Yaan earthquake

Letters to the Editor, May 1, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 May, 2013, 2:32am


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UK's problems down to Blair, not Thatcher

I refer to Kevin Rafferty's article ("Britain's economy labours in the shadow of Thatcher's none-too-splendid legacy", April 20).

Britain's burdens today are the result of Tony Blair's and Gordon Brown's 13 years, not those of Margaret Thatcher.

Theirs is the legacy of financial crisis, blown-out public finances, welfare dependency, a fragmented union, failed foreign adventures, broken borders, a broken military and the Eurobabble that Britain now labours under.

The British economy is not "still in decline", relative to the date of her arrival, nor is the pound, nor is manufacturing (still about the same percentage of the economy as then and as the US today), and the increase in the trade deficit is the product of money printing and zero interest rates which she would have abhorred. Thank goodness for being able to devalue. The City of London was an ossified cartel and its opening was a huge boon to British industry and created hundreds of thousand of new jobs.

The "fat cat" thing came later, under Blair and Brown, as the city financed their huge expansion in government patronage and spending.

Blair and Brown were left a full treasury, a strike-free, humming economy and the lowest participation of the state in the economy since the 1930s.

They wrecked it all and we are now not being helped by a party which Thatcher would not recognise as Conservative.

A very large majority of British people would now agree with her on Europe, "perhaps the greatest folly of the modern era" as she prophesied.

Large numbers of people and statesmen now believe this too and the jury is out on Europe's future and Germany's role in it. Deng Xiaoping and the Chinese leadership held Thatcher in high regard and everyone in Hong Kong in the know is certain that she negotiated the best available deal for Hong Kong and its people, including me.

She was not perfect but, unlike Blair and Brown, she left Britain in a much better standing philosophically, economically and in the world than she found it. If Mr Rafferty has the time, I can take him through it, point by point.

Christopher J. Howe, managing director, Anglo Chinese Corporate Finance Limited


What really motivates Li's philanthropy?

I refer to the letter from Amy Au of the Li Ka Shing Foundation ("Behind clichés, tycoon Li is a force of good", April 26).

We all know Li Ka-shing is a major philanthropist. While he earns the nickname "superman" in business, he also has an image of a ruthless tycoon. There is nothing wrong with that.

Perhaps Miss Au could explain why Hongkong International Terminals has raised container terminal charges over the past 15 years despite Hong Kong shippers' complaints. Yet it has only become public knowledge during the current strike that terminal workers are still earning wages at 1997 levels.

This is a moral issue. It is the way a businessman earns his money that defines him in the hearts of the community. If he exploits his workers, then philanthropy becomes only a tool of spiritual redemption.

Tony Yuen, Mid-Levels


Good deeds should always begin at home

I refer to the letter by Amy Au, manager of the Li Ka Shing Foundation ("Behind clichés, tycoon Li is a force for good", April 26).

Why can't Li Ka-shing first "do good" by providing workers in his companies with good wages, benefits and conditions before dispensing funds for the "underprivileged in society"?

Wouldn't it be better if his concern started "at home" first? Perhaps if workers were treated decently and their labour accorded due respect, there would be fewer "underprivileged", as they would have the opportunity to rise, like Li and others who did well in decades past.

Jennifer Eagleton, Tai Po


Education can help cut gun crimes in US

Americans argue that they must be entitled to carry a gun for protection, but I wonder how much genuine protection it offers them. With more guns estimated to be in circulation than the population of America, there is clearly a safety issue.

The country should be trying to think of ways to prevent shooting tragedies.

Greater gun control is one possible solution, as is education.

It is important that the message gets through to young people that they have to take responsibility for their actions if they discharge a weapon.

Kennis So, Kwai Chung


We cannot ignore plight of quake victims

I agree with Edward Ng that people can get directly involved and help with the Sichuan earthquake relief efforts ("Direct action would avoid donor waste", April 26). However, that does not mean the government should not donate money to the mainland.

Some Hongkongers argue that the donation will be abused because of corruption north of the border.

Activists say this happened after the 2008 quake and could happen again. The debate has not been helped by the recent deteriorating relationship between Hong Kong people and mainlanders. These differences have often come about through misunderstandings, but they create tension.

I can understand the views of opponents of a donation, but I do not think there is sufficient justification for refusing to make one.

Even if there is a chance that the money could be misused by corrupt officials, the SAR government should still make a donation. It has a duty to contribute to the relief work.

As Chinese people, we cannot turn our backs on our compatriots. Issues concerning our country are our business.

If we do not offer help, we could be accused of being cold-blooded and irresponsible.

The problem here rests with corrupt officials, but the earthquake victims are innocent and we should make a donation for their sake. I do agree with your correspondent that individual Hongkongers should also be willing to lend a hand, but it is only feasible for some of us to do this.

We can also make donations to non-governmental organisations, but I wonder what they can do on the ground. Reconstruction projects will be carried out by the provincial government. The NGOs offer short-term relief, such as providing tents, water and food.

Cress Tam, Tsuen Wan


Local artists need more financial help

Over the past few decades, Hong Kong has developed into a world-class business and financial centre.

However, there is a need for greater diversity in the city.

I would like to think that, over the next few decades, the city will become a centre for creative arts.

A number of people are helping to develop an independent arts scene.

However, many work in relative obscurity, they have few channels through which they can express themselves and they often do not get support from the government.

Thanks to the internet, they are now beginning to have access to a wider audience and this is relatively cost-free.

I would like the government to do more to help the local arts. I want to see a more rounded city, not just focusing on financial development.

Cathy Wong Man-yuet, Kwai Chung