Letters to the Editor, November 3, 2012

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 November, 2012, 2:45am

Differentiating legal and illegal trade

I refer to your editorial ("Make ivory the new shark's fin", October 24). The proposition that Hong Kong should regard any use of elephant ivory and shark fins as equally shameful, in order to better serve conservation interests, is in need of clarification.

All elephant species and subspecies are on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), which constitutes international, expert acceptance that their wild populations are threatened by international trade.

Only three of 440 species of sharks and rays are listed on Cites, and are on Appendix II, meaning they could become threatened in the future unless trade is controlled. Although legal trade in stockpiled ivory is occasionally sanctioned, current concerns are about the mounting illegal trade.

Trade in shark fin is legal. It is exported legally by countries all over the world and imported legally into Hong Kong. With African elephants, which provide most illegal ivory, there is a north-south spilt over the best ways to conserve, manage and sustainably use elephants.

In round figures, the 10 nations in southern Africa have 90 per cent of the African elephant population, they are secure and increasing in number, and the nations petition Cites regularly for the right to trade in excess ivory. In contrast, the 30-plus countries in north, central and west Africa, have 10 per cent of the population, and 90 per cent of the problems with illegal poaching and trade.

We should all act to curtail illegal trade in elephants and sharks, but opposing legal trade as well hurts the countries trying to manage their resources sustainably and legally.

Charlie Lim, chairman, conservation and management committee, Marine Products Association

Outrage over careless loss of officer's notes

I felt outrage when I read the report ("Constable leaves 18 notebooks on a bus", October 31).

There have been other similar incidents involving police officers recently. When something like this happens, it can have far-reaching implications for all those involved.

It also undermines public confidence in the work of the Hong Kong Police Force, which is unfortunate given the important role it plays in maintaining public order. At all times, officers must handle confidential documents properly. They must ensure that no personal data is inadvertently disclosed to a third party. If people lose confidence in the police force, then this can make it a less efficient instrument of law enforcement.

There are also fears information in these notebooks could be misused and some details might even appear on the internet. Even after the documents are found, while missing, someone could have copied them.

The government must act swiftly and guarantee tighter supervision of such documents in future. And officers need to develop the right work attitude and be vigilant at all times when in possession of such material.

Cherry Lam Yuen-ying, Chai Wan

Stadium is not the right target for scrapping

Scrapping the proposed sports stadium to make way for housing at the former Kai Tak airport site was actually a good idea in principle, but was directed at the wrong target.

Instead, the government should scrap the cruise terminal it is building using taxpayers' money, which developers always thought too risky to operate and takes up most of the space available at the planned sports hub. Housing would fit perfectly where the cruise terminal is supposed to be.

Why Kai Tak was never considered for a park like Central Park in New York just shows that providing space and living quality for everyone in Hong Kong was never a priority for the previous government. Can it become such for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying?

Niall Murray, Lamma 

SFC's financial woes sets a poor example

It is interesting to note that the Securities and Futures Commission, which tells financial institutions and brokers how to run their business, is in the red ("SFC goes into red as fees run dry", October 31).

Surely if it is so expert at telling people how to run their business and employs experts in finance to oversee the market, it should not get itself into such a situation.

I note that the SFC is to pay double its current rent. Surely any business in the current climate would be looking to reduce costs, not double them.

Who is managing this organisation?

Is this another case of civil servants in Hong Kong being totally out of touch with reality?

Michael Jenkins, Central 

Civic teaching can help stop discrimination

Hong Kong is a multiracial city, but people from ethnic minorities often find they are ignored by Hongkongers.

Despite this, it is important to accept the multicultural nature of our society.

The government has tried to minimise any conflicts between different groups by passing legislation to curb racial discrimination. However, I think the best way to achieve mutual understanding is through education.

A civic curriculum in a school is important as it helps students to learn more about the country they live in, but this may be more difficult for students from ethnic minorities as they might find it harder to develop a sense of belonging.

This could change if schools had a civic curriculum promoting multiculturalism in our society.

Racial discrimination often results from a misunderstanding about the cultures of other people.

This can be avoided with the right approach being taken by schools in the classroom so that ethnic Chinese and non-Chinese students can have an appreciation of each other's cultures.

I think it would be preferable to a mainland-focused education programme and can help ethnic minority students develop a sense of belonging to society.

This should be the purpose of any civic curriculum.

From my point of view, just teaching mainland-focused national education in the classroom is a form of racial discrimination. It will not help students from ethnic minorities develop a genuine sense of belonging to the nation or learn about it and its culture.

Multiculturalism is a more effective means of fostering harmonious relations in society.

Karen Shek, Ma On Shan

High price of pills demands explanation

As per my doctor's instruction, I use one Zocor pill daily to control my cholesterol level at a cost of HK$250 per box of 30 tablets.

During my summer holiday in Europe, I ran out of stock and had to buy this medication in a bona fide pharmacy in Spain.

For exactly the same packet, shape and colour of these pills, I paid €2.34 (HK$23.50).

As I suspected that this small sum was a typing error (€2.34 instead of €23.40), I went to another pharmacy and to my pleasant surprise I was again charged €2.34 per box.

This is only 10 per cent of the price I have paid in the past 10 years to a registered Hong Kong pharmacy.

This is outrageous and I wonder if the Hong Kong Medical Council or the chairman of the relevant association of pharmacists would care to comment.

Joop Litmaath, Stanley

Commendable kindness by HK people

I have recently returned to the UK from a stay in Hong Kong.

I write to express my thanks to those Hong Kong citizens who came to my aid when I inexplicably fainted one morning near my hotel in Austin Road.

I was immediately assisted by concerned passers-by, tissues were produced to tend my cuts and bruises, someone produced a wheelchair from somewhere so I could sit and recover for a few minutes, and someone else made sure my wallet, phone and other possessions were still intact.

While I would hope the same kindness would be offered to a foreigner collapsing on the streets of London or any other large British city, I am sadly not totally confident that passers-by in these cities would do as well in this matter as the people of Kowloon.

Ian Stone, Cardiff, Wales

Parents must be proactive in sex education

Education is a crucial way to lower the teenage pregnancy rate in Hong Kong.

The problem here may not be as serious as in other societies, but we have to be aware that could change in the future.

Teenagers are naturally curious about many things including sex and so it is important that schools have thorough sex education courses.

However, parents should not just depend on schools. Hong Kong is a very conservative society and while some parents may be reluctant, they must discuss the subject with their children, so they are aware of the risks involved, including unwanted pregnancies.

Annie Tang, Tseung Kwan O