PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 August, 2007, 12:00am

Visiting European soccer teams take city fans for granted

The sighting of European soccer teams in Hong Kong during the summer is getting as predictable as the arrival of typhoon season.

Given the popularity of the sport and the potential financial rewards in the region, clubs can hardly be faulted for avidly pursuing more wealth and publicity. Unlike decades ago, when I grew up watching the games, TV rights and marketing deals have transformed the sport into a mammoth business venture.

Nevertheless, the prerequisite for a successful business enterprise - a reputation for delivering promised goods - has not been apparent in some exhibition matches in recent years. The blatant lack of interest shown by Manchester United players a couple of years ago here resurfaced in their recent tour of neighbouring countries. The complaints from Barcelona players about touring Asia so close to the beginning of their regular season typifies the attitude that Hong Kong soccer fans endure annually.

It's funny that incidents like these fail to deter fans from clamouring for those high-priced tickets - to the chagrin of those of us inclined to think of ourselves as rational consumers.

The blind addiction to idols, whether in music or sports, has turned fans into a bunch of slavish consumers sadly missing the ability to separate good from bad products. Instead of laughing at the clubs' greed, fans behave not unlike lambs waiting to be slaughtered. The lack of will to resist only encourages more of the same.

Perhaps a quixotic yearning for games in which players exhibit unrestrained outbursts of artistry and joy is linked to a sentiment that no longer has a place in this commercialised world.

My advice to clubs that continually want to reap bonanzas from this region is to respect the fans.

Otherwise, they may find themselves in half-filled stadiums in the future, if too many boring matches weaken their marketing campaigns.

Jack Teh, Clear Water Bay

Eating dogs losing its appeal on the mainland

I write to thank your writer Jason Wordie for raising the important issue of eating dogs on the mainland and in Hong Kong ('Now and then: hot dogs', August 12). I would also like to comment on two points.

First, Mr Wordie writes that dog meat can be found in most supermarkets just across the border from Hong Kong. In fact, a recent survey by our staff revealed that while dog meat can be found in a few supermarkets, it is certainly not widely available.

In fact, as awareness of the brutality involved in the trade grows, more and more Chinese people are refusing to eat dog meat and calling for it to be banned.

Second, Mr Wordie writes that his neighbours in the New Territories eat dog meat every winter.

If this is the case, then he should report them to the police. Dog eating is illegal in Hong Kong and is viewed very harshly by the courts, as evidenced by the fact that two men in the New Territories were recently sentenced to jail for the offence.

Through our campaign, 'Friends ... or Food?', Animals Asia is working hard at the grass-roots level on the mainland to stamp out the abhorrent practice of dog eating - an industry that sees literally millions of dogs each year suffer terribly at the hands of greedy traders.

Dogs (some of them stolen pets) are trucked for days without food or access to water to markets in southern China.

There they are slaughtered in the most brutal, drawn-out way possible, in the mistaken belief that torture improves taste.

Cultures can and do change, discarding cruel practices and embracing more compassionate lifestyles.

On the mainland, dogs are increasingly recognised as important members of society.

The companionship and comfort they offer is now medically proven to benefit virtually all health care sectors, and their superior sense of smell assists authorities and communities around the world to protect human lives. Surely they are worth more than food for the table.

Jill Robinson, founder and chief executive, Animals Asia Foundation

Charities must be regulated by law

A law is needed to regulate charities, and a government department should be established to deal with this issue. There are thousands of charities in Hong Kong, yet Hongkongers know nothing about them. By law, charities should have to hand in their accounts to this new department and publish an accounting report in the press.

Officials would study those reports to ensure everything was in order. Financial support would be given to the smaller charities to help them with the administrative expenses involved in doing the required audit.

The ultimate goal of this law should be to help those in need.

Poon Tsz-hin, Tseung Kwan O

Alarming security for two city officials

I had the most unpleasant experience when I went for my weekly tai chi lesson at the Tsuen Wan Town Hall last Tuesday: I discovered that all except one entrance to the hall were closed for security reasons. An army of police and security guards were posted at various entrances.

Amid the torrential downpour, visitors intending to enter the hall's first floor entrance from a covered walkway were asked to walk in the rain to a closely guarded door on the ground floor.

No reason was given for the tight security. I learned later that the 'protection' was needed to ensure that two officials - our chief secretary and the secretary for constitutional development and mainland affairs - could descend from their Lower Albert Road offices and consult district folks about the green paper on constitutional development.

I would have thought our senior officials would value an opportunity to talk to the man in the street on this crucial document. Yet the level of security made a mockery of the exercise - at the expense of ordinary folks who wanted to go about their usual business at the town hall.

K.Y. Chan, Ho Man Tin

Erasing the logo won't save China Airlines

The action of China Airlines in erasing its logo from its stricken aircraft in Okinawa added an element of comedy to a potentially tragic incident.

The absurdity was heightened by the airline's startling claim that, 'It is just a standard international practice'.

To make its shenanigans truly inspired, perhaps the airline should not only erase its own logo but paint another airline's on top of it (say, Air China?).

It will take much more than a coat of paint to restore China Airlines' image, which has been badly tainted over the years by a series of mishaps. The airline must take concrete steps to convince travellers that it takes aircraft maintenance seriously, rather than just hiding its name.

Tony Hung, Ma On Shan

HK belongs to its citizens, not tycoons

James Tien Pei-chun is a tycoon and a property developer. He buys land and redevelops it for profit. So it should come as no surprise that he is against the preservation of urban/cultural heritage, or 'people power', for that matter.

His comments last Sunday, on RTHK's Letter to Hong Kong - that citizens standing up for their city will cost the government revenue - is often heard from his type, but he is wrong.

Wake up, Mr Tien. Hongkongers aren't dumb. The days of conducting business and politics as you and your buddies do are numbered. Hong Kong belongs to its citizens, not to tycoons and the government.

Robert Champagne, Mid-Levels