Bureaucratic busybodies bin bun festival fun
I am sick and tired of all the nonsense with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department ('Officials' warning means bun scramble on streets', May 10).
In one of its most spectacular farces of late, it spoiled the Cheung Chau Bun Festival by warning two bakeries not to stamp the phrase 'safety and peace' on buns at the door, as has been done for decades. This undermined a tradition that delights locals and tourists, who love taking pictures of the process.
The department's reasoning is that it's unsanitary to have food handled outdoors. But food is served in the open air all the time, all around the world. New York's hot dog stands continue to do a thriving business, people eat on the roadside every day at Paris' sidewalk cafes, and in Taiwan and Japan, outdoor food stalls always draw crowds.
The department is full of busybodies spending all day bullying legal and illegal hawkers. They go around warning vendors not to have even one carrot hanging out in the public area and issue penalty tickets to ageing hawkers who cannot find jobs anywhere and simply want to make some spare money.
They say they are enforcing the law. Well, if they really care about their responsibilities, how about taking better care of the yellow, blue and brown recycling bins they have placed all over town? I have seen them filled up, with contents spilling out because they don't get emptied. The blue bin doesn't seem to have as many problems, because there are enough grannies out there collecting the paper for resale. They are much more efficient than the department's workers.
Often the bins are broken, and sometimes they are filthy. Obviously, they are not being cared for. Can someone from the department tell us how much of the recyclable material collected by the department from these bins actually gets recycled?
I don't disagree with having a Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, but we desperately need better and smarter people to run it.
Ho Lai-kit, Sai Ying Pun
Time for clubs to pay the piper
On the issue of private clubs opening their doors to non-members from schools and sports associations, it seems to me that there are two solutions.
For those clubs unwilling to comply fully with the requirements of their current leases, new leases should be drawn up, and they should be required to pay market value, passing the costs on to their members through increased membership fees and additional charges.
Those clubs that are willing to comply but are concerned about non-member use of their luxury facilities, such as sauna and steam rooms, could introduce a card-key system for members similar to the one used in many hotels.
This would, of course, incur costs, but these organisations have saved a great deal on rent over the years and have not fully held up their end of the bargain. It's time to pay the piper.
Gillian Kew, Tai Wai
US had no right to deny justice
I refer to the letter by Keith McNab ('Bin Laden trial a naive idea', May 7).
It is indeed naive to suppose justice would be administered by the US, which is incapable of upholding international values, preferring to set its own rules and be answerable to no one. Osama bin Laden, an unarmed person, had implied, not proven, links to the 9/11 atrocities, but that was for the US enough evidence to execute a man who may, however unlikely, have been innocent. That is why we have international laws - to contain rogue individuals and rogue countries.
Bin Laden was not the property of the US government to hunt down and kill. The tragedy that was 9/11 killed not only Americans; it was an international death toll, and the perpetrator should properly be brought before an international court to be answerable to the citizens of all countries who lost loved ones.
The US had no right to deny justice nor to be judge, jury and executioner.
Mark Peaker, The Peak
Celebration was understandable
Since the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden, several correspondents have voiced their opinions about the US operation.
Many said that killing the al-Qaeda leader would do nothing to help bring peace to the world but only add oil to the fire of terrorism worldwide.
This is neither an easy prediction to make nor a simple issue to comment on. But for those who lost relatives and friends in 9/11, bin Laden's death will bring them the comfort they have been longing for.
Amid the sophisticated voices urging forgiveness and unconditional love, maybe not everyone would embrace revenge, retaliation or vengeance or agree with US President Barack Obama that 'justice has been done'. But putting ourselves in the shoes of the people who were directly affected by the man-made tragedy, it would not be too difficult to understand the raw emotions behind the celebration of bin Laden's death.
Andy Seto, North Point
US must not let its values slide
It is suspected that the killing of Osama bin Laden was an execution. It is important for the US government to prove to the world that it was not.
It will be argued that the most evil person in modern times was killed, and US President Barack Obama talked about the triumph of righteousness.
However, I am reminded of a line by the character played by Denzel Washington in the film The Siege. During a face-off with the military over declaring martial law and torturing suspected terrorists, he says: 'If we do that, everything that we have bled and fought and died for is over, and they have won.'
Americans must not forget the values and ideals their contemporaries and ancestors have bled and fought and died for.
John Cheng, Quarry Bay
Don't go down Russia's road
It is with deep regret and disappointment that I read that children in Hong Kong will soon be indoctrinated with the ideas promoted by the central government ('Pupils to be taught to appreciate China', May 6).
I came to Hong Kong from Russia partly because I wanted my children to escape the terrible conditions at school - classrooms with portraits of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, mandatory religion lessons and lessons about how good the country has become thanks to Putin's party.
Children are taught that whatever the government does is for the better, and anyone who says anything to the contrary is an enemy, likely financed by the West. This comes at the expense of the useful curriculum, and from this year, schools will also charge parents for any courses other than the mandatory courses of Russian, maths and patriotic upbringing.
Along with limiting the freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, that's a perfect strategy for bringing up a generation of obedient slaves.
My hope is that Hong Kong can avoid going down the same path as Russia.
Grigory Orlov, Kennedy Town
Get tough on food quality
There have been disturbing reports about fake and tainted food on the mainland and the effects on the health of some people, including children.
It is clear that the authorities on the mainland need to try harder to improve quality control in the manufacturing process. Officials must help to put citizens' minds at rest about the quality of the food they are purchasing and consuming.
Clearly the businessmen involved in these scandals just want to make substantial profits. Sometimes people are not able to recognise that food products they have bought are tainted and continue to eat them, which leads to chronic illnesses.
China is now seen as being influential on the world stage. When these scandals are exposed, its reputation is damaged internationally.
It is also a cause for concern for people from abroad who visit the country.
I do not understand why the central government is not trying harder to crack down on these incidents and improve the quality of food.
It must strengthen monitoring procedures and impose higher fines and longer custodial sentences to act as a deterrent.
Tammy Wong Wai-ting, To Kwa Wan
Why show gay as victimiser?
I refer to the fourth episode of a television docudrama series on cases of discrimination entitled A Mission for Equal Opportunities. It was produced by Radio Television Hong Kong and the Equal Opportunities Commission and broadcast on TVB Jade on April 27.
The episode portrayed a case of sexual harassment of a heterosexual employee by a gay boss.
I have no sympathy for any form of sexual harassment in the workplace, whether it is committed by a gay or straight employer.
However, as gay men have long been stigmatised by the local media, I question the need for the commission to depict us as victimisers.
The docudrama, which made its debut in 1998, is in its seventh series, and yet none of the episodes so far has discussed discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
It is saddening that Asia's world city has no legal provision to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination. Can the commission at least take a small step in discussing this issue in the forthcoming series?
Leo Cheung, Tai Po