out Easter candy in reusable bags would help to reduce the use of plastic.

Also, we should choose eggs with less packaging, so that less waste is created. Small changes can make a big difference.

Jojo Wong, Tseung Kwan O