Letters to the Editor, November 9, 2013
TV test shows drawbacks of one-child edict
A reality TV show on the mainland has highlighted the struggles of five celebrity fathers and their children living without the mothers' help for 72 hours, as locals in a poor village, without their toys, snacks and smartphones.
Because most families can have only one child, or face financial penalties, many of these children are spoiled and grow up selfish and boorish.
These youngsters lack the ability to be independent. They are constantly seeking help from others, in particular their parents. This is bad for their development.
It is good for children to learn from their mistakes as this helps them become more mature. At school, even from an early age, they should be given assignments to complete on their own without any help.
However, that is not happening on the mainland. As the TV programme illustrated, the present generation of children will not share with their peers. They don't spend a lot of time associating with other children and so lack communication skills.
As a result they are very self-centred and get into conflict situations.
I believe this problem needs to be rectified with proper family education on the mainland.
Parents must learn to let their sons and daughters confront challenges and problems on their own.
In the long-term interests of the nation, it is time for the central government to have a reassessment of the one-child policy and make the necessary changes.
Cathy Jim Tsz-wan, Yau Tong
Captivity is sharks' death sentence
I refer to the report ("Ocean Park mystified by sudden death of six sharks", November 4).
A true understanding and appreciation of wildlife cannot come from looking at confined, frustrated animals trapped in tanks, every aspect of their existences regulated. Captivity is often a death sentence for marine animals.
Like all ocean dwellers, hammerhead sharks are genetically designed to swim the vast open seas.
Their uniquely-shaped head is believed to act as a sonar detector to seek out prey; some scientists refer to it as a sixth sense.
They aren't meant to live confined to a space that can be measured in litres. Their difficulty in adapting to an alien aquarium tank can be seen in their dramatically diminished lifespan.
Ocean Park management admits it has no idea why these sharks died, so it should stop putting more animals at risk.
People who care about marine life should refuse to buy a ticket to any facility that keeps animals in tanks until they die.
Rebecca Chui, campaigner, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Asia
Australia's gradual reform a model for HK
In the course of the intensifying debate about political reform in the Hong Kong SAR (mainly focused on the 2017 chief executive election, at present) some experienced commentators have argued that political election reform in Hong Kong should be viewed as a process which will take place over time.
They agree that reforms (if achieved) for the 2017 chief executive election are most important - but they will, realistically, be a very important step in an ongoing reform process.
In other words, we should not be preoccupied with securing either a "big bang" reform package, or nothing at all (if this once-and-for-all approach fails to attract sufficient support).
Australia held a federal election in September to choose a new central government in Canberra. Due to (a) more than 1,000 voting papers being mislaid after the first count, and (b) the complexities of the voting system applying in the Australian upper house, the Senate, it now looks possible that the election for the Senate in the state of Western Australia will have to be rerun, in full.
There is not space here to investigate the relevant details of the mind-numbing voting complexities.
What is worth noting, though, is, first, that intense debate has begun about the need to reform the Senate election system to fix the now clearly perceived problems (currently a Senate candidate with fewer than 3,000 first-preference votes has, due to the extraordinary counting system used, formally been declared a winner ahead of an Australian Labor Party candidate with hugely greater initial support).
Next, the particular complexities which have driven this 2013 outcome are, above all, reforms introduced around 30 years ago to fix another perceived drawback in the operation of the then Senate election system.
Australia federated in 1901. It is widely recognised as one of the most mature and stable democracies in the developed world.
The Australian Electoral Commission timeline of major electoral developments from 1901 to 2013 lists almost 40 instances of electoral reform or development - that is an average of some electoral reform or development about every three years. And there is more to come.
The Australian experience plainly supports the position taken by the Hong Kong commentators I mentioned earlier.
Richard Cullen, Sham Shui Po
Leung proves a let-down in TV licence vote
The vote in the Legislative Council on Thursday, which led to a defeat for those lawmakers calling for a probe into the issuing of free-to-air TV licences, was sad for Hong Kong.
In fact, this is not just a loss for Hong Kong, but also for the administration of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, given that its low popularity ratings will drop even further.
At a time when the chief executive has had success in relieving some of the most serious aspects of the housing problem in the city, it is a display of poor leadership for him not to have bowed to public wishes on such an important issue as the TV licences.
The only reason I can think of for him not doing so is presumably related to political complications arising from "one country, two systems".
Peter Wei, Kwun Tong
HarbourFest event was far from a fiasco
I refer to the report ("Film examines HarbourFest fiasco", November 3).
Why is it that whenever you mention HarbourFest it always seems to be followed by the word "fiasco"?
Those of us who were there remember it being anything but.
Concerts by Prince, Carlos Santana and the Rolling Stones were outstanding, while Neil Young turned in what is now widely regarded as one of his best concerts of that era.
The subsequent witch-hunt, responsibility dodging and unjust vilification of Mike Rowse is a far more worthy candidate for your threadbare "fiasco" tag.
Nick Goodyer, Cheung Chau
Set bar high for developers to enter parks
I refer to the letter by George Richard Warfield ("There may be a case for limited building in country parks", October 31).
I think he is correct when he said that the proportion of Hong Kong's land mass dedicated to country parks is "so extreme, at 40 per cent".
There is no doubt that we have a housing shortage in Hong Kong and there is a growing awareness of this problem as more people voice their concerns.
Some people may argue that building flats in our country parks is the panacea.
When you go hiking, it is not difficult to see how parts of these parks could accommodate more homes and expanded landfills, another issue which is attracting a lot of attention as they near capacity.
However, environmentalists argue that these parks must be preserved and that a construction programme would irrevocably damage the country parks and animal habitats.
It is clear that there must be a full and detailed debate on this issue. We must examine all aspects of any proposal. If we cut down trees and encroach on the parks, we damage nature. However, if we keep them intact, we have to admit there is less land available in Hong Kong on which to build flats.
As I said, no decision to build in the parks should be taken without the most exhaustive consultation process, no matter how serious the housing shortage may be.
Jason Cheng, Hung Hom
Bus tragedy bereaved must see big picture
I appreciate that the Manila bus hijack three years ago was a tragedy and was saddened that it cost the lives of seven Hong Kong tourists and their guide. I hope they rest in peace and that the condition of those who were injured will improve.
However, when looking at the present discussion over an apology and compensation, we have to realise that the Philippines is a country that has its fair share of natural disasters.
Also, a great many of the country's citizens live below the poverty line and are in desperate need of international aid.
The main source of their foreign exchange comes from their citizens who go abroad to work as domestic helpers.
They work in countries all over the world and often have to endure great hardship and sometimes mistreatment in order to earn enough to feed their families back home.
I hope that those families whose relatives were victims of the hostage crisis will take these matters into account.
They should accept the apology offered by the mayor of Manila, Joseph Estrada, and be patient when it comes to claims for compensation. They have got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
K. M. Nasir, Mid-Levels