Letters to the Editor, June 18, 2013
Language is a barrier to any 'HK state'
There may be some mileage in Dr Horace Chin Wan-kan's idea of Hong Kong becoming a "city state" ("Independent thinker treads bold path", June 10).
I say this if he means it would be like a state within the United States, and if Beijing could be persuaded to adopt such a federal system. But can it?
The obstacle facing such a system relates to the point made by Dr Chin about Hongkongers being Cantonese speakers.
Beijing would be averse to such a set-up until Putonghua became as universal a language for China as English is for the United States.
However, if Dr Chin meant a nation state, then the answer must be a resounding "no" - that would be anathema to Beijing.
If the British flag wavers find it beneath them to be Chinese, then let them emigrate.
But what Dr Chin said about letting go regarding the death of dissident Li Wangyang in June of last year makes perfect sense.
It was simply uninformed prejudice, similar to that held by those who back the annual June 4 vigil, that kept people insisting that Li could not have committed suicide, because some of his friends said he could not have died by his own hand.
Peter Lok, Chai Wan
Popular diner should not be forced to close
As a resident of Happy Valley, I have for many years enjoyed having drinks and food at the Happy Valley Bar & Grill.
It is a lovely, small restaurant with a very hospitable staff, in Wong Nai Chung Road.
Its main patrons are local families, who have a welcome chance to let their children play in the nearby park while enjoying a meal and drink.
However, it appears that one person has for some time been complaining to the police and Liquor Licensing Board, claiming that the bar violates the terms of its licence as sometimes customers step outside to make a call on their mobiles or have a smoke and still have a drink in their hands.
The other claim is that there are noise problems caused by children playing on the pavement at weekends.
Because of these complaints, there is a fear that the restaurant may lose its liquor licence and have to shut down.
In all fairness, I do not think there is a single ground-floor bar in Hong Kong where customers do not step outside with a drink still in their hand every now and then.
This is a noisy and lively city - jackhammers, blaring car horns and people talking loudly are part of daily life here. In all my frequent visits to this bar, I have never found it to be excessively noisy and cannot see how it might have to close because of the complaints of one individual.
Board members should ask themselves if this establishment obeys the law in the same way as other ground-floor bars in Hong Kong that still have their licence. It would be very sad if the hard-working staff lost their jobs.
Kjeld Dissing, Happy Valley
Curbing light pollution is key to the future
The most serious pollution problems in Hong Kong are air pollution and light pollution.
We have already tried to come up with some ways to cope with the former, for example, promoting the use of electric cars. Now, we have to find ways to effectively tackle excessive lighting.
It is imperative for us to do this as light pollution is adversely affecting the health of some people and this should be a cause for concern, as it can have an adverse effect on Hong Kong's prosperity. It is important to do whatever is necessary to maintain the stability of the economy.
The government must recognise this and, to that end, introduce laws to curb the worst effects of light pollution.
Of course, we cannot go too far and stipulate that all external lighting must be switched off late at night. This would be inconvenient for tourists who might still be out shopping.
Also, inadequate street lighting can lead to more crime and therefore poses a threat to pedestrians. You get a lot of crimes in cities late at night in ill-lit areas where the perpetrator is more likely to escape detection.
Whatever laws are passed, they should offer a total solution, because all citizens have a responsibility to do their bit to try and curb this form of pollution.
This includes some stakeholders who seem to want to put up obstructions to efforts to improve the present situation. We all need to do our best to protect our lovely home of Hong Kong.
Xenia Au, Sha Tin
Chinese differences easy to spot
In the letter "Boorishness of tourists hurts all Chinese" (June 1), Thomas Beckett says: "Hong Kong people need to be aware that most people in other countries cannot tell the difference between Hong Kong and mainland Chinese."
While on a UK-organised tour to Paris in April, the tour party was warned not to take items from the breakfast buffet to eat for lunch. Other hotel guests had been caught doing so and the hotel had decided to charge those sauntering out of the restaurant laden with provisions for a picnic later on.
While there, I noticed a lot of Chinese visitors were staying.
I noticed one old lady carrying a pair of unopened one litre bottles of orange juice out of the restaurant (and having been intercepted, told to replace them).
So I investigated and asked the hotel management if it was those visitors who were the source of the problem. They confirmed it was.
"Okay," I said. "Where exactly in China do the culprits tend to come from?"
His answer was "Hong Kong".
Simon Osborne, Pok Fu Lam
Young people must embrace independence
As a young Hongkonger, I am now trying to be more independent. I realise that it will affect my future if I keep relying on my mother.
I therefore agree with those correspondents who have stressed the importance of youngsters being more independent.
I share their concerns about overprotective (or helicopter) parents. This is a serious problem in Hong Kong. They think they are doing the right thing but they must change their approach.
They need to help their children become more independent. They will be stronger if they can find their own way.
Crystal Fung, Kwai Chung
Snowden should slip into obscurity
What have we learned from so-called whistle-blower Edward Snowden other than that intelligence services are involved in gathering intelligence? How remarkable!
But what have we learned from Mr Snowden about himself, other than the self-serving statements about his intent and motivations, for which we just seem to have to take his word?
Why would we have to accept his self-righteous assertions, that he is only interested in exposing alleged criminality and that, by doing so, he is never safe again?
What evidence is there to suggest that US authorities are out to get him when all his statements about government power already reflect the predispositions of his own libertarian politics?
Most remarkably, Mr. Snowden is telling us time and again that he did not want to be in the spotlight.
What an odd choice he made then, in seeking exposure on this matter by contacting the global news media.
Let's hope that US authorities will do the right thing and investigate this matter in terms of legitimate security interests as well as privacy rights, without necessarily seeking to individually target Mr Snowden, which seems to be exactly what he wants.
Let's also hope he won't get much further publicity or a book deal out of this, so that he will soon be relegated to the life of obscurity he so much seems to desire. Then he can finally feel safe from us, as will we from him.
Mathieu Deflem, Columbia, South Carolina, US
Lantau needs traffic offence crackdown
Senior Superintendent Kong Man-keung, of the police public relations branch, proudly proclaimed that 477 speeding tickets have been issued on South Lantau this year ("Police not complacent over accidents", June 12).
An average of three per day - this is pathetic, and represents a miniscule fraction of the traffic offences committed there daily. The Lantau police are woefully under-resourced, and are the victims of decades of bad planning and under-investment.
With no dedicated traffic unit for South Lantau, everyone can speed with impunity, drive recklessly, cross double white lines, overtake on blind bends, drive while drunk, chat on mobile phones and so on, since the chances of being caught are nearly zero.
We need more overt police presence as a deterrent (including late-night breathalyser checks), and also more covert work - such as unmarked police cars, speed guns and cameras to spot dangerous driving.
Can the police please advise when we will get these very basic measures?
R. E. J. Bunker, Lantau