Letters to the Editor, June 23, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 June, 2013, 4:18am

Former PM pontificates for profit

Your correspondent L.M.S. Valerio ("Blair's view of our religious faith is absurd", June 19th), commenting on a recent South China Morning Post article by Tony Blair, questions whether Hong Kong people care about anything except the stock market, business and banking.

I have lived in Hong Kong for only two years, but twice seen tens of thousands commemorate those who died in Tiananmen Square in 1989, and have also seen ordinary Hongkongers come onto the streets to voice their concerns about national education and, lately, to support Edward Snowden.

On the other hand, for all his prattling about faith, much of which is directed against Islam - witness his recent inflammatory remarks about the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in London [which Blair said proved there was a problem within Islam] - Mr Blair seems to have spent most of his time since leaving office accumulating wealth.

This was recently estimated at £60 million (HK$720 million) to £80 million, mainly achieved by exploiting the connections he made as British prime minister.

I think he has quite a lot in common with some Hongkongers, namely the tycoons and their political puppets.

Sue Sparks, Sha Tin


Faith fires fortitude to fix problems

I wish to thank Will Lai for his letter ("Prayer alone cannot solve our problems", June 14), in response to mine ("Religious faith the city's last comfort in troubled times", June 8), which gave me the opportunity to put things into perspective.

He said my letters "never seem to come up with tangible solutions". This is a matter of opinion.

Over the years, responses to my letters, from individuals and organisations, through a variety of channels, suggest the contrary.

The letter he quoted addressed a complex issue - current political development in Hong Kong.

While the city's political parties, academics, businesses and students are working hard to find a way out of the stalemate, it would be over-ambitious for one person to venture a viable solution to the political strife. Perhaps your correspondent has a concrete proposal for us.

This column offers a platform for readers to voice their opinion, share concerns and learn from each other.

The editor adopts an open mind in allowing all kinds of topics - news events, public policies, health issues, social problems, religion - to be discussed.

This liberal editorial policy, tolerating differences and respecting individual freedom of speech, is the essence of professional journalism.

In accepting challenges in life, your correspondent seems to aim at achieving "success in the real world", whereas Christians always place spiritual gains over and above pragmatic, materialistic values. As such, our wavelengths sometimes differ.

Christians the world over are working for practical solutions to world problems. They don't just pray, but instead live and work for a better world, bearing witness to Christianity, which some people brand as "supernatural" forces.

The motto, "In faith go forward" explains succinctly the realistic and spiritual purpose of Christian life.

Patsy Leung, Mid Levels


Costs of beach plan outweigh benefits by far

I am by no means a green activist. I need strong air-conditioning. I support the incinerator project proposed for Shek Kwu Chau. I support an increase in landfill to address critical waste management issues, and other plans unpopular with environmentalists. But I feel, on the approval of the proposed man-made beach at Lung Mei, Tai Po, I have to speak up.

I sympathise with Wong Kam-sing for being the minister responsible for announcing the government decision. His portfolio of environmental interests conflicts with the decision to build a man-made beach there.

The key issue is a matter of cost versus benefit.

I have taught developmental economics for 10 years, and I claim to know a bit about cost-benefit analysis.

On the cost side, it is always the same, the destruction of a natural habitat. We then look at the benefits.

I could accept a decision to reclaim land and build a housing estate there to resolve the housing problem, which I think is more pressing. But to build a man-made beach? What are the benefits?

People have the choices of: first, going to swimming pools; second, going to rocky beaches; or, third, going to sandy beaches elsewhere.

The fact that we have an improving transport system means that swimming facilities are becoming increasingly accessible. The case for a man-made beach is a very feeble one.

I am happy that the recent discussion has brought the issue of Lung Mei into the public spotlight.

It means that more people are likely to go to Lung Mei during weekends because they have been made aware of the existing ecology there. It also means more schools are likely to organise educational field trips there on weekdays.

For any local residents looking to open up a shop or convenience store, the availability of a well-known ecology site attracting business all week is better than a man-made beach that attracts visitors only during weekends.

Dennis Li, Mid-Levels


Poll leading lambs to the slaughter

The present predicament in Australia - where the population seems anaesthetised and hell-bent on electing in the forthcoming general election, within the next few months, a rabidly right-wing government appointed in effect by tax-shy mining billionaires and mindless enemies of reason and agitators in the media - doesn't seem to strike anybody with anything like the appropriate feeling of alarm.

Talk about lambs to the slaughter!

The heir apparent to the prime ministership, Tony Abbott, has described global warming as "crap".

What sort of leadership can be expected from such an ill-informed man?

Even his Liberal Party colleagues are not particularly enamoured of him. When he took the leadership of the Liberal Party from Malcolm Turnbull, he pipped him by a single vote.

Why can't the Australian electorate wake up to the real world? There is so much potential here for a better future.

Dave Diss, Adelaide, South Australia


Entertainment hot spot gets cold shoulder

Having worked in Lan Kwai Fong for many years, I feel compelled to ask the relevant authorities, notably the police and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, why they have allowed the area to become so sleazy?

If one takes a walk through the area at any given time in the evening and early morning, it is impossible not to notice the panhandlers, fake monks, prostitutes and litterers.

What kind of impression does this leave in the mind of tourists and locals alike when they are constantly being bombarded with requests for money from these people?

The police, notable by their absence, seem to have given up on any kind of preventative police work there.

I thought even littering came with a HK$1,500 fine; and, as for hygiene, the area is aswarm with rats, if they'd only take time to look.

And, finally, forget trying to find a taxi in Lan Kwai Fong unless you look either drunk, naive, or like a tourist, or preferably all three, for the unscrupulous drivers to prey on.

One of Asia's premier entertainment districts? What a joke!

Stuart Brookes, Shek Tong Tsui


E-textbooks will distract students

Using e-textbooks has become increasingly popular since people think they are more convenient than traditional books.

However, as students, we do not agree.

E-textbooks appeal to primary school students as the gadgets' visual and sound effects stimulate their learning interest. Also, wonderful apps can be accessed through iPads. But younger students, who might think traditional books are boring, could get distracted if they have an electronic notepad.

Of course, using e-textbooks means students do no need to carry their heavy traditional books any more.

But doing homework or coursework online is a problem for secondary school students. Both senior and junior secondary school students have more, and more complex, homework than primary school students.

In addition, iPads are more expensive than traditional books, and less accessible, especially for students from less well-off families.

Although e-textbooks provide up-to-date information quickly, the range of information can be overwhelming to sift through. We think e-textbooks have more disadvantages than traditional textbooks. They can be time-consuming, distract students with games, are time-wasting and use much energy.

So we don't agree with their use.

Cheung Ngai Yan, Wong Pui Kwan, Fan Bo Kei, Ng Tsz Ming, Kwai Chung