Letters to the Editor, October 10, 2013
Mathieson the right choice as vice-chancellor
I refer to the report ("Mathieson confirmed as new head of HKU", October 5).
I met Professor Peter Mathieson at the forum organised for alumni hours before the announcement. I must congratulate the selection committee for a job well done.
The new vice-chancellor has undisputed academic excellence. He impressed me as a caring person, teaching and raising funds for a teaching hospital in Uganda for 14 years.
He is a man of integrity, with an open mind, willing to engage with people, but he also has the guts to agree to disagree face to face.
We have had similar childhood experiences. Like me, he came from a humble family background and, like me, he lost a parent when he was young.
Through his own determination, he gained a first-class honours degree at the University of London and a PhD from Cambridge University.
He runs the large faculty of medicine and dentistry at Bristol University. He has succeeded in turning it around financially and academically.
When the University of Hong Kong went on a global search, it was looking for a world-class leader, with academic excellence, proven management expertise and, above all, integrity.
We were not looking for someone who can read and write Chinese, who is adaptable and will play the game the Chinese way. No, we are looking for integrity.
HKU has earned its place among the top universities of the world because of its cultural diversity, racial mix and international ties.
We would like him to bridge the gap in research efforts between the university and small and medium-sized enterprises locally.
All those connected to HKU should welcome him to our large family and give him our fullest support.
Sam T. S. Chow, Central
Lacking an understanding of China
We have seen another laughable appointment by the alleged leaders of "knowledge-based" Hong Kong.
By his own admission, Professor Peter Mathieson lacks an understanding of both Hong Kong - the territory in which he will be a university vice-chancellor - and China.
I have spent 23 years in Hong Kong and know it and China like the back of my hand. I possess all the qualities Professor Mathieson brings to the table except the excellent academic standing and a deep personal affection for Uganda. Why wasn't I headhunted?
No doubt this will turn into an 18-month debacle where the appointee leaves citing personal or health reasons.
And we want to be a tier one city? Not in my lifetime.
William Stevenson Spencer, Tin Hau
Tough jail terms can curb illegal trade
I refer to the report ("One in three HK cigarettes illegal: study", October 3).
The study that came out with this figure said that because of so much illicit tobacco the city is losing out on billions of tax revenue.
I do not think this study should prompt a debate about whether the government should lower the tax on cigarette so as to make smuggling unprofitable.
The most important issue should be how to fight the criminals involved in this illegal trade. At the end of the day, there is no public policy that can cure all social ills.
When the government raises tax to discourage cigarette consumption, it should consider thoroughly all the consequences of its action and plan ahead with corresponding solutions.
The problem of illicit cigarettes is not only about potential loss of government revenue but of funds going to criminal groups, which might create more social problems.
The SAR government should not make crime lucrative by turning a blind eye to the problem.
From a criminal justice point of view, the most cost-effective way to combat smuggling of illegal cigarettes is to establish [appropriate] sentencing guidelines in our courts. The administration should increase maximum sentences for buyers and sellers of illicit cigarettes.
Lee Lung-wing, Tseung Kwan O
Citizens must look to their own faults
There has been a lot of talk recently about the rudeness of Chinese tourists, with people citing numerous high-profile incidents in the last few months.
A typical scenario affects Hongkongers travelling on public transport. They will find mainland visitors jumping queues and elbowing their way past other passengers to disembark.
Some of them also ignore the ban on eating and drinking in MTR carriages and on buses.
Obviously Hong Kong residents get annoyed by these incidents, and this has led to many of them being extremely critical of the behaviour of the mainlanders.
However, before rushing to accuse them of rudeness, we need to review our own behaviour. The fact is that many Hong Kong people can also be impolite.
This city is very popular with tourists, especially mainlanders. We should learn to respect cultural differences and at the same time pay attention to how we conduct ourselves.
Hopefully this will help these visitors appreciate our culture and learn from good behaviour.
I hope the media can also help to bring about mutual understanding rather than just highlight disagreements.
Kiki Leung, Ma On Shan
Stanley's road system already overburdened
On October 2, the Transport Department organised a forum to discuss plans to reorganise and enhance public transport services in Repulse Bay and Stanley following the commissioning of the MTR's West Island Line and the South Island Line (East).
One of the stated objectives of the proposed reorganisation was "utilising public transport resources effectively … improving the environment and air quality, and relieving road congestion".
At the same time, the department is proposing the construction of a multistorey car park in Stanley at great expense to encourage more cars to use the already overburdened road system in that area.
The two proposals seem to be entirely in conflict with each other. Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing?
David Wilson, Stanley
Car park will be a white elephant
It is simply beyond belief that a multistorey car park is proposed for Stanley Beach Road.
On weekends, particularly Sunday, and on public holidays, the traffic is intolerable. Throw in this parking and it will be a complete gridlock every Sunday. Line all the buses down the side and this road will be total congestion. At the stop light where taxis turn down to Stanley market, and where buses pull out to exit Stanley bus terminus, there is huge congestion most Sundays.
Anyone who has been stuck in this traffic jam, in a taxi, driving a private car or simply sitting on a bus on a Sunday, will be aware of this congestion.
It is unfathomable that any person of modest intelligence who has experienced this could possibly be unaware of the potential calamity such a structure will cause.
If commercial interests in Stanley truly need additional parking, I suggest building an underground car park where the current temporary car parks are on Carmel Road. This has easy access to Stanley Plaza. There are at present no residential units on the north side of this road.
If you go on a weekday, you will see few if any vehicles in these low-priced car parks, but on Sunday they are full.
It is ludicrous to spend an enormous sum of taxpayer's money for a place that will only be utilised on 52 Sundays (plus public holidays). We are talking about probably fewer than 68 days a year, because there are bad-weather Sundays when there is no traffic in Stanley.
How anybody can rationalise building such a car park, particularly along the congested Stanley Beach Road, is simply beyond comprehension.
As I said, if officials insist on this white elephant, then choose Carmel Road. There are no parked buses or cars, beaches, or pedestrians accessing the beach. Better yet, scrap the whole idea to force higher patronage of public transport.
J. R. Robertson, Wan Chai
Quality time with parents is important
I agree with those correspondents who have written about the plight of the elderly in Hong Kong.
Many elderly people live alone and even those with a family may only rarely see their children. Hongkongers are under a lot of pressure with most of them having demanding careers. They work long hours and when they have only a short period to relax will often spend it with friends.
This is sad and I think we all need to remember the sacrifices our parents made for us during their working lives.
We must not take them for granted. Even though free time is limited for most citizens, they need to ensure they spend some of it with their parents.
Tsoi Po-yi, Tseung Kwan O