Letters to the Editor, August 24, 2012
China trying to correct past wrongs
I was fascinated by Richard Paine's arguments regarding the Diaoyu Islands ("Islands are part of Okinawa", August 21).
I am sure peace-loving people all over the world know the true facts behind this disputed territory.
The islands are an integral part of Yilan county, Taiwan, and are far closer to the island than to Okinawa.
Mr Paine failed to mention that Japan invaded and colonised Taiwan in 1895 under an unequal treaty with a weak China until it surrendered to the Allies at the end of the second world war. In fact, Japan conquered large areas of China in the 1930s.
Following the Allied victory, and under the Cairo Declaration, Taiwan [Formosa] was returned to China in 1945.
When the US returned Okinawa to Japan, the Diaoyu Islands were mistakenly turned over to Japan for temporary control, despite objections from the governments on either side of Taiwan Strait.
Mr Paine should realise that between 1840 and 1945 China suffered more than 100 years of humiliation at the hands of the colonial powers.
Now it is being accused of being expansionist because, in terms of territory, it is trying to right the wrongs of the past.
P. Lee, Kwun Tong
Don't let dictatorship expand
There has been a wave of so-called patriotic support for the brave Hong Kong expedition that succeeded in reaching the Diaoyu Islands.
But while some may applaud the activists' plucky spirit, many Hongkongers feel indifferent or even disgusted by the accompanying patriotic outburst.
They see it as a lesson in national education - another recent polemical topic here - and an attempt to gift-wrap the party state dictatorship.
I agree with Hong Kong-born Joe Chung, author of the bestselling book I Don't Want to be Chinese Again, who wrote in his blog recently that he would prefer the islands to remain part of Japan, because Japan is a far more democratic country than China.
The less territory controlled by dictatorships such as China, the better, he argues.
It is not in the interests of our human global civilisation for dictatorships to expand their territory one inch, he believes.
There are those who accuse Chung and many others like him of lacking patriotism. Shame on him for betraying his country, they say.
But, as a former member of the Hong Kong Diaoyu islands movement noted in a Chinese-language newspaper, the real shame belongs to the communist government of China, which has made its country so unattractive to many Hong Kong people that they find it impossible to feel pride when they say "I am Chinese".
Indeed, even the privileged members of the communist government itself do not want their children to be raised in the country. That is one reason some of them send their children to study overseas, where they can find quality education, clean air, safe food and political systems that protect those things and which, while far from perfect, allow their children to flourish in a way that would be impossible back home.
The other reason is that the elite has access to outside information, which it denies to the public. This privilege allows it to see the writing on the wall, giving it no confidence in the future of its country or its party.
Stephen Thompson, Lamma
HK has role in wind power development
I was recently in Hong Kong at the invitation of the Productivity Council to speak about the small and medium-sized wind turbine industry.
It was very interesting for me, not least because it was my first visit to your remarkable city. During my talk, I was asked about the opportunities for Chinese companies in this sector and to discuss some of the challenges they face. These are many, and not just for Chinese companies.
The market is relatively small, but it is growing. The small and medium wind industry works, when done properly. It will be an important component of a distributed energy future. Nevertheless, much technical work remains to be done to drive down costs while ensuring safe and effective performance.
It seems to me that Hong Kong can play an important part, for many reasons. It has the financial capability, know-how and access to manufacturing of all kinds. I am certain that what happens in the SAR can greatly influence what happens elsewhere.
Hong Kong can make a difference to small-scale distributed wind generation and, consequently, to one part of a better energy future for all of us.
Niall McMahon, centre for renewable energy, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Ireland
Hospital out of touch on breastfeeding
Our middle child had an injury the week before last and was rushed to Caritas Medical Centre in Cheung Sha Wan.
My husband accompanied her in the ambulance and I followed with my eight-week-old son, whom I am still nursing.
Much to my dismay, a nurse in the paediatrics ward of the hospital asked me to leave because I was breastfeeding.
I was wearing a nursing top and being discreet. She had actually been in to see my daughter a number of times before she even realised I was nursing. As I refused to leave, she drew the curtain around me in a huff, in order, she said, "to stop complaints from other people".
I was appalled that a health care provider, especially a nurse in a paediatrics/neonatal ward, should have such an attitude to breastfeeding.
I breastfeed my baby knowing that I am giving him the best possible start in life and yet in a paediatrics ward of a Hospital Authority hospital, I was made to feel uncomfortable and that what I was doing was wrong.
In theory, Hong Kong prides itself on being a modern society, promoting the recommendation by the World Health Organisation to breastfeed babies, but this is not put into practice.
Surely, in light of recent scares with baby formula, we should be applauding mothers who breastfeed. The short maternity leave policy and lack of feeding places make it difficult enough to breastfeed a baby in Hong Kong. Does our society not recognise the functional use of breasts?
As this is the first baby I have breastfed in Hong Kong, I have had to become used to people trying to tell me to feed him in toilets so that I am more comfortable. Would you want your lunch in a public toilet?
Nursing mothers should not feel shame or embarrassment in doing what is best for their child.
Lisa Milliner, Cheung Sha Wan
Sports policy useless if there are no venues
The building chief for the 2012 Olympics says that Hong Kong "is capable of hosting a major international sporting event if it takes a leaf out of London's book" ("London Games 'can be an inspiration for Hong Kong'", August 7).
Even if he is right, I do not think his arguments would justify Hong Kong bidding to host a future Asian Games.
Such large-scale sports competitions depend for their success on the participation of local people. However, Hong Kong people are generally not as enthusiastic about sport as their foreign counterparts.
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has launched campaigns to get young people interested in sport, but without success. Most youngsters are forced by their families to focus on their academic performance in school rather than sport. Very few local athletes aspire to emulate Olympic gold medal winner Lee Lai-shan.
Besides, sports facilities cannot meet the demand. For example, during public holidays, it is difficult to get a badminton court unless you book a month in advance. It almost puts you off getting involved in sport.
It is a near miracle that Hong Kong's Lee Wai-sze won a bronze medal at the London Olympics, given the inadequate training facilities for young cyclists here.
If we don't have the right kinds of training venues in sufficient number then we can hardly expect to successfully train talented young athletes so they are good enough to compete for medals at the highest level.
Rather than thinking about hosting a major sporting event like the Asian Games, the government should focus on improving the sporting facilities we have for Hong Kong citizens.
James Au Kin-pong, Lai Chi Kok
Our electoral system ignores absent voters
Thank you, Celina Lin, for your view that needed expressing ("Raw deal for absent voters in election", August 15) regarding the inferior electoral system here in Hong Kong.
In the current Legislative Council election, I also have received the same lame-excuse reply as your correspondent.
One would think that with the massive amount of money (and even criminal proceedings) being spent to make sure the fraudsters would not undermine elections, it would not be too difficult to appropriate a substantially smaller sum to give an opportunity to those who desire to be legitimate electors but cannot because of inferior voting provisions.
The number of registered electors who must be absent from Hong Kong on any given election date surely must be in the thousands.
Danny Thurston, Fanling