Letters to the Editor, July 14, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 July, 2015, 5:20pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 July, 2015, 5:20pm

Important to remember end of conflict

It is fitting that Hong Kong should remember, not so much the defeat of Japan on September 3, 1945, but instead the end of the second world war in the Asia-Pacific region.

The second world war affected the entire world, and devastated many regions and countries, bringing suffering and tragedy to countless people. In May 8, 2015, the end of the war in Europe was marked with solemnity, celebrations and thoughtful reflections by the Western nations and Australia. The memory of those who gave their lives and sacrificed for the cause of liberty were remembered. The war in Asia brought no less suffering and no less heroism and sacrifice.

In the Philippines, like Hong Kong, the country was occupied by enemy forces. The 70th anniversary of the liberation and the Battle of Manila earlier this year was commemorated with academic seminars, exhibitions, commemorative laying of wreaths, and a new documentary film to instruct young people, many of whom have scant knowledge of the war years.

Above all, ageing survivors of the war emphasised the resolve that war amongst people and nations must not happen again.

In her introduction to my late father, Marcial Lichauco's war diary, Dear Mother Putnam, Life and Death in the Philippines During the Japanese Occupation, my mother, Jessie Lichauco, who is now 103 and who survived the war, says, "My prayer now is for all of us who remember the days of the second world war, to put the past behind. For those who do not recall those tragic times, to learn from the pages of history and to vow never again to repeat any of it."

It is in this positive spirit that Hong Kong should commemorate and remember the end of the second world war in Asia.

It is myopic, insulting and ignorant to think of a commemoration as nothing more than a "political holiday". ("Political holiday to mark surrender", July 10).

Nelly Fung, Repulse Bay

We should learn more about our past

I agree with the special holiday next month to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender in the second world war.

Some pan-democrats spoke against the holiday when it was debated in the Legislative Council on July 9. They claimed that the one-off holiday is not enough for Hong Kong citizens to commemorate the history of the invasion of China by Japan. They said that, in setting the holiday, the Hong Kong government was blindly following the central government.

In my opinion, a day to commemorate this important event is needed in Hong Kong. We are Chinese people, and no matter what we think about current issues and beliefs, we need to understand the history of Hong Kong and the resistance to the Japanese invasion by a previous generation. I hope that during this holiday, Hongkongers may think about this while at the same time being able to rest on their day off.

I hope young people especially will learn more about our history through events organised by the government. I hope the government will organise special events on September 3. It is important that people's awareness of the past is raised as we should not forget our history.

In Russia, on Defender of the Fatherland Day on February 23, the people remember those Russians who died on the battlefield. Remembering those who made sacrifices in war is not just a Chinese idea.

In fact, I see nothing wrong with the government holding activities at other times related to the history of the motherland.

As I said, I think it is good for Hongkongers to know more about the history of the invasion of China by Japan. It can help to increase their sense of national identity.

Residents still have wasteful lifestyles

Himmy Lee Chun-him, Yau Tong Residents still have wasteful lifestyles

While the extension of the plastic bag levy in April to cover all retailers may be seen as Hong Kong taking a big step towards a green city, I wonder if that is really the case.

Hong Kong is actually lagging behind other nearby cities and countries, such as Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, when it comes to trying to reduce volumes of waste.

While these countries and cities have had policies based on the polluter pays principle for years, to reduce the amount of refuse they generate, Hongkongers still enjoy wasteful lifestyles and it remains a "city of rubbish".

The government must pay closer attention to environmental issues.

It must adopt more practical policies such as the waste charging scheme.

Officials have talked about this proposed scheme, but now they must take action. Mere words are not enough.

Chan Siu-yin, Kwun Tong

Hostels offer affordable housing

The chief executive has backed a hostel-building programme to provide accommodation for young people given the shortage of affordable flats to rent.

With only a few large companies monopolising the property market in Hong Kong, prices and rents of flats have skyrocketed.

This has been exacerbated by the activities of property speculators from the mainland. The government has implemented measures to cool the property market, but they have been of little help.

Our young people are powerless to do anything about this and most have no choice but to apply for a flat in a public housing estate. But strict qualification rules make many of them ineligible. The government should do more to help these youngsters. In the past, it has pledged to provide opportunities for young people to develop their careers. Now, it is time for it to make good on its promises and ensure these young people also can have affordable accommodation.

I see the youth hostel scheme as a way, in the short term, of relieving the burden felt by youths.

It could be some time before we see high property prices dropping back to reasonable levels. Therefore, this scheme can at least ensure that, in the meantime, young adults have a place of their own and it will save them from having to live in a subdivided flat in an unsafe environment.

Because the hostel will be reasonably priced, they would hopefully be able to save for a deposit for their own flat or maybe for a business venture they wanted to start.

Critics say that it is only a temporary solution. Youngsters might become dependent on subsidised accommodation and lack the motivation to work harder and save more. But with the present state of the property market, it does not matter how hard they work, few will have enough to own a flat.

This is the crux of the problem.

The government must concentrate its resources on combating ballooning property prices. It should do this in conjunction with the youth hostel scheme. The hostels will give young adults some breathing space until we have a much healthier property sector.

Mary Wong, Ngau Tau Kok

Children put under too much pressure

Some parents believe that the success of their children will be determined by getting ahead early.

They sign their children up for all sorts of extracurricular activities in the hope that this will give them an advantage when they are in competition with their peers.

If they do this without talking it through first with their sons and daughters, then they are in effect, ignoring their needs and wishes and it will add to the pressure they are already under.

They should avoid doing this.

While the role of schools is to ensure the students are instilled with the necessary knowledge, parents are there to offer emotional support and moral guidance.

They should be encouraging their children to have a healthy sense of self-esteem and acquire the social skills that enable them to interact well and develop friendships with other young people.

Their learning process should be directed by their curiosity and teachers and parents should be the facilitators.

This is better than having youngsters memorise lots of information, including difficult vocabulary, without really understanding it.

Angel Lau, Lam Tin

Balanced diet and exerciseso important

There is a history of cancer in my family which is a cause for concern.

My grandmother died from the disease and my aunt has been diagnosed with it. It has made me aware of the risks and I try to lead a healthy lifestyle, including having a balanced diet. I think having as healthy a lifestyle as possible can reduce my risk of getting cancer.

But mental well-being is also important. Since being diagnosed my aunt has been trying to take a positive attitude to help her deal with stress.

This is a problem many Hongkongers face as they lead stressful lives, adults and students. I believe there is a link between depression and cancer.

Mental health is often linked to work conditions. Take Denmark, for example. It always scores high on the happiness index. I think one reason is that employees do not work such long hours as Hong Kong workers. They have time to relax with friends and family.

Citizens here find it difficult to strike the right work-life balance. I can understand a standard working hours law. But, standard hours are only feasible with certain jobs. For example, for some people in the business sector or teachers, they are not practical.

I hope Hongkongers can try to relax more. At least they should try to get enough exercise and have a balanced diet.

Michelle Wong, Hung Hom