Letters to the Editor, July 30, 2014
March was against Israeli war crimes
As the organiser of the "Stop the Massacre in Gaza" protest of July 13, I must reply to Rabbi Asher C. Osher's claims that the protest was somehow "anti-Jewish" in nature ("Some in Hong Kong not immune to anti-Jewish racism", July 24).
We are all aware of the facts on the ground - 800 Palestinian civilians have been killed, including 200 children. Mosques, schools, hospitals and UN refugee centres have been bombed in the Gaza strip. Gaza has no army, air force or navy.
The July 13 protest was a call by Hong Kong people to end the bombing campaign. There were atheists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others present. We were united in our condemnation of Israeli war crimes. Rabbi Osher claimed there were anti-Jewish banners. This is not true, and I challenge him to point those out from the many photographs of the event available.
The pro-Palestinian movement is not anti-Jewish. Last year we invited a Jewish singer to perform in Hong Kong to raise money for defending Palestinian children held in Israeli jails. I have stood shoulder to shoulder with Jewish people as the Israeli army fired chemical gas rockets at us. We work with Jewish groups in Israel who oppose the massacre and oppose Israel's illegal occupation. Tens of thousands of Jewish people, including many rabbis, have joined pro-Palestinian rallies in the UK , the US and other countries.
Some people like Rabbi Osher are trying to turn this into a religious war. It is a humanitarian issue. He also tries to play the "both sides" card. He knows that 800 Palestinians civilians have been killed against three Israeli civilians. He rightly states rockets from Gaza are not precise, due to lack of technology. If Israeli rockets are so precise, why are they being fired at schools, hospitals and refugee centres?
As to the claims Israel has offered a ceasefire, no Israeli ceasefire has included lifting the illegal siege of Gaza. The Palestinians have called for a ceasefire many times. Every time, Israel has ignored it.
Their demands are simple - stop the bombing campaign; open up the land, sea and air borders into Gaza; and allow free trade into and out of Gaza.
Is that too much to ask? Or will the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people continue?
Jack Muir, Friends of Palestine Hong Kong
Failing to learn lessons from history
It's very sad to see how Israel handles the Palestinian issue.
It seems to have not sunk in on the Israeli side that the conflict cannot be solved militarily.
No lessons have been learned from the past 40 years or from history at large.
Can they not recognise how little it takes from someone having a "fist in the pocket" to an "extended right arm"?
Here is a nation full of Nobel laureates which seems to be unable to grasp the most simple lessons of history. I find it extremely sad.
Roland Guettler, Lai Chi Kok
KMB's Tai Po route is substandard
Since moving to Tai Po over a year ago, I have had to suffer the ordeal of taking KMB's 307 bus to and from my office on Hong Kong Island every day. I choose it even though it is double the cost of taking the MTR, because it is a single ride as opposed to having to take four different trains.
KMB consistently proves it values revenue over customer service. The buses are blanketed in adverts that cover the windows. Inside the buses there are video screens and speakers blaring idiotic ads at a captive audience. There are even ads glued to the back of each seat. Also, KMB is years behind upgrading its fleet to hybrid buses as many major cities around the world have already done.
I could quietly accept all of those indignities if only the bus ran more frequently. This is the only bus link between Tai Po and Hong Kong Island. At most times of the day, it runs only three times per hour, leaving you standing in the hot sun or pouring rain since its so-called bus shelters are a joke when it comes to "shelter".
Generally this bus fills up by the second or third stop, leaving passengers standing for a 45-to-60-minute ride, clutching the handrails for dear life because most bus drivers don't properly apply the brakes.
No passenger should have to wait more than a certain amount of time for a bus and 15 minutes is unacceptable in my opinion. This bus route should run a minimum of six times per hour given its importance to Tai Po residents.
Also, why is there no night service from Hong Kong Island to Tai Po? The only alternatives are to take a night bus to Yuen Long (then an expensive taxi ride to Tai Po), take a bus to Mong Kok and transfer to another bus, or risk your life in a red minibus.
Finally, why is the bus company owned by a real estate developer? Why is everything in Hong Kong owned by real estate developers? Why cannot companies providing essential public services put provision of those services above corporate profits?
Steven H. Schechter, Tai Po
Give hawkers designated areas in city
Some people want to see a reduction of the number of unlicensed street food hawkers, while others think they should be allowed to stay in business.
Hawkers and night markets are part of our local culture. Street food in Hong Kong has its own distinctive fare, such as fish balls and egg puffs.
You will find the best barbecued pork in street stalls. These night markets with their food stalls are important, because they are popular with Hongkongers and tourists who want to experience some of the city's unique culture.
Some illegal hawking activities are actually beneficial to people. For example, in Pei Ho Street in Sham Shui Po every night, street hawkers have second-hand goods for sale, for example, shoes, clothes and toys. This is a big help for families on low incomes. I have noticed the goods for sale are mostly in good condition which helps the environment, because they are not being discarded.
Unlicensed hawkers can cause problems in urban areas. However, if hawking activities are controlled by effective legislation, then the problems they create can be solved.
The government should have designated places where they can operate and other places where they cannot, such as Central and Wan Chai.
In addition to having designated sites, officials must also strictly control the times these markets can operate so that they do not disturb nearby residents. There must also be regular cleaning of these areas.
The government should try to ensure that hawkers remain a part of the city's street life.
Michelle Tsang Chun-man, Yau Yat Chuen
Many young people take the initiative
Some people have said that children nowadays lack the ability to look after themselves, but I do not think that is the case.
It is true that you do get parents here who can be overprotective.
Despite this you see youngsters signing up for programmes which encourage them to widen their horizons and use their initiative. Clearly, many of them want to be able to look after themselves.
Young people should certainly make the effort to be more independent as this will benefit them when they choose their careers.
Also, they need to appreciate that there is nothing wrong with failing with a task they have set themselves.
They can learn from their failures. Parents also have to encourage their sons and daughters to think for themselves.
Ella Choi, Kowloon Tong