Letters to the Editor, January 4, 2013
Dialogue, not resignation, is key to CY row
I am convinced that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's illegal structures saga has led to a serious erosion of trust in him.
However, I do not see any need for him to step down.
The saga has made people furious and fearful for the future of Hong Kong, but is it reasonable for him to resign before he has even given his policy address later this month?
Such a move would not be suitable for Hong Kong. Many of the policies he initiated are now in the process of being implemented. Maintaining stability in society is very important. I think chaos could ensue if he stepped down. It would not only take time to find a successor, but we would also face the cost of another chief executive election.
Therefore, it would be counterproductive for him to step down.
What C.Y. Leung and his team should now do is try to rebuild the image of the government.
The main reason Hong Kong people are furious with the administration is because they find officials' behaviour disappointing. Many people have lost trust in the government and no longer support it.
However, objecting to every policy initiative Leung introduces is not the right way for people to express their deep distrust of him, because it will undoubtedly slow down Hong Kong's development.
Only through a dialogue between citizens and the government can Hong Kong people solve the controversial livelihood problems that the city faces.
Maggie Law Wing-yi, Kwai Chung
India's urgent need for moral reckoning
While I was greatly saddened to learn about the gang rape of the 23-year-old medical student in New Delhi and her subsequent death, I was also upset by the decision of the Indian government to send her to Singapore for treatment when she was in the care of staff in India's finest hospital.
While I have not been happy with the government's response, as an Indian I feel admiration for the protests that we have seen from young people in the country.
I believe such protests will not end until we can be assured of positive changes in the country. India is supposed to be a land of spirituality.
I don't believe in the death penalty, but if such gruesome crimes are committed then the ultimate deterrent sends a message that the nation will not tolerate acts of rape.
We must raise the dignity of women and protect all the innocent children, men and women who suffer from abuse, who in some cases are treated no better than animals.
If only Indians studied the historical roots of their country and the ancient knowledge that was available, such karmic acts would not take place.
The country needs moral education and it needs it now.
Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels
Rape victim's hospital move was ill-advised
Regarding the tragic case of the 23-year-old woman who was gang-raped in Delhi, and who later died, it is alarming that the Indian government made the decision to fly her to a Singapore hospital.
I am concerned because it is widely known that India now has some of the best medical facilities and professionals in the world.
Surely, they had as good a chance of saving her life as doctors in Singapore, and common sense should have prevailed.
I cannot understand why the decision was made to move someone who was in such a critical condition.
I am also concerned that in the country, not enough is being done by the courts to bring rapists to justice and ensure they receive tough jail sentences.
K.M. Nasir, Mid-Levels
'Zero-birth' rule may be easily flouted
The rising trend of mainland women giving birth here has caused problems for Hongkongers.
In order to address this issue, a "zero-birth" quota has been imposed on mainland women who are not married to local residents.
However, an agency in Guangzhou claims it can get around the new rule and help mainland mothers obtain admission to private hospitals in Hong Kong.
Although such hospitals have denied any links with this agency, I have doubts about the effectiveness of the zero-birth measure.
If the agency's claims are true, then obviously some mainlanders are finding ways to circumvent the quota. Even though, as yet, there are actually no reported cases of the rule being flouted, officials must remain vigilant.
Yannis Mak Ka-yan, Tai Wai
Tougher screening of gun owners
I refer to the tragic shooting in the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, last month, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults, and devastated the community.
Clearly, the killer, Adam Lanza, had easy access to weapons because of the gun laws in the United States.
The laws exist, ostensibly, to ensure citizens can protect themselves, but I agree with those who argue that there must be a review of the policy.
Given the principle of self-protection behind gun laws, I realise a total firearms ban is not feasible in the country.
However, some changes have to be made to the present legislation.
There must be much closer screening of the background of individuals who go into stores and want to purchase a gun, including any information that might relate to a previous mental illness.
If they have a history of mental illness, they should be required to produce a letter from a suitably qualified physician, saying they do not present a threat to others and present no risk by owning a firearm.
If the authorities have any concerns about an individual, they should be entitled to question the person's friends, families and associates.
Given the shootings that have happened and [data on] those responsible for these tragedies, there should also be more support for people with mental health problems.
Also, all schools should employ security guards, and the schools themselves can help with education, ensuring that young people grow up recognising the importance of responsible gun ownership and emphasising that people should only buy firearms for their own protection.
Melody Wong, Tsuen Wan
Many missteps in Google's hiking maps
After all the warnings about using Apple's new maps, I think a note about Google's offering is also appropriate.
Recently Google started to add hiking trails to its maps in Hong Kong, allowing one to plan walks.
This is great, as long as those trails are actually there, and that is the problem that I ran into during some recent hikes where I specifically tried to follow some trails on Google Maps.
One trail that I found does exist. It is a concreted footpath, which runs partly over private property and is later so overgrown that it is impassable, and I simply could not find the other end of the trail.
Another trail was in even worse condition. While I actually saw some old ribbons in the trees where the trail should be, it was impossible to follow without heavy use of a machete to chop through the bushes.
And to add insult to injury, I have already found two paved footpaths that are completely absent from Google Maps.
For hiking purposes, the most reliable online map that I know of is the Open Street Map www.openstreetmap.org. It is far from complete, though so far I have been able to find the trails that are mapped.
The same cannot be said about the government's popular Countryside Series of maps, which also suffers from unmapped or lost trails.
Wouter van Marle, Tai Po
Why proposed waste charges are worth a try
There is no doubt that some people are trying their best to recycle reusable material, but most Hongkongers do not.
This shows that many of us are not aware of the environmental problems this city faces - or that some people do know the problems, but are not willing to rectify them.
I believe the government should implement a solid-waste charging scheme to ensure a reduction in volumes generated in the SAR every day.
As our landfills are expected to reach capacity by 2018, Hong Kong people need to think about reducing the amount of refuse.
A waste levy will act as an incentive by encouraging citizens to cut down on the amount of material they throw out for collection.
Some critics of the proposal say that individuals would simply put their bags of refuse into street bins to avoid paying any charges.
This problem can be avoided by reducing the number of rubbish bins on the street. It may inconvenience passers-by, including tourists, but it is worth doing as part of a waste-reduction strategy.
Hong Kong is our home and we should all play our part when it comes to environmental protection.
Jessie Tsoi, Tseung Kwan O