Colourful festivals provide a chance to show real HK

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 March, 2006, 12:00am

Thomas Tang asks in his article 'Is Mickey wrecking our uniqueness?', (March 14). The answer is, I'm afraid: 'It is inevitable.'

Just over a week ago, together with a group of Royal Asiatic Society members, I visited the five-day Da Jiu festival at Sheung Shui. It was an important religious occasion, full of meaning, with the village being 'purified'.

Clan members returned from around the world to seek their roots, and villagers abstained from meat and sex. The Jiu included a traditional New Territories basin meal. Photographs of the village, in a bygone era, were on display. The festivities ended with the burning of the 'king of hell' as he was sent on his way back to the underworld.

I looked around for tourist groups but saw none. One visiting English woman, who is married to a Chinese, said after taking part in a previous Jiu ceremony: 'I have experienced one of the most wonderful events of my life.'

Numerous festivals are held in Hong Kong which would enable tourists to take home lasting memories. The tourism industry needs to pay more attention to such events.

DAN WATERS, Mid-Levels

Fantasy island

A residential development, near to where I live in Discovery Bay, has the unlikely name of 'Chianti', supported by advertising that features a mermaid-like young woman and the copy-line: 'A bathing bliss in the celestial realm.' Translated: a swimming pool.

The developers might note that another translation, for the straw wrapping around a bottle of the famous Chianti wine, is fiasco, meaning flask.

For potential buyers, who are not star-struck by romantic notions of a turquoise Italian coastline - which does not exist, even in Italy - there are teams of 'Chianti' sales people ready to pounce. 'A bathing bliss in the celestial realm?'. These are high-rise concrete boxes at Discovery Bay with a view through massed pollutant particles to Disneyland. Fiasco indeed.


Pay for refugees

Hong Kong should pay the UNHCR bill. The city was a refugee destination in the 1940s, when many immigrants fled here from Shanghai. Later, they developed their careers and contributed to society.

Providing assistance to political asylum seekers, in the form accommodation, shows that we care about human rights and also contributes to the melting pot of people that we have here.

Hong Kong has had to tighten its belt in recent years due to the budget deficit, but it's still a very rich place. We have enough money here to pay the bill.


Don't pay for refugees

The UN refugee arm, the UNHCR, is still hugely in debt to the Hong Kong government, after the city supported the Vietnamese refugees in camps here.

We are unlikely to get back the loan, but I don't think, with our current financial situation, we should contribute any more. Any revenue is needed urgently in the health and welfare sectors.

Besides, the subsidy to cover the expenses of these refugees will only encourage more to come.


Boosting space projects

In recent years, China has put huge emphasis on its space-development projects. As well as the money and co-operation to be gained from technology transfers to other countries, one of Beijing's aims in developing the space programme has been to modernise its military power.

It's a political reality that China needs to strengthen its military force, particularly in an environment where several other countries possess nuclear weapons.

But too much emphasis on space and technology projects could detract from Beijing's efforts to alleviate poverty in rural areas and could lead to domestic instability.

It's vital that China restores its internal stability. But it should also push forward its space development, even if the US is a decade ahead in terms of technology.

Hong Kong should involve itself more. There is a pool of talented scientists and engineers, who could contribute more to China's space programme.

ERIC CHU, Tsing Yi

Shaken, and stirred

In a recent television interview, British actor Daniel Craig, the most recent James Bond, was asked what he thought of the many life-long James Bond fans who were less than satisfied when he was chosen to play the role of 007. His two-word reply was: 'Screw them.'

I found Craig's remarks offensive. Does he not realise that loyal Bond fans have every right to be dissatisfied with the choices that producers make? What is most contemptible about his brusque remarks is that he wrongfully directed them towards so many fans who are mothers, wives, grandparents and children.

I would like to say that any feeling I had about Craig or about boycotting his first turn as Bond are now doubly strong.

I am that much more committed to the grass-roots efforts to see that Casino Royale is a box-office failure. I urge anyone who values common decency to join me in this boycott.

SUSAN PING LO, Riverside, California