Letters to the Editor, May 1, 2015
All should tread more lightly on earth
Some photographs of country parks in Hong Kong remind me of a thought-provoking book I recently read. The Story of Stuff talks about the way we consume things and the garbage we produce, putting tremendous pressure on our planet's sustainability.
I think some of our so-called country parks are actually small landfills. I was dumbfounded by the photo of an overloaded bin in the Ma On Shan Country Park. There was a mountain of rubbish piled up outside the bin. How could the rubbish throwers be so irresponsible?
I am a cadet in the Hong Kong Air Cadet Corps. Every time we go camping or hiking, we follow the seven rules of "leave no trace". We will travel and camp on durable ground. We will respect wildlife and farm animals. We will also bring along a big trash bag to pack our rubbish, and take out what we bring in. Not only the rubbish that we produce, but also those other visitors left.
I think everyone should do the same. The environment belongs to us. If we don't protect it, who would?
Tidy Up, Bring it Back is a campaign set up by five green groups to encourage people to take away the garbage that they bring to country parks ("'Take trash home' plea over country parks", April 28).
I admire what the groups are doing. They are promoting an attitude to treat our environment correctly.
We are a part of the global village, so we have the responsibility to protect our home. Next time we go hiking, camping or travelling outdoors, we should not leave behind our trash and try our best to minimise our damage to the natural habitats .
Ada Fong Sau Yu, Sha Tin
Stop blaming the woman for infidelity
Michael Chugani's column, "Hong Kong husbands get a bit on the other side" (April 29), presumably sought to offer criticism of legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee's bizarre comments on Filipino domestic helpers' role in expat infidelity.
Ip's comments were undoubtedly insensitive given the issue of poor living and working conditions for many of Hong Kong's domestic helpers.
Yet, to this conversation, Chugani throws mainland Chinese women under the proverbial bus as well, expounding on "kept women" across the border.
Moreover, his concluding advice to expatriate women to "fight back" against seduction tactics threatening their marriage includes such revolutionary concepts as wearing sexy lingerie, dieting and altering their bodies with Botox.
Chugani is implicitly agreeing with the spirit of Ip's misguided comments by offering such odious, sexist observations. Namely, regardless of nationality, women are unilaterally to blame for male infidelity and the men involved lack agency in the matter.
To review, Filipino women are grasping harlots, mainland women are greedy temptresses and expat women are fat, wrinkly victims. Are there any other groups of women Chugani would care to illuminate for readers?
Allison Wert Lau, Shau Kei Wan
Make English paper less daunting
I share the views of Kendra Ip on the difficulty of the English reading paper in the Diploma of Secondary Education exam ("DSE English paper asks too much of local students", April 29).
Having taught English for over 20 years in local secondary schools, I have seen a decline in the general standard of English of our young learners, especially after the switch of the medium of instruction from English to Chinese.
However, the Examinations and Assessment Authority does not seem to have realised this and raises the level of difficulty of the reading paper each year to the point that one would feel the authority is insensitive to the needs of the vast majority of candidates each year.
What adds to my frustration is the high percentage (around 10 per cent) of candidates whom the authority simply ranks as "unclassified" [for performance below level 1] in the subject.
As an invigilator in the DSE English exams, I feel really sorry seeing frustrated candidates pack their bags and walk out of the examination hall one after another in the middle of the exams, leaving behind their unattempted scripts. While the general standard of English of students in Hong Kong is on the decline, there is no lack of students whose English is of native speaking fluency, and those are the candidates who are scrambling for the highest grade, level 5**, in the exam.
If the Examinations and Assessment Authority sees setting a highly difficult reading paper as one way to further differentiate the English ability of these candidates, I suggest it increases the number of top grades awarded each year so that the paper can be made less daunting and frustrating for the majority.
Daniel Chan, Tseung Kwan O
Pledges of change are not good enough
I find it confusing to hear from the government pushing through political reform by promising that changes are possible in the future, rather than developing the best form as it can be now.
Uncertainty is certainly what Hong Kong citizens want least when it comes to constitutional development.
William Leung Yuen-lung, Sham Shui Po
Developers do pay for green concessions
I feel compelled to write to correct the flawed logic presented by Alex Lo in his column of April 28 ("Developers laugh all the way to the bank").
Mr Lo asserts that the gross floor area concessions under the government's Sustainable Building Design Guidelines is somehow costing the taxpayer through the loss of premium on land sales.
In fact, under competitive bidding in an open market, every bidder must incorporate the costs of providing all green and other features and at the same time factor in any gross floor area concessions in his offer. This is how Hong Kong's land sale system works.
Such gross floor area concessions have thus been fully paid for. To say that the government is suffering a 10 per cent loss on land premium is simply not true.
And to further suggest some wrongdoing by officials of the Buildings Department and Development Bureau to ensure post-retirement benefits is, at the very least, unprofessional and potentially libellous.
Louis Loong, secretary general, Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong
Consensus does work in democracies
Simon-Hoey Lee is director of the Hong Kong and Macau Centre for Strategic Research Institute at China Resources Ltd, and joined small-group sessions at a Harvard symposium. But these affiliations haven't eliminated serious errors in his article on consensus in politics ("Meritocracy, mass politics and the pursuit of consensus", April 29)
First, he confuses "social elites", Hong Kong style, with meritocracies. China invented meritocratic public examination. Such success is not needed to join Hong Kong's elite; it needs money and good family connections.
Second, he asserts that "mass politics and meritocracy naturally have different perspectives". It's only partially true: meritocrats in mature democracies understand that social consensus improves political and economic participation, and helps drive success in those democracies.
Third, he thinks it is a problem that "as policies become the result of consensus and compromise, the most rational, optimal solution may not always win out". He fails to understand the occasional failure to achieve the most "rational" outcome is not a problem of democracy: it is a solution to the deeper problem of legitimacy and acceptance of the system overall.
Dr Lee notes that the Election Committee doesn't share the view of the masses concerning severe inequality, but hasn't understood this is our core problem. With maturity, he'll see that a system which reconciles different views also maximises long-term performance benefits.
So while a dictatorial political style has advantages, it remains true that a Sweden, a Denmark, an England, are highly prosperous in absolute terms because they accept consensus-driven processes.
Such systems still allow for radical change: Britain elected Margaret Thatcher. Hong Kong now needs its own Thatcher, to sweep out the functional constituencies, and replace elitism with true meritocracy.
Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels
Outpouring of anger invites suspicion
Now that the drug smugglers have been executed, it is a good time to ask why (Indonesian execution of eight drug convicts prompts international outrage", April 29). Why did the Australian government tip off the Indonesian government in 2005 so that the smugglers were arrested and eventually executed there, rather than wait until they returned to Australia with the drugs and arrest them where they would not be executed?
The outpourings of anger and grief from the Australian government now, is somewhat suspect to say the least.
Terry D Jenkins, Stanley