Letters to the Editor, August 04, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 August, 2015, 5:37pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 August, 2015, 5:37pm

Divisive talk on East, West not helpful

I refer to Alex Lo's column ("Don't see Asian capitalism as 'Western'", July 29) responding to the letter by Paul Serfaty ("It took Western-style economic incentives to help China recover", July 27).

Lo is correct in saying that East Asia's development model has not been completely guided by a strict neoclassical economic paradigm. He is also correct in noting that the US and Britain had mercantilist and statist practices during their initial economic takeoff. But then, in his effort to differentiate the Asian approach, he notes the positive role dictatorial regimes in the 1970s and 1980s in Asia (and now China) played in laying "the foundation for the eventual economic takeoff and transition to Western-style democracy".

It should be said in response that the strict correlation between a dictatorial government and the eventual liberation of a people is unverifiable. There are many historical factors leading to development.

This narrative also omits the human costs to people's lives of abusive labour practices, not to speak of political repression and regime corruption, carried out in the name of capitalist development after the second world war by military regimes worldwide. I hope Lo does not mean that a heavy-handed state is somehow necessary for Asian countries to advance, an unintentionally racist view which old colonialists would have heartily subscribed to.

Moreover, what is the importance of endlessly arguing about whether the better model comes from the West or the East besides feeding the narcissistic tendencies of countries that need to feel superior, or the manipulative interests of politicians who want to stir up nationalistic pride for vote getting or to maintain the supremacy of dictatorial groups?

I propose a moratorium on such discussions. Good ideas, wherever they come from, to solve human problems such as environmental destruction should prevail. We have one planet which we all share. Let's not muddy the waters with divisive discourse.

Andrew Wallace, Kowloon Tong

More locals will be hired as traders

It will take some time to see if the arrangement introduced in April restricting Shenzhen residents to one visit to Hong Kong a week will solve the problem of parallel traders.

Although it can reduce the numbers of those traders who are mainland citizens from crossing the border as regularly as they did, it cannot lead to a reduction in Hong Kong citizens involved in the trade.

Many of them see this as a part-time job. In fact, with fewer people able to come from north of the border, we may see more locals doing this work. This is because many people 's wages are not enough to support their lives in Hong Kong. This includes people who are retired and want to earn some extra cash.

Also, the restrictions could lead to more smuggling, which brings with it other associated problems. This is because mainland citizens remain concerned about the quality of products manufactured north of the border, and so the demand for safe products from Hong Kong is as great as ever.

I think the Hong Kong and Shenzhen authorities should have tried to come up with a better policy to deal with the problem of parallel trading.

Lau Chin-ting, Fanling 

Work to ensure safety of food plants

Many mainlanders still come to Hong Kong to purchase necessities, including traders and individuals.

This is because they still do not have confidence in goods such as milk formula manufactured on the mainland. I think the Hong Kong and Shenzhen governments should cooperate with each other to find ways to improve this situation so citizens north of the border can trust food made there.

This will lead to less demand for these products in Hong Kong.

Yoyo Chan, Tseung Kwan O

Expansion of landfills is not the answer

I have been opposed to those who are in favour of all three of Hong Kong's landfills being expanded.

Such an expansion can be seen only as a short-term measure to deal with Hong Kong's waste problem. That is why I supported the building of the incinerator.

What happens when the landfills are full again? Presumably then the government will go back to Legco and ask for a further expansion and we will have an endless vicious circle. With the incinerator we will see a real reduction in the volume of waste and this will make a difference to the refuse problem.

People who object to it point to the air pollution it will generate. The government needs to keep allaying people's fears on this issue through education with an ongoing advertising campaign.

It must get the message across that the incinerator will not create pollution and will generate energy and that it is a blessing, not a curse.

Victor Sum, Tseung Kwan O

Governments must save fragile forests

I have read news reports about alarm being expressed over protected timber being stolen from forests in Cambodia and that this is now happening at an unprecedented rate.

Since the government granted timber concessions in the 1990s, there has been rapid deforestation of the country, the third highest rate in the world.

Most of this timber is exported to Vietnam and China, where there is strong demand for it.

Similarly, Indonesia, which is ranked fifth in countries with the most annual tree cover loss, imposed a 2011 moratorium on clearing primary natural forests and peat land.

Allowing landholders in Indonesia to participate in palm oil plantations is not good for either the economy or the forests. Protecting forests is a big environmental issue around the world.

It is vitally important for governments to enact the necessary laws and increase penalties for illegal logging.

Moreover, they should set up conservation areas for sustainable development and raise the public's levels of environmental awareness through education.

In time, hopefully, people will stop destroying forest habitats and the habitats of species which are facing extinction.

Candy Kong Lok-son, Tseung Kwan O

Not all teens benefit from tutorial classes

A recent study has illustrated the importance of family support for children and helps them with their academic performance.

Many parents now think that their children's only chance of success is if they are given a good education. So they are often forced to attend tutorial classes, in an effort to ensure they do well in exams. But if they are forced to attend too many of these classes and put under too much pressure, they may not perform well in exams.

Some youngsters, if they are put under too much pressure, will turn rebellious and actually refuse to study hard. I think it is definitely the case that too much pressure is counterproductive.

Also, if they fail to meet their parents' expectations, it can make them depressed. Parents need to appreciate that tutorial classes are not helpful for all youngsters.

If young people are having problems in school, parents need to sit down with them, talk through the difficulties they are experiencing and try to solve them.

Rather than adopting extreme means, they should try to find the most appropriate solution. It is short-sighted to believe tutorial classes can solve every problem a child is experiencing.

As I grew older, I came to realise that achieving good results requires not only hard work, but also the right method of working.

We should not be afraid of failures in life, as they are inevitable. What really matters is how one deals with failure.

With family support and encouragement, students tend to embrace challenges and learn from failure.

In this way, they can improve themselves and achieve better results.

Rosalind Chan, Sha Tin 

No subject can replace liberal studies

I do not agree with correspondents who have called for liberal studies to be replaced by Chinese history.

There is a big difference between the two subjects, especially with regard to critical thinking.

Liberal studies encourages critical thinking in students. It helps us to have a better understanding of our society and of the world.

You develop your critical thinking skills by debating the pros and cons and the scenario and examining, for example, government policies.

By contrast, Chinese history is about learning about the past. There is no discussion of topics such as how technology influences us or globalisation.

I am not denying its value. I chose Chinese history as my elective. But liberal studies does matter, and there is no subject that can adequately replace it.

Jonathan Kung Chi-yip, Tuen Mun