PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 March, 2008, 12:00am

Castro handy scapegoat for ruthless US

Now that Cuban leader Fidel Castro has finally retired, it comes as no surprise to hear the usual bleating cries for democracy issuing from the White House.

How many remember Cuba under the ruthless and corrupt General Fulgencio Batista? Certainly not the many who died there; there was no fearless press or internet in those days to broadcast to the world.

Batista and his crude sidekicks were beloved of the US. This is a policy trait the US has made peculiarly its own; coddling and supporting evil dictators for fear of what their oppressed and starving subjects might do if they were to rise up in anger. Funnily enough, rather than preventing such uprisings, the United States' misguided policies have almost certainly been instrumental in producing them, a glorious irony in these modern times. In addition, of course, Havana was a place where the American rich could party to their heart's content.

When, in due course, the Cuban revolution came along and Batista's regime was kicked out by Dr Castro and his supporters, all the corrupt and wealthy fled to their friendly neighbour, the US, taking their ill-gotten riches with them. These people and their descendants form the basis today of the so-called Cuban emigre society in the south of the US. It can safely be said they don't like Dr Castro.

There are quite a lot of them, and as a community their votes - and money - add up to a force to be reckoned with that the sincere and honest politicians in the US cannot afford to ignore. It is, after all, a democratic country, and votes are sacred. As a result, Cuba has been ostracised by America for nearly 50 years and, thanks to heavy-handed political pressure, by the rest of the western world.

Perhaps when the ignorant George W. Bush is no longer at the helm we may see a different attitude. 'Change' from Barack Obama, possibly? As with any autocracy there have been persecutions in Cuba. But then again, let he who is without sin cast the first stone. If the outworn hysteria of anti-communism can be allowed to fade away, we may see Cuba in a different light.

And then the west can concentrate on introducing its version of democracy to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, perhaps.

Andy Smailes, Pok Fu Lam

Press won't let scandal die

I am writing to express my view over the celebrity nude-photos controversy.

Last week, beleaguered actor-singer Edison Chen Koon-hei returned to Hong Kong and apologised unreservedly for his involvement in the scandal. This should be an end to the matter. However, I am still concerned about continued press coverage.

We are exposed to the media on a daily basis and its influence on us, psychologically, can be subtle. Newspapers, internet sites and television stations have all provided extensive coverage of this scandal over the past few weeks. Some magazines even published some of the photos, which revealed the declining moral standards in the media in Hong Kong. I am deeply concerned that this could, in the long term, adversely affect our social values. Given this threat to society, officials must act.

The government should give a far clearer definition of what it means by 'indecent material'. Any section of the media which helps disseminate such material should be prosecuted and subject to harsh punishment. This would act as a deterrent.

Education is also important. We have to help students develop the maturity to think critically and analytically about such indecent material. Less harm will be caused to these young minds if we can help them develop critical faculties and social values.

Last but not least, parents should not be reluctant to discuss sex with their children. Provided that children can develop a proper attitude towards sex from their parents, they will not be affected by such indecent material.

Tracy Lai, Kwun Tong

Sex education is best defence

The nude-photos scandal has filled the pages of newspapers and magazines. Some people have said that it corrupts social values and has a negative influence on young people. Some primary and secondary schools have included discussion of this matter as part of the curriculum.

However, the circulation of nude photos is nothing new on the internet. Anyone, including children, can access such material, and it can be detrimental to young people. If not given proper guidance over viewing such obscene material they might develop a false understanding of sex.

Sex education in schools is inadequate. We need sex education that has a long-lasting effect on young people. Parents must also implant the correct moral values in their children.

Katie Tam, Ngau Chi Wan

Sino-British success formula

I fully agree with Mary Pang's letter praising Britain's role in Hong Kong ('Let's recognise Britain's part in transforming the 'barren rock' ', February 25).

Even though I have abandoned my British passport and have embraced my ethnic motherland China, I nevertheless would like to thank Great Britain for the quality of life I have experienced as a subject (racial discrimination and all).

It is also not an exaggeration to say that Britain's Hong Kong-trained subjects contributed greatly to the exploding economy of China - both in investment and expertise.

I only hope that the two nations that meant so much to me will continue to co-operate well.

History has shown that wherever the Chinese and English co-operate, a community will prosper. Hong Kong and Singapore are good examples of this.

Walter Tseng, North Point

Put banyans in the spotlight

Hong Kong has a lot to offer in terms of tourist attractions, but it seems some are still neglected.

I refer to the untapped potential of the magnificent banyan trees that dot Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

These trees are sometimes really spectacular, either because of their location - surviving on walls, with roots like spiders' webs - or because of their countless branches and roots dangling in mid-air.

I believe that, besides taking good care of them, illuminating them at night would have a striking effect and would appeal not only to our visitors.

I know of two such enormous banyans in Stanley that would look fantastic if only a few spotlights were placed underneath their branches.

The first tree is located at the bottom of Stanley Plaza, and the second one can be seen by visitors before they reach the promenade.

Francois Moirez, Stanley

Fei Fei was a symbol of TVB

As I am a typical teenager, I do not know a great deal about the actress and comedienne 'Fei Fei' - Lydia Sum Tin-ha [also known as Lydia Shum].

However, after I learned of her death ('TV's funny lady Lydia Shum dies', February 20), I felt I had lost something in my life. When I was young, my favourite TV programme was Enjoy Yourself Tonight, and Fei Fei's laughter and her appearance, made a strong impression on me.

Over the years, I saw Fei Fei on many TVB programmes. I see her as the symbol of the station. Her image and her laughter became indelibly a part of my life.

Jason Wu Man-kit, Tuen Mun