Letters to the Editor, September 8, 2013
Anti-police rant symptom of society's ills
A video of primary school teacher Alpais Lam Wai-sze using bad language to police opened a floodgate of criticism when it appeared on the internet over the summer.
Ms Lam, irate at what she saw as passivity in policing a Falun Gong protest disrupted by the pro-Beijing Hong Kong Youth Care Association, later apologised, but excluded the police from her apology.
The incident has been a hot topic for the past month. I think she should apologise to the police she swore at. We can express our opinions politely instead of provoking others.
It's not as if it were a slip of the tongue or an accident. I have watched the video on the web. Ms Lam kept insulting the policeman for at least six minutes - and continued ranting as the film clip ended. Her refusal to apologise properly shows she is not truly contrite. Her behaviour was unacceptable and inappropriate for a teacher. I do not accept her excuses.
I also disagree with those who say she was exercising her right to express an opinion. When enjoying freedom of speech, we cannot trample on the rights of others in pursuit of our own. Mutual respect is necessary in resolving conflict.
This incident shows that some Hongkongers are overstating their freedoms, such as the Occupy Central campaigners whose proposed action is illegal, and protesting taxi drivers whose actions have caused traffic jams. We need to stay within the law and be considerate to others. We are not living in the world alone. Expressing opinions illegally and disrespectfully is not a cure-all for problems we want to solve.
Alison Ng Tsz-ying, Yau Yat Chuen
Swearing is all right - at the correct time
In the controversy over the teacher who swore at police, the question is not whether she was right to challenge their actions, but whether as a teacher she should have used foul language.
In my opinion, a teacher swearing is not a problem at all - there are teachers who swear in class in some countries. Does it really matter? They are still teachers so long as they impart knowledge to students.
Using foul language is not a good thing, although we should learn to distinguish it from normal speech and know when not to use it. Swearing is never a problem as long as you use it at the right time. You can speak any way you want when chatting with friends or even family. But when you are facing your teacher and maybe also your boss, you should know what you should say and what you should not.
So, just do the right thing and use the right words at the appropriate time.
Tiffany Leung, Shun Lee
Political play in teacher row a worrying sign
Teachers, like doctors, police and politicians, are human. For all kinds of reasons they occasionally make mistakes, and there is no harm in an occasional reminder about ethics and the responsibilities involved in their work.
However, the stand taken by the organisation Caring Hong Kong Power, for teachers to declare their political stance to schools, breeds an atmosphere of distrust and goes too far.
Those who make this call seem to ignore the historical lessons of American McCarthyism, and Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution.
It's not clear when teachers would have to do so, or what employers might do with the information. Refuse to hire the teacher? Instant dismissal? Relegation to non-teaching duties? Re-education for targeted teachers in Siberian labour camps? Perhaps teachers with offending views could be used for organ harvesting?
I am reminded of last year's debacle over the national-education curriculum. Should teachers like myself now refrain from mentioning to students any ideas about citizenship, corruption, or elections, about religion, about caring for Hong Kong's elderly and the poor, or about conserving wildlife and the environment because these topics are deemed "political"?
It's my job as an educator to get students thinking and talking and writing. I am sure parents would support what I do, even if those with their own axe to grind do not.
Nigel Pearson, Tsuen Wan
Positive focus on rural NT transformation
The controversial northeastern New Territories development plan has been debated at length over the past few months.
The project has met with vociferous opposition from people living there and other citizens. However, I have a different point of view on this subject.
Land supply in urban areas is not sufficient to support Hong Kong's future development. If we are seeking new land from reclamation, the maximum would be just 600 hectares.
Meanwhile we already have more than 3,000 hectares of land in the northeast New Territories that could be used. Rather than reclamation, developing this area is a more effective way to proceed. Whatever we do to obtain land for building in the future, it is inevitable that eventually this part of Hong Kong will be developed.
Opponents fear that part of Hong Kong will be subsumed by the mainland, but it is too early for such a conclusion.
In any case the project aims to stimulate the integration of Hong Kong and the mainland, mostly for economic activities. We are not selling our land to foreigners. The soaring mainland market will possibly help boost our economy, with new investment and industries.
This project undoubtedly facilitates Hong Kong's future development. It is unfair to both Hong Kong and the mainland to demonise this project.
Kato Chan, Tseung Kwan O
Manners, not money, makes global respect
Sometimes we have a bad impression of mainland visitors even though they are our compatriots. We see them on streets, in malls and theme parks. "Why are they so rude? Why can't they queue up patiently?" people wonder.
During the Cultural Revolution violence became commonplace for people used to seeing the wealthy and intellectuals "criticised" daily. Rudeness and incivility became accepted as normal, and this attitude was passed on to the next generation.
If Chinese people want to be loved the world over for more than their money and propensity to spend, they need to change their bad habits and learn to be polite. With the right education this can be accomplished swiftly. Not only in schools but also from parents aware of the value of good manners to their children's future.
This way, Chinese people can gain respect worldwide.
Chan Tsz-ling, Yau Tong
Time now for law to bring back the night
People complain that because of high levels of light pollution in Hong Kong they can no longer see the stars in the night sky.
This form of pollution is harming the city's environment and its citizens. Research shows that excessive light pollution can disrupt people's biological clock.
Obviously lights are necessary at night to provide safety and security for pedestrians. However, some shopping malls and high-rise buildings have lights that need not be kept on late at night. They are simply there to attract shoppers and they take too heavy a toll on our environment.
It is time for the government to act.
Legislation is still not in place which could impose controls on external lighting. The Legislative Council needs to formulate a law which limits the brightness of external lighting, and perhaps sets a time at night when unnecessary lights should be switched off.
Christine Chow, Tseung Kwan O