Letters to the Editor, August 21, 2012

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2012, 1:26am


Islands are part of Okinawa

According to existing law, a bilateral agreement between two countries on sovereignty issues is upheld under international law.

The Senkaku Islands, as they are known in Japan, are part of the territory of Okinawa.

This prefecture was under US administration from the end of the second world war, until by a bilateral treaty it was returned to Japan in 1972. This included the Senkaku Islands.

This was recognised, seemingly by all local neighbours. There were no objections raised by the People's Republic, Taiwan or Hong Kong, yet, now we have a small group of professional activists who have defied the rule of law and landed on the Senkakus. These islands are also known as the Pinnacle Islands, named by the British, and Beijing calls them the Diaoyu Islands.

I believe these protests have been organised by left-wing anti-communists, all of whom are well known in Hong Kong for organising anti-government protests. The bitter irony of it all is that they are not welcome to visit the mainland. I hope your readers will challenge their assertions and set the record right.

Richard Paine, Tai Hang

Dispute must be dealt with by Beijing

I refer to the reports ("Japan to deport Diaoyu activists", August 17) and ("'Mixed bag' of activists backed by big names", August 17).

You say that the activists received funding from heavyweights, including C.Y. Leung.

Territorial integrity is an issue that belongs to the central government, which can only be resolved by negotiation or war. These areas are the preserve of the foreign ministry and the defence ministry, not the Hong Kong SAR. Sure, every Chinese (or Japanese) citizen can express their views about the issues.

However, sending a ship to the disputed waters (or encouraging it to go) is surely not a wise act. I think the Basic Law states that foreign affairs and defence are the central government's responsibility.

Since the action of the activists was considered to be patriotic, no one dared to say a word in case they were perceived as being unpatriotic.

John C.M. Lee, Siu Sai Wan

Differences may lead to open conflict

I'm with the South China Morning Post in condemning the activists who landed and were subsequently arrested by Japanese coastguards on the Diaoyus/Senkakus last week ("Calm the waters on island dispute", August 16).

What those activists did was at best inconsiderate.

By going to the islands, they risked aggravating the situation and turning it into a diplomatic crisis and possibly a military confrontation.

Why should Chinese diplomats bear the responsibility of the impulsive action of a few Hongkongers? Their action must be condemned in the most severe manner.

Moderate nationalism can contribute to the unity of a country, but extreme nationalism coupled with such irrational action only engenders problems. I urge nationalists to remain calm and composed.

On solving the islands dispute, though, I would take a more pessimistic stand. Dialogue is futile because China and Japan have a preset view on the matter: that the islands belong to them. As such, a peaceful discussion is yet to happen. Given the present situation, I would say the two countries have a lack of willingness to resolve the territorial dispute and will continue locking horns with each other so that without any external stimulus, we will be looking at an endless vendetta.

I am not encouraging war but pointing out that it may come to that, although I hope there will an end to the disagreement soon.

Hugo Lai Chung-yan, Ma On Shan

Must see US gun crime in perspective

I would like to offer some statistics to help put Barry Weisberg's article on US violence in the proper prospective ("Culture of violence to blame for US gun crime", August 15).

The homicide rate in the US of around 5 per 100,000 is higher than much of Europe but comparable to most of the rest of the world. This rate is in fact lower than or similar to most other countries.

Brazil, a similarly large, diverse immigrant country, has a homicide rate of about four times that of the United States while Venezuela's rate is 10 times higher.

The US homicide rate has declined about 50 per cent from the 1990s despite an increase in gun ownership over the same period.

These statistics easily found on the internet don't square with Mr Weisburg's conclusion that the US "culture of violence [is]unmatched anywhere in the world".

On Mr Weisberg's other point that the US was "founded on genocide of the native people" it is important to note that the US along with the other English-speaking peoples were instrumental in ridding the world of the curse of slavery, an institution that had existed in every country in the world for thousands of years.

The world's first anti-slavery society was founded in Philadelphia in 1680.

The US fought the only civil war in the world largely on the issue of slavery.

Unlike Mr Weisberg's broader conclusion, the United States has played a largely positive role in expanding freedom and prosperity throughout the globe.

David Dunn, Taipei

Higher fee not the way to deal with problem

Some people have suggested raising the HK$100 consultation fee at accident and emergency wards in order to deter people from abusing it. I think this would be a band-aid solution.

Although it might deter some people who do not have a condition that can be described as an emergency, it would also put off some elderly and grass-roots families who do not have a subsidy and cannot afford the higher fee. Old people might go untreated until what started out as minor condition became serious.

Many elderly people or people with a chronic condition need to be treated swiftly when they fall ill.

The problems in accident and emergency wards are compounded by the shortage of doctors and nurses. It is up to the Hospital Authority to make the necessary improvements. It should improve the community medical services network and can lighten the burden on emergency rooms and doctors by building more public and private clinics. Patient education is also important so people realise when they need to visit a hospital.

Chan Yee-ting, Ma On Shan

Suffering of animals just not necessary

Your short and rather simplistic report ("Cruelty-free policies ditched", August 13) and the Harry's View cartoon belies a serious multi-layered problem with cruelty-free cosmetics in Asia.

Firstly, it shows at best the populist nature and at worst the hypocrisy of the multinational players who espouse a commitment to a cruelty-free philosophy, provided it does not interfere with their quest for the holy dollar.

Secondly, it shows China has not yet entered the biotechnological age that is the 21st century because it does not accept the multilateral agreement of the OECD's Mutual Acceptance of Data.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries and many non-OECD nations have modernised their biotechnology sector and accept data that has been produced in comparable test programmes in other countries, thereby not requiring the repeat of tests that waste resources and are responsible for so much animal suffering.

China professes to a humane biotech sector. However, this is only lip service until it accepts data from testing done in comparable programmes in other countries.

And, finally, Harry's View is anything but funny because the obvious suffering of the sales assistant mocks the suffering that China makes millions of rabbits endure every year in the name of beauty.

This is suffering that is unnecessary because there are so many alternatives, including human volunteers, that can produce the safety data so important to bureaucracy and the populace, without subjecting animals to what is in effect torture

Dr Anthony James, director, Laboratory Animal Services Centre, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Buyers are used to gross floor area

I think it would be unfair to require developers selling property in the secondary market to use saleable rather than gross floor area.

It may appear to be a fairer way of quoting prices and sizes, but I think it could lead to confusion.

First of all, the use of saleable area will make a property less desirable for a potential purchaser. In the past, estate agents have usually adopted gross floor area when quoting the size of a flat. People became used to this practice and we should stick with something with which buyers are familiar.

If the government is considering extending the ordinance to cover the secondary market, it should have a period of consultation and get the views of all stakeholders before making a final decision on the matter.

Damien Wong Tsun-yin, Ma On Shan