PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 April, 2008, 12:00am

Tibetans do have genuine grievances

We refer to Michael Chugani's article ('Who are they to judge?', April 1).

Chugani's article has glossed over the real issue. Beijing's policy towards Tibet is not working and Tibetans have grievances about this.

Underlying the violent riots are legitimate concerns that need to be addressed pragmatically and not through the use of force.

Economic disparity between Tibetans and Han Chinese is blatant. Businesses in Lhasa are run mostly by Han Chinese.

Even in the one area where Tibetans may benefit economically, tourism, Tibetan tour guides are being replaced by Han Chinese.

The education of Tibetans suffers from a shortage of qualified teachers. It does not help that Han Chinese teachers often lack cultural sensitivity towards their Tibetan students.

There is also the frustration with the influx of Han Chinese who often have little regard for the culture and language of Tibetans.

A lot of monasteries do not get supplied with food and medication any more.

What happens in Tibet should be of concern to Hong Kong people.

The desire for universal suffrage in Hong Kong is not unlike the aspirations for true autonomy in Tibet.

The plight of Tibetan people is a reminder that we should cherish and protect every freedom and right guaranteed by our Basic Law.

Religious freedom is a case in point. While our chief executive freely practises his Catholic faith, Tibetans are not even allowed to carry pictures of the Dalai Lama, a revered religious figure at the core of Tibetan Buddhism and someone dear to the hearts of many Tibetans.

A commitment from Beijing to redress the wrongs of a misguided policy would be a way forward and bring about stability and racial harmony.

Benjamin Chan Kui-pang, Ma On Shan, Manfred Dillian, To Kwa Wan

Beijing's policy misunderstood

I refer to Peter Sherwood's letter ('Tibetans' views are clear', April 1).

Similar to many westerners, Mr Sherwood holds a sympathetic view regarding Tibetans and regards the central government as the suppressor of this group of allegedly peaceful Tibetans. He cited the number of Tibetans killed and the number of monasteries destroyed since 1950. Interestingly, I have never read such figures before. Could Mr Sherwood tell us where he obtained all this information?

According to my shallow knowledge of Chinese politics and history, the central government has worked hard at promoting Tibetan culture and helped to renovate monasteries over a number of years.

The central government has been helping with the opening up of Tibet and its economic growth.

The leadership in Beijing understands the importance of religion in the lives of Tibetans and so it has done its best to respect the culture of Tibetans.

Therefore, I do not accept Mr Sherwood's claims of cultural genocide.

The central government has not forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave Tibet. They have made their own choice to decide to follow the government of Tibet in exile and the Dalai Lama. China has no desire to force Tibetans to leave the country.

Many westerners are biased against China and have shown one-sided support for Tibet.

What they seem to have failed to do is study the complicated and lengthy political history of Tibet and its surrounding areas. Do they understand the real situation of Tibet?

Elizabeth Cheung, Sha Tin

Pricey ERP is best choice

We have to strongly reconsider the government's view on air pollution.

Whereas the Wan Chai to Central Bypass seeks to facilitate the current traffic flow through the centre of our city or may even allow the flow to increase, the purpose of electronic road pricing is to reduce the total number of vehicles that will go through Central at a given time.

By linking these two issues ('Bypass could halve levy for drive to Central', March 30), it is readily apparent that our government's planning advisers do not care about the problem of air pollution within our city centre and the effect that has on residents and would rather go ahead with an ill-advised public works project that will fail.

Why else would they push for a HK$50 levy through the ERP versus HK$90? Surely a HK$90 levy would make more environmental sense - making more people take public transport versus private vehicles. That the government even suggests a lower levy would be beneficial is ludicrous in the face of the facts.

Mark Chan, Tsing Yi

Council doing a good job

Your correspondents Sandra Collins and Naoise Gallagher Chu ('Grass plea', and 'Get planting', April 5, respectively) refer to the lack of public, grassy spaces in Hong Kong.

At least credit should be given to Wan Chai District Council for creating a number of new open spaces, including the Wan Chai Promenade and the Green Lane sitting out area. In the latter case, council chairwoman Ada Wong Ying-kay worked with the Water Services Department on a creative solution to open up this huge, grassy, covered reservoir to the public, at the same time creating a pedestrian short cut from Bowen Road to lower Happy Valley via Green Lane. We need more councillors like Ms Wong and more creative solutions to address the shortage of grassy parks in the urban areas.

For a start, there are more covered reservoirs that could be grassed over and opened up for public access and enjoyment.

Paul Gardiner, Happy Valley

Filthy air is bad for our health

Congratulations to the government of the Hong Kong SAR. In its drive to ensure Hong Kong is 'Asia's world city', it has another milestone to celebrate, world-class smog.

As measured by the amount of time the air pollution index (API) is high or above, Hong Kong set a new record during the first quarter of this year.

Refusing to listen to critics who said it couldn't be done, the API was in the range judged by the World Health Organisation to be dangerous 70 per cent of the time.

That is higher than for the first quarter of any year since records began in 1999 and puts us well on track to record the smoggiest year ever.

Unfortunately, summer is just around the corner and those pesky southern winds will blow the smell that puts 'fragrant' into 'Fragrant Harbour' away from us for a month or two. But don't worry, the smog will be back to limit your children's lung growth just in time for the new school year in September.

William Hayward, Wan Chai

Cut waste

Lunar New Year is a very traditional festival in Hong Kong.

I wish people would think about the amount of waste that is produced. For many residents it is traditional during this festival, to replace old belongings with new ones.

We should ask ourselves if that is really necessary? Surely, it is a waste of time and money. We can help the environment by keeping things if they are still useful.

If something is not damaged we should hold on to it and keep using it. And if we no longer want to use something, then we should recycle it.

Vanessa Wong, The Peak