Letters to the Editor, August 21, 2013
It's time to end forced service in military
The death of a soldier in Taiwan has saddened and angered many on that island ("Mourners at corporal's funeral urge Ma to quit", August 5).
Just three days before ending his compulsory military service, the young man [Hung Chung-chiu] died after his body overheated as a result of what military prosecutors termed excessive punishment for a minor office - bringing a mobile phone onto the base.
What a tragic waste of a young life, the result of a cruel and violent system, so typical of the mindset in Asian armies.
Chinese people well remember how sadistic Japanese officers were [before and during the second world war], not only to their foes, but even to their own soldiers. Severe beatings were routine and designed to humiliate and force conscripts to be equally cruel. Civilians and helpless prisoners were often targets of their viciousness.
In Western armies, the pattern was similar. Many British soldiers were branded deserters and executed during the first world war because they were shell shocked and could no longer face the horrors of trench warfare.
The long and tragic history of military cruelty brings up the question of compulsory military service. Why are young men forced to join the army when a nation is not actually at war? Isn't this a form of imprisonment and a violation of a basic human right?
Some will reply that defending one's country is an honour and obligation, but we all know from history that armed forces exist not to defend, but to intimidate and acquire resources. Two superpowers, the United States and China are now engaged in this stupid, outdated, no-win game.
Conscientious objectors to conscription are often imprisoned and ridiculed, forced to suffer because they refuse to learn the art of killing others.
Isn't it high time for the United Nations to declare that compulsory military service is a violation of conscience and basic human rights?
It would be even better if parents, especially mothers' groups, denounced military excesses and urged their children to reject military service and its concomitant brutality. Killing should be done by older, well-paid professionals, not by simple, naive young people fresh out of school.
J. Garner, Sham Shui Po
Subsidies will not change energy habits
I was a bit surprised to read the call by green groups in the report ("CLP called on to give HK$300m handouts", August 13). I don't see a justifiable reason to ask CLP Power to blindly give out money, as I don't think people will change their [energy consumption] habits with the extra subsidy. On the contrary, they may turn on the air conditioner and lighting for longer if they think the appliances are energy efficient, and electricity consumption would go up.
In my opinion, raising awareness about energy saving is more effective. Only if people truly believe in the importance of energy conservation will they be willing to sacrifice some comfort and convenience in their everyday lives.
The views of Jake van der Kamp in his column ("Little benefit from greenies' call for CLP subsidies", August 15) are very sensible.
I also don't understand why the green groups pointed the finger at CLP Power; shouldn't this also involve Hongkong Electric and shouldn't a broader environmental policy be driven by the government?
T. W. Law, Tsing Yi
Bullying of LGBT people unacceptable
It is extremely unfortunate that those who are against equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have to resort to hyperbole and misinformation to justify their fear and discriminatory views on the issue.
The Bible is not banned in countries with robust legislation that protects LGBT people from discrimination, nor are dissenting views silenced. Violence against anyone should be condemned, period. On the contrary, we continue to see people using religion as a justification for bullying and attacking LGBT people. Is this acceptable in a civil society?
Medical statistics do not say there is a higher possibility of gay people contracting HIV.
It is a well-known scientific fact that the major risk factors are unsafe sex, multiple sex partners and the use of intravenous drugs.
If a gay man follows safe sex guidelines, then his chance of contracting HIV is no higher than a comparable straight man.
Homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice, and it is well established that stigmatisation, prejudices and discrimination against LGBT people have significant social and personal costs.
This negative scenario is simply unacceptable and should be rejected by anyone who has an ounce of humility.
Jerome Yau, Happy Valley
MTR incident is no excuse for prejudice
Your editorial ("Some things you don't do", August 5) reports two incidents involving a little girl who urinated in an MTR carriage and a child who defecated in a train station.
In the former incident, you mention that the Putonghua-speaking mother did nothing to stop her daughter.
I presume the writer wants to imply that the woman was possibly a visitor from the mainland.
Can or should we stop a call of nature from taking place?
The editorial goes on to cite cultural differences, uncivilised attitudes and a lack of discipline as reasons for both incidents.
All these reasons are wide of the mark.
If there was a toilet handy on the MTR station, would the woman allow her daughter to relieve herself in a carriage?
Public conveniences are a scarcity in our city.
When a call of nature is becoming intolerable, nobody would choose to wait unless there is a toilet in sight.
Visitors from the mainland are no exception.
We should be ashamed of ourselves for the lack of toilets in our city.
The MTR Corporation makes billions of dollars in profit every year but prefers to convert every inch of available space to commercial use.
Building toilets for the convenience of passengers does not appear to be a priority.
Some people in Hong Kong dislike mainlanders so much that they call them "locusts".
These people forget that, after the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, visitors from the mainland contributed tremendously to the revival of our retail and property market, thereby relieving a lot of owners from the pain of negative equity.
What happened to their conscience?
Sam Wong, Sha Tin
A ban on the sale of ivory is long overdue
You posed the question on this page on August 13, "Is it now time for the central government to make the sale of ivory in the country illegal?", in order to stop the slaughter of elephants.
It is well past time for the Chinese authorities to have taken such action.
And it is imperative that the Chinese leadership stops turning a blind eye to this abhorrent business.
Imagine the official outcry if China's iconic panda was being poached to supply overseas market demand for claw and teeth trinkets, pelt rugs and panda bile medicine.
We all live in one world, and the natural world demands respect.
Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels