Resigned to inane Cable TV coverage of the World Cup

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 March, 2006, 12:00am

I read with horror about the television broadcasting plans for this year's football World Cup. Yet again, Cable TV has secured exclusive broadcasting rights to almost all the matches.

I live in an area where Cable TV is not available. However, this is the least of my problems. Should I decide to have a satellite dish installed for the finals, I am faced with the monster that haunted me throughout the 2002 World Cup: the Go! Go! Go! Football show.

This programme bore the brunt of every disparaging comment that came out of World Cup 2002. Yet Cable TV insists it will run again.

To be blunt, it can potentially ruin the tournament, replacing thorough analysis and punditry with mindless games and idiotic behaviour. My mind flashes back to a moment of horror in 2002, when South Korea eliminated Italy. Rather than stay with the coverage to see the interaction of the home crowd with their heroes, Cable TV went back to the studio for more pitiful dialogue and juvenile high jinks.

Surely an option should be given, as is now available during the Champions League coverage, to choose Cantonese or English punditry or commentary. There is also the option of some intelligent post-match analysis from an experienced panel of experts.

Maybe the government could step in to protect these events. In Britain, several events, such as the World Cup, Wimbledon and the Olympics, must be covered by terrestrial television, and broadcast rights cannot be bought by private companies.

Perhaps Cable TV could offer an option for those who enjoy the finer aspects of the beautiful game: have one channel for mature, informative and rational discussion, and dedicate the other to the inane, vacuous and imbecilic.


Stay open to criticism As a former British communications director, I know Fanny Wong brings considerable experience to her article 'A matter of pride and prejudice', (March 8). However, I cannot agree wholly with her analysis of why the morale of the civil service has fallen.

It is the right and privilege of any open society that its government - including the executive, legislature and civil servants - receive critical, at times hostile, comments. It is to the credit of Hong Kong that its government and civil service are open to criticism and attack within a free and pluralistic society.

What, then, is the problem that undermines the morale of the civil servant?

To an outsider, one serious difficulty must be the abject quality of the government's communications machinery. Communication failings are evident in government departments and bureaus, from the moment the embarrassing and patronising public-service broadcasts begin the day.

Modern governments approach the public as mature and aware citizens. Modern communications departments exist to find and maintain a strong platform for discussion and debate between the government and its citizens.

This is not about 'spin' or 'gloss', for good communications may even increase criticism of government policies. Better government communications will certainly help the work of civil servants.

But, more importantly, it will give Hong Kong citizens the relationship with their leaders that they need and deserve.


Struggle for some gays

Scott Williams seems to doubt that there is a group of homosexuals who 'are uncertain and struggle'. Why? Because this claim 'has no basis in the recognised psychological literature of this century' ('Gays: suspect theories', March 1).

I just hope Mr Williams will keep an open mind and face the facts. No matter how we evaluate homosexual acts, I think we all need to acknowledge that some homosexuals are uncertain about their sexual orientation and have struggles.

I know this because I have personally encountered them and heard their thoughts. Some have become former gays and some are still struggling. If the 'recognised psychological literature' does not mention them, so much the worse for that literature.

We may further debate the interpretation of this fact, but denial amounts to a disrespect of these flesh-and-blood people and the negation of their deepest feelings and most intimate experiences.

Some pro-gay people who have a more open mind acknowledge the existence of struggling homosexuals. But they attribute these struggles to their self-hate, originating from their internalisation of the society's 'homophobia'.

I think this explanation may suit some cases, but it is dogmatic to claim universality for the above explanation without testing it against people's real experiences. In some cases I know of, homosexuals feel dissatisfied with their sexual orientation, and not through fear of disapproval.

In fact, they have been liberated from these social expectations and have practised an active homosexual lifestyle for some time. But that lifestyle cannot satisfy their real selves. Only after they are liberated from that inclination can they feel real peace of mind. For those with feelings of self-hate, their deepest self-identity consists of something other than their homosexual inclination, such as their religious faith.

Should we say that a smoker's dislike of the inclination to smoke must be a kind of self-hate? Contrarily, it can originate from a healthy sense of self-respect and self-survival. Similar things can be said about homosexuals who become former gays.

I will not generalise about this, either. Homosexuality is a complicated matter, and it is no good to deny that there are diversities within the homosexual community.

KWAN KAI-MAN, Kowloon Tong

Thanks to a friendly city

On Tuesday morning, as my daughter and I were checking in at the Airport Express for our flight home, we got a big shock. She couldn't find her passport and we were not allowed to get on the plane.

It could have been a dreadful experience, stranded halfway round the world. But, instead, I will always remember the day for the kindness and sensitivity of the good people of Hong Kong.

Complete strangers, seeing how lost we looked as we searched for the Canadian consulate, stopped us to ask how they could help. The security personnel in the IFC Mall and the Airport Express building were especially friendly.

The policeman who took our report of the lost passport at the Hong Kong station was compassionate and helpful - he added a touch of humour as we were leaving by saying he hoped to never see us back at the station again.

I also want to say a special thank you to the staff at the Canadian consulate, who worked efficiently and very quickly to replace my daughter's passport within the same day so that we could re-book our flight home.

Of course, once my daughter's passport had been replaced, she found her lost one, tucked away inside a book she'd been reading!

PAT JEFLYN, Windsor, Canada

Reason for extra cost?

As a newcomer to this, I would like to say how much I enjoyed attending two of the Man literary festival events. They have been well organised and well attended.

My principle attraction on both these occasions was to hear the lilting lines and profound wit of the Nobel-Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney.

I was not to be disappointed. What did disappoint me, however, was the $500 charge for a $200 book simply because he had pre-signed it and, as we were clearly told, was not going to be signing anything else during the event.

It is not so much the extra cost that irks me (actually I am somewhat in sympathy with this), so much as not knowing where the additional amount will go.

May I suggest that the festival be more transparent and simply tell us whether it will go to charity, to the festival administration, or to the upkeep of a poet.

CHRIS COWELL, Kennedy Town

Wrong passport advice

I am a Hong Kong citizen residing in Shataukok. The only travel document I have at the moment is a British National (Overseas) passport.

Representatives of the central government refused to accept my application for a visa because it said that, according to the Hong Kong Basic Law, I am Chinese and cannot use a BN(O) to apply for a visa.

I then went to the China Travel Service to try to obtain a travel permit and was told that I needed to get an SAR passport, give up my birthright nationality and come back to apply.

I went to the Immigration Department which, in turn, advised me not to pursue my application because I was not born in Hong Kong.

The department does not see the Basic Law as the central government does. It is an absurd way to treat an overseas-born Chinese who is a citizen of Hong Kong.