Ocean Park still tops

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 September, 2005, 12:00am

As a former long-time resident of Hong Kong, I read with dismay about the reduced number of visitors at Ocean Park on the day of Disneyland's debut ('Ocean Park to spread its net as the competition hots up', September 14).

I agree with Allan Zeman, the chairman of Ocean Park, that visitors there see something that is real, in this case wonderful animals and sea life. On top of that, they get to enjoy a vista that is among Hong Kong's best scenery. For some, it may not be the perfect amusement park, but it is undeniably part of Hong Kong's heritage.

Are Hong Kong people unable to recognise that Disney is just another global chain, like Starbucks and McDonald's?

I have two very young children and I am happy to say that they had fun and an educational experience at Ocean Park. I will never take my children to any of the Disneylands throughout the world, where they would be exploited by the in-your-face marketing ploys thrown at visitors by global companies (and bullies) such as Disney. No offence, Mickey and Minnie.

SUSAN BARNES, Stratford-upon-Avon, England

Give Disney a chance

I feel sad whenever I read about Disneyland and all the demonstrations and complaints about the theme park.

I am a Singaporean. I think Hong Kong people should be more understanding and supportive of Disneyland. Give it a chance to grow and mature. Like all new projects, there are always teething problems.

Adjustments by Disneyland are necessary, but do we have to go to the extent of prosecuting the theme park over removal of the health inspectors' insignia? Disneyland has already apologised and admitted that its staffers' action was inappropriate.

Don't forget that a lot of Hong Kong taxpayers' money is invested in this vast project, and that this is our only hope of bringing more tourists to this city.

Do not kill the hen, however small, that has the potential of laying golden eggs for Hong Kong people. If it is not careful, Hong Kong will lose the ever- growing flow of tourists from the mainland and Southeast Asia to Macau.

LOW SIOK ENG, Discovery Bay

Why I paid this 'debt'

I refer to the letter 'Regulate debt collection' (September 17), by Christopher Wood.

When your family is threatened and intimidated, surely it is time for government action.

I also went through hell from debt collectors. A few years ago someone in Hong Kong alleged I owed him $12,000. I considered that I did not owe the money.

The fax machine in my office began churning out endless abusive threats of harm to me and my 11-year-old son, while the phones rang continuously with foul language and threats to my receptionist, my secretary and myself.

I made a statement to police, who then sent a detective to my office. Here is what he told me: 'Okay, the guy says you owe him $12,000. It's not a lot of money. There's nothing we can do. If we find the people who are making the calls, and that is almost impossible, we have to prove they did these things. Even if we get a prosecution, the law allows for just a small fine.

'The next day they would be at another location doing it again. These people could hire someone to chop off your arm for $1,000. I suggest you pay up.' I did.


Long Hair's T-shirt apt

I do not see a contradiction between Leung Kwok-hung's T-shirt bearing the image of revolutionary 'Che Guevara' and the Hong Kong legislator's struggle against one-party rule ('Puzzling T-shirt', September 15).

The same debate is now going on in the Italian press, because a publisher who is part of Silvio Berlusconi's empire has just acquired from the Cuban government the publishing rights of the works of Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, better known as Che Guevara.

By the way, the iconic picture of Guevara by Korda was first published by another Italian publishing executive, Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. The hot debate in Italy is whether Guevara was a socialist, a Stalinist or just a wandering knight (when, at 39, he left Cuba on his last expedition he wrote a letter to his parents, comparing himself to Don Quixote).

We see communists and post-communists repudiating him as an icon of consumerism, and, paradoxically, democrats and conservatives praising his beauty, idealism and search for a fine death. As a young Argentinian, Guevara was an ardent admirer of general Juan Peron, but at the end of his life he was disillusioned about Castroism and Soviet methods and motives.

Yes, he was murdered while fighting for communists insurgents, but we should not forget that he had renounced a fat ministerial chair to struggle, right or wrong, for a better world. Had he remained in Cuba, I have no doubt that he would have been murdered by Fidel Castro.

For all these reasons, Mr Leung is right to wear a Che Guevara T-shirt, as it is something that goes beyond democracy and communism.


Mobiles cause concern

The head of the Mobile Manufacturers Forum (Sunday Morning Post, September 11), which is a vested interest if ever there was one, claims that there are no health dangers in using mobile phones.

While mobiles can be very useful, the health effects of this usage are rightly causing some concern.

The vested interests of the tobacco lobby made similar claims for their poisonous products, long after the first warning signs of the health dangers of smoking became apparent. It took a generation before it was actually proven that smoking damages humans' health, which, sadly, still does little to deter millions of habitual smokers the world over. The longer-term ill-effects of a lifetime's smoking will be seen in the hospitals and graveyards of the future.

The current younger generation has started on a life-long habit of mobile phone use. Claims from the Health Council of the Netherlands that there are no dangers in a lifetime's use are completely spurious - no one has yet used a mobile phone for a lifetime. Such dangers are still unknown.

Furthermore, the quoted research was mostly conducted on unfortunate animals, rather than on humans.

If the signal from a mobile telephone can pass through solid rock, as when the user is deep underground on the MTR, there does not seem much that the thin bone of the human skull can do to protect the human brain from such strong emissions.

In Hong Kong, we must have one of the world's most saturated markets for mobile phones. Walk down any street, travel on any MTR train, and you will see many people talking on mobiles. Indeed, most users in Hong Kong hold the device against their ear, and continue to use it for prolonged periods. This is true even for schoolchildren. This type of use is the most likely to cause health problems, such as cancers of the brain, when continued long term.

Admittedly, such dangers are not yet proven. In the same way, millions of people had to die from the dreadful effects of smoking before the link was proven. Let us not condemn our younger generation to ill-health in later life as a result of excessive mobile phone usage.


Laugh more

Hong Kong now has another place to keep people happy. But Disney is one of the few such facilities to create happiness. Television and newspapers in Hong Kong do not provide sufficient humorous programmes and features. People need to have fun, and laugh on a daily basis. Those responsible should give priority to introducing more comedies.