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A view of Hong Kong from the Lions Pavillion on the Peak. The city’s international reputation suffers, as does its economy, while the rest of the world lives with Covid-19. Photo: Sam Tsang

Letters | Hong Kong should care that its international reputation is suffering over its pandemic policies

  • Readers discuss how to restore the city’s international reputation, and the police’s efforts in community engagement
Hong Kong
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The government’s reduced hotel quarantine period is certainly a step in the right direction, but it is far from a turning point or an effective reconnection with other cities in terms of both business and tourism.
Thousands of workers have lost their jobs over the past two years, particularly in the travel and retail sectors, and a large number of businesses have closed, the latest being an iconic teahouse.

I have just been released from quarantine after a long trip to Europe to catch up with friends, relatives and colleagues. In contrast to Hong Kong, all the 10 city regions we visited across Europe were packed with visitors, and all associated businesses appeared to be thriving.

Hong Kong’s policies has caused significant loss of its international reputation. As a resident of the territory for 45 years, I have always tried to promote its many merits to others. In discussing the current situation with so many people while abroad, I have been dismayed by the almost wholly negative view of the city that seems to be widely held in Europe.

We should not be complacent about this or simply put it down to the biased foreign media. The city needs to confront this with some positive thinking and equally positive action.

While billions of dollars have been handed out as part of temporary economic relief programmes, the current business atmosphere is still dire, and the financial secretary warns that the economic environment in the second half of the year will be worse than the first. It is quite clear that countries which have learned to live with the virus and opened up have regenerated the foundations of a resilient economy through sustainable containment and prevention measures.

In a little demographic analysis done during seven days of hotel incarceration, now thankfully curtailed, it seemed that the current number of daily reported Covid-19 infections, as a proportion of the overall population, is not unduly different in Hong Kong from that in any of the city regions we visited.

There is now a clear and obvious need in Hong Kong to focus less on unsustainable policies and processes, including the enforced paid quarantine of well-vaccinated and perennially tested permanent residents with homes in the city, and more on rebuilding confidence in the city.

The use of hotels, emptied of visitors apart from staycationers, might well have staved off hotel closures, but this is difficult to even comprehend in more enlightened parts of the world and does little to rebuild international confidence in the city.

It is now essential to set a firm date for ending restrictions and get back to some form of normality.

Peter Cookson Smith, Mid-Levels

Public contributions to police work are much appreciated

I refer to the letter, “Engagement the way to restore faith in police” (August 5).

Your correspondent has rightly pointed out that the Hong Kong police have been taking steadfast actions in engaging with the community, especially in an evolving political and socio-economic landscape with increasing public expectations. With the upgrading of the Public Relations Wing, we will continue strengthening our communication with members of the public, both young and old.

Our extensive network of Police Community Relations Offices in the 24 police districts in Hong Kong regularly organises talks and tours of police premises for the public. To enhance the transparency of our police work, we will continue to explore and extend such opportunities as long as they do not compromise police operational efficiency.

We also reach out to the youth through our Junior Police Call scheme which provides training modules on police knowledge, leadership and management skills as well as personal development. School liaison officers from the Police Community Relations Office also frequently visit schools, give talks to students on crime prevention and maintain close liaison with schools.

To address the growing elderly population in the local community and policing needs, the Senior Police Call scheme has also been implemented, providing a platform for the elderly to participate in meaningful activities and to serve the community.

Your correspondent may also wish to know that our Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force comprises members from all walks of life who join in serving the community on their own time by performing voluntary duties to support the regular force. We value their significant contribution which exemplifies the community’s joint efforts to maintain law and order in our society.

Your correspondent’s support, as do his suggestions, means much to us and helps us in better serving the community.

Karen Tsang Shuk-yin, Chief Superintendent, Public Relations Wing, Hong Kong Police Force