Letters to the Editor, June 22, 2014

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 June, 2014, 3:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 June, 2014, 3:15am

Collusion rife among Hong Kong's elite

I refer to Alex Lo's column "Of core values and racial stereotypes" (June 4), which rightly points out the injustice of the Education Department letting St Margaret's Girls' College in Mid-Levels be kicked out by its landlord without a permanent campus to relocate to, while more famous and expensive schools are given help to expand.

How can the Independent Commission Against Corruption miss such collusion between the owners of for-profit schools and officials in the department? Forcing St Margaret's to move from Hong Kong Island to Sha Tin was all about getting the middle-class families who send their kids there to move on to for-profit education providers, while the poorer students are left to rot.

This kind of corruption is rife among much of our ruling elite, who regard being poor as a sin. The chief executive by design of the political system has no political base, and he can't fire those from his only other base, that is the upper levels of the civil service, so he must let them take ever bigger slices of the pie to keep them happy. At least in the colonial era, there was a mutual distrust between local mandarins that kept corruption under some restraint.

If the best the ICAC can do is pursue (and yet possibly lose) cases handed to them on a platter, like that of the Kwok brothers and Rafael Hui Si-yan, then as Jake van der Kamp puts it, we probably should just do away with them.

Scott Hatch, Tai Po


Native English teachers have role to play

I refer to Michael Shaw's letter "Native English teacher scheme supports local language needs" (June 17), in which he rightly rebukes Vaughan Rapatahana's article ("Time to retire the native English teacher scheme", June 11). Shaw touches on just a few of the perennial problems Hong Kong students face in learning English.

Vaughan's letter, which I hasten to add was not exclusively aimed at the native English teacher (NET) scheme, is typically "ivory towerish" and patronising, and as usual, out of touch with the needs of the majority.

Clearly, Vaughan, an ex-NET himself, sat at his desk, went beyond his duty, and pondered the question, "Why do our students learn English, and moreover, why the need?" A seemingly innocent and necessary question in essence, yet ultimately arrogant given the circumstances.

Like others before him, he has missed the point of what a good NET, given the autonomy, can bring to the classroom.

Justin Hayward, Tai Po


Position on South China Sea untenable

It is with great concern that I write on the issue of the Chinese fishermen on trial for fishing in disputed islands off the Philippines. It must be clear to everyone that the position of China is untenable when China not only defies but openly fishes in territories claimed by other countries in Southeast Asia.

What are these countries to do? China decides what it will respect yet is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (which addresses sustainable management of ocean resources). The Chinese then overfish the waters and mock these countries with their sustained defiance.

I don't think China should expect any sympathy for its position. The country must be condemned for its actions against the common good by risking conflict in the South China Sea. The absurd attitude held by the Chinese towards endangered species such as turtles in the waters off the Philippines is deplorable.

Historically these islands have never been settled by the Chinese and are far from their coastline, yet China embarks on systematic overfishing and causes environmental degradation of the highest order.

Phillip John Power, Tai Po


Attitudes to cyclists must change

Thank you to the Post for your plea to motorists to be considerate of the safety of urban cyclists. I have never felt more exposed and unsafe than I do now on the roads I use in inner-city Brisbane. As an emergency doctor who uses a bicycle, I know we have much to fear from any crash or collision as we lack the protective shell that car users have.

I am frequently abused by road users who view cyclists as little more than a nuisance that slows down traffic and obliges drivers to swerve into an adjacent lane.

Appeals to both cyclists and motorists to respect one another and maintain a safe distance of separation on the roads are falling on deaf ears. If we can't share public roads, then expensive bike lanes may be the only recourse for keeping the two warring road user groups apart.

I am sometimes told that cyclists should be banned because, unlike motor vehicle owners, we do not pay the vehicle registration fees that fund road and cycle lane construction. As cyclists rely on our much cheaper, often quicker, health-boosting pedal power, we sometimes become the object of envy. There is none of the stress the car commuter stuck in traffic has to endure, or the competition for scarce parking spaces.

These attitudinal factors underpin the disregard with which cyclists are treated, and are unlikely to change until drivers receive mandatory education on equitable road sharing with cyclists.

Dr Joseph Y.S. Ting, Brisbane, Australia


Carbon dioxide not key to warming

The editorial "Climate's right for deal on emissions" (June 8) is a nonsensical, uncompromising endorsement of the widely held belief that carbon dioxide is a pollutant that is causing global temperatures to rise, and the major pollutant at that.

One does not have to be a scientist to understand that actually an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is necessary to creating a greener and more productive planet, and that man's contribution in this is miniscule.

You state that emissions are causing temperatures to rise, which is patently not the case. This has been mentioned in numerous letters to the editor in recent months yet editorials still contain this nonsense as though your readership were ignorant of the facts.

The editorial also states, quite blithely, that emissions are causing weather patterns to shift.

No doubt the planet experiences shifts in weather along with ocean currents such as El Nino, but that has nothing to do with global warming.

The editorial offers the view that we should hurry up and rid ourselves of this pesky pollutant once and for all, but this couldn't be further from the truth.

G. Bailey, Ta Kwu Ling


Democracy will not solve all problems

Hong Kong's current chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, may or may not be a good leader, but can be said to be the lesser of two evils. He has done much to improve welfare for the elderly by way of allowances and public facilities, all the while facing a huge amount of opposition from those with vested interests, including radical political parties and people in the business community, who are sometimes guided by political motives or influenced by colonialism or foreign forces.

It is time for those radical parties to wake up to reality and stop blocking everything the government proposes.

Columnist Alex Lo said accurately that democracy is not a panacea. Indeed, freedom and democracy do not justify hooliganism or anarchism.

Peter Wei, Kwun Tong