Letters to the Editor, September 4, 2013
Little progress in fight against poverty
I refer to your editorial ("City will pay high price if it ignores problem of poverty", August 31).
For many years, Hong Kong has been seen as an advanced financial city by outsiders.
They may sometimes forget that there are many people living here who suffer from poverty and struggle to get by on a daily basis.
Despite the city's economic growth, this problem has not disappeared.
In fact, it could be argued that it has got worse as the gap between rich and poor has become wider.
Poverty is one of the major issues raised by protesters during the annual July 1 march.
Despite people's strong feelings, the government has failed to introduce effective measures to alleviate the problem even though it has substantial reserves.
There are many reasons why people are under the poverty line, such as inflation and high rents which they cannot afford.
Although Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said he recognises the severity of the problem and is committed to alleviating it, so far I have seen little signs of progress.
The administration must do more, and speed up its timetable, because our society has an ageing population.
Tong Oichu, Yau Tong
Careful drivers can avoid accidents
I refer to the letter by Alan Crawley ("Cattle problem makes roads dangerous", August 29).
I do not agree with him that this is case.
The cattle that you sometimes see wandering around Sai Kung do not make driving very dangerous; it is the drivers who are at fault.
I am a frequent road user in the area and I find that if you drive carefully, as everyone should, the cattle do not pose any risk. Also, a careful motorist should not pose a risk to the cattle, to pedestrians or to cyclists.
I respect your correspondent's views. However, I think it is important to get the message across to all road users to be more considerate, to drive carefully and stop when necessary, especially when the cattle are crossing your path on the road.
At night, motorists must switch on dipped headlights and adjust their speed accordingly.
By doing so, they will see any hazard ahead and be able to adjust their speed.
Ralf Weiss, Sai Kung
Critics of gays should be free to speak out
On August 27, the Centre for Health Protection reported that, in the second quarter of this year, 58 people acquired HIV via homosexual contact, and 27 via heterosexual contact.
In the United States, men who have sex with men accounted for 63 per cent of estimated new infections in 2010, yet they represent 2 to 4 per cent of the population. In everywhere with such statistics, the risk of HIV for men having sex with men is dozens to hundreds of times greater than for heterosexuals, despite the push for "safe" sex.
Besides HIV, homosexual relationships also result in higher physical, emotional and psychological health risks and reduced lifespans, as revealed by studies even where society is very much accepting of homosexuality and medicine is advanced, for example, in northern Europe, Canada or San Francisco.
Out of concern for public health, most places have policies preventing men who have sex with men from donating blood, organs and sperm.
Let's put the current debate on discrimination into perspective, and look at the specifics rather than the rhetoric. Homosexuality is legal here, and so is the promotion of homosexuality. Nobody is proposing making them criminal offences.
Yet the pro-gay lobby specifically proposes equating negative statements against homosexuality (such as saying that a homosexual act is a sin or abnormal, or will result in a higher incidence of HIV) as sexuality-based discrimination and thus to be banned.
There are cases in the US, and elsewhere, of schools punishing teachers and students for speaking against homosexuality where such legislation has been passed.
It's one thing that we don't like people saying we've done wrong; it's another to push legislation to prohibit people from saying so.
I would be much worse off if I stopped people from saying things I don't like.
Homosexual behaviour has serious consequences for health; and if you believe in any religions that teach that it's a sin, there are eternal consequences.
Peter Shek, North Point
Smokers make life miserable for pedestrians
I have to pass the office building Kwun Tong 223, on Wai Yip Street, every day on my way back home from work.
On any given day, when people are working in these offices, it is virtually impossible to get past that stretch of pavement without having to inhale a substantial amount of second-hand cigarette smoke.
I do understand that there are lots of smokers in the building and that they are not allowed to light up inside their offices.
Therefore, in order to get their daily quota of nicotine, they all gather just outside the building to smoke.
Most weekdays, at around 5.30pm, you will see at least a dozen people. Once they are finished, they simply toss the still-burning cigarette butt on the top of nearby refuse bins.
Of course, the smoke continues to billow out of the cigarettes piled up on the bin and passing pedestrians have no choice but to inhale it.
Why should people have to put up with this just because these office workers are too selfish to stub out their cigarettes?
Sometimes they just throw the cigarette in the space just outside the building, which is surely a blatant case of littering.
The area looks dirty, but nobody seems to care.
I took this matter up with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department on June 20, via e-mail.
I received an e-mail on July 4, which contained a copy of a letter from June 28, where the department said it would look into the matter and reply within a month.
I heard nothing more, therefore sent a reminder on August 12, and finally received a reply on September 2. The department says it has taken whatever action is possible "under their ambit". I fail to understand what that means when people are still smoking outside the building and the littering continues.
If government departments do not take laws seriously and do not enforce these laws, then what was the point in enacting them?
When a particular case such as this one is brought to their attention by a member of the public, officials should be taking it seriously.
Gauri Venkitaraman, Lam Tin
Diplomacy remains best option in Syria
The United States and a number of countries in Europe have condemned the chemical weapons attack in Syria last month and have blamed the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.
Some claims put the death toll as high as 1,400.
Washington has talked of a strike on the Syrian regime to act as a warning so it will not repeat its alleged chemical weapons attack.
If the allegations are true, then the Syrian government must be condemned for such a cruel act, but I do not think a strike by Washington is the answer.
It could make the serious situation in the country even worse and lead to even more bloodshed and more deaths.
The United Nations should seek a negotiated settlement. And the US, Britain and France should also continue to use diplomatic channels to resolve the crisis.
Leo Wong Chun-shing, Tseung Kwan O