PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 May, 2009, 12:00am

Warships must destroy the Somali pirates

It is clear that in those places around the world where certain countries exist in a state of disorganisation or complete chaos, support needs to be provided from outside to give their peoples a stronger chance for a better life, rather than living in fear.

For far too long, Somalia has been just such a place, with no central government worthy of the name, beset by bandits and warlords and providing a safe base for gangs of pirates. What passes for a government there is clearly helpless in even preventing Somali citizens from menacing the citizens of other countries, being the home of most of today's pirates.

That benighted land needs better government, but how that can be provided is a far-from-easy question to address. The Somali people deserve better than this. It is surely an indictment of the international community (represented by the United Nations) that the dreadful mess has been allowed to drag on for more than a decade of misery for Somalians.

Over the last couple of years, there has been a doubling in the number of pirate attacks in seas within easy reach of Somalia, even though some 12 foreign navies have sent warships to the region.

Clearly, the menace of modern-day piracy is not going to disappear of its own volition any time soon. Only the international community (that is, the UN) can stamp out piracy and firm action is needed.

Those small pirate vessels, some hardly larger than lifeboats, are obviously supported by mother ships or shore bases. Those nests of pirates need to be utterly destroyed by action instigated and co-ordinated by the UN. If that were to be done, the world's shipping lanes would become safer.

Civilian vessels seen voyaging around Somali waters carrying offensive weapons, cannot be anything other than pirate vessels. As such, they should be sunk on sight by the international warships patrolling those seas. There also needs to be much more effective co-ordination of the patrols of the numerous warships voyaging around those vast seascapes to ensure that they are deployed where they are most needed. Again, a central command and control role needs to be set up by the UN, which is not happening.

If the UN cannot take resolute action to end piracy in Somali waters, what hope can there reasonably be that this same UN can become effective in handling the even greater international threats of global warming and other problems in the world?

Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels

Officials took decisive action

With the spreading of H1N1 from Mexico, we must praise the Hong Kong government for taking swift action with the aim to prevent the spread of the virus.

The placing of the Metropark Hotel in Wan Chai under quarantine is a bold move, when compared to the inaction during the Sars outbreak. Because of the Sars experience, there is greater acceptance of the need for stringent measures. Most people are willing to follow guidelines and take a cautious approach. With the city already badly hit by the economic downturn, Hong Kong cannot afford another major spread of a virus which affects tourism.

The pandemic can be stopped, but everyone in Hong Kong must fully co-operate with the government to battle it. We are finally seeing Deputy Undersecretary for Food and Health Gabriel Leung at work and facing the public.

This is an important period to take a cautious approach towards our health. I would also support airline passengers arriving from Mexico not being allowed into the city.

I believe that most large-scale public gatherings should be cancelled until the worldwide pandemic situation is under control. We have a chance here to be a step ahead of other administrations.

H. C. Bee, Kowloon Tong

Steering well clear of zoos

Rochelle Regadon, campaign manager of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Asia ('Marine theme parks are cruel', April 30) is spot-on when she says that people do not want to see animals in captivity.

As a tourist in Hong Kong I applaud the city's cleanliness, great user-friendly transport and many attractions.

In 12 days I have gone non-stop and I have no intention of visiting a zoo or marine park or any other venue which involves the confinement of animals for 'entertainment'.

Such practices are basically cruel and an anachronism in any civilised society.

Hong Kong has so much to offer the visitor. Animals out of their natural environment need play no part.

Jackie Fairhall, Ballina, New South Wales, Australia

Disruption is not democracy

Regarding the behaviour of the League of Social Democrats lawmakers in the Legco chamber, they always claim that they represent the public and support democracy.

Yet, surely democracy should be about freedom of speech. As they stop others exercising their right to free speech, can their behaviour be described as democratic? Frankly, I have found their actions to be naive.

They should recognise their roles. They were not elected to undermine discipline in Legco, but to represent the public.

They may get angry with things that are decided in the chamber, but they should learn not to overreact.

They have been criticised by members of the Democratic and Civic parties, especially their behaviour during the budget speech.

They should reflect on their actions.

Matthew Au Yee-chun, Diamond Hill

A disturbing regional trend

Domestic violence is a social problem, not just in Hong Kong, but in the region.

The figures are alarming and something needs to be done to deal with this problem.

The government must be willing to provide comprehensive assistance to affected families. Once a case has been reported, social workers must be sent promptly to see the family.

There must also be sufficient sheltered accommodation for people who are affected by violence.

Some people have said that when they make a complaint the police do not take it seriously. In future, officers must make thorough investigations of all complaints.

The media must report responsibly on this problem and not exaggerate.

I would like to see government commercials being made on television, encouraging citizens to report any cases of domestic violence that they suspect are taking place in their neighbourhoods.

Alice Tsang Tik-kee, Tsing Yi

Levy will lead to cut in bag use

I think the government's decision to impose a 50-cent levy on plastic bags [in some stores] can help curb abuse of these bags.

More consumers will now remember to bring their own bags when they go shopping.

However, we will just see a reduction in the use of plastic bags.

For the sake of convenience some shoppers will continue to ask for plastic bags at stores.

There will still be people who will have a poor grasp of the need for environmental protection in Hong Kong.

Ng Po-chu, Fanling