Letters to the Editor, March 29, 2014

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 March, 2014, 3:25am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 March, 2014, 3:25am

Press freedom comes with responsibility

Press freedom is a hot topic in Hong Kong these days, and so it should be.

The current situation could perhaps be best described as hysterical, with a daily demand for protection of press freedom as a fundamental core value of Hong Kong.

First of all, as a number of commentators, including Michael Chugani ("'Media-silencing campaign' theory is a slippery slope", March 5) and correspondents have pointed out, it is far-fetched to imagine that there is a conspiracy, orchestrated by either Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying or the central government, to suppress press freedom and freedom of speech in Hong Kong.

Those who have been making such loud pronouncements have not produced a single piece of evidence to back up their claims.

And that brings me to the main point of this letter: those who demand press freedom have totally ignored the flip side of the coin, which is press responsibility.

For example, another hot current topic is the situation in Ukraine. Several newspapers carried stories about Crimea being invaded by Russia. That is totally irresponsible reporting.

Although soldiers have been killed, which is really unfortunate, the situation in Crimea could hardly be described as a land that has been invaded.

There continue to be pro- and anti-Russian demonstrations; there was even a referendum. Would you see that in a country that has just been "invaded", say Iraq or Afghanistan?

I am not suggesting for one minute that I support Russia's plans for Crimea, but for the Western supposedly-free press to become so hysterical and to spread outrageous propaganda is simply irresponsible.

If we want press freedom, we must have press responsibility. I would like to see more balanced reporting and more objective analysis of facts - that would be the real core value of Hong Kong.

Chia Yen-on, Mid-Levels


Radical party interests need to be tamed

One man's meat is another's poison.

Due mainly to differences in culture, ideology and/or religions, the world is now faced with different kinds of troubles and conflicts.

The recent student occupation of the Legislative Yuan in Taiwan in the name of freedom and democracy may fall under this category. While there have been different opinions and comments on such an activity, the fact remains any local troubles and disputes arising from selfish motives, political or otherwise, would do more harm than good to any nation.

As Confucius put it, internal strife leads to foreign invasion.

To sum up, any radical activities that are motivated by party or other interests should be restrained.

Peter Wei, Kwun Tong


Anne Frank can help guide world leaders

It was heartening to read that Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, paid a visit to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

After the much maligned visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo this gives a message of atonement and peace.

In a strife-ridden world let us hope the leaders pay attention to the message given by ever-young Frank, who sacrificed her life on the altar of hatred and yet radiated the warmth of peace, reconciliation and hope. In her own words, "I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death".

If the visit provides a motive for the world to think along those lines, that would be the greatest ever tribute to the young girl.

Sujesh Thalavil Veedu, Quarry Bay


Airport needs experienced air controllers

I watched construction work to extend a runway and turn Kai Tak into a modern international airport in 1957.

The new airport on Lantau has only been in operation since July 1998 and there are already calls for a third runway to be built.

A retired pilot remarked that what we need at the airport is more experienced air traffic controllers on the ground, and I think that he may have a point.

At San Francisco airport I watched three aircraft coming in at the same time, some three minutes apart, and at London's Heathrow they land two minutes apart.

In Hong Kong I think they are some 10 minutes apart.

I believe that they can do better than that at Chek Lap Kok.

John Fleming, Mong Kok


'No dating at school' policy unreasonable

I refer to the report ("Tuen Mun school sets a no-dating policy", March 24).

The school principal introduced the "'no dating' school policy". At morning assembly he asked some students to meet him afterwards "implying that they are dating". Presumably he would have urged them to terminate their relationships. I think the stand he has taken is stubborn and unreasonable.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with a principal emphasising the importance of academic study. And when pupils date it can become a distraction. However, it is normal for young people to fall in love and cruel to separate couples.

Instead of demanding they split up, the school should be there to offer guidance and advise them to strike the right balance between their studies and relationships.

Lam Yin-yee, Kwun Tong


US taxation is overextending its lawful reach

Hong Kong should think carefully before agreeing to enforce United States tax legislation in the SAR ("HK agrees to give financial data of Americans to US", March 26).

Such a move might be in the interests of revenue collection in the US. It would not be in the interests of Hong Kong as a major international financial services centre.

The increasing tendency of the US to enforce its laws in parts of the world in which it has no jurisdiction has become a matter for concern.

To take an example that affects me, I have never been a citizen of the US, nor have I ever lived there, and yet I am a US taxpayer, being subject to the exaction of a 30 per cent withholding tax on any payments I receive from US businesses.

There is no legitimate basis for this.

From a country that actually founded itself on the principle, "No taxation without representation", it is frankly a bit ludicrous.

Paul Flynn, Clear Water Bay


Government must address mental health

Our society and our government must accept that depression is an illness, not a transitory state of mind.

Last month, a young student suffering from depression committed suicide after he was told that he would have to wait an entire year to see a psychiatrist. It is clear that our city's psychiatrists are overloaded.

In the past eight years, the number of psychiatric patients has increased by 100 per cent while the number of psychiatrists has increased by less than 10 per cent.

It is estimated that one in three people suffer from depression in Hong Kong right now and those numbers will double in eight years.

How will our population ever cope if the government does not focus now on providing services for the mentally ill?

The Hong Kong Samaritans is appealing to the government to develop a mental health plan now. The situation has become urgent.

Deborah Crouch, chief executive, The Samaritans Hong Kong Hotline


Diversify HK exports and entice Asean

I refer to the report ("Exporters investing more as hopes rise for rebound", March 18).

A current export confidence survey presents the optimistic outlook of Hong Kong exporters as the index rose in the fourth quarter of 2013.

In my opinion, such statistics do not tell the whole story.

The export index was principally boosted by machinery product orders and a more flexible currency.

In terms of markets, North America and Europe still indicate little confidence when it comes to expansion.

As Hong Kong is more and more engaged in the global economy and regional economic plans, its exports should be more diversified in order to better respond to the prevailing economic environment.

Hong Kong is a globalised city providing all kinds of professional services, which could be the new bonanza of exports.

The economic development of the nations that are members of Asean is also a great opportunity for the SAR.

The enlargement of the middle class will likely expand the export of consumer goods, which has increased very slowly.

Moreover, Hong Kong could also serve as a qualified provider of professional services, especially in finance and banking, with the economic integration and upgrading going on within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

I hope the government considers some policy readjustments that will aim at diversifying exports.

Di Yang, Tai Wai