Letters to the Editor, August 24, 2014
Double standards rife worldwide
Frequent news reports from the mainland describe the efforts of the Communist Party to root out corruption among its officials.
Sexual failings call for titillating headlines, but everyone knows that these efforts by the party are not aimed at promoting morality, but at stemming the ethical decline and ultimate failure inherent in absolute political power.
Even so-called democracies are guilty of hypocrisy. Their laws focus on personal sins and their media loves to expose sexual abuses, but they ignore more serious behaviour that causes carnage among civilians around the globe.
One good example is Singapore, which ruthlessly cracks down on drug use and importation. You can be hanged there for drug smuggling, but if you are an approved exporter of lethal weapons you are an honest citizen and a patriotic Singaporean. Singapore is also a military supporter of Israel, whose actions in Gaza have caused far more deaths of children than of Hamas militants.
Singapore also sponsors frequent huge aircraft and arms fairs where weapons producers are welcome to display their state-subsidised products.
So when zealous government cadres announce their efforts to stamp out personal vice, perhaps they should be asked to explain if they are in any way concerned about the suffering and deaths caused by their expanding military exports to combatants in Africa and the Middle East.
Of course, they are happy to imprison narcotics dealers because drugs make their citizens lazy and waste police time, but they are even happier to promote weapons exports because they make their supporters rich.
Morality and policy, as all party cadres are taught, mean that when common people do something it is wrong, but when officials do it it's OK.
J. Garner, Sham Shui Po
Graft probe is sending the right message
Last month, state media announced that Zhou Yongkang, a senior Communist Party official, was being investigated for "serious disciplinary violations", meaning alleged corruption and abuse of power.
It came as a welcome surprise, as corruption has always been a big problem in China. It slows down the development of the country and even endangers people's lives, as was the case with the Sichuan earthquake, where many lost their lives due to shoddy construction and poor planning by corrupt officials.
Therefore, it is very dangerous if corruption becomes rooted in a country. The case of Zhou shows the determination of the central government and President Xi Jinping to fight corruption and bring about change.
The investigation of Zhou also presents an opportunity to educate people in China, where corruption is widespread. It exists in the public and private sectors and even in schools.
Launching an investigation into the behaviour of a top party member is the best way to warn people.
Zhou is a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee.
If a senior official is seen to be punished, it will act as a warning to lower-ranking members and also to the public.
Tsui Wing-ki, Kowloon Tong
Small local bookshops need support
Thanks to rising use of social media and e-books, fewer people are reading printed publications.
This trend is forcing many bookshops to close, particularly smaller ones.
This is regrettable, as small bookshops stock less popular works, sell second-hand books and often offer discounts on their products, providing more choice for customers.
And the most valuable and unique feature is that most of their owners are book lovers.
They like to share their reading experiences with buyers and do not view their bookshops merely as businesses, but also as places for them to find others who share the same interests.
These small bookshops should be subsidised to help them survive and to support and promote the local reading culture.
Leung Chu-kai, Ap Lei Chau
Disorder can be a blessing and a curse
By saying, as some people have, that Robin Williams took his own life because he was "struggling with depression" or, at most, "severe depression" fails to adequately convey the severity of the episodes that he, as a sufferer of bipolar disorder or manic depression, had bravely endured for decades.
From my understanding, depressive episodes experienced by those who are bipolar are not just comparable to the severest of clinical depressions, but much worse.
For one thing, the depressive episode is significantly amplified by the vast contrast between how the sufferer felt during the typically euphoric manic episode and that which they later feel at the opposite end of the disorder's mood spectrum.
Yet I could not help but notice that the news coverage of the comedian's death omitted to address the manic aspect of Williams' illness.
Maybe the news media wished to refrain from the risk of inadvertently tainting Williams' rare comic genius by any unintended yet nonetheless erroneous implication that he had some sort of unfair advantage over other comedians.
It seems unlikely that Williams' bipolar disorder and uniquely energetic flows of hilarity are coincidental; however, the comic genius had to be there in the first place. Also, this illness can just as readily work against artists.
As I heard one of his contemporaries aptly put it, Williams, in a manner of speaking, could turn around this part of his illness "and spin it into gold".
Frank Sterle Jr, White Rock, British Columbia, Canada
More degree places would ease pressure
I agree with correspondents who have said that the rigid entrance system keeps talented people out of universities.
Hong Kong's education system places too much emphasis on academic results, preventing students who cannot satisfy this rigid system from gaining a degree.
Hong Kong is a small city but there are lots of students.
This has resulted in there being too few degree places, which in turn has raised the entrance requirements to an excessive level.
To solve this problem the government should increase the number of degree places to ease pressure on students and allow them to study in a more relaxed way.
Ho Wan-yu, Tseung Kwan O
Joint approach needed to make food safe
The recent scandal surrounding imported out-of-date meat has focused attention once again on food safety standards.
I think that the Hong Kong government, fast-food chains and supermarkets have to work together to solve this problem.
Recent events have highlighted the fact that importation of cooked meat does not require a permit in Hong Kong.
The government needs to rectify this immediately.
In addition, fast food chains and supermarkets should select and check suppliers with care to ensure customer confidence in their brands.
The government and food providers must take joint responsibility to ensure food safety standards are met.
Vivian Lee Wai-lam, Tseung Kwan O