Salt panic showed HK's ugly side

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 March, 2011, 12:00am

Many Hongkongers bought salt in a panic because someone claimed eating it could protect us from radiation. What a ridiculous thing to happen in a developed city! It shows there are deep-rooted social problems the government needs to tackle.

First, the level of education should be raised. The public lacked scientific knowledge. They thought iodine in salt could protect them from radiation sickness. But most of the table salt sold in Hong Kong is iodine-free. The government could not respond quickly enough to stop the panic buying.

And shopkeepers, who knew the rumour was false, raised the price of salt anyway, to make money on a disaster. This shows a greedy side to Hongkongers. Contrast this with the Japanese, who feel they are all in the same boat and co-operate for the good of all.

To make a better future for ourselves, we must work hand in hand in social harmony.

Thomas Lee

From the Editor

Thank you for your letter, Thomas. The reasons behind the salt buying were threefold. First, some people believed it could be used as a substitute for the iodine pills taken to ward off radiation. Second, people believed that the radiation in Japan would contaminate the sea and so we'd have no sea salt. Third, they saw other people doing it and copied them. It is easy to laugh at people who get caught up in needless panic. But if, for some reason, they had turned out to be right, people who had not bought the salt would be feeling bad.

It is not unreasonable for educated people to jump to incorrect conclusions. There is so much information on the internet that is false that it is sometimes hard to know what is true.

Susan, Editor