Letters to the Editor, May 2, 2013
Best way to help victims is through NGOs
The discussion is ongoing in Hong Kong about whether the government should donate money to victims of the earthquake last month in Yaan , Sichuan .
Some dissenting voices have said the administration should not give the proposed sum of HK$100 million because the money will just go into the pockets of corrupt officials.
I agree that any money should not go through the mainland authorities.
People's reluctance to back this donation has nothing to do with a lack of sympathy for the victims; it is simply because we have lost confidence in mainland officials.
Many of those citizens who suffered from the 2008 earthquake are still living in poverty. A lot of money was donated by Hongkongers to help with the relief work and we have been left wondering where it all went.
The fact is that there are other avenues open to Hong Kong when it comes to donating money to Sichuan, which avoids the authorities over the border.
There are reliable non-governmental organisations who are giving help directly to the quake victims.
Some of these NGOs are doing their best, but are short of funds.
The best solution would be to pass money directly to these NGOs and have Hong Kong officials monitor them to ensure the money is used as it was intended.
Giving money directly to mainland officials only exacerbates the problem of corruption. The Hong Kong government must think carefully before making a decision on this matter.
Lily Chan Ying-kwan, Kwai Chung
Hongkongers do care about relief work
I refer to Peter Wei's letter ("HK should be helping out quake victims", April 30).
It would be wrong to think that Hongkongers are not helping out victims of the Sichuan earthquake.
In fact, many citizens care about what is happening and are checking on the progress of relief efforts on a daily basis.
I have seen many of my fellow university students making donations to charities which are helping with the relief effort. Some have even organised fundraising events in or outside the university.
The problem is that Hongkongers are concerned that the HK$100 million donation the government is proposing will fall into the hands of corrupt officials again. Under such circumstances, the money will have been wasted because it will not help the quake victims.
They would rather that the money was donated to non-governmental charities. This is a view that is shared by some lawmakers, including pan-democrats.
Oscar Wong Chun-yeung,Kwun Tong
Campaign to block donation inappropriate
Activists and internet users have been campaigning to block the government's proposed HK$100 million to help the survivors of the Sichuan earthquake.
They are protesting against official corruption and the embezzlement of funds after the 2008 earthquake.
I find this campaign highly inappropriate. The victims of the Sichuan quake need all the resources they can get to help them rebuild their homes and to return to a normal life.
Those who were injured need medical supplies, and raw materials are required for the reconstruction of schools, houses and roads.
While corruption on the mainland definitely deserves our attention, it is inappropriate for us to deprive earthquake victims of potentially life-saving donations all for the sake of a political demonstration.
No wonder we are accused of being unpatriotic.
The central government is taking a tougher line than ever before in an effort to stamp out corruption.
I think this will reduce the risk of donations not getting to the victims.
We need not worry about greedy officials taking all of our cash.
Instead, we should worry about whether or not the victims of the disaster are getting the help they deserve.
The Sichuan people are hurting, and now is not the time to selfishly put political issues before human lives.
William McCorkindale, Ma On Shan
Collective action can help children at risk
I read with interest Bernard Chan's article ("Harness the power of collective social action for Hong Kong", April 19).
I agree completely with Lord Wei's argument for greater integration between different organisations in society, and strongly believe in working together towards a common goal.
In my role here with the international Christian charity Viva, I am privileged to share stories with our supporters about how vulnerable children's lives are being changed through the power of collective action.
Viva, founded 16 years ago in Britain, partners with 35 networks around the world - these are churches and community organisations which are united in their purpose to help children at risk.
Networks encourage smaller and larger bodies to work alongside one another, to share their resources and expertise, to support each other in training and to generate a group of willing volunteers from across the local community.
Furthermore, the network model provides a strong platform from which individuals and organisations, putting aside individual agendas and key performance indicators, collectively come up with solutions for their communities.
A growing number of networks are also influencing key government leaders.
In total, these networks are enabling over 800,000 children in Asia, Africa and Latin America to be made safe, kept well and have their potential fulfilled.
It is thrilling to see.
Viva's successful network model of locating like-minded organisations, helping them relate to one another and equipping them to expand their vision, can be replicated not only across the less economically developed world, but also more economically developed places like Hong Kong.
Perhaps a first step, for those in Hong Kong who are interested in exploring more about collective action, could be to participate in the Justice Conference Asia in Hong Kong (May 16-18), where world-class speakers, Asia-based practitioners, humanitarian organisations and non-governmental organisations will gather and discuss issues of justice (www. justiceconferenceasia.com
Viva will be sharing more on effective networking for combating injustice.
Christine Liu Lilwall, national director Hong Kong, Viva - Together for Children
Tram cheaper and much safer option
That a tram system would be preferable to a much more costly toy-town monorail for East Kowloon looks like a no-brainer ("Tram may suit Kai Tak better than monorail", April 29).
Monorails require obtrusive elevated structures which become urban eyesores as they age. Sydney's monorail is an example. As the comparative statistics in your report show, monorail maintenance among other costs is disproportionately expensive. Rescue or escape of passengers and crew at an isolated height is difficult and dangerous in the event of a monorail accident or fire.
Tourists will have a richer experience of the variety of city living in Hong Kong at street level rather than suspended where much of the view is of the sides of buildings. It is easier to hop on and off trams than cram onto escalators to and from a monorail tower.
The second pair of lines in the tram system will be of greater convenience to more of the commuting public than the single monorail, and help to reduce pollution and also traffic congestion, provided cars are left at home for such journeys.
Blocking taller ships with a bridge simply to accommodate a monorail would significantly diminish the very purpose and value for money of building the cruise terminal. Possibly, the main opponents of trams may be those who would benefit from the high government spending required to build and sustain a monorail.
Michael Scott, Tsim Sha Tsui
China's armed forces act as deterrent
I refer to the letter by J. Garner ("True patriots should reject sabre rattling", April 21).
No matter how much he thinks he is an old China hand, he was wrong to lump the notion behind the modernisation of China's armed forces with what he calls "the same militaristic ethos which led to earlier disasters".
By such disasters he meant the world wars, the Korean and Vietnam wars and the later military adventures in the Middle East that incurred the animosity of the Muslim world.
As he correctly pointed out, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Russia and Japan were responsible for causing the earlier land-grabbing wars. I would add to his list the US, for the later, self-righteous, value-imposing wars.
China is in a different category. It has not been sabre rattling. All it has been doing and is capable of doing is to upgrade its military capabilities to barely sufficient deterrent level.
The country is doing this to stop values being imposed on it and to prevent the insidious erosion of its marine territories and resources by patrolling those territories which are the subject of the most serious disputes. Can it afford to do nothing?
Peter Lok, Chai Wan