Letters to the Editor, June 29, 2013

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 4:35am

Time turns Snowden from hero to villain

When Edward Snowden first popped up on our screens, I was a fan.

He seemed like someone who had the courage of his convictions; he took responsibility for the "leaks" and simply wanted the world to know the truth so it would be a better place. Gradually, however, his moral high ground for me has become a pile of quickly eroding sand.

As days went by we learned that for 2½ years after he had ethical qualms about what he was doing, he continued to take a US$200,000 annual salary, first at the CIA, then at Booz Allen Hamilton. I have not heard him offer to return this half-million dollars of ill-gotten gain for ethical reasons.

Furthermore, during that time he was pretending to work for the government and the subcontractor, while, in fact, stealing from them.

We also found that even though he never completed high school, was under 30, with limited access to secure information and policy decisions, he nevertheless decided his position and beliefs were stronger, more important, and morally better than those of his superiors. Why is this feeling more like arrogance than compassionate concern?

While at first Snowden said he wanted to be forthcoming and take responsibility, he has been hiding ever since.

Why didn't he inform the media in his own country instead of The Guardian? They would have loved such a story.

His decision to come here certainly put Hong Kong in one more controversy it didn't need.

This isn't someone who is accepting responsibility; this is a runner and a hider.

And is this about freedom of speech, as some of our Hong Kong people were claiming? It seems to me Snowden relinquished his ability to speak freely about certain things when he signed his employment contract with the CIA. In it, he affirmed never to divulge certain types of information he would have access to. And yet he broke that written promise.

And isn't it strange that he joined the CIA and then seemed surprised that they were spying and gathering information from around the world? What did he think the CIA did? He is either the most naive person on the planet, or being less than truthful with us - again.

So with each day I see less and less difference between an arrogant, cowardly, manipulative, promise-breaking "hero" and the villain he is supposedly exposing.

William Hendricks, Tin Shui Wai


An American embarrassed by NSA spies

I was pleased to see the Hong Kong government blow black at the US administration over the Edward Snowden issue.

The arrogance of my government is an embarrassment. Why should there be any co-operation when the National Security Agency has flagrantly and illegally spied on Hong Kong citizens?

I support the many good deeds of my government to other countries in need.

This time I applaud those countries who have called the US what it is on this issue, a total hypocrite.

Jack McGrath, Port Hueneme, California, US


Courageous whistle-blower a nation's pride

Edward Snowden brings pride to the American people, not shame. He is standing up to the most powerful military and political machine on earth to protect the basic human right to privacy.

The honesty, integrity and moral courage of one young man brings pride and respect to the United States more effectively than the 100,000 soldiers sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The US tries to pressurise China and Hong Kong into submission, under the high-sounding pretext of espionage and state secrets, excuses which were seriously overused by communist countries in the cold war years.

The US is trying to circumvent the legal process through the strong arm of political influence. But this is precisely the message that Edward Snowden wants to bring out - the need for respect for the due process of the law. It is the constitutional right of US citizens.

A person must be assumed innocent until proven guilty. You cannot arrest any person at will because Big Brother asks you to do so.

It is time to let sleeping dogs lie. The negative publicity would be over in two weeks if the US did not kick up a fuss.

If Snowden had been arrested in Hong Kong, the case would have dragged on for years, and the excesses of the American system would have been reported in newspapers all over the world, year in, year out, during Barack Obama's presidency.

I respect Mr Obama the Nobel peace laureate. He should not let the intelligence war machine be inflated out of proportion. Don't let it go down the slippery slope of the infamous KGB.

He should speak out for fellow Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo . Counterbalance the flight of Snowden with the freeing of Liu. Let the Chinese and American dreams merge, with Hong Kong as a catalyst.

The world will be a much better place in which to live.

Sam Chow, Mid-Levels


Faculty should keep activist views private

In Hong Kong, many renowned university academics are now coming into the limelight to lead the young in controversial political movements.

I am a retired lecturer and never once in my 40-plus years of teaching did I talk to my students about my political views. Experience tells me how easy it is to rouse their passions and rally them, particularly if you are a charismatic teacher. Ethically and professionally, it is unacceptable.

Of course, those teachers and university academics who led young students in the fight for democracy at the time of the downfall of the Qing dynasty were admirable. But is Hong Kong in a similarly dire situation? Does Hong Kong need a revolution and a total change of government?

If the answer is "yes", then we need a Hong Kong state, politically and constitutionally independent of China. Then let these university teachers acting as political leaders openly declare that they are seeking to establish Hong Kong as a fully independent state.

But also, if the answer is "yes", these people must be honest to their young followers and tell them what the reality is, that China will never let that happen, and that Hong Kong cannot survive outside China.

In fact, these academics should not be using the rich resources offered by their universities to preach and promote their own political views to the young. There is clear conflict of interest. Let these students develop their own views.

Tom Lee, Quarry Bay


Safer roads for Lantau better late than never

I refer to the letter by Carol Adcock ("A wish list for roads on Lantau Island", June 24).

Not so long ago, I also wrote to these columns, lamenting the appalling traffic conditions on South Lantau Road, rampant speeding, crossing of white lines, the custom of tailgating and the lack of courtesy regarding zebra crossings.

I castigated the police for being both inefficient and ineffectual and urged the Transport Department to effect a number of measures, used to regulate motorists in some countries successfully, to enhance road safety.

All to no avail, and now we have experienced at least five traffic accidents in less than a month and the deaths of a motorcyclist and eight feral cattle.

I hope that at last those in authority have finally realised dangerous driving does prevail on Lantau's roads and that they will take swift and decisive action to bring it under control.

Jacqui Green, Lantau


Light polluters must be made to switch off

The problem of light pollution is getting worse and it is having a lot of unpleasant side-effects for citizens.

I believe that owners of large shopping malls should bear the greatest responsibility.

Many of these malls keep lights on overnight.

I believe, in some cases, this is done to get a discount from the electricity companies and this is a waste of energy.

I can remember 15 years ago being able to look up and I could see all the stars twinkling in the night sky.

However, when I look up now I cannot see them.

The city is famous for its night views, but something must be done to improve the situation.

The government should instruct the malls, as soon as possible, to stop the habit of keeping lights on overnight.

Chris Fung Kin-ki, Sha Tin


'Local' trouble undermining global image

Following my recent trip to Europe, I share the views of your correspondents regarding HSBC.

Imagine my surprise when my HSBC ATM card did not work in France, Italy, Spain or Greece.

HSBC claims to be the world's local bank. Yet they are very careful to not inform clients that their ATM cards do not work throughout most of Europe.

Anyone who is an HSBC client knows that it is truly a local bank, and nothing more.

Erik Senko, Mid-Levels