Letters to the Editor, February 5, 2013

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2013, 2:36am

China should get involved in arbitration

I refer to the article ("Message in a battle", January 26).

You reported that the Philippines was taking China's sovereignty claim in the South China Sea to the United Nations for arbitration. You also said that Beijing had 30 days to nominate its representative to be part of a five-judge panel to hear the case and that it was unlikely Beijing would nominate a representative, and it is doubtful it would "recognise the judgment of the panel, if it is not in China's favour".

Beijing's claim in the South China Sea is based on a map issued in 1948 by the then Kuomintang government in which 11 dotted lines were marked, subsequently changed to nine dotted lines by Premier Zhou Enlai , which nearly claimed the whole of the South China Sea to be Chinese territory. Prior to that date, no such demarcation appeared in any Chinese maps.

It is doubtful that any of the countries now involved in the dispute - the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam - even knew about the existence of such a map. Neither were there any agreements nor treaties signed with the countries involved before the Chinese nationalist government decided to put the lines on its map.

If Beijing really has a strong case to prove that the claimed area belongs to China, why should it refuse arbitration by an independent panel?

On the other hand, China's claim on the Diaoyu Islands is backed by strong historical proof. Would it not be better for China to accept international arbitration on both its South China Sea and its Daioyu Islands claims? If it does that, and Japan refuses arbitration, then we will know who has a weak case.

Alex Woo, Tsim Sha Tsui


One-child policy is outdated

I agree with those people who have argued that the one-child policy should be updated.

The one-child policy has been in place for more than 30 years.

We can see that this measure has helped to control the growth of the population. However , this policy has also caused a lot of problems.

For example, there have been cases of parents killing baby girls because they wanted a son. They felt they had no choice because of the restrictions imposed by the one-child policy. The policy has not been adopted in a humane way and, in some cases, is depriving a baby of the right to life.

I understand why the government introduced the policy and why it supports sticking with it. However, we are now living in the 21st century, and a policy that leads to children being killed is not right. The one-child policy is not the right way to control the population. It only treats the symptoms but not the root cause.

The government would be more effective if it educated people about birth control.

Officials need to ensure that all mainland citizens are educated on contraception. With good education, the government could do away with the one-child policy.

Julia Wong Yin-ching, Kwai Chung


Sport can curb smartphone addiction

There are constant advances in technology.

With each advance, new generations of smartphones are introduced on the market.

You see people looking at their smartphones all over Hong Kong, on the streets and on different forms of public transport, such as the MTR and buses.

Their habits have changed, because in the past they would mainly talk on an older-generation mobile phone. However, they have a lot more variety now because smartphones have a wide range of apps.

However, there is always the risk that young people will spend too much time on these devices and could become addicted to them.

Apart from the danger connected with any addiction, there are other health issues, such as staring at a small screen for too long and damaging their eyesight.

They also could damage their hands and necks and end up with chronic injuries from constantly pressing the various functions on the phone.

Adults should not stop young people from using their smartphones, but they must learn to limit the time they spend on them.

They should be encouraged to do other things, such as getting involved in sport, so that they spend less time on the smartphone. They need to strike the right balance and aim to have a healthy lifestyle.

Wong Tsz-yan, Tseung Kwan O


High rents killing firms, not wage hikes

We hear repeatedly that an increase in the minimum wage or the setting of standard working hours will kill businesses in Hong Kong.

This is shouted loudest by people with big property investments. And what do we read in the papers, another restaurant closed down in Causeway Bay as the rent increased from HK$300,000 to HK$600,000 for a 1,000-sq-ft area.

I do not know how many workers were employed in this small restaurant, but I assume that even their total salary bill will not add up to HK$300,000 per month as you can employ 60 to 70 people at the current minimum wage for that.

Crazy rents and property prices are killing businesses and we should fight them rather than a small increase in the minimum wage.

Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay


Get tougher with drivers who drink

I agree with those people who argue that drink drivers get lenient treatment.

It is becoming a serious problem in Hong Kong and until it is addressed and dealt with by the government, it will get worse, with more casualties caused by people who get behind the wheel of a car when they are intoxicated.

Innocent people are injured and even killed by the actions of drink drivers.

The government has tried to tackle the problem by introducing random breath tests. However, some drivers are going to slip through the net.

The maximum penalties of HK$25,000 and up to three years' imprisonment are not tough enough.

The maximum fine should be dramatically increased and victims and their families should also be entitled to some compensation in order to restore some stability in their lives.

Drivers need to practise greater self-discipline and realise that if they are caught driving while over the limit, they will be severely punished by the courts.

Vanessa Yeung, Kwai Hing


Free-for-all education is nonsensical

I disagree with your editorial ("HK schools must open doors to all", January 31). It should say ("HK schools must open doors to all resident taxpayers").

People who do not pay Hong Kong tax do not deserve to enjoy the benefits provided by those who do - including free education and health care and the occasional HK$6,000 cash handout.

The tax base in Hong Kong is too narrow - most people do not pay tax - and therefore are not affected by the carrots and sticks that taxes offer to nudge behaviour - sometimes even in the right direction.

We need to raise the minimum wage and lower the salaries tax threshold, while providing means-tested benefits so that the poor are not penalised.

Unless we decide to introduce worldwide taxation, like the Americans, we do not have a responsibility to care for non-resident "permanent residents".

The benefits of living in Hong Kong should be reserved for those who actually live here, and pay tax.

Jason Brockwell, Tuen Mun


Britain will be better off outside EU

I refer to your editorial ("EU vote could imperil Britain", January 31).

You say if Britain left the EU, it would damage the country's economy.

Britain has an enormous deficit. Our debt is out of control, and many businesses are shutting down every week. This economic disaster story is reflected across the whole of Europe. Unemployment among young people in some EU countries is now over 50 per cent, Greece is virtually bankrupt, and other EU countries are trapped in a cycle of debt, recession, and mass unemployment.

While EU politicians and employees enjoy a taxpayer- funded champagne lifestyle in Brussels, millions of people in the EU are unemployed, homeless, and poor. This abomination known as the European Union has done enough economic and social damage to our country and Europe.

Most people in Britain, and many in other EU countries, seek a referendum on EU membership in order to end the stampede towards the erasing of our nation states, to be supplanted by an undemocratic socialist super state, an aim which has long been the dream of Europe's socialist left.

Most EU politicians are terrified of holding any referendum. They know the British people will vote "no", and then their gravy-train will come to a shuddering halt.

Then, and only then, will the people of Europe be free from the economic misery caused by the EU, and we can begin to hope that real democracy can once again flourish.

Scott Davies, Causeway Bay