Letters to the Editor, October 10, 2012

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2012, 2:42am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2012, 3:09am

Government corruption not only Chinese

As a Chinese person, I find Jason Wordie’s article (“Hong Kong’s greedy officials are only playing to type”, October 4) deeply offensive.

Mr Wordie himself is “playing to type” of an expatriate resident who longed for the return of the British colonial administration. Official venality is not unique to Hong Kong. One only has to take off one’s rose-tinted glasses to see corruption in the highest echelon of government happening not just in Asia, but also in Russia, Africa, South America, even in the so-called developed democracies of Japan, Britain, the US and Europe. Corruption knows no boundaries, whether national, social or racial.

In A Concise History of Hong Kong, John M. Carroll wrote: “Colonial officials often blamed the prevalence of corruption on the Chinese community … the British themselves were largely untainted. But the number of expatriates later convicted of corruption once the government finally tried to tackle the problem proves there was nothing particularly Chinese about corruption.” 

As a “historian”, where is Mr Wordie’s empirical evidence for his assertion that “the default position of the average Chinese person towards officialdom was an expectation of venality” and that Hong Kong’s officials have returned to “a time-dishonoured Chinese tradition”?

Please look at his own backyard or his revered motherland of Great Britain: Tony Blair, while residing at No 10 Downing Street, had his merry days cavorting with billionaires, spending holidays on friends’ yachts and in private villas.

I’m sure that if Apple Daily and Oriental Daily went to Britain to investigate Margaret Thatcher and her son Mark, they would have had a field day reporting on the goings-on of the colonial administration the same as when they exposed Donald Tsang, Rafael Hui and Henry Tang. Perhaps Mr Wordie’s view that “top-level official venality was largely unknown” during the colonial administration would not stand up to closer scrutiny and be exposed as an urban myth.

To suggest that corruption is unique to Chinese culture and that the British did a better job of containing official venality smacks of chauvinism and is an inflammatory viewpoint not befitting of a historian.

Woo Lee-ying, Ho Man Tin


Build cheaper flats to create a balance

On the issue of whether mainlanders should be allowed to continue to buy “luxury flats” in Hong Kong, some property companies greet this phenomenon as positive because of the income it brings them. The purchases, they say, will encourage the economic flow of Hong Kong, so Hongkongers should accept the constant influx of mainlanders.

However, the people of Hong Kong seem to disagree completely. The mainlanders’ action will seriously affect the lives of citizens. For instance, the price of luxury flats at The Riverpark has risen from HK$8,500 per square foot to HK$9,000. The increase does not coincide with the increase of the average salary of Hongkongers, who struggle so hard to earn their money.

Moreover, Hong Kong is densely populated in a very limited residential area. With the sudden increase of mainlanders, the saturation will rise further and cause trouble.

Lastly, the issue is like a double-edged sword, as it could harm the relationship between Beijing China and Hong Kong if we block mainlanders buying flats. Hence, the best way is to moderate both the flow of mainlanders and the prices of flats by building cheaper ones. Then the goal of achieving balance  in our society and a well- sustained environment will be achieved.

Wayne Ho Lut-heng, Tai Wai


In praise of Hong Kong’s bold students

In recent weeks, many in Hong Kong society and the media have taken a highly critical stance towards this city’s students and their passion for protesting – a situation that is both perplexing and saddening. Have any of these commentators actually bothered to go out and engage these protesters?

The youth of Hong Kong are not “aggressive”. They are not “radical”. And they are certainly not “ridiculous”. In my interactions with them, I have found them to be both intelligent and highly articulate. Far from being sheep, blindly following others, they have shown a comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of the problems facing Hong Kong today. They are vastly more educated than the generation of their parents, and have many excellent ideas on how the development of this city should proceed in a way that is more sustainable for all.

Unfortunately, the potential for using this vast intellectual wealth is almost completely unrealised. Is it any surprise? The lack of real democracy, combined with the ineffectual state of public consultation, means there are few opportunities for the majority to have any real input into the planning and development process. The result is frustration, and students are responding by making their voices heard through the only outlet available to them: protests.

Instead of being critical of Hong Kong’s youth, we should be celebrating their ability to think independently, their desire to challenge the status quo and their willingness to provide an alternative discourse that this city so desperately needs. Isn’t this the whole point of education?

By rejecting the sycophancy demanded for far too long by Hong Kong’s self-serving elite, younger Hongkongers are demonstrating courage and a responsibility to their fellow citizens. It is with this group that the future of this city lies, and I have nothing but total admiration and respect for them.

James Williams, Tung Chung


Parents also in need of some sex education

I refer to your editorial (“Wiser solution to teen pregnancy”, October 5).

As the editorial said, undoubtedly, teenage pregnancy is not a big problem in Hong Kong. I completely agree with the editor’s point that the wisest solution to teen pregnancy is proper sex education at home and school.

It seems to me that local schools are doing performing quite well on providing sex education, but there is far too little parental involvement. is far from enough.

In Hong Kong, all primary and secondary schools are performing the Moral and Civic Education which includes sexual education. My school regularly usually invites social workers to discuss and teach about sex. They analyse the mental and physical aspects, creating a realistic portrayal of the consequences of teen pregnancy.

I received the message that I should only have sexual intercourse with the one to whom I am going to dedicate my life.

Most of the Hong Kong parents think it is exceedingly embarrassing to discuss sex with their children especially for my parents. Nevertheless some parents are welcome to talk about sex, they Some parents may not have proper sexual attitudes and lack knowledge about sex, or think it is embarrassing to discuss such matters. leading to instil sexual misconceptions in their children. Therefore, So perhaps schools should be teaching parents the proper sexual conception about sexual concepts and also how to discuss sex with their children. The best strategy to ensure make a significant decline in teen pregnancy is through a multifaceted approach.

Roy Wong, Yau Tong


Further ideas on recycling of mooncakes

I’d like to add to the letter by Wong Ming-yan (“Let them eat mooncake, so give to charity”, October 7. I agree that there is an enormous waste of mooncakes. The concept of the Mid- Autumn Festival is one of family reunions, so besides donating uneaten mooncakes to charity, I’d like to make another suggestion.

Mooncake packaging is often elabourate and can be reused. We can use The large tin could be used to keep cash or as a storage box. People who have a more artistic eye could redesign the packages. For example, my relatives have turned mooncake tins into candy boxes, which is nice.

I’m sure some organisations can hold activities and make suggestions about recycling mooncake packaging. Environmental protection needs more attention, so the organisations can cultivate residents’ green awareness this way. Mooncakes needn’t be a waste.

Heidi Chan Hoi-ting, Lam Tin