Diaoyu Islands

Letters to the Editor, September 28, 2012

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 September, 2012, 1:50am

Return Diaoyu Islands to which China?

Several letters and articles have been published in the South China Morning Post criticising the destructive and violent nature of the demonstrations on the mainland over the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.

Even if the conflict cools down and the crisis is laid to rest for a while, next year, we will probably be back to square one and history will repeat itself.

This will keep happening unless a permanent solution can be found.

Because of that, I agree with the letter from Alex Woo ("International Court of Justice should decide on Diaoyu dispute", September 19).

I have already written to these columns arguing that the countries involved should submit resolution of the conflict to another organisation, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ("Arbitration the way to settle island disputes", August 31).

This court administers cases arising out of international treaties. The cases span a wide range of issues, including disputes over territorial and maritime boundaries.

Mr Woo presented an excellent historical background of the conflict. If the islands were part of China in 1895, then the Treaty of San Francisco in 1951 prescribes that Japan should return the islands. Japan says the islands were not part of China in 1895.

But if the islands have to be returned, then the question is: to whom? Because in 1895, there was one China, as Taiwan became a Chinese province in 1885. Now in 2012, there is China with Beijing as capital of the People's Republic of China and there is the Republic of China with its capital in Taipei.

So if the islands are to be returned, then deciding to which China might be a bigger problem than determining Japan's sovereignty.

Jozef Baets, Tai Tam


All religions teach respect for others

Mahatma Gandhi achieved independence for India through peaceful protests. His supporters refrained from violence.

In today's world, protesters in any demonstration should follow these principles and refrain from violent actions, such as damaging property. Sometimes when a demonstration turns violent, not only are financial losses incurred, but there can be a loss of life.

I hope that when there is a dispute it can be resolved with time. Other people can learn from Hongkongers who have set a fine example by expressing their grievances through peaceful means.

Some shallow-minded individuals like to misuse the rights they have been given to express doctrines that insult other religions in a provocative manner.

People should remember that all religions teach respect and tolerance towards other religions.

Ranjit Bhawnani, Tsim Sha Tsui


Base national education on consultation

National education needs to be part of the school syllabus in Hong Kong, but there must be extensive consultation before that happens.

I do not think teachers here are as yet sufficiently knowledgeable about developments on the mainland.

Course material will have to be structured in such a way that students learn about what is really happening in China. Some of the original material was too biased in favour of positive aspects of the nation.

I would like to see this extensive consultation process with educators carried out as soon as possible.

Yu Wing-hang, Tung Chung


Apple taking customers for granted

Most good companies reward customer loyalty.

Apple has taken innovation to a whole new level and is doing the reverse.

My whole business and household run on Apple products and I have just upgraded to iPhone 5.

Imagine my frustration when the iPhone was not compatible with my Apple computer unless I purchased a software upgrade for the computer (which for all other purposes is not required).

My frustration increased to fever pitch when the Apple support hotline pointed out that a computer was not required to run the iPhone. So while consumers who only have an iPhone can upgrade without extra charges, those loyal consumers using an iPhone in conjunction with an Apple computer are forced to pay.

The Apple customer hotline service manager couldn't see the irony of the situation.

When I suggested that I would write to these columns, the support hotline manager simply said "Good luck".

Good customer service and support attracts customer loyalty. Anyone want to buy an iPhone 5?

David Feehan, Discovery Bay


High tariffs locked into a bad agreement

Given problems in the global economy, a lot of people in Hong Kong have found that their incomes have been reduced and some have even lost their jobs.

Despite this, prices of many items keep rising, and electricity bills for consumers remain high. This is connected to the current electricity tariff arrangement.

The rationale behind a product price rise can differ from firm to firm. Some may seek better profit margins, others may be wanting to cover increased production costs.

It is not that simple with Hong Kong's two main power companies. I accept that they are trying to change the way power is generated. They want to eventually replace coal with liquefied natural gas, which is the cleanest fossil fuel. This approach certainly involves a substantial investment and the firms might justify a bill rise because they want to pass on some of the cost to consumers.

Some would argue that this is not acceptable if the firms recognise their corporate social responsibility, but I think they are acting responsibly by trying to reduce emissions.

We need to accept there is a price to pay for a cleaner environment.

However, despite this, I do think the scheme of control agreement signed in 2008 is outdated and unfair. But, having signed it, the government cannot change it until 2018. It should reflect on this and in future refrain from signing long-term agreements.

Short-term deals will enable it to rectify any undesirable situations with greater ease.

Also, there must be the option of mid-term reviews of agreements. This enables officials to monitor the effectiveness of a policy.

Janet Wong Hung-wa, Ma On Shan


Department has lost control of contractors

I have written to these columns before about government contractors undermining government recycling and witnessed another incident where this happened. Is it telling us that the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is unable to supervise its contractors?

Earlier this month, while I was waiting for the minibus at Tung Lo Wan Hill Road terminus, Sha Tin, at 1.25pm, I saw a private cleaning company vehicle parked right in front of the recycling bins.

Two cleaners with plastic belts labelled Food and Environmental Hygiene Department got out.

I thought that they were going to clear away the refuse separated for recycling. But, they took one look at the overflowing recycling bins. They picked up a plastic bag with plastic bottles and threw them into the refuse bin. They hopped back in the van and drove away without clearing anything away for recycling.

What is the use of sending a vehicle and two men to pick up one bag of plastic bottles? Are these recycling bins and the department's supervisory staff just for decoration? And has the department taken any action regarding my last complaint ("Contractors undermine recycling aim", June 21)?

Why do taxpayers need to pay for recycling bins if they are not being used to protect the environment? I wonder if our civil servants have lost control of their contractors. And I would question the continued existence of the department if it contracts out jobs and the supervision of those jobs.

J. Tse, Sha Tin


No guarantee employment will stay high

The unemployment rate has remained steady over the last two years, at between 3.2 to 3.8 per cent.

Part of the reason for this is that wages have risen on the mainland and so tourists from there have more money to spend when they come here.

This means Hong Kong companies continue to hire staff. But despite the jobless rate, the risks of recession are there. The worsening European debt crisis is adversely affecting the global economy.

More employers are now becoming cautious about taking on additional employees. Even HSBC has substantially reduced staff numbers to reduce costs in its global network.

The influx of Form Six and Seven graduates from secondary schools this year onto the job market is worrying.

I am not optimistic that in the next few years the unemployment rate will remain at such a low figure as 3.2 per cent.

When the next wave of economic recession comes, the unskilled and poorly educated will be the first to suffer.

Owen Ma Ho-man, Kowloon City