Letters to the Editor, November 3, 2013
Wearing burqa no big deal in a tolerant city
With reference to the letter ("Ill-fitting and out of place in HK culture", October 27), Helen Heron decries, with considerable disdain, incidences of some overseas Muslims carrying on in Hong Kong their own cultural practice of wearing a burqa (Islamic full body veiling), instead of "doing in Rome as Romans do".
I would like to point out to Ms Heron that the local culture of Hong Kong is extremely tolerant.
Local citizens customarily accept cultural diversity, perhaps unlike Rome.
I suggest that Ms Heron should follow her own advice, and desist from expressing disapproval of anyone following his own cultural dress code; after all, it hurts no one else.
It is these days a growing Western practice to interfere in cultural traditions of other people.
Anachronistic as the burqa may well be, it is up to Muslims to resolve the issue without lectures from non-Muslims.
What next - should we use knives and forks instead of chopsticks or our hands? Sliced bread instead of pita? It never works to try to "civilise" other races. Thankfully, it is not usual in Asian cultures to "reform" other people.
A little less of "why can you not be like me" will help today's world. Such an attitude only gets the other's back up.
Sehba Khan, Mid-Levels
Mei Ho hostel preserves a piece of history
The government's decision to turn the former Mei Ho House,a grade-two historic building, in Shek Kip Mei estate, into a youth hostel ("Hostel brings new life to old estate", October 22) is imaginative and welcome.
First of all, such accommodation is attractive to backpackers and tourists, as booking a dormitory is much cheaper than in the city's hotels.The hostel's fascinating views, coupled with the relatively low cost of staying in Hong Kong, will attract even more visitors and will boost the tourism sector.
Experiencing some of what life was like for ordinary people in the old Hong Kong is one of the main attractions of the Mei Ho youth hotel.
It incorporates a public housing museum, so the new generation of Hongkongers as well as tourists can get to know more about the life of the grass roots in the past.
Through this experience, younger people can learn about the perseverance of their predecessors, while tourists can learn more of the true story about Hong Kong's success as an international financial centre.
Turning historic buildings into useful facilities can bring a lot of benefits to society, so the government should consider similar imaginative projects to Mei Ho in future.
Simply letting such precious historic buildings become useless, and not letting the people benefit, would be a waste of land resources.
Chan Tak-yung, Ma On Shan
Stop playing the bully in island disputes
I refer to the report ("China, Vietnam to set up sea exploration group", October 14).
The two countries are to establish a working group to jointly explore their disputed areas of the South China Sea as they "vowed to move beyond the territorial row and enhance blateral ties".
This is the first positive step China has taken in the South China Sea dispute with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.
The dispute was caused by China claiming nearly the whole of the South China Sea as its territory.
The Chinese claim is based on a map issued by the then Nationalist Chinese government in 1947, on which nine dotted lines were drawn claiming nearly the whole of the South China Sea as Chinese territory.
Prior to this map, there were no Chinese maps which marked this area as Chinese territory. There has never been any international agreement which supported China's claim, nor have any of the countries involved in the dispute ever recognised this claim.
In the late 19th century, after the Meiji Restoration in Japan, the hawkish faction in Japan believed that its country did not have enough land or natural resources to make Japan a world power.
It targeted Manchuria and Taiwan as the areas Japan needed to possess to power its economy. This Japanese hegemony subsequently caused Japan a lot of grief, culminating in its defeat in the second world war.
After the war, a peaceful Japan developed into the world's second largest economy. It proved that there is no need to possess great natural resources. If you have enough brains and technical know-how to produce things the world wants to buy, you can buy all the natural resources you need from others.
This is the lesson China needs to keep in mind while on its way to becoming a world superpower.
Instead of being the playground bully, China would do well to negotiate with the countries involved in the dispute jointly, using the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as the guideline.
Once China demonstrates its willingness to respect international laws, the South China Seas disputes can be resolved quickly.
Then Japan will be put on its back foot in the international arena in its unwillingness to have talks with China on the sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyu Islands.
Alex Woo, Tsim Sha Tsui
Zhou brings hope to gays on mainland
What a wonderful breath of fresh air reading the superb article about Zhou Dan ("Lawyer advises LGBT people", October 20). At last gay people in China have a great legal contact and a sympathetic ear for advice.
Especially important are the pitfalls attached to being obliged to seek some kind of union with the opposite sex. Marriages between gay men and lesbians are invariably a recipe for disaster. A couple of friends of mine have taken this route and the marriage has been over within six months.
Why doesn't China bite the bullet and legalise gay marriage? Traditional family values would be against this but, in fact, legalising gay marriage would help with population control and might even take some of the pressure from the problems of China's one-child policy.
For the time being, as a gay person living here with my Hong Kong partner, I congratulate Zhou Dan and hope that his work with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people receives the support it deserves.
David Sellers, Yuen Long
Children need time to relax from studies
Children in Hong Kong are living with so much pressure these days, in primary and secondary schools and universities.
They face quizzes and tests every week and cannot relax, with some finding the pressure unbearable.
I think schools and parents in Hong Kong should be a little less competitive and allow children more time for leisure activities, as recommended in a recent report by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
If children have more time to pursue leisure activities, the parents themselves can relax and have a better life.
In fact, leisure activities can also boost children's knowledge. Just by watching television, for example, they can improve their vocabulary and learn more about the news.
Rheneas Choi, Yau Ma Tei