Letters to the Editor, June 6, 2014

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 June, 2014, 5:27am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 June, 2014, 5:27am

Barrier helps protect Israeli civilians

I object to the slanted journalism in the article in PostMagazine ("Up against the wall", May 25).

This article, together with the front cover showing hands holding onto prison-like bars with the headline ("The state of Palestine"), inaccurately portrayed and emphasised the West Bank and Gaza as large prison-like enclaves unfairly imposed by Israel, which they are surely not.

The author, Kit Gillet, failed to note that Israel's security barrier between Israel and the West Bank is 97 per cent chain link fence and only three per cent high cement walls. These walls were only built in those places with a history of Palestinian gunmen shooting into Israel, killing and wounding civilians. The wall became a necessary bullet barrier protecting Israelis, thanks to the Palestinians.

Moreover, for more than 35 years after the six-day war of June 1967, there was no security barrier at all between Israel and the West Bank. Palestinians were free to come and go into Israel. Why did this change?

In 2002, after more than 1,000 Israelis were killed and wounded in suicide bombings and other Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians, the Israeli government started constructing the security barrier to keep West Bank Palestinian terrorists from entering Israel. This step was brought on by the Palestinians themselves, a point omitted by Gillet.

The security barrier has been a success: in 2013 there was not a single terrorist attack in Israel emanating from the West Bank.

Gaza is not a "large prison". Israel conquered Gaza in the six-day war. In 2005 it unilaterally uprooted its few settlements in Gaza and withdrew from every inch of this territory.

Thereafter, Israel, together with Gaza's other neighbour, Egypt, continued to embargo the import of arms and military supplies into Gaza.

Nevertheless, instead of embracing Israel's "disengagement" as an action deserving a peaceful response, the Hamas-led Palestinians turned Gaza into an active missile base, launching thousands of missiles into Israel, all targeted at Israeli civilians. Despite these hostile actions, Israel allows hundreds of trucks daily to enter Gaza from Israel bringing in food, medical supplies, computers and other non-military material.

No country can ignore the legitimate security needs of its citizens.

Robert L. Meyer, Mid-Levels


Introduce working hours legislation

Most people in Hong Kong spend a lot of their time at work. For many it is quite normal to do a nine- or 10-hour day.

This raises the question of whether standard working hours legislation is needed.

Long working hours with inadequate breaks affect a worker's productivity. They also increase the risk of accidents due to tiredness. This can prove costly for the employer in terms of sick pay and possible compensation.

It can also affect a worker's long-term health. Some people who have to put in long hours at work do not get enough sleep and this adds to their levels of stress. They have little time to spend with their families and friends.

In the long term, making employees do long hours will decrease their productivity, and a company's revenue and profits will drop.

The government should introduce standard working hours legislation. This will ensure that workers are given the protection that they need.

Ensuring a decent quality of life for Hong Kong citizens must be regarded as a priority, which is why this law is needed.

Yannie Tse Yan-ue, Kowloon Tong


Make Lamma quarry site a botanic garden

I agree with Jo Wilson, of Living Lamma ("Island site is perfect for eco-education", May 29), that the notion of constructing a housing estate at the site of the former Lamma quarry is misguided and should be abandoned.

As she says, the proposed housing will not serve those Hongkongers in greatest need, and if completed will likely become a second-rate Discovery Bay or, worse, another Sea Ranch.

Also, it would have a devastating impact on southern Lamma's picturesque environment, while the local ecosystem would also be badly affected by the human influx. On the other hand, the site offers great potential for some kind of ecological facility.

Health secretary Dr Ko Wing-man recently visited Kew Gardens in London and by all accounts was hugely impressed. Hong Kong, he said, should enhance its links with London's famous Royal Botanic Gardens.

A world leader in plant-based science, knowledge and expertise, Kew Gardens even has a Chinese medicine authentication centre. Nothing quite like Kew exists in Asia. As Asia's world city, it makes obvious sense for Hong Kong to develop something similar, and the Lamma quarry site would be a great location.

If Hong Kong wants to steal a march on rivals like Singapore and Shanghai, this is the sort of thing we should be doing.

Mark Regan, Lamma


Risk of eye treatment exaggerated

We are very disappointed with the recent reporting of the press conference conducted by Chinese University's department of ophthalmology and visual sciences on May 13, which implies orthokeratology [or ortho-k] carries a high risk of infection.

This treatment has been prescribed by eye-care practitioners in optometry and ophthalmology clinics for many years in Hong Kong.

To suggest that orthokeratology carries a high and thereby unacceptable risk of serious infection without supporting data is not only misleading but irresponsible, as many children in Hong Kong are undergoing this treatment for slowing the progression of myopia.

There is a high prevalence of myopia in our children and unchecked progression can lead to high myopia and its associated risks of retinal detachment, macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataract.

Orthokeratology has been shown to be successful in slowing myopia progression (for example, papers published in the journal, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science). Suggesting this treatment is a highly risky procedure is misleading and creates undue anxiety and fear among children and parents.

All medical intervention carries a certain degree of risk but most of the adverse events associated with orthokeratology are avoidable by good compliance.

Pauline Cho, for four optometric associations and the school of optometry, Polytechnic University


Barring tourists would hurt economy

Some people have argued that the bad behaviour of some mainland visitors has tarnished Hong Kong's reputation as a cosmopolitan city.

They have also highlighted the problem of some mainlanders' bulk buying, which can lead to shortages of some commodities such as milk formula.

There is also the argument that there are only a limited number of places at our universities and many of them are now being taken by students from north of the border, which reduces the opportunities for young people from Hong Kong.

Finally, there is the overcrowding problem on the MTR, which is again partly attributed to mainland tourists.

Despite these problems, I would be opposed to the proposal that the number of mainland visitors should be reduced by 20 per cent.

Such a move would hit the tourist sector and hurt the SAR's economy at a time when we face competition from other cities and countries in the region.

Mainland tourists turned away here could choose instead to spend their money in, for example, Japan and South Korea.

We should treasure these visitors rather than taking them for granted.

What the Hong Kong and mainland authorities can do is reduce the frequency of visits by individual mainland citizens.

A watchful eye needs to be kept on those parallel traders who make several trips a day back and forth across the border.

Their movements should be restricted.

Fion Sy Hoi-ki, Yau Yat Chuen


San Francisco medical care proves costly

Last July, my wife tripped while crossing a street in downtown San Francisco.

Someone called 911 and an ambulance from the San Francisco Fire Department took her to the Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, where she was treated at the emergency room and had a CT scan.

My wife had a minor fracture on the left side of her sinus and she was discharged after three hours.

We had given our address in Hong Kong to the hospital and subsequently we received three invoices (from the hospital, the imaging centre and the emergency room physicians) for a total of US$6,181 - the CT scan alone cost US$3,539.

Recently, we received a notice from the San Francisco tax collector's office for a bill from the San Francisco ambulance service for US$1,779.

This episode shows how complicated, un-coordinated and expensive emergency medical care can be in San Francisco, and one is at the mercy of these service providers.

Steven Chow, Repulse Bay