Letters to the Editor, July 31, 2014
Delighted to hear silent majority
I am writing to voice my support for the Alliance for Peace and Democracy.
Being wheelchair-bound, I am unable to take the active part I would wish, but felt hopeful when I read about the efforts of alliance spokesman Robert Chow Yung for a peaceful "one country". We have seen too much of the antics of anti-China groups, and I am delighted to hear what we now know exists - the voice of the silent majority.
Although I am British by birth I have spent two-thirds of my life in China, including three years in Jiangxiprovince in the early days of Mao Zedong , who should be given credit for uniting his chaotic country in 1949 despite the tragedies of later years.
Coming to Hong Kong in 1951, I spent my time trying my best to eradicate colonial injustices, and have numerous certificates and diplomas, but best of all, I constantly meet people in the streets who thank me for helping them to obtain housing, legal assistance, and finally the joy of seeing the Independent Commission Against Corruption set up.
I have carefully read and agree with Mr Chow's statement and signed the alliance's petition.
My wish is that Hong Kong can have peace and democracy.
Elsie Tu, Kwun Tong
It is clear that democracy does not work
We have politicians with more emotion than common sense.
They have a deep distrust or a grudge against China stemming from its turbulent past. Many are descendants of refugees from the Cultural Revolution with the emotional scars associated with it. These refugees swam across the shark-infested waters off Sai Kung or scaled the barbed wire fences in Fanling to reach British Hong Kong and safety.
They have an array of colourful qualities. They may be short of intellect but they make up for it with various antics like hurling objects such as glasses and devil's money, and the occasional yelling and struggling with security guards in the Legco chamber. They press all the buttons in the lift in Legco so as to stall fellow politicians from getting to their seats in time to vote.
And last but not least is their favourite pastime, filibustering to hold the rest of Hong Kong hostage if they do not get what they want. The compliant media slavishly gives them coverage because it needs juicy material for the evening news.
If this is democracy, the rest of us do not want it. It is the rule by a vocal minority of the hard-working and time-pressed majority. From the shores of the Philippines to the streets of Baghdad covered in blood, and military rule in Bangkok, democracy has demonstrated amply it does not work.
Hongkongers fear China. But are they viewing China from the rear view mirror? Is it not time to look forward and learn to live with the new realities? The British sensibly decided to withdraw from Hong Kong. They inevitably left behind those who sought refuge with them to fight a rearguard action.
The best politicians from Whitehall and Beijing pondered long and hard for almost a decade to bequeath Hong Kong a unique system of government. Since the handover, the world has gone through volatile times, from Sars to Lehman Brothers and the system has weathered them.
Do we abandon this time-tested system for democracy? Why do the democrats think Hongkongers will enjoy better days through democracy? What is it that democracy offers that we do not already have? Or are they ruled more by emotion than reason?
Joseph Wong Chew-pong, Shouson Hill
Fast food giant must regain public trust
McDonald's senior managers have apologised to Hong Kong consumers for the company's lack of clarity regarding its links to the mainland plant at the centre of the expired meat scandal ("McDonald's sorry for lack of clarity, but won't clarify", July 28).
At its press conference on Sunday it "refused to take questions on the debacle".
The company initially denied sourcing products from Shanghai Husi, but a few days later it executed a U-turn and apologised for the "confusion".
Local customers are worried about food quality at McDonald's restaurants and sales have slumped. While the company did not deal well with the problem initially it is now trying to tackle the crisis.
Now that it has shifted to another meat supplier, its next step is to rebuild public confidence. However, that will not be enough unless McDonald's has learned some lessons from this crisis.
The public has been disappointed by McDonald's lack of communication.
It needs to thoroughly review its PR policies, especially when it comes to crisis management.
Not taking questions at a press briefing is unprofessional.
The company must carry out unannounced visits to the mainland plants which supply its meat. No advance notice should be given that its inspectors are arriving.
If it lets factories know in advance, then factory staff might clear up any deficiencies so McDonald's inspectors would not get an accurate picture with regard to hygiene and discipline.
It should also consider diversifying its suppliers of key ingredients such as vegetables, meat and bread.
Many people still like the meals and service offered by McDonald's, but it must learn to handle future crises more competently.
Sunny Lam Kwok-tai, Tseung Kwan O
Regulations fail to protect flat buyers
I think it was immoral of Cheung Kong to deny prospective buyers the chance to view new flats in Tai Po before deciding whether to make a purchase ("Sight-unseen flats are legal, says developer", July 19).
With any goods you have a right to inspect them before making up your mind about purchasing them. With this right removed at the Mont Vert residential project, Cheung Kong was being unfair to its potential customers. It should be their right to see the property before they make their decision.
There were some graves close to the development. Hong Kong people are superstitious, but they could not visit the graves if they were not allowed to view the site.
The no-view policy will make some people feel the government is failing to protect consumers' rights and this could adversely affect consumer confidence.
The government should examine existing regulations and see what must be done to ensure all prospective buyers can examine a flat before they purchase it.
Cody Lam, Fo Tan
Incinerator can generate energy
The government has been promoting the importance of expanding Hong Kong's three landfills and building an incinerator.
It feels this is necessary to tackle the city's serious waste problems. However, it is facing a great deal of opposition from many residents.
I agree with those opposed to landfill expansion plans, as I think this will lead to more bad odours from the larger sites and worse air quality. A lot of spare land will be needed and for these reasons I do not see the landfill proposal as being a sustainable way to deal with the city's waste problems.
However, I am not in complete agreement with those opposed to the proposal to construct an incinerator.
With technological advances, modern incinerators are now much more efficient and environmentally friendly.
An incinerator can ensure that the volume of waste that ends up in landfills is substantially reduced, as it can deal with a lot of rubbish over a relatively short period of time. These plants can also generate energy.
However, officials must ensure the plant is well managed in order to keep levels of air pollution to a minimum.
We should not just depend on the government. All Hong Kong citizens have a responsibility to try to reduce the volumes of waste they generate.
Samuel Lai, Tseung Kwan O
Small classes improve performance
Wah Yan College has successfully implemented small-class teaching.
As a result, the performance of students at the school has improved substantially.
They have now become more attentive and more motivated in the classroom.
The success of the scheme at this college illustrates the benefits of smaller classes and it is something that the government should consider for other schools.
It can lead to a more interactive method of teaching, as teachers are dealing with a smaller number of pupils. They are better able to cater to the individual needs of each student.
With the young people feeling a greater sense of motivation and also respect for the teacher, there is a good teacher-student relationship and there are fewer disciplinary problems. There is greater harmony in the class.
Teachers may find they can be more effective, but also have a reduced workload as they are dealing with fewer pupils.
I realise it may be much more expensive than the present set-up in most local schools, but the government should consider it to be worth the expenditure.
I cannot think of a good reason for not adopting small-class teaching.
Eric Chan, Ma On Shan