Letters to the Editor, February 5, 2014
HK will be international laughing stock
I support the Philippine government's refusal to apologise for the unfortunate incident in Manila, in 2010, in which eight Hong Kong people sadly lost their lives.
The deaths of these Hong Kong people was not a result of any policy or action by the Philippine government, so why should it apologise to Hong Kong?
Should the Hong Kong government apologise to Indonesia for the recent cases in which Indonesian domestic helpers have been [allegedly] abused in Hong Kong, or the many Filipino helpers who regularly get abused here too? No. These incidents are not government-related, so governments have no need to apologise for them.
Action should be taken in the courts as appropriate. But the Hong Kong government's latest action regarding visas for Philippine diplomats and government officials is ridiculous and petty and, indeed, will be treated, rightly, with the derision it deserves worldwide. It will have little practical effect in the city, apart from Hong Kong becoming an international laughing stock.
But, in the meantime, the Hong Kong administration should lift the black travel advisory against visiting the Philippines; everyone knows that this is purely a political measure, rather than a security one.
Are there any political parties in Hong Kong, particularly the pan-democrats, that have the courage to admit this and call for its lifting?
John Shannon, Mid-Levels
Visa sanctions against Manila are justified
The Manila hostage crisis happened in August 2010, but it is still fresh in the memories of Hongkongers.
The Philippine government still refuses to issue an apology for what happened to the survivors and relatives of the victims.
The crisis was screened live and it was clear the rescue mission was badly planned and carried out. The Philippine police team in charge of the botched rescue mission was clumsy and reacted slowly. The sophisticated techniques needed by police officers to deal effectively with such a hostage crisis were not applied.
Also, the immediate medical treatment for the victims was inadequate.
The Philippine government's handling during and since the incident has been poor. It is as if it did not take it seriously.
I am particularly appalled by the way Philippine President Benigno Aquino has behaved. He has shown no inclination to deal with the requests made by the Hong Kong government.
Because of this, I think the administration was right to cancel visa-free privileges for Philippine officials and diplomats in an effort to obtain a formal apology from Manila.
Cordelia Cheung Hui-ching, Sha Tin
Get tough with indifferent Aquino
The government's cancelling of 14-day visa-free arrangements for Philippine officials and diplomatic passport holders, in an effort to get President Benigno Aquino to apologise for the bungled Manila bus hostage rescue, was not harsh enough.
It is a simple request, so why can't Aquino just agree to it?
It makes me angry when I think of the attitude he has shown towards this issue, as if he simply did not care. He does not seem to think he has a responsibility to sort out this problem.
If necessary the Hong Kong administration should take an even tougher stand towards Aquino.
Kathryn Chan, Sha Tin
Labour opts for nominated candidates
I note from media reports in the UK that Labour Party leader Ed Miliband proposes to democratise leadership elections by allowing only members of the party, on a one-man, one-vote basis, to directly elect the leaders.
However, members will only be able to vote for candidates nominated by a committee consisting solely of MPs and MEPs.
Parallels with the likely system in Hong Kong for election of the chief executive?
Doug Miller, Tai Po
Use tusks for an educational monument
I would like to commend Hong Kong's Endangered Species Advisory Committee for its decision to destroy at least 28 tonnes of seized ivory.
For many years, I have followed the debate in Hong Kong and overseas, and although an advocate for destroying the ivory, I've battled with it. Burning the tusks seems like such a waste, but I had never heard of a workable alternative that didn't put the ivory back into the market, make it a security risk, or leave it susceptible to corruption.
However, I support a suggestion mentioned in your online edition, which is an alternative to incineration. The tusks could be crushed (as they did in Guangzhou). The powder could then be mixed with a resin and used to build an educational monument about all the elephants that have died.
While incineration definitely highlights the SAR's stance on poaching, it would probably only prompt a one-off headline about the day Hong Kong destroyed some ivory. But building a monument with real educational value, and placing it somewhere prominent for locals and tourists to learn more about the illegal trade, could make the city a pioneer in Asia against ivory poaching. It would mean the 10,000-plus elephants that have been horribly slaughtered did not die in vain.
Imagine the impact of, say, a giant tusk displayed at the airport, or lots of small elephants dotted around the city which have been painted by local schools and artists, similar to New York's Cow Parade several years ago, or the Superlambananas project during Liverpool's year as Europe's capital of culture. Both of these projects were sponsored by local communities and businesses, and were massively popular.
I'm sure there are many ideas out there better than mine, but the main focus of my letter is to ask the parties involved if this could be a consideration.
I realise it has been a long journey to get to the decision to incinerate, but given we have until summer before the first batch is due to be destroyed, can we open up the debate? Would the Endangered Species Advisory Committee care to respond to this possible alternative use of the ivory through these columns? And what do the conservationists think?
Peter Hatz, Lamma
Reputation as world city under threat
The case of the Indonesian domestic helper who has been hospitalised in her own country, following allegations of abuse against her former employer in Hong Kong, has shocked citizens in this city and Indonesia.
What happened gives a bad impression of Hong Kong. Some foreigners may now not be willing to work here, especially Indonesians.
Hong Kong is a world city and violence is not acceptable.
The government must implement policies which protect these helpers who are employed here.
If Hong Kong fails to do this, it will tarnish our international reputation.
Eleanor Lui Lok-ching, Lai Chi Kok