Letters to the Editor, April 15, 2013

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 April, 2013, 2:33am
 

Escalator not in step with a green campus

I am a regular visitor from the UK, although I lived in Hong Kong for many years before going back. I am delighted to see more attention given to environmental issues such as energy conservation, reduction of noise, air and water pollution, and the design and construction of sustainable and green buildings.

All these changes and improvement take a long time because people cannot change their habits overnight. Institutions of higher learning play a key role in educating the public, and instil in their students a stronger sense of environmental consciousness and sensitivity in building a sustainable future for society.

Universities in Hong Kong, each comprising thousands of students and staff, constitute sizeable communities that should set good examples with their environmental policies and efforts, so that students will engender a caring attitude towards each other, the environment and society.

As the mother of a son about to enter university, I am a regular visitor to Hong Kong's universities. The HKU Centennial Campus recently was awarded the highest performance platinum certification under LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for new construction and major renovations, in recognition of its high standards of green features and energy efficiency.

I am reasonably impressed with the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Lingnan University located in the New Territories, which naturally take advantage of their sites to provide students proper university campuses.

Baptist University has a modest provision, with its students and staff moving between an old and a new campus by modest means - by foot along pavements or footbridge.

City University has a new "gigantic" building with a monolithic staircase covering three storeys at one end of the campus while at the other end, an escalator runs parallel to a staircase, but covers only half a storey to connect the entrance level from the Festival Walk subway to the third level.

It baffles me why an electric escalator is needed to run all the time to carry so few people such a short distance. I wonder if its School of Energy and Environment has assessed the efficacy of such an amenity.

As parents, we try to set a good example for our children. We do expect our educators to do the same.

Eva N L Tan, Tsing Yi

 

How gender inequality harms society

I'm puzzled by Jim Robinson's stand on gender equality ("So-called equality may hurt society", March 27).

I think equality is not only about providing equal opportunities, but also about respecting the differences between two sexes.

Due to the influence of mass media and Chinese tradition in our society, however, we often deliberately separate the role and characteristics of two sexes. Men should be strong, muscular and protect women who should be tender, slim and weak. If a woman has short hair and is strong and assertive, she seems to be not a "real woman" but abnormal.

Given the predominance of gender stereotypes, those who diverge from such standard face huge pressure, and even discrimination. This restricts their personal development so they cannot reach their full potential. This, in turn, hurts society as people who are discriminated against cannot work to their best ability.

Are gender stereotypes necessary? Although men and women have different physical abilities, there are no reasons why they cannot be equals in their other abilities.

A man can take care of children well, and a woman can be a successful businesswoman. We should respect and celebrate the differences between the sexes, so we can live up to our aspirations.

Amy Kong Shuk-fan, Kwai Chung

 

Overreaction to same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage has been debated for a long time in Hong Kong, but it finally came to no conclusion mainly due to opposition from the city's influential Catholic lobby.

I feel their response was quite exaggerated, which is something I don't really understand.

I believe that the best way to maintain a stable society is to respect each other, even when we have different beliefs and attitudes - for example, Muslims and Jews do not eat pork, but this is their culture, but do they ask for a law to ban others in Hong Kong eating pork?

Polygyny and slavery were once encouraged by the Bible, but over the centuries this was proved wrong. Nothing is unchangeable, except minds.

I am not a lesbian, but I want to help protect the human rights of sexual minorities. That's the way they are, and they have done nothing wrong.

Shirley Lee, Tsuen Wan

 

Breaking the vicious cycle in Korea

Frank Sterle argues for building more anti-missile defence systems to secure ourselves from potential North Korean threats ("N Korean rants vindicate US missile shield", April 11).

But how many more systems do we need to invest in to safeguard ourselves? As we upgrade and modernise our protection, wouldn't others including adversaries like North Korea develop their technology too?

Wouldn't this spark a never-ending cycle of military spending on both sides? Surely this is not the best way to find long-term solutions to disputes.

North Korea threatened more missiles tests and said it was ready for war in response to US military exercises on the Korean Peninsula, including flying bombers close to the border, and against UN sanctions. The US took this action because of North Korea's threats.

It seems like both parties are deeply concerned about the other. There are no secrets to the cause of this conflict. The more one provokes the other, the more the other responds, and the conflict raises the risk of a nuclear war.

It would be sensible for the US and South Korea to carry out their joint exercises far away from North Korea, so that the North would not have a reason to threaten war or develop nuclear weapons in the first place. By the same token, the North must refrain from making threats that encourage the US and South Korea to conduct those exercises in return.

The threat of the US having nuclear weapons itself may have pressured the North Koreans, the Iranians and others to develop their own nuclear arsenals. Perhaps the US could become nuclear-free, or hand over their nuclear missiles to a UN agency, then other nations might not feel the pressure to have these weapons.

Edward Choi, Pok Fu Lam

 

Military drills raise tension in peninsula

People are growing more apprehensive about simmering tensions between the North and South Korea.

I am quite sceptical about the situation since the US and South Korea have been constantly urging North Korea to compromise while turning a blind eye to North Korea's aggressiveness.

The two allies have also held joint military exercises that have only angered the North, prompting it to pose nuclear threats in return. Their actions are paradoxical.

If South Korea, the US and the United Nations want to alleviate tensions and solve this issue in peace, then they ought to temporarily halt military drills and ease sanctions, so North Korea doesn't feel as threatened. The North, in turn, must make the well-being of its people its priority.

Sumar Chan, Tsuen Wan

 

Entrepreneurs alone did not build HK

Alex Lo has managed again to undermine his own argument within the space of his short column ("Take a risk - then fight for democracy", April 8).

By claiming that it was just "native entrepreneurship" that made Hong Kong great, he fails to grasp the interrelationship between rule of law, a trusted civil service, the checks and balances offered by a free press and a thriving free market.

More fundamentally, he fails to explain why people have such high expectations of government to get things done and solve problems.

It is counterintuitive to suggest that this was because of British colonial incompetence. By failing to recognise the combination of public sector stewardship and private sector dynamism that underpinned the city's success, he risks overemphasising one side of the equation and letting the current administration off the hook.

Chris White, Sai Ying Pun

 

Behind great woman was a great man

The debate over Margaret Thatcher rages on. Was she good, or was she bad?

Most commentators tend to agree that she was indeed good. But there is always a point missing in this debate, a figure moving in her shadow, a person that is often overlooked by devotees and critics alike.

Behind every great woman there is a great man. Denis was a successful businessman long before Margaret's rise to prominence in Great Britain.

Some are convinced that her business and financial reforms were devised by Denis and his circle of friends.

Angelo Paratico, Mid-Levels

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