Letters to the Editor, March 19, 2013

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 March, 2013, 5:20am

Banners offend locals and visitors

I am writing as a concerned citizen of Hong Kong, on the issue of the banners that have been proliferating around this city in recent times.

I believe readers will know which banners I am referring to. The cacophony of small, medium, large, man-sized and beyond-man-sized banners erected by the Falun Gong and its opposite number, Hong Kong Youth Care Association, which are particularly concentrated in high-density areas and tourist destinations such as Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui.

Freedom of speech is a core value for many Hongkongers, and I do believe both organisations must have the right to air their views in public, no matter how controversial either party might be.

But while these organisations have a right to speech, they do not have the freedom to monopolise public spaces (to the extent that they are doing so), and to a certain extent, psychologically harass the tens of thousands of citizens and visitors who pass by their banners each day.

Yes, it has reached the point of psychological harassment. If this were the United States, I would perhaps have sued both parties for psychological trauma.

If both organisations want to air their views, there are more appropriate ways of doing so. Right now, all that is aired is hot air and instead of a dialogue, both organizations are guilty of, one, contributing to public disorder in Hong Kong (instead of just one, as one party alleges) and, two, thrashing Hong Kong's reputation in the eyes of both locals and visitors alike.

Each day of inaction further drags Hong Kong - and every citizen here - through the mud.

Even in local universities, we have designated times and areas for promotional activities.

Bernard Chan, Sheung Shui


Teens need change of philosophy

I refer to the letter by Kate Chan ("Shopping sprees bad for city's teens", March 13).

Shopping sprees are supposed to be therapy for the stressed-out among us, or so I am told by those who purport to know about these things.

Brought up, as I was, in the north of Scotland, I did not realise that money was for spending.

People actually enjoy spending money? Really? People do it to relieve their stress? Spending hard-earned cash is enjoyable? I simply cannot, even decades later, take in the concept.

Maybe today's teenagers need to repeat a hundred times over, before entering a shopping mall, that well-known Scottish guide on handling money, passed down from mother to daughter in long ago times, "Mony a mickle maks a muckle" ("Many little bits make a lot.")

Maybe we should tell our young people that the best things in life are free. It is better by far than getting into debt. What better than to walk in the hills with the wind in your hair, or to splash in the sea? What better than to go for a cycle run, or a picnic in the sunshine?

What better for our teenagers to feel a challenge to their strength and endurance? The feeling of triumph afterwards?

Where is the triumph in spending money? The triumph belongs to the shopkeeper.

The fruits of the things you can't see are in the memories forever.

Helen Heron, Sai Kung


Issue special masks on bad pollution days

One of your Facebook bloggers commenting on Beijing's air pollution, said, "I wonder how humans can live there."

That made me wonder what she thinks of the great amounts of filthy air which we humans in Hong Kong have been subjected to lately - not to mention over the past several years.

Back in 2003 in the days of the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, I had bought a special N95 face mask that had a small air filter in front.

Knowing that the ordinary flat face masks don't really offer much protection, I hunted around town recently for that special type and only found the thick round ones which are used by construction workers.

I finally found the special ones at Victoria Dispensary in Central but learned that they only sell in bulk for HK$300 a box.

Is there any chance that the Department of Health would distribute those masks to the public whenever pollution levels reach as high as they have been doing lately, the same way that several public buildings have installed hand-disinfecting devices for the public?

And wouldn't it be wonderful if oxygen stations were installed in those areas with the highest pollution levels?

I would gladly join the gaspers and pay, say, HK$50 for 10 to 15 minutes a go to give my lungs some relief.

Isabel Escoda, Lantau


Freedom of press should not be abused

It was irritating to read the letter by Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, chairwoman of the Civic Party (" 'Sue me also' campaign about freedoms", February 20).

She was upset by Alex Lo's criticism ("Leung is stupid, but so are his critics", February 13) of her defence of Joseph Lian Yi-zheng's allegedly defamatory article in the Hong Kong Economic Journal and her bizarre action of uploading the article on Facebook and inviting Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to sue her for libel if he felt he had a case.

Lo refers to Leung's lawyer's letter which claimed that Lian's "opinion piece" was defamatory as "it purportedly claims Leung has triad links". Lian based his story on hearsay and suggested that readers should cross-check the facts to make their judgment.

Since Lian and the Journal did not have evidence to support the allegation of triad links (which the paper's editor now denies it or the author made), what prompted him to write the article? Ms Eu alleges that public figures often face criticisms which are neither fair nor accurate.

Does she consider that Lian is entitled to accuse the chief executive at will under the disguise of freedom of speech?

Lo criticised Leung as being stupid for sending a lawyer's letter to Lian. This is even more irritating.

Leung believes he was defamed in the media. Does Lo expect him to swallow it? How would the public judge him had he reacted differently?

Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are cherished values which should not be abused. The person at the helm of a political party should guide her members to play a positive role in our community.

What we have seen of the Civic Party leads only to disappointment.

Sam Wong, Sha Tin


Good news for shark traders, consumers

I refer to the report ("New trade restrictions likely to take bite out of shark fin imports", March 13).

It reported that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, meeting, in Bangkok earlier this month, agreed to become active, at a global level, in shark fisheries.

For fishermen, fishing nations, traders and consumers of sharks' meat, fins, oil, cartilage and teeth, this is indeed welcome news.

After decades of deliberation, about whether or not the strict Cites controls can be implemented with commercial fisheries, the parties have decided to go ahead in a spirit of co-operation.

The goal is to fish sharks more responsibly, with better management, so that no species become threatened by trade. Consumers will be able to eat shark products without the stigma of undermining conservation.

For developing nations, with limited fisheries management capacity, the Cites decision will help raise the resources they need to improve management. Cites has not banned trade or banned the use of shark fin; the opposite is the case. Cites will promote trade that is legal, sustainable and verifiable.

All sides of the shark fin debate are ultimately united in achieving this goal.

This is good for consumers, traders, food security, poverty alleviation, sharks and ultimately the marine ecosystems upon which so much fisheries production depends.

Charlie Lim, chairman, Conservation and Management Committee, Marine Products Association


Cabbies are also very bad drivers

I refer to the letter by Peter Robertson ("Unpleasant trips thanks to HK bus drivers", March 13).

I could not agree more with what he has stated, but this is based on not any bus rides, but the many trips in a taxi taken these past two years.

Almost every single taxi driver would fit into your correspondent's description. The taxi drivers, for no rhyme or reason, seem to want to either press or release the accelerator , causing jerks and feelings of discomfort, so much so, my little son who has mild travel sickness simply refuses to get into a taxi.

This happens even on the drive to the airport, where sometimes there's no other car around for miles. One wonders if this is due to poor driver training. Now it appears it is just not taxi drivers, but bus drivers as well who have the same terrible driving habits.

Could the authorities take note and launch a drive that promotes better driving skills across the board?

A. B. John, Kowloon Tong