Letters to the Editor, April 30, 2013
All lives lost should be seen as the same
For chemical weapons read weapons of mass destruction. Western powers shall intervene in Syria, create another failed state that will become another fundamentalist justification for the global "war on terror" and then blame faulty intelligence that was accepted "in good faith".
The global arms business will continue to flourish as the pursuit of wealth by a few continues to blight the lives of millions. Does anyone seriously believe that Bashar al-Assad would provide the justification for another "shock and awe" abomination by perpetrating a very small, non-fatal chemical attack when he has huge superiority in conventional arms?
On the day that the evil attack was perpetrated on the Boston Marathon, two bombs killed more than 30 people in Baghdad but this result of a former "war of liberation" never even made a footnote on the televised news. Until the lives of all humanity are valued on the same scale, we shall continue to see atrocities committed both against us and in our name.
Mahatma Gandhi was once asked what he thought of Western civilisation and he replied that he thought it was a good idea. I, and many ordinary people, tend to agree.
John Bruce, Happy Valley
Vets undertake pioneering research
The report ("Leave research to medical schools, says vet chief", April 15) is misleading to the community, and disappointing to the veterinary profession.
Professor Y. S. Wong is not chief of Hong Kong veterinary surgeons, he is a government-appointed chairman of a government-appointed board that was neither elected nor approved by the veterinary profession. The board members do not represent the full scope of the profession and Professor Wong's comments suggest a lack of understanding of the scope of the veterinary profession his board is regulating.
Certainly his clarification of his comments in the letter ("Vets do very important research", April 24) is most welcome, but they only partly put the record straight.
It should be pointed out that there are plenty of veterinarians who have undertaken pioneering research on viruses in human medicine over the ages and to suggest certain groups of professionals have no role in certain areas of research is short-sighted and contradictory to academic freedom.
Some of the most important research into the pathologies of new and emerging human-animal diseases including avian influenza has been carried out in veterinary colleges by veterinary researchers. The food we produce and eat is safe because of research in veterinary colleges by veterinary academics. Improvements in several fields of medicine, including but not limited to assisted reproductive technologies, laparoscopic surgeries and cancer therapies, owe much to discoveries in theoretical and clinical veterinary research.
The World Health Organisation and the World Health Organisation for Animal Health recognise the importance of an equal partnership between all branches of medical and veterinary sciences to protect the health of all animals and humans, by developing their "One Health" initiative. The Hong Kong Medical Association has publicly endorsed the value of veterinary research within veterinary colleges.
Although the profession here has several opinions about the need for a veterinary college in Hong Kong, one wonders what justified Professor Wong's comparison between the animal health of Singapore and Hong Kong and his conclusion that the latter does not need a veterinary college. Surely an independent review is the best way to answer this question.
Professor Wong's comments reinforce the perception of the profession that the current structure of the Veterinary Surgeons Board is disconnected from the profession it regulates and has no interest in ensuring the standing of the veterinary profession.
Dr Anthony James, spokesperson for the Hong Kong Veterinary Association
Young singer had so much potential
I was very sorry to hear the news of Sita Chan's death ("Pop star Sita Chan dies after car hits barrier", April 18).
It is certainly a great loss to the local music industry.
With her powerful voice and sentimental performances, she won the hearts of the public. She was praised by many people and won TVB's best new female singer award which was an indication of the great potential that she had.
Being one of her fans, it saddens me that I will never again hear her singing any new songs or starring in films.
The tragedy of her death reminds us that life is fragile. We never know what will happen next.
Phyllis Ngai, Tsuen Wan
Democrats are threatening our freedoms
Democracy and freedom are not the same. I learned the distinction in practice when I arrived in colonial Hong Kong and this continues to be the case. We enjoy the widest range of freedoms while Hong Kong is not a democracy yet.
The great intellectual historian Isaiah Berlin distinguished a positive freedom from a negative freedom. Positive freedom is, roughly, the right to choose your leaders - a good thing.
Freedom in the negative sense means the possibility to choose many different ways of living without being coerced. For Berlin, this negative freedom is superior, true freedom, and we should prefer it. We can agree with him as we realise how precious our freedom is only when it is missing.
The most serious threats for freedom in Hong Kong come from the market maximalists, with their privileges and monopolies, and from the self-proclaimed democrats. The latest have not made any meaningful contribution to Hong Kong people's living standards, education, health care or clean air, all of which have been deteriorating since the handover. Paradoxically, while they pursue universal suffrage as the single point in the agenda, they are proving their inability to lead.
The self-proclaimed democrats are also giving democracy a bad name by using undemocratic means, the banana throwers and slogan chanters joining forces with some barristers and university professors. In their latest campaign like "Occupy Central", they will push the people to the streets.
They have nothing to lose for most have already secured a modicum of wealth, including apartments in London, and the best education for their children and grandchildren. That they put people's liberties at risk is not their concern. In promoting these tactics they commit the most despicable act, using the people as a means.
Juan Morales, Causeway Bay
Warm praise for a very honest cabbie
I am writing to enthuse over the superb dealings we had with the taxi drivers on our recent holiday in Hong Kong.
One driver in particular deserves special praise.
My wife and I had been shopping in Wan Chai in the pouring rain and we were looking for the pub Delaney's.
However, we did not know its location, and asked a taxi driver. He did not understand us and we could not speak Chinese.
However, the cabbie went into the foyer of a nearby hotel, got the address and took us there.
We went into the bar and it was only then I realised that I had left a bag of shopping in the taxi.
A good Samaritan in the bar, through the offices where he worked, tried to locate the taxi driver.
About 30 minutes later, the cabbie arrived with our bag and refused to accept the reward we offered him.
Unfortunately we do not know his name, but I have to praise his exceptional customer relationship and honesty.
John Mitchell, New Brighton, Merseyside, England
HK should be helping out quake victims
From a humanitarian point of view it would be right and proper to rescue any natural disaster victims, irrespective of who they are.
The recent earthquake which has resulted in heavy casualties in Sichuan deserves sympathy from the people and the business community in Hong Kong, both of which have acquired much economic benefit from the central government in Beijing.
The government of the Hong Kong SAR wanted to give a donation of HK$100 million to help with the relief effort.
The proposals proved controversial with some lawmakers, especially the pan-democrats, who were adamant that they would veto the financial aid on the grounds that past donations for disasters had been mishandled on the mainland with irregularities in the use of the money.
It was felt that cash that had been donated to the mainland had not got to the victims of the natural disaster.
I can understand the reasons for some legislators raising objections. However, we should accept that human greed is something that exists throughout the world.
I do not think it was tactful of them to say no to any donation. I think it would have been right and proper to provide money to help with relief efforts.
As to any possibilities of alleged graft, this should be the first concern of the central government which is trying to implement reforms under its new leadership.
Peter Wei, Kwun Tong