National education in Hong Kong

Letters to the Editor, September 23, 2012

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 September, 2012, 12:31am

Suppressing criticism not the answer

Your editorial ("Outrage at video was predictable", September 16) proposes a moral equivalence: that the video Innocence of Muslims bears equal responsibility for deaths as do those who did the killing.

What you are saying in effect is that a video, made legally in the United States, is the same as the illegal killing of embassy personnel - that video producers are the same as murderous mobs.

In defence of this moral equivalence you say that there are limits to free speech "such as the sensibilities of the audience, that must be taken into account".

But what a slippery slope that is.

For the "sensibilities" which you say ought to be taken into account are those of the more extreme fringes of the Muslim world.

The attacks in Libya were well planned by al-Qaeda and affiliate Ansar al-Sharia.

The video was just an excuse. And 9/11 was a "nice" time to do it.

Bobby Ghosh, the deputy international editor of Time magazine, in his article on September 13, "Agents of outrage", said the attacks were not spontaneous, but were "provoked outrage".

Moderate Muslims have been saying that no matter what the video "offence", there is no excuse for random killings.

Yet your editorial takes the side of those radical elements.

If you support the "limits" to free speech for the "sensibilities" of Islamists, do you imagine that censoring a silly video will be enough? Surely not.

There will always be something on the internet to which they can take offence, should it suit their agenda.

In contrast, while this video is lambasted for denigrating Islam, nowhere in the world was there criticism of productions such as The Book of Mormon, The Passion of the Christ and the like.

Suppressing the criticism of Islam will only encourage further demands for censorship of any criticism of Islam as being offensive or blasphemous.

That will lead to the suppression of fair criticism of the more troublesome elements of Islamic doctrine.

Already we have seen self-censorship of a scholarly documentary called Islam the Untold Story.

Making a moral equivalence between an internet video and murderous Islamists renders us mute to discuss Islam in any form at all.

We must not come to this end, for Islam must surely be subject to the same examination and debate as all other religions in the world.

Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay


Importance of showing tolerance

It was terrible to see the violent responses in some countries, such as Libya, to the film Innocence of Muslims, especially in this post-Arab-spring world, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador to Libya.

I believe that all religions should be respected and there should not be discrimination between different faiths, whether, for example, you are a Buddhist, a Christian or even a Muslim.

The behaviour of rabble rousers in various countries proved once again that some people will choose to express their views in a radical way while others will choose a peaceful path.

Those of us who are educated should always choose the non-violent option.

It may not seem as convincing as a radical approach, but I believe it is the only way to deal with a problem.

If people respect the opinions and beliefs of each other we can enjoy peaceful co-existence.

Isaac Lau Ka-ho, Tsuen Wan


Public should be consulted about trail

I refer to the letter by Yung Tak-ko ("Developers must work with residents to find alternative DB trail", September 16), regarding a "a popular hiking and mountain bike trail" which has "been blocked off".

Hong Kong is a crowded city, with so many buildings and vehicles and too few trees by the roadside.

It is rare to have such a pleasant environment as Discovery Bay. Its developers have adopted a good town planning strategy.

I sometimes go there for a walk with my family and especially enjoy the promenade. But now the developers have a new construction project which threatens the trail referred to by your correspondent.

I can understand the concerns of Discovery Bay residents.

They are angry that the Trappist Monastery trail has been blocked by concrete boulders at different locations and that there was no warning notice.

This lack of communication is regrettable. Residents should have been informed about details of the construction project. I hope there will some consultation between Discovery Bay management and the public.

With such projects it is always important to strike a balance between development needs and protection of the environment.

Edward Chiu, Tsuen Wan


Family clash over national education

I joined the protests against moral and national education being introduced in schools.

However, my mum did not agree with me.

She said she did not see why we needed to protest against the subject.

I was opposed to it because I think it is unnecessary. It would duplicate subjects already in the curriculum such as liberal studies and Chinese history.

Also, students in Hong Kong's schools already have a lot of subjects.

They face a heavy workload and national education would simply add the stress they already feel.

I was also worried about claims that some material which was to be used in the course leaned in favour of the Chinese Communist Party, in particular, the China Model teaching guide.

Some pupils would be too young to form their own judgment on such material and form their own views, and this would be tantamount to brainwashing.

Far more consideration must be given to this subject and the course material that will be provided before it is implemented.

Publishers need to provide material that looks at all aspects of the country and the party, good and bad. At all times they must seek to be fair.

I love Hong and I love China, but I do not love the Chinese Communist Party.

Jenny Cheung Hiu-ying, Tseung Kwan O


Parents can help to curb drug abuse

Teenagers tend to experiment, and in some cases this can lead to youngsters becoming involved in substance abuse.

Recently, I saw two parents walking with their children, who were obviously below the age of 18 but who were smoking.

How could parents turn a blind to eye to such addictive behaviour?

Youngsters are clearly influenced by what they see and experience in the family home and tobacco use can be a gateway to other forms of substance abuse. They will especially look up to older members of the family.

They are also influenced by curiosity and by peer pressure, not wanting to feel isolated, and may turn to illegal drugs because they see taking them it as a way of escaping from the problems they face.

With peer pressure, it is about wanting to gain entry to a social group.

In terms of smoking they can be influenced by the prevalence of smoking in their neighbourhood, so there must be clear bans in all public areas and limited availability of cigarettes in the convenience stores and supermarkets.

Parents have an important supervisory role to pay. They need to be alert and note any changes in behaviour in their sons and daughters. They also need to keep track of what their children are looking at online.

Youngsters need a pleasant, stress- and conflict-free family environment.

More can be done in schools to curb drug use, with health education classes. And celebrities can play their part by endorsing campaigns against drug abuse.

Yang Lam, Tseung Kwan O


Bi-monthly bills good for environment

I refer to the letter by H. Hiew ("Bill does not seem such a good deal", September 16).

CLP's bi-monthly billing scheme brings benefits to customers by reducing the number of bill payments over the year.

It is time-saving for customers and they enjoy a longer payment period. It is also an environmentally friendly practice, as much less paper is printed for bills.

When we first introduced the bi-monthly billing scheme in 1998, the power consumption of each tariff block was widened proportionately. For example, the first block was widened from the first 200 units of electricity consumed to the first 400 units.

As such, customers will not be charged on a higher tariff block when the billing is on a bi-monthly basis, when compared to billing on a monthly basis.

I trust this explanation clears up any misunderstanding.

L.M. Chow, director - marketing and customer services, CLP Power Hong Kong Limited