PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 March, 2011, 12:00am

Red herrings introduced into fin debate

The letter from Charlie Lim of the Marine Products Association ('Bad faith rife in shark fin campaigns', February 26) is nothing more than a transparent attempt from an industry under pressure to avoid dealing with the real issues in the shark-finning debate.

His attempt to introduce a racist element into this debate is disingenuous at best and insulting and demeaning at worst.

Campaigners attempting to stop this unsustainable practice are no more targeting the Chinese people than those who protest against the Japanese whaling industry's spurious 'scientific research' are targeting the Japanese people. Of course China gets mentioned, as it is overwhelmingly the market that drives the industry.

Targeting Europeans in order to curtail the use of shark's fin soup would make as much sense as targeting the Chinese in an effort to stop bullfighting. What about the increasing numbers of Chinese people who are involved in campaigns against shark finning? Are they anti-Chinese as well?

Considering that this soup has only ever been the preserve of a wealthy elite, one has to be very sceptical of comments referring to thousands of years of 'cultural practice'.

Even if you are generous enough to accept that statement at face value, long-standing cultural practices are regularly changed when they are no longer appropriate. Slavery and foot-binding are a couple that spring to mind.

Mr Lim introduces these red herrings into the debate because he represents an industry that does not want to talk about science and sustainability but is simply attempting to protect its short-term profits at the cost of future resources.

He quotes the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) as the saviour of shark populations.

However, as Doug Woodring clearly pointed out ('Let science guide policy', February 24), Cites is an industry-based rather than a conservation-based organisation.

Mr Lim's comment that 'Cites has been raising concerns about the status of sharks since the early 1990s' is a clear indication of its lack of effectiveness in this area.

This issue should be focused on the science of sustainability and biodiversity, not on fanciful notions of cultural victimisation.

More people need to start asking themselves whether the status value of a bowl of soup is really worth compromising a marine ecosystem that we all depend on.

Kerry Hasell, Tai Hang

Correct fishing, not food, is issue

I refer to the letter by Claire Garner of the HK Shark Foundation ('Group does not focus on fins', February 24) in reply to my letter ('Fins a side issue in shark fishing', February 11). She confirmed the HK Shark Foundation is opposed to any shark products being used by people.

She considers it irrelevant that shark meat rather than shark fin drives most shark fisheries, despite this meaning that the fin campaign, which stings Chinese people nationally and internationally, may achieve little in terms of improving the sustainability of shark fisheries. Others can decide whether her argument is logical.

Ms Garner also claims that shark fisheries must be unsustainable because tens of millions are harvested annually. Yet there are hundreds of billions of bony fish harvested annually, everything from anchovies to tuna, so should we assume all fisheries are unsustainable? Furthermore, 57 species of bony fish have already become extinct, whereas not one shark species is extinct.

The purpose of the shark fin campaign should be to educate people about the need for sustainable fishing, not to castigate one group of people for sustaining a traditional cuisine.

Ricky Leung, Western district

Handout merely bid to pacify us

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah's cynical and indiscriminate HK$6,000 handout is the last refuge of a government awash with cash yet deficient in ideas ('Derision and delight over budget U-turn', March 3).

With Asia's widest wealth gap, one would think this money could be better spent on tackling the causes of poverty or putting an end to the city's cage homes.

In a ploy more akin to those of tin-pot regimes (including Macau), our surplus is instead being used to politically pacify the populace into inaction during the run-up to an election.

Tom Grundy, Jordan

Civil servants seem confused

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has announced changes to his budget recommendations.

These policy and strategy U-turns have become commonplace. They have prompted me to ask a few questions as to what the real reasons behind them are.

Are they simply the result of bad decisions recommended by our administrative service - meant to be the cr?me de la cr?me of Hong Kong?

So are our administrative officers simply bad policy formulators or have they simply misunderstood and/or ignored public opinion and what is needed when they come up with their recommendations?

Or should these U-turns be regarded as the sole responsibility of our permanent secretaries/ministers who happen to have to deliver them? Did they fully understand the recommendations and their potential impact on public sentiment before they delivered them?

Either way, does all this confusion not say something about our civil service?

We try to coach our children at school and our employees at work 'to get things right the first time'. Perhaps the government can try to do that too.

A wider implication is that this also sets a precedent - that the budget is now a consultative process and is subject to change as the product of an ongoing process. How much will all these changes cost the public?

Arthur Tam, Jardine's Lookout

A better use for your HK$2

It angers me that following the increase in tobacco duty in the budget, 7-Eleven and Circle K stores are now selling cigarettes at HK$52 a pack [instead of after-tax price of HK$50]. However, people operating newspaper stands can take advantage of this.

Like the convenience stores, vendors should charge HK$52, but they should give customers HK$2 in cash back for every purchase at the point of sale.

This HK$2 can be used on our trams and can take passengers as far they wish to go on a particular tram route.

It will persuade more smokers to avoid the rip-off being orchestrated by these two convenience store chains.

It will also enhance the reputation of the newspaper stands, which will be seen as offering real cash back. I think it is a great opportunity for newspaper vendors.

Wong Hau-hing, North Point

Coaches bring traffic to halt

I write as a resident of Repulse Bay, a mother of two young children and a Hong Kong taxpayer.

I do not understand why police are failing to take any enforcement action to stop tourist coaches continually blocking the road by the beach in Repulse Bay.

The coaches do not park; they simply stop for about five minutes and unload their passengers, with total disregard for the fact that they are completely blocking the road. Given the high volume of coaches, particularly in the afternoons, traffic grinds to a halt.

I am trying to live a normal life and get my son to nursery school, but what should be a five-minute journey takes nearly 30 minutes.

This has been exacerbated by gas pipe works. Much of the side of the road is being dug up, but progress on those works is slow.

I would not mind so much if police and traffic wardens were not so quick to slap a ticket on my car if I park illegally.

This is an important quality of life issue for residents and needs to be addressed. If proper parking facilities were provided and the road was adequately monitored by the police or traffic wardens, the situation would improve dramatically.

Katie Bolton, Repulse Bay

Full wedding is husband's duty

'Nude weddings' are becoming more popular. People marry without first buying a house and car, they hold a minimal registry office ceremony, and there is no banquet or exchange of wedding rings. Supporters of this form of wedding say that love is more important than money.

However, I do believe a husband has a responsibility to provide a comfortable environment for his wife, and I still think that there should be a wedding banquet and that couples should exchange rings.

Elaine Xu Yanling, Sheung Shui

Nuptials can be eco-friendly

There is a global trend to be more eco-friendly; therefore I support 'nude weddings'.

If two people want to make a commitment to each other, they can do it anywhere, without wasting food and dresses that will only be worn once.

I recall a girl telling me she kept all three wedding gowns from her marriages, but they were stored in a trunk.

Wedding banquets are basically an occasion for waste, creating huge, unnecessary carbon footprints.

Besides, Michelle Chan (''Nude wedding' not for everyone', February 28) is wrong when she says most people have only one wedding in their lifetime. They may wish that to be the case, but statistics tell a different story.

Nigel Lam, Kowloon Tong