PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 January, 2011, 12:00am

Catholic Church will protest, but not break law

Your report ('Zen calls for developer modesty', December 15) and editorial ('Catholic Church in no position to disobey law', December 17) require clarification.

You say that our schools are called 'government schools'. According to the revised code they are going to become like government schools, but up to now they have been 'aided schools'.

Our schools are said to be 'holding out against setting up the management committees'. However, the school management committees have always existed. What is new is the 'incorporated management committees', and we are lawfully delaying setting them up because the deadline for doing so is the summer of 2012.

In your leader you say that Catholic schools might 'defy the law even when the court rules against them' and that the Catholic Church might 'usurp the institutions of government'. There is simply no possibility at all of us defying the law or usurping the institutions of government.

What I said about what I would do in case we lose the appeal was that 'you will see some interesting spectacle' (in Cantonese, yao hou hei tai).

After another question from a reporter, I specified this to mean a high-profile protest, and of course protests are perfectly lawful in Hong Kong. I did not say that 'there would be dire consequences'.

I would like Elsie Tu to explain to me how I could 'disobey the law' ('Zen's opposition undemocratic', December 23).

We are not acting illegally when we criticise the law and make an appeal against it in court. We are acting according to our legal rights.

What Mrs Tu calls 'recent scandals' regarding 'direct subsidy schools' are exempt from the revised code we are discussing.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, Chai Wan

Terminus ban a step forward

In order to further promote a smoke-free environment, the areas where smoking was prohibited in public spaces were expanded last month to transport hubs. As a frequent commuter I support the extended ban.

In the past non-smokers have had to stand waiting for a bus and put up with the disgusting smell of smoke from someone in the queue. Because we did not want to be late for work or school we had to endure it but we obviously faced the threat of being exposed to second-hand smoke. This is no longer the case.

While the ban does remove that problem in queues, to create a smoke-free Hong Kong more work must be done. This is because the ban is not really tackling the root of the problem.

People who cannot smoke at transport terminals will go elsewhere.

We cannot impose a ban in all places. Other policies must be adopted, such as increasing tobacco tax. We still have a long way to go, and achieving progress requires the co-operation of the government and citizens.

Leo Leung Chit-man, Sham Tseng

Unfazed by travel alert

I have noticed that quite a number of Hong Kong-based people still travel to the Philippines despite the government's travel ban ('Tourist dollar HK's 'only weapon' in dispute with Manila over court', December 31).

Perhaps it is mainly foreign Hong Kong residents who still fly to that unlucky country, obviously preferring to ignore the political bickering going on over last year's hostage crisis.

Cebu Pacific Airlines is regularly advertising substantial bargains in this newspaper.

People know that crime also happens in other countries and have decided to give Filipinos their holiday business.

Vandana Marino, Lantau

Video testimony the best solution

President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines is completely justified in claiming there is no need to send 100-plus witnesses over to Hong Kong ('Aquino threatens bus inquest plans', December 31).

Who will be paying for these junkets?

If it is not the Philippine government it will be most likely Hong Kong's taxpayers.

In this day and age, a much more effective way is video-conferencing.

It would save time and hassle and, most importantly, it would involve less waste of taxpayers' money.

Unfortunately, local politicians will not recognise the benefits of video-conferencing as for them the prime objective of the inquest is to be in the limelight of the show.

Kristiaan Helsen, Sai Kung

Teens far too materialistic

I think that more Hong Kong students should get involved in voluntary work.

Too many of the city's teenagers are materialistic. In this respect they are easily influenced by their peers.

However, they need to think about more meaningful things and I would suggest voluntary work.

In a society with substantial income inequality there are so many needy people, such as the elderly and those living below the poverty line.

It is up to all Hongkongers to help educate our teenagers about the importance of doing this sort of work.

For example, Universal Children's Day can be used each year to raise the awareness of young people in Hong Kong about the plight of poor children in the world.

It was held in November of last year, but the government did not take advantage of it to use it as an effective educational tool for youngsters.

This meant that few young Hongkongers were aware that it was actually taking place. I hope officials will try harder to try to raise the levels of awareness among our young people.

Rosenna Tse Ting-shan, Tuen Mun

Fishing ban is long overdue

Shark's fin soup has always been served on special occasions like banquets, graduation ceremonies and weddings. People see it as a symbol of prestige and affluence and mistakenly think it has high nutritional value.

However, with the increasing demand for fins, up to 73 million sharks are being killed each year. Numerous species of sharks, including great whites and hammerheads, are now on the verge of extinction.

If this serious problem continues, these top-level predators will become extinct and the balance of the marine ecosystem will be upset.

Action must be taken to protect these vulnerable creatures. The UN must get all member nations to ban fishing of or trading in shark products, especially the rare species. This has been done before when ivory trade was banned. Also, protective zones should be established that are safe havens for sharks.

Retailers must stop supplying shark meat and fins and try to use artificial shark fin substitute products. And customers should refuse to consume shark's fin until a sustainable fishery management plan is established. If these measures can be carried out the shark population can recover and soon return to healthy levels.

Hersey Wong Ho-sze, Lai Chi Kok

Taxpayers' money wasted

I refer to the letter from Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data Allan Chiang Yam-wang, ('Discussions on ordinance have been extensive', December 30), in reply to my letter ('Privacy chief missed great opportunity', December 20).

Unfortunately, Mr Chiang has completely missed the point of my letter. That point was that he spent HK$250,000 of our hard-earned tax dollars on a single-source contract to arrange meetings for the discussions to which he refers. The meetings mentioned in his letter were not arranged by his consultant, nor were any public forums.

No matter how he tries to explain away this matter it remains a giant waste of taxpayers' money that accomplished nothing.

As for the seminars mentioned by Mr Chiang, those will be paid for by attendees or companies that commission them, not by the public or his office.

It is quite telling that in the commissioner's response he never mentions the expenditure nor tries to defend it in any way.

Eugene R. Raitt, chairman, Hong Kong Direct Marketing Association

Take care with winter wear

Those with the time to stand and stare in our busy city can be entertained by the endless fascination of all manner of unexpected sights on Hong Kong's streets.

Over the recent cold snaps, many citizens will have taken the trouble to dress up warmly. The other day I saw a stylish lady in a matching mink coat and jaunty hat, even though the temperature was no lower than 10 degrees.

But it is the lack of consistency which amuses more, such as this young couple recently spotted in Central. The girl wore long fur-lined boots, gloves, a thick winter topcoat with a hood, and her neck was well-wrapped up in a woolly scarf. However, she was also wearing denim shorts and her legs were bare.

Her boyfriend was also attired in a long winter overcoat and his head was encased in a fur-edged hood. But under his jeans his bare feet were shod only in plastic flip-flops, thus surely causing his freezing feet to make his whole body feel cold.

Perhaps our schools could provide guidelines on how to select appropriate winter attire, so that people in future won't make the same wardrobe mistakes as this young couple.

Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels