Letters to the Editor, June 10, 2013
Lifeguards can help keep beach clean
I would like to make some observations about Hong Kong's premier beach, Repulse Bay, although they may equally apply to all gazetted beaches.
Repulse Bay is a mecca for tourists, a place for the people of Hong Kong to soothe away the vicissitudes of urban living and an attraction that our Tourism Board puts near the top of its list.
Yet, for those of us who are acutely aware of Hong Kong's image, it falls well short of the standards one expects of a top-quality beach.
First, cleanliness. At times the water's edge appears as if it is the sole repository for Hong Kong's waste: plastic in its many forms, bottles, dead fish, old shoes, you name it.
Cleaning is cursory and intermittent.
Am I so bold or naive as to suggest that the lifeguards could rotate to help keep the beach pristine while being in a far more appropriate position to carry out their main task?
Why are there so many lifeguards? The waters at Repulse Bay are relatively benign, yet a squadron of lifeguards take it in turns to sit aloft their lifeguard stations for short periods.
Also, given their position, they would find it difficult to respond in the event of an emergency.
Furthermore, the lads and lasses in yellow work office hours, 9am to 6pm, on the dot.
Are the decision-makers aware that the period between 6am and 9am is arguably the busiest at Repulse and Deep Water Bay beaches, when a host of elderly people take to the water?
Moreover, there is a lack of vision on the part of planners to provide an authentic Hong Kong experience.
Oh, for the return of those atmospheric dai pai dong that were a must for countless visitors in the past.
Lastly, it is time for the government to get rid of the battery of intrusive loudspeakers blasting out a list of "Do Nots" at the most inappropriate times.
It is not needed. I implore decision-makers to listen, observe and to always be aware that even the smallest detail reflects on Hong Kong's image.
Jim Francis, North Point
Government must snub land offer
The Hong Kong government should not accept tycoon Lee Shau-kee's current land offer to build houses ("Henderson chief puts up two sites for flats", June 6).
If he's really sincere in his offer, he should offer land that has been zoned for housing.
The land he offers now needs to be rezoned first. If this happens, a precedent will have been set and will open the door for his other plots to be rezoned.
Ken Chan, Tai Po
Worldwide opposition to GM food
I usually enjoy reading Alex Lo's columns, but one of them ("Time to modify our stance on GM food", May 28) needs ample clarification.
Lo suggests that opposition to genetically modified food rests on purely ideological grounds, and objections by the EU are harming Africa.
He ignores the fact that opposition to GM food now has the support of more than 40 countries.
They oppose it because of - the threat of poor crops; endless indebtedness of farmers; damage to the environment; chemical poisoning and suppression of basic freedom to save seeds.
The safety of GM foods has never been proved over the long term as their introduction is rather recent, but if you could have nutritious organic fruit, vegetables and grains or genetically modified organisms which would you choose?
What is certain is that GM crops do not live up to their expectations, not even close. There is no evidence anywhere of miraculous crop yields.
Also, in many countries, poor farmers who are prevented from saving seeds become even more impoverished. There have been many cases of them committing suicide, because they must constantly buy new seeds and fertilisers, and a poor harvest does not allow them to pay back the funds they borrowed.
The fact that the campaign against GM foods brought millions across the world onto the streets in protest on May 25 is proof that their views have to be taken seriously.
Studies must be conducted examining the impact on the American population of 25 years of GM food given that the United States has the highest rate of overweight individuals and obesity of all countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
I would advise Lo to gather more information on the fascinating topic of food and its future trends.
I believe it is a basic human right for people to be able to make their own choices when it comes to the cultivation of crops.
It is not a decision that should be taken by major corporations.
Christian Masset, Lantau
Switch off non-essential street lights
The era when you could still look up to the star-filled night sky in Hong Kong has gone.
Now the sky is obscured by bright street lights.
We have to accept that we now have a serious light pollution problem in the city, which is harming the environment and our health.
These lights use up an enormous amount of electricity and this contributes to global warming.
For some residents, the light pollution is something they have to deal with every night. If they live in brightly lit areas, they may have trouble sleeping.
The government must act. At the very least, it should ensure that those street lights that are not essential in residential areas are turned off.
Tang Wing-yiu, Sha Tin
Station could at least provide subtitles
In recent weeks, ATV World has broadcast a full-length movie in French; a documentary series on the causes of the worldwide financial meltdown in 2008 which was largely in English but with significant input from Christine Lagarde speaking in French; and a series of documentaries about aspects of the Soviet Union with some linking commentary in English but mostly from ex-Soviet citizens speaking in Russian.
I have no objection to a multi-lingual approach but suggest it would not be unreasonable to expect subtitles in English and/or Chinese, otherwise the comprehending audience must be very small and hardly justifies air time, certainly at the peak evening slot.
Unfortunately, my French is somewhat limited and my Russian non-existent.
Doug Miller, Tai Po
China should aim for equal relationship
I agree with those commentators who say that China's influence in Africa will continue to grow.
What we are seeing today is a new South-South co-operation between Africa and Asia. The world's economic centre of gravity is shifting east. The West has stood on the sidelines and watched its influence in Africa decline, while China has made tremendous investments on the continent.
Over the past decade, the Sino-African relationship has been symbiotic and mutually rewarding. Africa wants to grow robustly and the magnitude of its infrastructure needs is huge. Africa requires myriad resources from China, even for its agricultural produce. It cannot develop without China, and vice versa. China's hunger for African resources is voracious.
Without access to these resources, it is unlikely the country can sustain its current rates of economic growth. In short, China needs Africa.
Meanwhile, China's growing influence there is creating nervousness in the West and the rest of the world. India, Brazil, Russia and Turkey are now in serious competition with China to engage resource-rich Africa.
Chinese officials, if they are genuine in their desire for natural resources and expanding the trade relationship with Africa, should ameliorate the uneven nature of trade relations and promote a healthy equal relationship with African leaders.
China's influence on the continent will definitely continue to grow, but it will not be alone.
Emily Chan, Quarry Bay
Teens with anorexia need more help
Eating disorders among teenagers, including anorexia, are a serious problem in Hong Kong.
Young people can often be influenced by adverts where the message is that to be beautiful, you have to be thin.
Unfortunately teenage girls believe it especially when they see slim actresses on television. They develop a distorted perception of beauty.
They are also influenced by their peer group and can be misinformed by girls of their own age, especially if their friends are on a diet to stay slim.
Stress caused by a heavy school workload can also affect their appetite.
I feel that sometimes parents and teachers do not pay sufficient attention to this problem. They must realise, especially when it comes to anorexia, that it is serious.
Parents and teachers need to educate young people about the potential problems and help them to develop a positive attitude towards life.
Family support is always crucial for teenagers who are suffering from an eating disorder.
Zoe Lee, Tsuen Wan