Letters to the Editor, March 22, 2013
HK must play its part in Xi's national dream
Being a long-time resident of Hong Kong, I read with a great deal of interest what China's new president, Xi Jinping, was reported in the media to have said about a Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.
He was quoted as saying in China Daily that all Chinese people deserved an equal opportunity to have "a prosperous life, see their dreams come true and benefit together from the country's development".
As Hong Kong is part of China, it is my belief that all permanent residents of Hong Kong are deserving of such equal opportunities to enjoy a prosperous life and see their dreams come true. By the same token, I believe Hong Kong people should be prepared to give full co-operation to the new leadership and government to realise that dream for everyone in the years ahead.
In outlining the country's strategic mission for the next five years, newly elected Premier Li Keqiang was reported to have said at his inaugural press conference that the government would focus on growth, welfare and social justice, and that he vowed to press ahead with reforms, as well as ensure the rule of law and national prosperity.
Premier Li, who visited Hong Kong over a year ago, also told the press that compatriots from Hong Kong were "hard-working and smart". He described Hong Kong society as "open, inclusive and vigorous".
I believe that under "one country, two systems", a concept that is recognised and respected by the central government, Hong Kong people will make a significant and sustainable contribution towards the modernisation and peaceful rejuvenation of China and its 1.3 billion people.
To make sure this happens, we in Hong Kong must steadfastly nurture our core values and strive to upgrade the quality of our knowledge, skills and living environment.
Together with Leung Chun-ying, the chief executive, we should work together and have give-and-take, all for the common good of Hong Kong and the nation. By doing so, Hong Kong will be able to endure as China's No1 global city for a long time to come.
Hilton Cheong-Leen, To Kwa Wan
Sabre-rattling by North could backfire
There is no justification for North Korea's threats of a "pre-emptive nuclear attack".
Its leaders must realise that their comments pose a threat to the whole world.
Pyongyang should appreciate that the present peace between North and South Korea was forged out of a bloody history and that the North, like all nations, should try to maintain that peace.
North Korea is being naive, but it must understand what could ultimately be the destructive consequences for its people if it starts a conflict.
Celia Cheng Wing-mei, Kwai Chung
University should get disputed land
There has been a great deal of discussion over whether the former Lee Wai Lee campus in Kowloon Tong should become the site of a luxury apartment development or be turned over to Baptist University for educational use.
I believe it would show a lack of long-term vision if the university's proposal to build a Chinese-medicine teaching hospital was rejected.
Hong Kong has made great progress as a centre of finance, as well as in re-exports and tourism.
But a high level of education provides the elites needed to ensure the city's long-term development.
Admittedly, rezoning the land for luxury flats will increase housing supply and will definitely benefit the large construction companies, but this will not help the grass roots or even the middle class.
By contrast, if the land is allocated to the university to establish a Chinese-medicine teaching hospital, it will help advance this field of medicine in Hong Kong.
It will also enable Baptist University to have more resources and important facilities where research work can be carried out.
This kind of research can help with the breakthroughs that are needed in Chinese medicine.
We need people with wisdom and the ability to have long-term vision, who do not just focus on the economy.
Other societies are moving forward in fields like medicine and Hong Kong has to be able to keep pace with them.
Ben Yu Chun-leung, Tsuen Wan
Courts are too soft on animal abusers
It is horrific that baby turtles are included in bags of good-luck charms being sold in Beijing ("In luck?", March 8).
If this had happened in Hong Kong, both seller and buyer would face animal abuse charges. Thanks to the efforts of animal welfare groups here, people are now becoming more aware that cruelty is wrong and such barbarity should not be allowed to happen.
I am, however, gobsmacked that the maximum fine for carrying more than two cans of baby formula across the border is HK$500,000 - but for animal cruelty, it is only HK$200,000.
Isn't life more precious than a can of powder? Perhaps not, judging from the paltry penalties being meted out recently by our judges for cases of extreme cruelty.
Only when we take animal rights more seriously can we call ourselves a civilised society.
Joan Miyaoka, Sha Tin
Mainland food safety at centre of milk row
I can understand that some mainlanders will be angry about the restrictions on the amount of milk powder cans they can take over the border. But Hong Kong mothers should not have to stand for shortages and high prices, and they should not be blamed for what is happening.
One of the main causes of a thriving parallel trade was mainlanders' lack of confidence in their domestic products. They knew that milk formula purchased here would not contain melamine.
The people to blame are the manufacturers and the merchants who sold tainted milk. Instead of getting into arguments with Hongkongers, mainland citizens should be urging their government to tighten food safety controls.
The SAR administration was right to introduce the restriction on milk formula milk sales.
I disagree with critics who say it will exacerbate tensions between mainlanders and Hongkongers. Relations between the two groups would have gotten even worse if the government had not dealt with the shortage.
Alice Wan Ka-yan, Kwun Tong
Segregation still confronts ethnic students
A report in The New York Times on March 10 on the state of [ethnic] minority education in Hong Kong was extremely troubling.
The creation of "designated schools" seems more about not having to take responsibility for children from minority families than addressing children's educational needs in a 21st century "world city".
In 2006, the government announced its intention to introduce legislation prohibiting racial discrimination and, in the same year, the then-named Education and Manpower Bureau established "designated schools" for children from minority families. Giving credence to discrimination while decrying it shows that our government is not serious about ending discriminatory practices in Hong Kong.
When local schools move from an English to Chinese medium, they are awarded huge grants to ensure the provision of high-quality, appropriate support for mainland students. Why can't the same be granted to minority students?
A majority of minority children are Hong Kong citizens by birth. It is sad they are being robbed of integration into mainstream public schools. Full immersion with extension or support classes for Chinese is the fairest and best option.
Separate schools exclude rather than embrace. It is the surest way of enforcing differences and robbing children of their dignity and self-esteem.
All children, irrespective of race, creed or culture, deserve the same opportunities in education. To deny children this basic right is to rob them and their families of fair opportunity at every level in society.
Betty Bownath, Ho Man Tin
An injustice played out on our pavements
On Saturday, March 9, after 9pm, I saw two policemen forcing a couple of buskers in Causeway Bay to pack up and move on.
The street they were on had been cordoned off as a pedestrian mall and nobody seemed to be in any particular rush.
I wondered why the officers were hassling these young people. Perhaps they didn't have the requisite permit to busk. It's ironic that the police fail to take action on others who don't have the right permits.
In fact, officers regularly turn a blind eye to the cars that are often parked near Sogo or any of the high-end fashion shops around Causeway Bay while their tai-tai owners are inside grabbing a few bargains.
While I admit it is a lot easier to crack down on a busker than take on a wealthy car owner who has the right connections, I would like to think (perhaps naively) that the Hong Kong police ultimately answer to the people, rather than the fat cats.
David Walker, Causeway Bay