Letters to the editor, Sunday December 8, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 December, 2013, 4:58am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 December, 2013, 4:58am

Responsible move to raise voting age

A change in the voting age has become the talk of the town. Some people believe that it should be raised to 21 while others think it should remain at 18 or even be lowered to 16. I think 21 is the most appropriate age at which to get the vote.

The first and most obvious reason is that at that age young people are mature enough to do so. A 21-year-old person might be a university graduate, they are considered well educated, and they know the difference between right and wrong.

If the voting age is lowered to 16 or stays at 18, society takes a risk entrusting the vote to those who are still high school students receiving fundamental knowledge academically. They will probably be ill prepared to choose political representatives in Hong Kong. They remain in the developmental stage of life, still trying their best to find their own values. In other words, they cannot identify with themselves clearly, let alone who they are voting for.

Secondly, young people tend to be less interested in politics than are older people. Adolescents seldom air political views publicly. The student organisation to protest against the national-education policy was an exception to this rule.

They think politics is not related to their pursuit of academic knowledge under Hong Kong's exam-oriented system.

Raising the voting age to 21 would most likely allow time for their attitudes to change and embrace those who want wholeheartedly to vote. By that age they have had more exposure to society and are willing to participate more in political debate and show their own beliefs. They can play a role in choosing the most suitable political candidates to change society.

Some people say that lowering the age to 16 or keeping it at 18 can help adolescents participate in community events. However, at this age they do not have real world experience. They know only what they have learned in textbooks. In light of this, they do not know which parties or people are suitable as candidates for Legco or the post of Chief Executive.

Raising the voting age to 21 can help the youngsters more meaningfully reflect what society they want in the future.

Steven Lau Ka Po, Tuen Mun


Iran a step away from nuclear bomb

Reading Philip Bowring's column ("One week, and a world of change", December 1), I was struck by glaringly inconsistent logic and irritating continuation of the Israel bashing that has been your correspondent's inclination for some years now.

To suit his narrative, Bowring selectively expands on the historical greatness of Iran, but dismisses Israel as a Zionist state created by Western imperialism.

In the context of Iran's nuclear programme and its conflict with the UN non-proliferation treaty, Israel does not feature but only for the Iranian leadership's continuing threats against the state.

The new president of Iran, Hassan Rowhani, is regarded by the West as a moderate, but that's overlooking the fact that his new defence minister is general Ahmad Vahidi, the man who established Hezbollah in Lebanon and is a suspected mastermind behind the bombing of peacekeeping forces at the US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983.

Today Iran is but a step away from nuclear weapon capability; this will inevitably lead other countries in the Middle East to seek the same capability. Is that what the world wants?

If and when Iran will agree to dismantle the nuclear development, can we be positive about venturing into current negotiations?

Marian Schneps, Wan Chai


Perspective of history a vital learning aid

I am writing in response to Kevin Lau's letter ("We don't need history", November 25). I understand that Hong Kong students bear enormous pressure under the weight of lots of subjects. However, I disagree that Chinese students don't need history.

Undoubtedly, people should be forward-looking so that society will keep on progressing. Yet if we are unfamiliar with past events, what can we base our improvement upon? Imagine no one knew about the reforms and opening up that occurred in China in 1978; how could we begin to reconcile the gaps between rich and poor? History can give us clues to help find the solutions.

What's more, studying history prompts us not only to re-examine our mistakes, but also to raise our sense of belonging.

Furthermore, learning history is conducive to critical thinking. We acknowledge prior mistakes in world history, such as the cataclysmic Cultural Revolution which caused the loss of countless intellectual and economic resources.

Not only does history help us to distinguish right from wrong, it also encourages critical thinking.

Putting more emphasis on Chinese history will serve all of us well, since the relations between China and Hong Kong are complicated.

Christy Tse, Tseung Kwan O


Driven to distraction by KMB claims

Kowloon Motor Bus has submitted a fare increase proposal to the government even though its fares had already soared by 4.9 per cent in March this year.

I believe most commuters, like me, are frustrated and furious at this proposal by KMB. The company habitually asks for permission to impose an incredibly high fare increase purely to allow more room for negotiation with the government - a tedious tactic. Subsequently a lower "adjusted and acceptable" increased fare level is approved by Exco.

The proposed increment of 4.3 per cent is higher than the growth in wages for many ordinary Hongkongers.

The government and Exco, as watchdogs of the franchised companies like KMB and the MTR, should be vigilant in contemplating any decisions which will seriously affect the livelihood of residents.

KMB is operating its monopolistic business under the government's protection, and has almost an absolute advantage in Kowloon and the New Territories. Sometimes, I am quite puzzled as to why Citybus and New World First Bus can make a profit without raising fares, whereas KMB keeps grumbling about soaring fuel prices, overlapping routes, and skyrocketing labour costs.

The services of KMB have not been improved even though higher fares were imposed this year. If this company does not wish to run this business like China Motor Bus, I strongly believe there must be some passionate entrants eager to join this game.

Pun Ka-hung, Kwai Chung


Retire ageing, incident-prone Macau ferries

I followed the reports about the Macau-bound ferry accident [on November 29]. There is a lot of talk about floating junk having caused an engine shut-down but not a word about the age and the quality of the ferry.

As I travel quite often to Macau and back, I have experienced the problem of engine failure several times, and usually these problems happen on such outdated vessels as the Madeira, which was involved in the recent accident, and its sister ships of a similar vintage.

My worst experience was a three-hour passage, delayed when the boat's engines broke down. The sucking in of debris is well known to the ferry company and these old versions should be retired.

Unfortunately the company owning these fossils seems to think profit is more important than passenger safety.

G. Vollmerich, Tai Tam