Manila hostage crisis

Letters to the Editor, May 26, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 May, 2013, 4:35am

50-cent taxi case symptom of 'sickness'

Has our society lost all its marbles or collective brainpower to spend taxpayers' money on something so trivial?

I suppose most readers would be troubled by the front-page news ("Taxi driver cleared in 50-cent court case", May 17).

The passenger cited in the article paid HK$136.50 for the cab ride. When she discovered she was short-changed by 50 cents the case was reported to the police.

We learn that the driver, Tam Hoi-chi, endured a six-month ordeal, probably losing sleep and appetite, before being able to clear his name. He said the case "exhausted" him.

What baffled most readers I suppose, including me, is that the officer in charge had the notion to lay charges, thereby bringing the 50-cent dispute all the way from roadside to courtside. The Hong Kong law enforcement and judicial system must be full of tiny little holes to let something like this slip through the net.

There's a certain sickness in our society. Instead of showering "tender loving care" on those who put in an honest day's work we bark and wag our fingers at them for absolutely no reason.

Philip S. K. Leung, Pok Fu Lam


Philippines, not HK, guilty of arrogance

In his column ("Taiwan goes over the top", May 19), Philip Bowring wrote that the Hong Kong government is arrogant in categorising the Philippines in the same group as Syria (for travel purposes) because of the unnecessary loss of life in the "bus hijacking incident" back in 2010.

In this incident, our then chief executive, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, had tried to speak to Philippine President Benigno Aquino by phone, to ask that everything be done to help prevent any loss of life, but to no avail. The reason given was that our chief executive was not a head of state and therefore, according to protocol, could not contact the Philippine president directly.

The hijacker's demands could easily have been met and the loss of eight lives and the untold miseries of the survivors could easily have been avoided.

Now, Mr Bowring, tell me who was arrogant?

Edward Liew, Hung Hom


Response to boat attack is justified

We strongly object to Philip Bowring's view that Taiwan's response to the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine forces was "out of all proportion" to the offence ("Taiwan goes over the top", May 19).

The Republic of China Taiwan has neither overreacted nor misjudged the situation. In this incident, a Philippine government vessel attacked an unarmed ROC fishing boat. Its illegal use of arms violated Paragraph 1 of Article 73 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In addition to claiming the fisherman's life, severely damaging the boat, and refusing to come to the assistance of the crew post-attack, this excessive and unwarranted use of force has violated international law. Therefore, the Philippine government should shoulder its legal responsibilities.

This is not the first time a Taiwanese fishing boat has been attacked by Philippines personnel and ships while legally plying its trade.

Many incidents have taken place over the years, resulting in loss of life, and leaving a sour taste in the mouths of the Taiwanese people.

Such conflicts erupt practically every year in these waters, with Philippine ships aiming to get Taiwan boats to abandon these fishing grounds of their own accord by firing on them and killing crew members. This is why the ROC government wasted no time in condemning the attack.

Bowring refers to "Han chauvinism". However, the row between Taipei and Manila is truly unrelated to Han chauvinism.

Our government solemnly and staunchly strives to safeguard its sovereignty and protect the rights and interests of its people, including their fishing rights.

The conducting of military drills will enable Taiwan's boats to fish in the specific region and ensure the future livelihood and safety of our fishermen.

As a responsible and peace-loving member of the international community, the ROC aims to settle international disputes through peaceful means in accordance with Article 2 of the UN Charter.

Suzie Chen, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office


Actions speak loudest for Catholics

The Catholic Church still does not understand sexual orientation is not made by choice.

Nobody just wakes up one morning and decides to be straight, gay or transsexual. Rather, it is the way you are born and strongly feel as a person.

A gay person could never weaken the concept of marriage between a man and a woman. A straight person will marry someone of the opposite sex and start a family, no matter whether gay marriages are allowed or not.

Maybe what the Catholic Church really fears is that there are more gay people out there who have suppressed their feelings and their true nature due to societal and religious intolerance, and who have entered into straight relationships out of fear.

If the Catholic Church would really like to address ethics and morals, I suggest it first sweeps in front of its own door.

It preaches that we are all the same in the eyes of God, but to the church that doesn't apply to gays, transsexuals, and women. Women are being denied the priesthood, gays and transsexuals are being denied equality and are even killed in some countries by Christians.

Children who have been sexually abused for decades by priests and nuns have in some cases never received any sympathy, justice or compensation from the church.

These priests never faced the force of the law like any other ordinary person would have. Instead they have been transferred to new locations by the church, providing them with new victims, and the Catholic Church has kept silent.

Church opposition to contraception, especially the use of condoms, has caused millions of people to be infected with Aids and to die a cruel death.

It is time for the Catholic Church to adapt and lead by its actions, showing empathy, tolerance and equality to all people, no matter what their sexual orientation, race, or gender.

After all, we are all the same: human beings.

Anita Klaus, The Peak


Better to embrace our mainland kin

Tourists, especially those from the mainland, are welcomed here for their ability to help boost Hong Kong's economy.

People come here to shop, but if we do not have goods worth buying, what is the purpose of their visit?

Parallel traders buy goods from Hong Kong because of the good quality of our products. They don't steal them but buy them through registered retailers. Shouldn't we be proud of the profit we are able to make? Why are we trying to drive our customers away by limiting sales of some items to them, like formula milk?

What we should do is to increase supply, not restrict tourists shopping in our city.

Besides the supply issue, visitors sometimes feel unwelcome because of the hostile attitude of our citizens towards them. People use insulting words like "locusts" to address them. Do they really deserve to be treated in this way?

They won't enjoy shopping in a place where they are so treated. Aren't we always proud of the fact that Hong Kong is "Asia's world city"? Shouldn't we treat our visitors with a welcoming attitude?

We are now facing a dilemma. On the one hand, the mainlanders provide a good source of revenue, but, on the other, we don't want them to take away our goods in large quantities because the locals need them as well. Doesn't this sound contradictory?

We should open our hearts and try to communicate more with mainlanders.

Jessica Wong, Ho Man Tin


Industrial heritage still prospers

Thomas Shao's comments about Hong Kong's development as a cultural hub may be valid ("A media mogul puts faith in the arts", May 19) but his statement that "besides finance, Hong Kong has no other industry" was uninformed to say the least.

Mr Shao may want to consider Hong Kong's ever evolving role as a global supply chain and sourcing hub and in particular the integral position it holds in the worldwide apparel market.

Despite the challenges to China from emerging manufacturing locations and the presence of Shanghai as an alternative regional headquarters, Hong Kong continues to prove its value, not least due to the industry skills and knowledge of its talent base.

Sourcing is an industry embedded in Hong Kong's DNA, and while cultural development is indeed important, it shouldn't be promoted by writing off some of the deep industrial heritage that still prospers here today.

Mathew Gollop, group managing director, ConnectedGroup