Letters to the Editor, May 12, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 May, 2013, 4:00am

Educate on virtues of breastfeeding

I refer to the report ("Breast milk promotion chance wasted", May 5).

What a coincidence. I wrote an article for Chartered Quality Institute's Quality World magazine to discuss how to prevent scandals such as horsemeat illegally used in food products, and the contamination of milk powder, rather than afterwards contain the damage these events cause. I am the Hong Kong group's secretary and honorary chairman.

One of the solutions to the shortage of milk formula and its rationing in Hong Kong and Britain that I recommended was breastfeeding.

There are three reasons why milk formula is so popular.

First, it became popular after the second world war, when malnutrition was common and mothers could not produce enough breast milk to feed their babies. Milk formula was a godsend. Missionaries began to distribute milk powder to people throughout the developing world.

The second reason is the successful marketing of milk formula. Not-so-sophisticated parents were led to believe some x-factor in the milk formula was indispensable and preferable to mothers' milk.

Third is the misconception of modern women and working mothers that breastfeeding is inconvenient and vulgar.

They worry about having to wake up in the middle of the night to feed their baby, instead of letting their housemaid take care of them; or having to breastfeed their baby in public, or in a toilet.

As a man whose daughter was fed on milk formula many years ago, I strongly agreed with the article and I think our Department of Health could do more to educate people and promote the benefits and convenience of breastfeeding.

Leslie Lee, Sai Wan Ho


Taking a shot at rampant militarism

I refer to the letter by Peter Lok ("China's armed forces act as deterrent", May 2) which dismisses my concerns about recent PLA expansion ("True patriots should reject sabre rattling", April 21).

Actually, my chief concern was not solely China's ambitious military build-up, but the wasteful militarism rampant in our modern age.

Just when our globe and humanity itself face enormous environmental challenges such as climate change, water scarcity, pollution, overpopulation and even threats from meteorites, we see military men wasting enormous resources on their favourite toys - nuclear missiles, supersonic fighters, tanks, submarines and aircraft carriers. Are we still living in the 20th century?

China faces severe environmental threats and should devote all its scientific genius and industrial capacity to avert them rather than dream of expanding its military power. The more it spends on expensive arms, the less there is for education and housing provision, including earthquake warning systems and rebuilding following a natural disaster.

Peter Lok mentions the US and its "self-righteous, value-imposing wars". Does he include the war with Japan, 1941 to 1945? Did he ever learn about the "Flying Tigers" - US aviators who came to China's defence long before the US was attacked? One "value" that deserves to be preserved is gratitude for support for the Chinese people during that terrible time.

Recently, the PLA bought an obsolete former USSR aircraft carrier. If I remember correctly, Russians under Stalin did nothing while China suffered from Japanese assault, and then the Soviets themselves invaded Manchuria. Why should the PLA now encourage and enrich Russian militarists and arms merchants?

It's not surprising that Asian nations, even former allies like Vietnam, should worry. We should worry too, because any conflict in the South China Sea will plunge Hong Kong into economic chaos.

Are the missiles, estimated at 1,600 in number, that are now aimed at the Chinese people of Taiwan, a deterrent or a threat to China's unity and harmony?

J. Garner, Sham Shui Po


Copy Dutch to anoint 'King Charles'

Willem-Alexander became the new king of the Netherlands on April 30 after his mother, Queen Beatrix, abdicated following a 33-year reign. I hope Britain's Queen Elizabeth will follow suit. She should abdicate in favour of her oldest son, Prince Charles, as soon as possible.

This will mean that while she is still healthy she can happily enjoy her final years in retirement while watching her son reign as King Charles.

K. M. Nasir, Mid-Levels


Narrow focus of TV racism brouhaha

It seems that Hongkongers are upset about the lyrics of a Chevrolet TV commercial for its new SUV because it revives bad memories of the 1930s fictional character Fu Manchu ("Is PC in the eye of the beholder?" May 5). Can I point out that, although it was back in the late 1980s, Filipinos were upset about the utter racism displayed then towards them by Hongkongers.

TVB Jade had a show called Enjoy Yourself Tonight in which a local actress in blackface played a Filipina amah named Maria. She wore an unruly mop of hair and an apron, acted like a retarded child and was a figure of exasperation and fun for her Chinese employers and their friends.

The show kept local audiences entertained for a couple of years, despite protests from Filipino and Western residents.

That same station ran another show, called Feigo (Filipino brother, as in "little brown brother"), as "leisure and variety". A Chinese actor, in blackface and apron, played a houseboy whose moronic antics were ridiculed by his employers.

It took a while for the shows to be pulled even after the South China Morning Post ran my article in November 1988 highlighting their bigotry.

One hopes Hong Kong society has moved on since the late 1980s, with a more enlightened generation knowing more about their neighbours and the world around them.

Racist material may no longer be considered entertaining enough (and PC) by local TV stations, but, sadly, discrimination towards migrant workers and other resident Southeast Asians continues to this day.

Isabel Escoda, Lantau


Education idea the thin end of the wedge

I read with dismay that Alex Lo had suggested in his column a "simple" change to the subsidy policy to allow non-local people to enjoy education with much lower fees in direct subsidy schools ("A lesson for the pig-headed bureaucrats", May 1).

He should be aware that the local welfare system should be designed and run for local people. Education is no exception.

Maybe Lo has not thoroughly considered the implication of his suggestion.

By the same token, non-local people could ask for subsidised public housing units by simply complaining about rocketing rents in Hong Kong.

Cheung King-kwan, Kwun Tong


HK should take its own future in hand

I am responding to the article ("Hong Kong losing its competitive edge, Beijing warns", April 28). I'm worried about Hong Kong's future, under threat from the mainland.

Despite being a world famous commercial and financial centre, we risk being overtaken by Shanghai.

Hong Kong's revenue comes principally from the mainland, and we have become economically too reliant.

Shouldn't we think of other ways to raise our competiveness? Hong Kong is a food and shopping paradise, and I believe many more foreigners would like to visit. On TV we see countries such as Korea, Malaysia and Japan being promoted. We also should use this tool to attract more tourists.

We should develop our creative and technology industries to increase foreign investment. Although we have great facilities, like the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the science and technology parks, we fail to raise public awareness of them.

The government could hold competitions to encourage innovation, with the winners sponsored to study overseas, on condition they return to work in Hong Kong.

It should also allocate resources in a more effective way. The creative and technology sectors are our future so the government should pay more attention to them.

It is time for us to think about our future. The question is not choosing the mainland market or the foreign market, but how to enlarge ours.

Ceci Lam Wing-sze, Tsuen Wan


Suffering people still need help

Hong Kong people are famously charitable, bringing great love and hope to many worthy causes and needy people.

Following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, the Hong Kong government donated HK$9 billion to help recovery efforts. After tragedy struck there again in another earthquake last month, people were more hesitant to give generously, following reports that aid funds were misused in 2008.

People did not only mistrust the Sichuan government, but even some charities. They doubted their money would reach the people in need.

Realistically, the only way to be sure is by walking up to the homes of the needy and handing them the money or giving help. Who could do this, though? Most of us don't have it in our power to do this, but we want to give support.

I think it is still safe to donate money to the reputable charities, which do help people in need.

So, don't withhold your support because of your doubts. Give a hand by donating. Those suffering still need your help.

Susie Cheung Shuk-yi, Kwai Chung