The importance of family meals lost on many

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 September, 2006, 12:00am

Family life is the greatest source of happiness, but it seems Hongkongers attach little importance to it. This is best illustrated by the scene in the city's teahouses at weekends.

Family members all do their own thing: fathers read the newspaper, mothers read, too, or spend the time checking their makeup, while their sons and daughters use their PlayStation gadgets or mobile phones.

This defeats the aim of going out as a family and is a total waste of money.

The purpose of going to a teahouse together should be about doing things as a family - sharing views about things and showing love to each other.

The ancient Chinese believed that family members should reunite when the moon is full. The upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival is a timely reminder that Hongkongers should value family mealtimes.

KEN SOO, Wan Chai

A helping smile

The obvious answer to Sam Ranawalage's remarks ('Smile awareness needed,' August 27) about Hongkongers' smile-resistant attitudes is to have the largest foreign community here give how-to-smile lessons to the natives. Each Sunday, all the 'tired and unhappy' local folks who Mr Ranawalage says often look surprised and confused whenever strangers smile at them should go to Statue Square and hunker down among the Filipinos, who can teach them how to arrange those facial muscles and even exercise their bellies with some laughter.

Why are these women from an impoverished country usually cheerful, happy and polite? It's probably because, in their own country, even those in the lowliest barrios are friendly with their neighbours and welcome strangers.

As Professor Jim Rice has written in his new book for foreign domestic workers, Take Your Rights Seriously: 'The migrant workers ... offer a unique quality to Hong Kong that may be as subtle as the occasional smile in the midst of a busy and anonymous crowd. Their presence also adds a tangible richness to Hong Kong life in terms of the ethnic and cultural diversity.'

The book is being launched today.


Disposing of bad habits

We've noticed a significant lack of education and good behaviour on an important social issue. At beaches and parks, we've seen too many people loaded up with disposable metal skewers for their barbecues. At the close of each day, the rubbish bins and landscape are littered with the wooden handles and steel skewers.

This kind of behaviour is irresponsible and thoughtless, and is another example of how little people care about the environment.

The lesson is: don't treat everything like it's casually disposable. These skewers can be reused. They are not biodegradable and won't go away by themselves. Why ruin the very environment we all share and enjoy?

RAN ELFASSY, co-founder,

The Pattern Group

Let's remember war hero

The sad passing of Jack Edwards two weeks ago saw the loss of a second world war hero (for his survival in Kinkaseki concentration camp and his determination to ensure paperwork relating to Japanese atrocities survived the war), and the loss of an unselfish campaigner for the rights of others less fortunate. He was also a warm and friendly man.

He will be remembered by many, giving his annual tribute to those who fell in all wars at the Cenotaph. It would therefore be a fitting tribute and memorial to Jack if a simple stone lectern were erected in the northeast corner of the Cenotaph grassed area, bearing his name and his annual recital that 'we will never forget' .


Find the fresh air

Paul Headey's idea of boycotting the Hong Kong Marathon to protest against air pollution is brilliant ('Anti-pollution warriors should sleep on it', August 27). I believe many of those who took part in the marathon last time will not choose to suffer again next year.

Hong Kong is a high-density concrete jungle, but outside the jungle, we have the highest ratio of countryside on the planet.

To those who like working out, for the sake of your health, don't run in places like Victoria Park, in built-up Causeway Bay. Go a bit further out for fresh air and better scenery.


Church mislabelled

Further to last Sunday's article 'Underground bishop released after bowing to Beijing' (August 27), I would like to clarify a misunderstanding that many in today's more modernistic Roman Catholic Church, and in the media, seem to promote with unending vigour: mislabelling of the Holy Roman Catholic Church in China as being the 'underground' church - based on the premise that it is not the 'endorsed' or the 'official' church recognised by the Communist Party and/or its various organs.

Let me clarify. The Holy Roman Catholic Church is the one, true, apostolic church, as founded by Jesus Christ.

The state-controlled 'official' Catholic church in China, which does not recognise the authority of the pope, is no more related to the one, true, Catholic and apostolic Holy Roman Catholic Church than is a (Holy Roman)cat to a (communist) crocodile despite its shedding 'tears' of 'understanding' whenever it is called for.


Call the whole thing off

Had Deborah Lindsay been able to get through to British Airways, she might still not have got satisfaction ('Anybody out there', August 27). Institutional arrogance towards the customer seems long-lasting.

Many years ago, I wrote to Lord King, then BA chairman, about being denied check-in for a Christmas Eve flight 55 minutes before departure. He did reply, but he was totally unsympathetic. Cathay Pacific sold me a new ticket with 45 minutes to go. They understood customer service and have a loyal customer.

BA has a problem. It has forgotten the message of the seminal book Moments of Truth: customers see companies through their employees. But if you cannot even contact an employee, the message is clear: we don't need your business. Ms Lindsay's solution is simple: stop using BA.


Grey days in Beijing

The pollution level in Beijing is catastrophic.

Pollution on the roads, at public places, in residential estates - it's everywhere. In particular, there is little or no control over construction site pollution.

The most astonishing thing is no one seems to care enough to do something about it. There is constant smog and blue-sky days are few and far between.

We understand that the city is gearing up for its 2008 'Green Olympics', but little effort is being made at the moment to control the heavy dust levels which make visibility a mere 50 metres - especially in the mornings.

We are very concerned, as we have young children growing up in Beijing. The city's people think it is useless to raise the issue with the governmental bureaus. It is, however, a basic human right to have clean air, which is crucial to human survival and sustainable development.

T. PHILIP, Beijing