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Letters

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2011, 12:00am

New group's skewed view of populism

I do not know why we need yet another pro-business political body in Hong Kong ('New bloc shifts power in Legco', August 22). I think Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung and his new alliance are being naive when they attribute social instability to populist politics.

I would like Mr Lam to explain how the populists have managed to get such large turnouts from all walks of life every July 1 and at other protests if the proliferation of pro-business inequalities and exploitation of consumers in Hong Kong were only a figment of the populists' imagination.

There is no reason why populists should not want social stability. Protesters all have better things to do than take their anger onto the streets and risk being arrested.

Every reaction is caused by an action. The key point here is that 'social stability' in Hong Kong is now dictated entirely under the terms of the government's pro-business policies as well as conglomerates' and large land developers' interests.

Subsequently, people, including the middle class whose interests Mr Lam's new alliance claims to represent, have to swallow an unreasonably high cost of living and outrageously expensive housing.

The populist movement is therefore a product of Mr Lam's so-called stability or status quo and not a cause for social instability itself. I am surprised that as a politician he was unable to impart that.

Chung Chin-wai, North Point

Church that cares a lot about money

I see that Pope Benedict is pontificating that morals and ethics must play a greater role in economic policy ('Pope slams profit-driven world', August 19).

Has he taken a look around the Vatican or read books such as God's Banker and In God's Name?

Has he ever studied the corrupt, immoral, unethical lives of many of his predecessors or the history of the Inquisition?

The Catholic Church demands money every week from its congregation, the majority of whom can ill afford it. It builds ornate churches when surely the all-seeing God would know if somebody's prayers were sincere whether from a shack or a palace.

The churches are for the greater good of the Catholic Church's property portfolio.

People living in golden palaces should not throw stones.

Michael Jenkins, Central

Pope's visit cause for celebration

Earlier this month, the world's media was full of reports of hundreds of young people who, filled with anger, despair or sheer vicious selfishness, rampaged destructively through the streets of London.

Last week, however, hundreds of thousands of young people filled the streets of Madrid with their enthusiasm, idealism and yes, though they may well be old-fashioned words, with uplifting faith, hope and charity.

And what were some organs of the media reporting? That there was a deep wellspring of goodness in today's youth? That the Catholic Church is trying to harness and channel this goodness for the welfare of the world? That the 2011 Madrid World Youth Day was a spectacular success and that the overwhelming majority of Spanish people welcomed Pope Benedict with joy and filial love? Not a bit of it.

The media seemed obsessed with the few thousand people protesting against World Youth Day and the papal visit. Furthermore, the media kept repeating the canard that Spanish taxpayers would foot the bill for these great events. The protesters have been active for months with a list of grievances which have nothing to do with World Youth Day or the pope.

In fact, the socialist government of Spain, not the Catholic Church's even second-best friend, stated that 'WYD Madrid 2011' would cost the state nothing since the Spanish Catholic Church, aided by private benefactors, and the innumerable number of pilgrims were paying their own way. As with any public event, the state will pay for the police needed to ensure public order and security.

Finally, no mention was made in the media of the spiritual benefit to Spain of these events - or of the clear and obvious benefits to the Spanish economy from such an influx of foreign visitors.

It is, unfortunately, too true that 'good news is no news'.

Walter Puccetti, Tin Shui Wai

Chinese has simplest grammar

Brian Thompson's prejudice against the Chinese language reflects his subjective problem ('Chinese too difficult to be global tongue', August 12).

Chinese is a very efficient language because its lexicon operates according to the simplest possible grammar.

Compared with English, Chinese words operate in syntax without non-essential complications such as parts of speech, tenses, numbers and so forth.

Ordinary Chinese operates nearer the Chomskyan deep structure of a natural language than English. A Chinese word is always monosyllabic and most often a morpheme (a unit of meaning).

There are only about 1,200 possible syllables in Putonghua, compared with more than 8,000 in English.

Chinese children tend to have superior mathematical skills because it is much easier to recite the multiplication table in Chinese than in English. Chinese translations often contain a lot fewer words than their English originals.

New York and London are top world cities with a high level of integration because of historical factors that have nothing to do with English being allegedly an easy language.

According to Wikipedia, 'English has fewer consistent relationships between sounds and letters than many other languages.

'It takes longer for students to become completely fluent readers of English than of many other languages, including French, Greek, and Spanish.

'English-speaking children take up to two years more to learn reading than do children in 12 other European countries.'

Pierce Lam, Central

Steep price rises can be avoided

The prices of textbooks keep rising with inflation. But there are things publishers could do to make them more affordable.

They could, for example, use cheaper paper. The quality at the moment is very high, which makes books more expensive. Also, CD resources should not be included.

When we purchase textbooks, we cannot buy the book and CD resources separately, but have to take them together. This again forces the price up. CD resources could be ordered separately by schools, and students could then decide whether they wanted to buy them.

If prices keep rising, the complaints lodged against publishers will continue unabated.

Ho Chin-fung, Yuen Long

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