Common sense to recognise genocide proof
I would like to thank Paul Harris for his courageous article ('Timely recognition of the Armenian genocide', December 24), in which he calls upon the United States to recognise the Armenian genocide, not only to honour the memory of those who were massacred, but also as a warning to other nations, which would commit the act of genocide, that they would also be held to account.
However, I must take issue with the reply written by Turkey's consul general, Raif Karaca ('US should examine history, not legislate it', December 28).
First, Mr Karaca claims that 'many internationally renowned historians' agree the deportations were for security measures. However, only a handful of historians take this view.
In contrast, the International Association of Genocide Scholars - which represents the main body of scholars who study genocide and whose hundreds of members have no affiliations with any government - unanimously agreed that what happened to the Armenians during the first world war was genocide.
Mr Karaca says the Turkish government has opened 'all Turkish archives of that period' for researchers. However, in March 2005, the Turkish [newspaper] Zaman brought to light that only a selected 2,000 out of the 300,000 documents were open to the public.
Finally, Mr Karaca claims that 'the passing of such resolutions by foreign parliaments is simply irrelevant'. He fails to see the relevance that crimes of genocide need to be recognised by governments, not historians, in order to stop future genocides.
The US Congress is not attempting to rewrite the history books. By recognising the genocide took place, Congress will show to the world that it will not allow similar crimes to happen again.
It is common sense to examine history. However, it is also common sense to recognise what history has already proved.
Katia M. Peltekian, Beirut, Lebanon
Patience please over parking
With regard to the letter by Joseph Lee ('Police ignoring illegal parking', December 28), I have a different point of view.
In Hong Kong, traffic congestion has been a long-term problem. For instance, during the 1980s and early 1990s, there were serious congestion problems on the Tuen Mun highway.
The government introduced a number of policies to ease the problem, such as road widening. These policies helped alleviate traffic problems in the western New Territories. The situation in Central and Wan Chai is different from the New Territories. The Wan Chai reclamation has created more roads, but there has also been an increase in the number of vehicles.
The more cars that are bought, the more congested the roads become, and this exacerbates the pollution problems.
Mr Lee should be clear that the critical level of air pollution in Hong Kong is mostly caused by vehicle emissions. He talks about 'other drivers' having to steer through a stretch of road where there is illegal parking, but he does have an alternative - he could use public transport.
I accept there are parking problems in Central, and I think what is needed is tolerance. There are countless reasons for someone to park his or her vehicle illegally, such as having to load or unload goods, or wait for a friend.
All I ask of Mr Lee, and other Hong Kong people, is to be fair, patient and sympathetic. Try and see things from the other person's point of view before complaining.
Jeff Leung, Wong Tai Sin
Charging will ease congestion
I do not accept the premise in Winston Chu's letter regarding the reduction of air pollution at source ('Intensive development of the harbourfront would be bad', December 25).
Congestion charging and preventing the intensive development on the Central reclamation can, and should, be done at the same time. They are not in competition. Congestion charging is a reasonable and sensible way to significantly reduce traffic jams. Mr Chu knows this because congestion charging has been very successful in London, where he frequently lectures on town planning. If implemented now, traffic jams would be reduced within two years.
Private-car drivers have a choice with our world-famous public transport system of taxis, the MTR and buses. Congestion charging may eliminate the need for the very drastic 'solution' of a six-lane, HK$20 billion road proposed under the Wan Chai reclamation project.
Surely, to protect our harbour, we need to implement proven solutions to traffic-congestion problems while, at the same time, not making the air pollution worse through poor land development schemes.
Annelise Connell, Stanley
Low-cost way to fight pollution
Protecting the environment is becoming a hot issue with the rapid rise of air pollution.
Green groups have come up with various ideas such as a non-air-conditioning day and have held exhibitions to raise awareness. Now an architect at Chinese University has come up with the idea of using a material called polylactic acid to build temporary structures, including buildings ('Biodegradable buildings may be wave of the future', December 10).
We discard so much plastic, especially bags, and it is very difficult to get rid of. Not only is polylactic acid completely biodegradable but it is also made from renewable resources such as corn flour and sugar cane.
The government should look into this idea, as it is a low-cost way to help the environment.
Ng Yuen-ki, Shek Kip Mei
Many people have argued that Hong Kong is not a good place in which to live any more, because of the levels of pollution.
I appreciate some of the measures the government has implemented to try to clean up our air.
However, I think more could be done. Electronic road pricing could help relieve congestion and our power companies could try to do more to reduce emissions. The government should also think about new building developments and the adverse effect they can have on the environment. Companies can all do their bit. Outside office hours, large buildings could switch off their lights.
This might make Victoria Harbour less attractive at night, but surely it is worthwhile if such actions can help save our planet.
Yet, we should not just rely on the government and companies. We can all do our bit by, for example, using less electricity.
We all need to work together to improve air quality in Hong Kong.
Wong Kwai-ching, Lam Tin
The call for, and the National People's Congress' (NPC) utterances on, universal suffrage in Hong Kong have provoked a wide spectrum of responses.
On the one hand, your columnist, Michael Chugani ('Public Eye', January 2), suggests we've been shafted by the NPC with a time capsule, freezing democracy for a decade. On the other hand, contributor David Zweig ('A giant step', January 2) calls for celebration at the NPC's landmark decision.
There is one detail, however, which I find confusing whichever way I view it. I would therefore ask the secretary for constitutional affairs to answer this question, clearly and precisely: what, exactly, is the NPC's definition of 'universal suffrage'?
Graham Warburton, Mid-Levels