Common roots no panacea to cross-strait troubles

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 12:00am

People First Party chairman James Soong Chu-yu thinks finding common roots between the people of Taiwan and China is the panacea for cross-strait relations ('Pilgrimage puts focus on shared ancestry,' May 7).

He was born on the mainland and had fled to Taiwan with Kuomintang troops following their defeat in the Chinese civil war, so his perspective is understandable. But 'mainlanders' such as Mr Soong and KMT chairman Lien Chan only represent 15 per cent of Taiwan's population. Except for aborigines, the forefathers of most Taiwanese had abandoned the mainland centuries before the mainlanders.

President Chen Shui-bian's ancestor left the mainland permanently in 1739, when the 13 American colonies still belonged to Britain. The other 85 per cent of Taiwan's population may not be as convinced that reconciling with Chinese roots is the antidote to cross-strait ills.

Under the KMT's half-century of authoritarian rule, Taiwanese could only learn about Chinese roots. Local history and culture were forbidden and were brutally suppressed. The result is that until recently, most Taiwanese knew more about mainland culture, history and customs than their Taiwanese background. Taiwanese respect their Chinese ancestry, but centuries of exposure has tilted them closer to their own roots. What is largely unknown is that even President Chen carries a piece of paper with the characters for Baiye, the village of his forefathers.

On the other hand, most Chinese are ignorant of the history of Taiwan and its multicultural influences.


Solar power suits HK

I refer to the article 'Ugly realities of wind power' (May 9).

Common sense tells us that Hong Kong doesn't have the space for large-scale commercial wind farms. A far more suitable renewable energy for Hong Kong is building integrated photovoltaics (solar panels).

New buildings are going up all the time, and these are the perfect carriers for large-scale solar arrays. We can see that the government has already realised this, as it has been quietly installing large solar arrays on its buildings.

Installations include the new Electrical and Mechanical Services Department headquarters in Kowloon Bay, fire station at Disneyland, CCC Kei Wei primary school in Ma Wan, Science Technology Park in Tai Po, and Revenue Tower in Wan Chai. Even the private sector is quietly realising this, as can be seen by the large solar array installed on the new One Canton Road building in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Imagine if the utilities came to their senses and installed solar arrays on all of their existing and new buildings. The scheme of control would probably pay for it and we would quickly build up creditable renewable energy generation capacity.

PAUL BREEN, vice-chair, Hong Kong Photovoltaic Consortium

Unselfish China

Correspondent Layne Zeiler called on people not to fear China but to pray for it. He portrayed China as a nation of scoundrels and whores ('Pray for mainland,' May 4).

As a member of this lowly breed, I thank him for taking pity on us. But I can tell him that we are the same peaceful lot as we were in the 19th century when, minding our own business, our door was forced open with gunboats. Only now the population has tripled.

To manage to eke out a living, our 1.3 billion population are sometimes forced to try every means, including the dishonourable and polluting ones, the latter to manufacture for the world. But we do not do so at the expense of the other nations of this planet, unlike those that sent the gunboats against us.

Just look at the history of the US and the European nations for the past 250 years. It is aggression, aggression and aggression. And have they not had collective insanity? Was not the US plagiarising European designs barely a century ago, and Japan more recently?

How true the saying by the Chinese sage: 'Only when adequately clothed and fed can one begin to know honour.' Even in the halcyon days of his empire, Ernest Shackleton's polar expedition crew had to resort to cannibalism.

Gunboat diplomacy is but a more elegant form of cannibalism, probably no more honourable, but definitely more selfish than being whores.

PETER LOK, Heng Fa Chuen

Japan first protest target

Let me answer Hugh Tyrwhitt-Drake's question in his letters 'Lessons for China too' (May 3) and 'Right to demonstrate' (May 9): I agree that the Chinese people should have the right to protest against both our own government and the Japanese government. The two are not exclusive.

Of course, it would be best if one day, Chinese on the mainland are able to fully exercise their freedom to protest. Before that day comes, don't they deserve the right to demonstrate against someone who has brought China one of the most savage parts of its history?

For many years, Chinese on the mainland were prevented from showing their anger towards the Japanese government's lack of remorse for its war-time crimes because of the so-called friendship of the two countries. It was a great step forward that finally they, together with us in Hong Kong, could make our voice heard.

No matter what the US government has done in Iraq, it does not change the fact that China's human rights record needs improvement. Similarly, no matter what the Chinese government has done, the fact that Japan has inflicted great pain on East Asian countries cannot be denied. We have the right to tell the Japanese government: stop pretending to be only a victim of the second world war and stop denying the atrocities that were committed.

May I extend Mr Tyrwhitt-Drake's meaning by saying that what Japan has done is not only a lesson for China but for all countries around the world, including those who claim to be democratic. It is also a lesson for Hong Kong, where people who accuse the central government of telling lies still keep saying that 500,000 people joined the protest on July 1, 2004.


Girl bullies in schools

I read with interest the article of March 9, 2002, 'When girls go to war', which dealt with bullying. It is happening in Hong Kong schools now.

Where playground bullying is encountered, regardless of gender, resolute action in addressing the issue by school principals is required.

A zero-tolerance policy towards violence such as in New Zealand and Canada is needed. Presently in Hong Kong there is no uniform code of practice in place in schools to deal with the problem of violence.

Every such incident needs to be reported to the Education Department, the police and social workers, and I would urge the director of education to immediately require that this be done.

As a former volunteer in schools of the English Schools Foundation and as a mother, I have had the opportunity to observe the problem first-hand. School officials should not be reluctant to deal with the matter or interview witnesses and seek outside agencies' assistance.

If the fear is that doing so will adversely affect the school's reputation, then that concern is misconceived. Indeed a school's reputation can only be enhanced by zero-tolerance policies.


Ealing comedies

In the article 'Lime pickle' (May 9), Tim Bryan refers to 'the famous black and white Ealing comedies such as Passport to Pimlico and The Ladykillers'. The latter was in colour, as were a few of the later Ealing comedies.