Letters to the Editor, September 24, 2012
Hoping cool heads prevail in dispute
The local media is full of articles about who has rightful ownership of the rocks south of Japan [the Diaoyus/Senkakus].
Chinese nationalists are passionate in their claims regarding these rocks.
I wonder if Beijing sees this issue as its "Falkland Islands moment". If so, this is a major concern for the region.
When Argentina invaded the British territory of the Falklands, the country was ruled in Buenos Aires by a cruel and harsh dictatorship which used the attack as a pretext to boost its power at home.
The invasion failed and the junta was later toppled.
Does Beijing see itself as equivalent to Britain in the present crisis and wishes to reassert what it sees as its rightful control, feeling it could win a short naval conflict?
The question all parties in this dispute must ask is if such a conflict is worth the sacrifice.
In the Falklands war, the ARA General Belgrano was an Argentine Navy light cruiser which was sunk and 323 crew members died. Great Britain also lost many fine sailors, airmen, marines and soldiers.
Do we want to see bodies floating in the seas around these islands?
How many one-child families will lose their child? And how long will the Communist Party stay in power when it comes to light the children of the elite are safely out of the country?
The ball is in China's court, let's hope cool heads prevail.
Stephen Anderson, Macau
Well-timed U-turn was political coup
Alex Lo in his column ("Timing is everything in politics", September 10) said that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had picked the worst timing, on the eve of the Legco election, to climb down over the national education controversy.
I disagree. The reality is that with its dramatic 11th hour U-turn, the government set the stage for a grand finale for the demonstrators to claim victory and go home.
If the chief executive's objective was to end this demonstration, he did exactly that.
Looking at the election results, it was clearly a timely move as it successfully neutralised the pro-democracy movement's momentum.
The pro-establishment candidates actually gained more votes, and more Legislative Council seats.
If the hunger strike and demonstration in front of the government headquarters had not been halted in a timely fashion, they could have snowballed to become a long-drawn-out anti-government campaign, as we saw in 1989 in Tiananmen Square.
I do not think there is any doubt that C.Y. recognised that this was politically a dangerous demonstration.
Luckily, he made a bold move and he timed it correctly. He understands that timing is everything in politics.
Guy Lam, Central
Attract sales without the hassle
In connection with the problem of visitors from China causing congestion at the border crossings with their bulky trolleys carrying goods purchased in Hong Kong, I wonder if someone could find a way of getting these people to spend their money in the SAR without them physically coming here.
If this were possible, then Hong Kong could, as the saying goes, have its cake and eat it.
P.K. Lee, Tung Chung
Mooncake waste could be avoided
With all the commercials for mooncakes, you know that the Mid-Autumn Festival is approaching.
Every year, companies come up with new flavours and put them on sale in attractive packaging.
However, Hongkongers waste millions of mooncakes every year and this aggravates the city's waste problem. A Green Power survey showed that Hong Kong families dumped more than 2,510,000 mooncakes after last year's festival.
Citizens may talk about the importance of environmental protection, but they do not practise what they preach during this event.
People should only buy the mooncakes they actually need - what they will consume during the festival - as the cakes are often thrown out after the festival has ended.
Surely anyone with surplus mooncakes could donate them to charities or elderly care centres rather than discarding them as waste.
The shortage of landfills that are already nearing capacity is a serious problem in Hong Kong.
All citizens must recognise that we all have a responsibility to work towards waste reduction and improve the state of affairs in our home town.
If more citizens can embrace environmental protection measures, the quality of life in the SAR will improve.
Stella Man Suet-ming, Ho Man Tin
Disabled are getting raw deal in SAR
Hong Kong has been accused of not doing enough to help the disabled, by a delegation to a meeting of the United Nations committee on the rights of the disabled.
I agree that it is time for the government to provide more help to the disabled in order to promote equal opportunities and avoid discrimination.
The delegation [representing disability concern groups] has accused the SAR government of failing to address limited educational and employment opportunities, along with accessibility issues, and it says the disabled community has been given unsatisfactory legal protection.
If the administration wants to implement improvements, it must be willing to introduce the necessary legislation.
Countries such as New Zealand and Britain did this after becoming signatories to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
I also agree with the delegation that schools should be asked to provide appropriate support to students with special needs so that the disabled can have more opportunities to study.
It is also important that the administration establishes an independent monitoring body to protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities.
Subsidies should be made available to ensure barrier-free access even to older buildings in the city.
There is no quick fix to the problems that exist. But I believe that they can be solved through implementation of the right policies and the promotion of equal opportunities.
Angela Ng, Tsuen Wan
Huge demand for quality education
Kelly Yang's column ("Baseless elitism", September 19) was a bit puzzling to say the least.
I am no huge fan of the English Schools Foundation's management, or of selling school places to the highest bidder. But I can see with my own eyes that some of the ESF's schools are crumbling. We are not talking about "nicer gyms".
With the government subsidy for ESF pupils running at a fraction of that for direct subsidy schools (due to a freeze on the subvention several years ago), and current ESF parents maxed out in terms of the fees they can afford to pay, how does Ms Yang recommend that the ESF raise the funds for building refurbishment? Bake sales?
As for selling debentures to raise funds for scholarships, I notice the Kelly Yang Project charges a minimum of HK$385 per hour for writing classes for six-year-olds. I did not notice any scholarship information on her website.
The issue of affordability of education is one for which the government must take responsibility.
There is obviously huge demand for good quality, affordable education.
But the government refuses to allow anyone to expand the supply.
Laurel West, Pok Fu Lam
Not surprised by ESF's debenture
I expect that anyone who has been to the relatively new, plush English Schools Foundation (ESF) offices was not surprised by the proposed charge of HK$500,000 to reserve a school place for their children ("HK$500,000 to reserve place in ESF schools", September 13). I certainly wasn't surprised.
What is surprising is that the ESF provides its management with such posh offices when the money should be spent on refurbishing the "ageing school buildings" cited by the ESF chairman ("ESF debenture scheme 'favours rich students'", September 14).
Al Clancy, Oakland, California, US
No action taken against illegal parking
On Wednesday morning, I counted 12 illegally-parked cars in Duddell Street, Central.
I also saw traffic wardens walk off without issuing a single ticket to the drivers.
Meanwhile, because of the congestion caused by illegal parking it took me 10 minutes in my car to reach the car park.
Why do we still have traffic wardens if they are not going to do their job?
Maybe it is just the civil service mentality of get through the day to pay day.
Mohan Datwani, Pok Fu Lam