Letters to the Editor, July 19, 2014
Pan-dems must debate, not just fight
I would consider myself at least a pan-democratic, but I have been disappointed by some of their recent actions.
Until we have universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election, the Legislative Council is the highest level where you have directly-elected representatives. There are moral standards that should be maintained and the pan-democrats have failed in this regard.
Those pan-democrats who have failed to condemn the throwing of objects in the Legco chamber and filibuster tactics have made the legislature dysfunctional and have shot themselves in the foot. In this respect, they are not fulfilling [some of] the duties they were elected to perform and this will lead to them eroding their own power base.
I sometimes feel that some pan-democrats switch between moderate and radical positions to gain a political advantage, but they cannot have their feet in both camps. They should be consistent.
I am also concerned about the politicians who have commented on the problems being experienced by the family of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying with regard to one of his daughters.
With his family obviously going through a difficult period, it was inappropriate to rub salt into the wounds.
If we get universal suffrage in the 2017 election for chief executive, the voters will be looking for leadership, clear policies and high moral standards. Politicians who spend their time just criticising the government are unlikely to fare well.
They must come up with concrete policies and explain why they can do a better job. Just being critical can only take them so far. They should bear this in mind as they get closer to the Legco elections of 2016.
Pan-democrats should be warned that at the moment they are alienating many of the less vocal members of the public. They were elected to debate, not just to fight the administration.
Dennis Li, Mid-Levels
Retired police can become volunteers
People have expressed concern about the ability of the police to handle the thousands of protesters who will make up the Occupy Central movement once it is in full swing.
Therefore I would suggest the relevant government department should consider seeking the help of recently retired regular and auxiliary police officers who have worked tirelessly to serve Hong Kong.
I believe they can provide practical assistance and support to the front-line officers even though they will need to work as volunteers.
Choi Ying-choy, Tuen Mun
Lessons to be learned from HK people
Jean-Pierre Lehmann ("Chequered record", July 14) rightly takes to task former colonial powers (and in particular Britain in Hong Kong) for not granting democracy in their jurisdictions.
The implication is that holders of colonial flags or Union Jacks at rallies are somehow muddle-headed (whereas the rest of us know this is a purely symbolic gesture to get up the pro-Beijing establishment's nose). He wants humility from the West in the face of rising Chinese power.
It would seem that it is Mr Lehmann who has not learned the lessons of Gandhi and Nehru and, ironically, he who needs to listen to progressive voices of the people of Hong Kong.
Chris White, Sai Ying Pun
Time to end trade of all shark products
For decades, Hong Kong has adapted to keep its position at the head of the pack in our region. Unfortunately, we remain global leaders in areas that damage our reputation. When it comes to damaging the health of oceans, we're among the worst of the worst.
When Shark Rescue was launched in August 2009, we demanded that the Hong Kong government stop serving shark's fin dishes at its official functions. We were overjoyed this year when the government agreed to the ban.
Also, a government circular urged publicly funded corporations like the MTR to follow its lead. We haven't seen any follow-up so we suspect the administration feels it has already done enough and there are more pressing issues. If only this were true.
Our city remains the world's leading hub for shark fin and related products. Although local demand for shark fin may be dropping, the trade remains strong.
Now the strategy is to promote and sell these irresponsible products abroad and to the mainland, where public awareness of environmental protection is low.
Our current campaign is to get a full trade and possession ban of all shark products - fins, meat, teeth, oil and others. It may seem extreme to the uninformed, but we're in difficult times that call for extreme measures. Thanks to an economic engine driven mostly by Hong Kong, every day that passes sees numerous species ever closer to extinction.
Our petition to the government is bold. The point is to give a vision that shows the world we still have what it takes to adapt and thrive. The administration must retrain shark traders so that their livelihood is no longer a stain on our reputation.
The time has come for bold, decisive action to protect our oceans. A ban would again make us the pearl of Asia.
Ran Elfassy, director, Shark Rescue
Small classes help students face problems
There have been schemes implemented in some schools where students with special learning difficulties are put into classes with fewer students than is normal in Hong Kong's schools.
This makes it easier for teachers to tackle the problems each student is experiencing directly. In smaller-sized classes these youngsters get much more support.
The result is an efficient use of time during the school day and the students learn more and have a better chance of progressing.
Some critics argue that with greater attention being paid to each student, there is added pressure, but there is nothing wrong with encouraging these young people to be diligent. Pressure exists in our society and it can encourage people to work hard. These youngsters will face pressure in their working lives. In school they need to be taught how best to deal with it.
I think small-class teaching gives students a better opportunity to deal with the problems that young people now face in Hong Kong.
Ella Choi, Kowloon Tong
Sanctions on Israel might end violence
Gwynne Dyer's article on Gaza ("A Gaza war with no victory and no hope of a solution", July 16) is well thought through.
However, what the writer fails to mention is that nearly all of the dead are on the Palestinian side.
Most of them were innocent civilians like the four children who were killed by the Israeli defence force on a beach in the Gaza Strip.
This relentless cycle of violence will persist as long as Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories continues.
Unfortunately, the situation will most likely worsen.
Spurred by a greater-Israel doctrine, many Israelis both in the government and the army now genuinely believe that the best solution is an outcome in which Palestinians are forcibly removed from the West Bank or forced to live in reservations.
Ultimately, the only solution is negotiations for a two-state solution.
China and other countries could act as catalysts to help such an outcome by imposing an economic boycott of Israel.
Severe economic sanctions worked with another brutal apartheid state in the 1980s (South Africa) so it might also help in this case.
Kristiaan Helsen, Sai Kung
Responsible consumption reduces waste
I wonder how many of us think about the importance of being responsible consumers in terms of protecting the environment. We all have to be aware of global warming.
In Hong Kong, a serious environmental problem that we face is that our landfills are nearing capacity.
As consumers, for example, we buy presents for friends and family. The shop will wrap them up and that wrapping paper is then discarded after the present has been opened.
People should reuse the paper. Items can sometimes be wrapped in old magazines or newspapers.
The government introduced the plastic bag levy in supermarkets in 2009.
We should all support its drive to reduce plastic bag use by bringing our own bags when we go shopping.
A responsible consumer has to think twice before buying anything.
Ask yourself if you really need this product and if you do not, don't buy it.
So often, people buy something and soon afterwards throw it away.
If we think carefully about the shopping choices we make, then we can all help to reduce volumes of waste in Hong Kong and put less pressure on landfills.
People throughout the world need to change their wasteful habits and become responsible consumers.
Athena Lee Yin-lam, Kowloon Tong