Letters to the Editor, September 15, 2012
Ban creates commercial uncertainty
It is not just Hong Kong seafood traders who should be upset about Cathay Pacific's interpretation of "sustainability", and the trade sanctions it justifies with it ("Angry merchants protest against Cathay Pacific's shark-fin ban", September 8).
The largely British-owned company, trading on its "Chinese" image, has banned freighting shark fin because it was the "right thing to do for a company committed to sustainability".
There was no consultation with the Hong Kong seafood industry, nor with the SAR and Beijing governments. Yet consultation is an integral part of sustainable development.
There was also no consideration of the cultural value Chinese people attribute to shark fin, regardless of any opposition from many of the outside environmentalists.
So what comes next? Will it cease transporting clothing and other items made using child labour and underpaid and exploited women?
Will it refuse to transport materials that contribute directly or indirectly to global warming? How will it justify its own use of fossil fuels?
Apparently relieving poverty is not on Cathay's sustainability agenda. Coastal artisan fishermen around the world are some of the world's poorest people, who catch sharks for food.
They sell - or at least did - the fins as a byproduct, getting a 30 per cent bonus on the value of the meat.
In responding to a campaign petition, already exposed as being flawed and self-serving in the letter I wrote to these columns ("Advocacy and science tangled", July 5), Cathay Pacific has created commercial uncertainty. One can only ponder how transport specialists are going to become experts on the supply chains of all the products they freight, in the interests of their interpretation of "sustainability".
Charlie Lim, Marine Products Association
Cathay shows corporate responsibility
Last week, more than 100 merchants protested at Cathay Pacific's headquarters in Hong Kong over the company's decision to stop carrying shark fin on its cargo flights.
I believe the merchants should respect Cathay's stance.
It has been claimed by one group that not many [shark fin] merchants used Cathay's cargo services.
Therefore, surely the new policy by the airline will not have much of an impact on people in this sector.
I accept the ban will prove to be inconvenient, but these businessmen have been given enough time to deal with the problem.
Also, Cathay does not have a monopoly on the air transport industry. So, these merchants can go to other airlines.
In fact, the new policy means Cathay will lose some customers, but its reputation will be enhanced.
Critics might say that is taking a moral high ground, but I think it is simply the case that the company is aware of the importance of sharks and ocean conservation, and recognises the importance of corporate social responsibility.
The company has shown vision in contrast to the government which is not devoted to shark protection. It has not banned the import and export of shark fin.
Other companies in relevant lines of business can follow the example set by Cathay.
They do not have to wait for the administration to take the initiative.
I understand that the shark fin merchants only want to earn a living.
However, they need to appreciate the threat that sharks face. Protection of sharks should not be delayed. Merchants should only sell what are independently verified as sustainable shark products.
I am assuming Cathay consulted the merchants before reaching its decision and that, in the short term, it will be willing to lend them a helping hand and provide cargo services if they are needed.
Kelvin Lam Kin-wang, Tsuen Wan
Carrie Lam's tears just nonsense
Not long before Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's departure, we had our former chief executive crying in shame at having "fallen short" of the expectations of the Hong Kong people (also known as failing in his duty of care for the majority of the population).
More recently, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has been shedding her crocodile tears, citing one day being like one year when referring to certain issues in which she got involved in ("I've put my reputation on the line, says tearful Lam", September 8).
This is both absurd and pathetic. Our government is paid vast sums to provide effective management of the city. All managers should be held accountable and judged according to the performance of the system for which they are responsible.
In any normally functioning democracy, a political leader who presides over marked increases in both absolute poverty and worsening conditions for the majority (despite significant gross domestic product growth) would be voted out. Any business leader who fails to deliver shareholder value would be fired.
For people in positions of such responsibility, crying is nonsense.
To some of Hong Kong's leaders, the message is clear: if the demands of the job are simply too great for your level of competency, then leave.
There are plenty of people with the intelligence, moral fibre, professional integrity and commitment to the greater good of Hong Kong who can take their place.
Alex Morgan, Tung Chung
Constant criticism won't help
As tough as Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is, she is only human. Having wholeheartedly served Hong Kong people for so long, she doesn't deserve the harsh criticism she has had to face.
If you are constantly criticised, you may feel you have had enough and quit. In Mrs Lam's case, this will not help anyone.
I respect her because she is guided by her conscience.
The single issue of national education is immaterial. I judge her based on her track record as a civil servant and then a minister. Throughout her career she has fought for the interests of Hong Kong people.
Her [tearful] response in her Cable TV interview was sincere.
Resolving conflicts is all about respect, trust, communication and compromise rather than one side trying to win. Our society has already had too many deep-rooted conflicts and we can't afford further division.
Carrie Lam is tough and I hope she can continue to serve the people of Hong Kong.
K.M. Fong, Sha Tin
Disabled athletes need more support
I refer to the report, "Returning Paralympians call for more resources" (September 12).
Hong Kong's disabled athletes are outstanding. They are always winning medals in different competitions, especially in the Paralympics, and they did well in London. But they do not have enough resources for training, which puts them at a disadvantage in competition.
The government should ensure that these athletes get better equipment and training facilities.
We can all learn from the example these athletes set. Despite their disabilities, they refuse to give up. They are dedicated to a tough training schedule and determined to become outstanding athletes. They all have their own stories to tell.
I think most Hongkongers, like me, are very proud of these athletes and feel they are being neglected by the government.
Chung Hoi-kiu, Tsuen Wan
Clarification required on ESF entry
I would like the Education Bureau and the English Schools Foundation (ESF) to clarify whether or not students who attend ESF kindergartens are permitted to have priority over other students to enter ESF primary schools.
At present, I understand that, apart from alumni and siblings, priority is also given to students who have attended at least three semesters of study at an ESF kindergarten.
However, as ESF kindergartens are actually run by an affiliate association - Educational Services Ltd (ESL) - I question whether such a "through train" is allowed?
I would like a response, through these columns, from the bureau, ESL and/or ESF, on its prioritisation for primary school entry to ESF kindergarten students.
P. Butler, Ap Lei Chau
Big price jump from shelf to the checkout
On two occasions in the past week when buying wine, the first from a Wellcome supermarket at 18 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, and at the sister company Market Place by Jasons, Wong Nai Chung, there were price anomalies.
The shelf price on both items displayed HK$99, but at the checkout became HK$119 on both occasions. Staff appeared genuinely surprised. They apologised and then quickly corrected the transaction at the till. The questions are why and how this is happening and on what scale.
Would the Consumer Council care to look into this apparent software problem?
M. Smith, Wan Chai