Letters to the Editor, October 4, 2012
Proposal could make Diaoyus a peace model
Henry John Temple, the third Viscount Palmerston, once described Hong Kong as "a barren rock with hardly a house upon it" after the Opium War more than 170 years ago. Now, another group of barren rocks off Taiwan, the Diaoyu Islands, are causing trouble to China and Japan. Can we draw parallels from these two incidents?
In the past, most people held the view that China had been humiliated during the Opium Wars and its subsequent wars with Western powers. In a curious way, China and Britain were brought closer together by that war, and now the Diaoyu Islands provide a chance for China and Japan to turn a crisis into a golden opportunity to promote peace and economic prosperity.
If China and Japan go to war, both will lose. If China is defeated in a conventional war and decides to use nuclear warheads, then China, Japan and the entire world are the losers. But can we create a "win-win-win" scenario?
First, let's abandon our outdated mentality of "blood and iron" to resolve confrontation. We need co-operation instead of confrontation. The formation of the European Common Market, the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the introduction of the euro are examples of the forces of integration. Europeans are using these forces to resolve their problems left over from wars. They show wisdom and patience to move forward painstakingly towards a full integration of the "United States of Europe".
In fact, China is also moving in that direction internally. The economic integration with Taiwan through the Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement is a move in the right direction.
Could China and Japan also work in that direction? It is unfortunate that the Diaoyus have become a bone of contention and a stumbling block. Wars breed only wars. But how can we break this vicious cycle?
Extreme nationalism and militarism are elements of disintegration that must be dispelled. Putting aside China and Japan's differences can create an environment conducive to economic prosperity and stability in Asia.
I have a dream to turn the "barren rocks" off Taiwan into a fishing spot for the world community. Imagine a sea of warships replaced by a sea of pleasure boats. How peaceful that would be.
Which would you choose: a piece of precious jade or a piece of war-broken tile?
Lo Wai-kong, Yau Ma Tei
Comparing wage levels - or can we?
With regards to the current debate on whether the minimum wage in Hong Kong should be raised to HK$30 an hour, I make the following observations:
A year ago, I visited the US state of Oregon, where I noted that pretty much any product or service was cheaper than it would have been in Hong Kong. Property rental and purchase prices were also much cheaper.
I also noted that the minimum wage in Oregon is US$8.80 per hour and is due to be raised next year to US$8.95.
I saw no indication that the business community was in a state of near collapse due to the minimum wage.
These were just observations and, not being an economic guru, I am at a loss to explain exactly why Hong Kong's minimum wage should be so much lower than Oregon's. I understand why property in Hong Kong is so outrageously overpriced, and that this leads to businesspeople claiming that a higher minimum wage would cripple them. (Actually, it's the high rents that are already crippling them.)
I also realise that the two financial/taxation systems are different, though there does seem to be something obscenely wrong with a paltry minimum wage of HK30 per hour in a place that is so notoriously expensive in which to live. It seems especially wrong when many of those being paid the minimum wage in Hong Kong are also at the mercy of rapacious landlords.
Can anyone give any good reason for such parsimony towards the less fortunate members of our society?
Mark Ranson, Sai Kung
Festival aims to encourage open dialogue
In response to the letter from Mark Peaker ("Look past Chao story for real gay issues", October 2), I would like to clarify the objective of Hong Kong's LGBT Festival, Pink Season and other events such as Mr Gay Hong Kong.
Pink Season is about promoting the talent and contribution of Hong Kong's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and creating a dialogue with society at large on LGBT issues through the diverse events. While some people may view Mr Gay Hong Kong pageant as frivolous, we viewed it as a public declaration by five distinguished men who are proud to be gay.
We need more such individuals. According to a study by Community Business, while over half of Hong Kong people say they are accepting of LGBT, 57 per cent of them said they do not personally know anyone who is. We believe that if more Hongkongers knew someone gay, we can get the wider community to join our struggle for equality. To do this, we will need more individuals like Mr Gay Hong Kong candidates to tell their colleagues, friends and families that they are gay.
We think events such as Mr Gay Hong Kong or the case of Cecil and Gigi Chao do highlight gay issues worth talking about. Ultimately, it's all about the freedom to love and be who you are without being judged. We should take advantage of any occasion to discuss such fundamental human rights.
Lim Tay-her, co-ordinator, Pink Season 2012
Patriotism without propaganda
While I enjoy reading letters by Cynthia Sze, she lets herself down in her letter ("No unfettered free speech in practice", October 2).
Like so many of her ilk who defend the issue of national education, she equates not accepting it with being somehow unpatriotic.
We all know that blind patriotism is the last bastion of the fanatic. However, what most proponents of national education fail to state is that the material being introduced has little to do with actual education about the Chinese nation, and is more a propaganda tool to praise the Communist Party, which, if we are to be frank, many of a certain age "escaped" to Hong Kong to avoid.
If national education were about teaching our youth about China, warts and all, it would be readily accepted in Hong Kong's schools, probably under the subject name of history. But the unfortunate brand of disinformation being foisted on an already politically savvy population has been rightly shown the door, and Ms Sze and her like-minded "patriots" should respect that decision.
Stuart Brookes, Shek Tong Tsui
Photo of drowned teen in bad taste
How can you be so insensitive as to publish a photo of 15-year-old Choi Lai-heng, who tragically drowned on Monday?
I think publishing the photo of him was in very bad taste. He has a family, friends, and a community who are suffering a loss that no one should have to experience, and you exploit the situation with a big picture of the young man's body being recovered.
Perhaps you should put yourselves in the family's place and show some compassion. Shame on you!
R. Fletcher, Repulse Bay
Love is the true religion for all people
I agree with Michael Jenkins' letter ("Does anyone teach religious tolerance?", October 3) to some extent that religions divide people rather then unite. In my opinion, the only religion that should be adopted is the religion of love. Love holds no barriers, and is the only truth that will hold humanity together. If everybody can develop love for all living beings and promise not to hurt anybody or group, then we will certainly be seeing the golden days of life for everybody.
I believe that every religious person must adopt the religion of love and apply it to his or her daily life first. We must find a solution and not teach our children the ways in which humanity has been divided in the past. Even God's love of man is incomparable with any religion. God loves all creation.
Let's make seven billion people follow the religion of love. Can religious leaders at least accept this as the solution to all crises that have developed because of hatred?
Rishi Teckchandani , Mid-Levels
Police halted protest on bad assumption
On Monday at the flag-raising ceremony, some Scholarism protesters wore black clothes in opposition to the moral and national education course. They were driven away by the police.
According to which legislation? Hong Kong citizens have freedom of speech. We can see that the Hong Kong government does not want to communicate with the people. Yes, they had set up a demonstration area, but that area was far away from the Golden Bauhinia Square, the site of the flag-raising ceremony. Is wearing black clothes or protesting peacefully illegal? Absolutely not.
Perhaps the police thought the protesters will disturb the ceremony. Police supervisors should review this incident and not shy away from the issue of assuming that a demonstration will be disruptive.
Natalie Key, Tseung Kwan O