Beautiful part of HK must be protected
There has been a great deal of debate on the government's proposal to incorporate Tai Long Sai Wan into Sai Kung East Country Park.
The beach there is beautiful and is a habitat for many different kinds of animals.
It is an extremely popular site with visitors.
Public concerns about a threat to this special part of Hong Kong were first raised [in 2010] over a private development. I support the government's proposal regarding incorporating it into the country park network so that there is no repeat of this incident.
This beautiful area should be shared by everyone. It should not be the preserve of a few individuals. It is an important site which Hong Kong citizens and visitors should be able to use for recreational purposes.
Including it in a country park ensures greater protection. Officials will be more vigilant in ensuring that the environment is preserved.
It will limit the development projects that can be undertaken.
I think indigenous villagers have adopted a selfish attitude. Some of them want it developed so they can earn profits.
Besides, even with its incorporation in the country park, their residential rights will remain in force. They will be entitled to live there for the rest of their lives if that is their wish.
I hope the debate over Tai Long Sai Wan will make people think more about how important it is to protect the environment.
It should be made part of the country park system as soon as possible.
Maggie Lo Wai-ming, Kowloon Tong
Toy guns the wrong present for children
There is a festive atmosphere during the Christmas season and a spirit of generosity in the hearts of many, even non-Christians, who like to give gifts during the holidays.
Children are especially happy at this time because their parents and friends may give them toys, clothing and other presents.
However, there is one kind of toy that I consider to be totally unsuitable. I refer to toy guns and other weapons because they violate the Christmas spirit - one of love, of acceptance and of peace.
When we give toy guns to youngsters, we are subtly teaching them that violence is fun, that shooting people can be a sport and that might makes right. Is that the message of Christmas?
A Chinese saying tells us that the "first to enter becomes the master". In other words, what a child receives at an early stage often becomes a ruling impression.
A gun as a toy tells him that shooting is exciting and can solve problems. It is an impression that can last a lifetime, as for some military men.
Many will reply that we need weapons and soldiers to fight terrorists. But terrorists have the same mentality as soldiers, namely that weapons and death can achieve political ends.
Besides, almost all the weapons used by terrorists have been manufactured for military purposes and have been made and sold by Britain, the United States, Russia, China, Israel and others, either as surplus stocks or obtained easily on the international arms market.
I urge parents not to distort their child's values by giving guns as gifts. Let your Christmas be one that teaches peace and harmony, not intimidation, cruelty and violence.
J. Garner, Sham Shui Po
Better relations help future development
Over the past couple of years, there have been a number of incidents when tempers flared between Hong Kong residents and mainland visitors in the city.
The situation deteriorated with the competition for limited places at kindergartens in the northern part of the New Territories, with local parents competing with mainlanders to get their children into a pre-school.
I accept that the behaviour of some mainlanders does aggravate a sensitive situation, but Hongkongers must take some responsibility for worsening relations.
Some of the criticism of mainland citizens in the mass media here and on the internet has been harsh.
This encourages feelings of resentment against them and does not help relations between Hong Kong and the rest of China.
I think residents here should avoid being influenced by these one-sided comments. They need to look at all sides of the argument and arrive at rational views.
Over the next few years, there will be more opportunities for Hong Kong to co-operate with the mainland in various areas.
We have to accept that we are part of China, and in the interests of the long-term development of the SAR it is extremely important for Hong Kong to have good relations with the rest of the nation.
I think that mainland citizens who come here must accept that some of their behaviour is unacceptable and they should try to make the necessary changes. But, it is also necessary for Hongkongers to temper extreme views and change their attitudes.
Vicky Lui Wai-ki, Cheung Sha Wan
Deeply moved by Mandela's sacrifices
The death of a great man who now "belongs to the ages", as US President Barack Obama described Nelson Mandela, brought back sad recollections.
I visited an anxiously preoccupied Rainbow Nation in June and July, when Mandela was teetering at the precipice. Given its historical travails with race, South Africa is an example to the world of tolerance and pluralism.
This was achieved only through the tremendous sacrifice and the grand humanitarian vision of Mandela and many others who were interred for long periods in Robben Island prison off Cape Town. After several days of cancelled ferry trips to the island, I took a rough boat trip there. It was a sombre and silent place that still speaks to the cruelties and torture resulting from race-based discrimination.
Political activists slept on the crowded floors of communal cells, enduring strict food rationing. The sun cast eerie shadows of barred windows across posters showing the faces of murdered internees, reminding one of the high price of freedom.
The urgency and affection with which a nation willed Mandela to reach the milestone of his 95th year was only surpassed by the zeal to reach his century.
Mandela's monumental achievements are commemorated in a statue at his final place of detention before release, the Victor Verster prison in Franschhoek.
A larger-than-life Mandela strides forth with gentle determination towards the mountains with his arm raised in triumph. He did indeed overcome a mountain of intolerance.
Joseph Ting, Brisbane, Australia
Strong believer in Montessori philosophy
This is my son's second year with the International Montessori School.
I am also hoping my younger daughter will gain admission to the school's foundation class next September.
The possibility of the school's Tin Hau campus being closed down is a worry for me.
It is not just about having to "move home". To my family, the development process the school espouses means more than that.
My wife and I are strong believers in the Montessori education philosophy.
We have been parenting our children the Montessori way since they were in the womb.
Unfortunately, Hong Kong is so far behind other cities in Asia in terms of the development of Montessori schools.
The International Montessori School is the only proper Montessori primary school here, and we do not have a Montessori secondary school in Hong Kong yet.
To make Hong Kong a genuinely world-class international city, the government should definitely give more support to what is a very well-run Montessori school by international standards.
Taking away the Tin Hau campus would not only limit the choice of education for Hong Kong families, but also discourage people who are looking for quality education from staying in the city.
Harold Leung, Admiralty
Frequent police checks make city safer
There have been complaints about the fact that police in Hong Kong carry out so many identity checks as part of their routine duties, compared to New York and London.
I believe that the criticism is groundless.
Officers carry out frequent identity checks and on-the-spot searches to ensure that Hong Kong is a better and safer place to live.
This tactic is obviously effective given the city's low crime rate.
I think it would be time to be worried only if they decided to reduce the frequency of these searches.
There have also been claims that members of ethnic minorities are more likely to be stopped and searched and that this is tantamount to racial discrimination.
I do not think it is fair to characterise officers' tactics in this manner as there is no evidence, from the statistics that have been made available, of such discrimination.
I think police officers will have good reasons for stopping someone in order to undertake an on-the-spot search or identity check.
I believe that the Hong Kong Police Force seeks to guarantee the safety of citizens in the SAR, regardless of race.
Lee Po-yan, Kwai Chung