Chinese White Dolphin


PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 May, 2010, 12:00am

Education provided by seeing captive dolphins is seriously flawed

Ocean Park seems to feel that it is worth taking dolphins from their natural habitat and keeping them in life-long captivity for their educational value ('Ocean Park in murky water over dolphins', May 2).

I would argue, from personal experience as founder and former general manager of Hong Kong Dolphinwatch, that the education this provides is seriously flawed.

My experience comes from taking thousands of people on boat trips north of Lantau, the natural habitat of Hong Kong's pink dolphin, with Dolphinwatch.

Many of our locally based customers displayed a shocking ignorance of what wildlife is.

They expected the animals to do tricks or asked that if environmental conditions were so bad, why we didn't just put them in Ocean Park 'where they would be safe'.

Even today, a sizeable proportion of Hong Kong's population is unaware that the dolphins are there, or believes that they are only a cartoon character. I had always thought this was due to the Hong Kong school system.

However, the comments of Ocean Park's executive director for zoological operations and education, Suzanne Gendron, imply that people in Hong Kong don't have the opportunity to see dolphins in the wild.

The fact that it is one of the world's only mega-cities where you can get next to wild dolphins in about half an hour (it is actually possible to see them from the MTR), makes me think that Ocean Park could have something to do with this perception of Hongkongers.

The money to be made from captive dolphins is steering the 'conservation' agenda. It appears it is also tainting whatever educational mission Ocean Park appears to have.

Capturing dolphins in order to teach people that dolphins enjoy captivity, and that really they're better off incarcerated, is a self-serving vicious circle.

Bill Leverett, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England

Violin virtuoso largely ignored in subway

The question in the letters page ('Silence not golden', April 18) about the government's noise restrictions on musical performances reminded me of a Washington Post article in April, 2007.

It described how, in a subway station in the US capital, a man began to play the violin. He played music by Bach for around 45 minutes. Since it was the rush hour, thousands of people passed through. Three minutes into the recital a man noticed someone was playing; he slowed his pace, stopping for a few seconds and then passed by.

The violinist was thrown his first dollar a few minutes later by a woman without her stopping.

Another listened, looked at his watch and hurried away. Paying more attention was a three-year-old boy while his mother scuttled him away. Several other children did the same, each parent moving them on.

During the entire impromptu recital, no more than six commuters lingered; 20 gave money amounting to US$32, without applause or recognition.

The violinist was Joshua Bell, playing on an instrument worth US$3.5 million. His concert in Boston, two nights previously, had sold out, with seats averaging US$100.

The story is authentic. The idea of Bell appearing anonymously in a subway station was thought up by the Washington Post, as a piece of social research on people's perceptions, taste and priorities, the parameters being: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we linger a moment to appreciate it? Do we recognise talent out of context?

If there's no chance to pause and listen to a musician of exceptional quality playing some of the most sublime music written, how much more are we missing of life's rare moments?

Kevin Thompson, director, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts

Facebook is fine in moderation

Many teenagers use Facebook to relax and communicate with friends.

In fact is has become a very fashionable way of keeping in touch with your peers. But I do think there are some negative aspects to it.

Some young people spend far too much time on Facebook. This constant use of the networking site can become an addiction.

They may be reluctant to go out and meet their friends. This can adversely affect their interpersonal and socialising skills and their relationships with friends and parents.

Young people need to learn to use Facebook responsibly.

Au Wai-kin, Tsing Yi

Fake Buddhist monks create bad impression

For quite a few years now, there has been a syndicate of fake Buddhist monks who beg from passers-by in the Queensway/Tamar corridor.

Lately they have become more bold, now working the Star Ferry Pier in Central, as well as along the waterfront in front of other ferry piers.

They approach their tourists smiling, bowing, and present a little golden piece of plastic, say 'Buddha' and ask for donations. With the way they are dressed - head to toe in grey and gold - and with their shaved heads, they do look monkish.

This is troubling, because they are ripping off visitors in prime tourist spots.

Also, it is bad for the image of Buddhists everywhere.

I hope that the police will see fit to move these people on.

Dick Jones, St Charles, Illinois, US

Chinese medicine has some advantages

In the past when people got sick they tended to go to hospital to be treated by doctors trained in Western medicine. But since the handover, traditional Chinese medicine has become more popular.

It has been criticised by some people as being out of date and having no scientific basis.

It is said that, unlike Western medicine, there is no proper scientific research or clinical experiments. However, I believe Chinese medicine can be efficacious.

I would like to see some co-ordination between the two schools of medicine.

Western medicine has a long history of safeguards.

Before a new treatment or drug is approved for use on patients, it goes through an extensive testing process. But there can still be serious side effects.

In this case, Chinese medicine might be able to help. It emphasises the need for balance in the body. It is concerned with making long-term adjustments which are based on an individual patient's reactions.

In this sense I think Chinese and Western medicine can complement each other and this can make some treatment more effective.

Chan Pui-shan, Kwai Chung

Busy road to Sai Kung needs traffic lights

Sai Sha Road is a small but increasingly important route linking Ma On Shan to Sai Kung.

The traffic load is increasing, but the road has no traffic lights ensuring pedestrians can cross safely.

I hope the relevant government department can consider putting in speed control strips or traffic signals outside the main village, Sai Keng, to ensure that children and other pedestrians can cross safely. I hope this can be done before someone gets hurt.

Thomas Wong, Sai Kung