Letters to the Editor, April 21

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 April, 2013, 4:56am

True patriots should reject sabre rattling

The danger of a conflict between China and Japan over islands in disputed waters, such as the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, is always possible, given the rise of militarism in both countries.

Although both nations have suffered terribly in the past because of war, history teaches us that when the suffering of past wars is forgotten, a new generation can easily revive the same militaristic ethos which led to earlier disasters.

A recent example was seen in the United States where, once the second world war and the huge losses of the Korean and Vietnam wars were behind them, the nation's political representatives supported and funded the Pentagon and its ambitious warrior class.

The result? Decades of foolish and wasteful military adventures in the Middle East that have incurred the animosity of the Muslim world, and cost more than US$1 trillion; the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York; and the collapse of America's moral leadership in world affairs.

Why should we be shocked or surprised?

This reality has been repeated for centuries by all the great powers and empires - Britain, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Japan and Germany, and it will eventually be repeated by China as rash and ambitious PLA warriors continue to dream of "glorious victories".

Notice how mainland officials use state-controlled media to stir up popular anger to bolster their own goals. They spend enormous sums of money to produce advanced weaponry, while neglecting citizens' health, safety and education.

These types of military leaders always cite "patriotism" to justify their ambitions.

Now it's the task of the media and true lovers of their nations to expose and condemn military adventurism, a form of social cancer in our modern world. If war is so fearful, so terrible, why do we keep subsidising and honouring warriors - those who plan and make war?

Didn't the Nuremberg trials after the second world war condemn and punish war criminals? Should we in Asia still allow such warped mentalities as sponsoring military aggression to endanger our peace?

J. Garner, Sham Shui Po


OK to push inconsiderate straphangers

After I managed to squeeze onto an MTR train during the morning rush hour on Tuesday, my face was pressed so tightly against the doors by overcrowding that they closed on my glasses, bending the frame.

While the platform assistants are doing a good job, they could be more helpful. They could be more proactive in ensuring more standing room is created by urging the passengers already inside the train to move away from the direction of the incoming passengers.

I noticed these assistants merely ask the on-board passengers to move but they are usually ignored. These passengers need to be strongly urged, and even pushed physically if necessary, to make room for the entering passengers.

I have noticed that usually there is still standing room on the far side of a compartment, but on-board passengers stand holding on to poles and overhead supports, reluctant to move away from the centre. Their refusal to be considerate results in passengers having to wait for the next train.

H. Hiew, Sheung Shui


Place legal limit on shop rent increases

Things are becoming more and more expensive largely due to the increasingly high rents shops have to pay, with shop owners passing on the cost to shoppers.

The government should do something to counter the effect of retail monopolies created by big companies such as The Link Management, which owns much of Hong Kong's retail space.

Although the government provides some public markets where prices are more affordable, it has little effect on the prices of many goods available only in the shopping malls.

It should introduce laws to control the rents raised by the big retail monopolies such as The Link, and to prevent them being increased too frequently. Otherwise, the living standard of Hong Kong people will continue to suffer.

Ella Kwok, Kwai Chung


Smartphones, a blessing or a curse?

Smartphones are so popular nowadays. Everyone on the streets has one.

They make our lives easier, help us connect with people in an instant and have all those wonderful widgets and apps. We are guaranteed to have an amazing experience with no dull moments. But have readers realised when the device has taken over such a large part of their lives that they don't have time to do other stuff?

Well, I have. I signed up for a data plan six months ago, and now I regret it.

Since I got internet on my phone, I've been using my phone 24/7 for online texting, Facebook, Instagram and games. I use my phone when I eat, when I do my homework, before I sleep… I simply use it whenever I can.

So much of my time is spent on my smartphone, I wasn't aware of it until recently, when my mother scolded me for using my phone too often.

The fact is, we don't use our phone for a prolonged period of time, but we use it every now and then. The time we spend on it accumulates until in total we are spending hours on our phones without realising it.

Using our smartphones too often not only creates problems with our time management, it may also lead to health problems. According to a recent study, frequent users of phones may suffer fatigue, headaches, tension and sleep disturbance.

They may also experience phantom vibration syndrome, which causes anxious phone users to mistakenly "feel" their device is vibrating.

Besides, using our phones too often may result in repetitive strain injuries, which may lead to serious medical problems.

Smartphones present a double-edged sword. If we use them wisely, they can help us in a lot of ways. If we don't use them wisely, we will only end up occupying a lot of time without accomplishing anything.

Jinnie Lin Ching-yee, Tsing Yi


Data opt-in would reduce paper waste

I couldn't agree more with L. Chang's letter ("People should have opt-in choice over personal data", April 16) regarding data privacy.

The paper waste from masses of unwanted mailed adverts generates an added burden on our environment. This is another angle missed by our legislators.

Albert Tong, Quarry Bay


Health care lacking for the less well off

The experience of a friend of mine has made me realise how weak the Hong Kong welfare system is, especially as regards medical provision.

My friend's middle-aged mother, the breadwinner of her family, injured her spine and as a result was told by her doctor not to stand or sit for long periods. She had to stop working until fully recovered.

Without the money for an urgent operation on her back, she had no choice but to wait for an operation at a public hospital. My friend had to quit his studies to earn money for their daily expenses.

In the same way other young people also might lose their chance in life because of the shortcomings of the medical welfare system.

All citizens are the capital of a country and thus, I think the government should do something to change this situation.

First, the government should invest more to provide cheaper medical treatment and employ more medical personnel, cutting waiting times.

The government could seek to improve its provision of medical welfare services by modelling their delivery on the French social security system, Protection Sociale. This is funded by significant contributions from all employers and employees to pay for a range of benefits.

Hong Kong's less well off people cannot afford to pay large sums for medical treatment or to wait a long time for an operation or cure. They deserve more, and better, help.

Cheung Ka-wan, Tuen Mun


Strike evokes memories of union legend

Your news photo on the front page of the City section, showing Maritime Union of Australia members joining local port strikers ("Dock contractor sweetens pay offer", April 17) brings to mind the Australian-born labour unionist who was the spirit behind the dockworkers' movement in San Francisco almost a century ago.

Melbourne-born Harry Bridges moved to San Francisco and helped establish the International Longshoreman's and Warehousemen's Union in the 1930s. He organised strikes not only of workers at the docks but also of those at warehouses and transport facilities. For this he was labelled a Communist.

In 1958, when he wanted to marry a Japanese-born woman, he was at first prevented from doing so because of California 's anti-miscegenation law, but it was soon repealed.

In 2001, a plaza in San Francisco was dedicated in his honour on his 100th birthday. He had died aged 88 in 1990.

So the Australian labour unionists, by joining the Hong Kong dock strikers, were apparently following in Harry Bridges' admirable footsteps.

Isabel Escoda, Lantau