Save our children from a hatred of Japan

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 August, 2005, 12:00am

During the 60th anniversary of the end of the second world war this month, the public focused on the hideous crimes that the Japanese committed. This focus synthesised hatred among several generations in the invaded countries. In a condescending tone, these countries asked repeatedly for a formal apology.

The Japanese people are tired of the incessant apologies that they have had to make. This has contributed to the recent growth in rightists in Japan. They feel that Japan should give up its timorous policies on international issues, including relations with neighbouring countries.

The mistake was not learned. After Germany's defeat in the first world war, the allies required it to pay heavy reparations 'for causing all the loss and damage to which the allied and associated governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them ...' (Treaty of Versailles, Article 231).

This weakened Germany's economy, but united the people under a powerful leader, Adolf Hitler. They were distressed to be suppressed by the allies, and hatred raged through the country. Germany set out on an aggressive path.

It is a history we should reflect on. In Asia, the invaded countries, primarily China and Korea, have asked many times for a formal apology from the current Japanese government. Hatred has deepened among the people of these countries over generations. Soon it will overwhelm us. Save our children from this consuming hatred.

WAI LEE, Taikoo Shing

Finding dog owners

We regret to learn of P. A. Crush's unpleasant experience when he found a lost dog (August 15).

We have spoken with Mr Crush after seeing his letter. Since the incident occurred several months ago, his memory of the details is limited. He is not sure whether he made the phone inquiries to staff of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, or the hotline, which is not manned by the department. Either way, the response should have been better, and we are taking steps to improve this.

Because of privacy rules, we cannot release details of registered dog owners to a third party without their consent. Our staff will follow up to contact the owners to return the found dogs. There are procedures to follow.

It is not true that all dogs are automatically destroyed after four days. For microchipped dogs, there are three stages of checks to trace the owner: 1. telephone calls at different times; 2. visit the recorded address, and leave a message if no one is there; 3. send a 'double registered' letter. Awaiting a response to this may mean the procedures take up to three weeks.

Registered owners are not always traceable, as often they fail to submit updated contact details, or fail to relicense their dogs every three years as required. There are arrangements for the finder of a microchipped dog, who wishes to adopt the animal if the previous owner cannot be found, to keep the dog in his/her care in the meantime.

The microchip is a valuable means to reunite lost dogs with owners. But it is important for owners to submit their updated details when they move and to relicense their dogs. Also, most dogs that come into our kennels are available for adoption through animal welfare organisations. These arrangements are shown in the website,

DR DAVID BURROWS for director of agriculture, fisheries and conservation

Pilot factor in crash

The article headlined 'Loss of air pressure blamed for jet crash' (August 15) said the pilot of the Cypriot airliner turned blue and the passengers were freezing moments before the disaster.

Kieran Daly, editor of the online Air Transport Intelligence, said the cause of the crash was a puzzle. There were so many warning systems, he said, the crew should have known that there was a problem. I absolutely agree.

However, if there is a sudden loss of pressure when an airliner is cruising at 35,000 feet, the pilot has only 40 seconds to secure his oxygen mask before disaster strikes. From this altitude, it would take an airliner three minutes and 51 seconds to make an emergency descent and reach 8,000 feet, where pressurisation is not needed. But European Aviation Safety Agency spokesman Daniel Holtgen said that it was highly unlikely the loss of cabin pressure alone would have caused this accident. There would have to be other contributing factors. I agree. One of those factors might have been the level of pilot proficiency.

EUGENE LI, Deep Water Bay

Church taught timidity

The letter 'Manila's meek poor' (August 16) asks why Filipinos as a whole put up with abuses and do not seem to get angry with their government. The answer dates back to the colonial era when the Spaniards drummed Catholicism into the natives, stressing biblical injunctions to turn the other cheek because the meek supposedly inherit the Earth.

The proliferation of cults and the constant praying in the country (including on the airwaves) indicates a misguided over-reliance on religion, which keeps Filipinos anesthetised from real life and devoid of rational thought. Hence one finds people feeling nostalgic for dictator Ferdinand Marcos, while others wish that thuggish politicians such as former president Joseph Estrada would take over and do a 'Lee Kuan Yew' to pull the Philippines out of its third-world status. In its quest to get rid of the present inept president, the unprincipled left has allied with Estrada and other politicians as they claim to have a quick fix for the country's problems. But they have little support because their machinations clearly highlight their lust for power, not love of country. As Alan Robles wrote ('Chasing a dream', August 18), the wish to escape to greener pastures indicates that little patriotism is left among the mass of Filipinos. But once abroad, the national character is often transformed into a sensible, productive one that is mainly unfettered by religious claptrap.


Freedom or US terms?

If you repeat a lie often enough, it will soon become accepted as fact.

G. To repeats the favourite line of United States imperialism, 'the US protective umbrella' ('Don't demonise US', August 12). G. To wonders what impact there would have been on our freedom if we had to live without this magical 'umbrella'. The US presence in Asia has nothing to do with protecting freedom. It is to protect the interests of US corporations, and boost arms sales by increasing tension. It has supported successive dictators in the Philippines, where many people live on less than US$1 a day. It armed and supported Suharto in Indonesia as he murdered 200,000 of his people. The US perpetuates the conflict between India and Pakistan by arming both sides. Does G. To expect the people in these countries to feel safe living under the 'umbrella of US protection'?

G. To naively says that 'the more we demonise America, the more difficult a solution becomes'. He seems ignorant of the fact that America is the cause of the world's problems, not the solution.


Investment witchcraft

Hope springs eternal. But financial products with less risk and double return do not exist in a free market with reasonable liquidity. Of course, liquidity, or the lack of it, is in itself a risk. Snake-oil salesman can never tell us what the definition of risk is ('Paint it pink, wrap it in ribbons and don't mention adjectival fee', August 18).

I am willing to accept that Peter Lynch is - was is a better word - a very good investor. But his best-selling book parades a litany of only the most egregiously overvalued and conspicuously undervalued stocks for a special investment style - small and medium-sized growth stocks. When the market trend falls that way for a couple of business cycles, it is easy to be 'successful'. Besides, he had the entire Fidelity research department supplying him with information that most investors did not have.

Managing a portfolio as a going concern with the most efficient risk-return is a different matter. Lynch used to mock trading away 'firm-specific risk' for a reduced return as 'diworsification'. That speaks volumes about the state of the art in the evaluation of investment performance in Wall Street - it is still Stone Age witchcraft.

On the same sour note, I am becoming less impressed by the corporate leaderships touted by the financial media. When I tally up the probabilities for the success of managers of 'great' American corporations, I cannot honestly say that their talents are not just artefacts of the bell-shaped curve. In other words, the public needs heroes even if they are a figment of the imagination.


New Jersey, US