Letters to the Editor, August 09, 2015

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 August, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 August, 2015, 12:01am

Bhutan does not want to alienate India

Tourism can be a blessing and a curse. Dinah Gardner's article ("Bhutan woos Chinese tourists, but fears backlash from India", July 26), illustrated issues that arise in a country such as Bhutan, which has practised successfully a sustainable but unorthodox policy of high-value, low-numbers tourism.

As a result it has preserved its culture and environment in a way unparalleled elsewhere in Asia.

I visited Bhutan last month. Diversification from a concentration on Indian visitors surely appeals. At street level their relationship with Indian tourists is thorny, similar to hackles raised between mainland Chinese visitors and Hongkongers.

Indian tourists to Bhutan do not pay the same high daily tariff as other visitors. However, their demands on the tourism industry are inversely proportional. Problems (for example, a power cut in our hotel), led to an exaggerated aggressive reaction from the Indian guests, yelling en masse for literally hours on end, whereas higher-paying tourists accepted stoically the problems of Himalayan travel. Hotel staff recognised that irony.

Indian visitors often economise by not employing local guides, and going on risky trekking routes in bad weather with only a tiny bottle of water.

Indian tourists physically intimidate Bhutanese retailers, trying to bully them into a 90 per cent reduction, and refusing to take "no" for an answer. They eyeball and menace the salesperson. It drives shop assistants and market traders mad. They have to shoo them out of the shop when the hullaballoo is underway.

Unsavoury behaviour may be of no wider significance. Bad manners and breaches of decorum are predictable byproducts when tourists swarm in.

Yet there might be a backlash from India if their tourists felt less special than those from China. The politics of Himalayan kingdoms and republics are difficult. They act as a buffer between India and China and preserving a delicate status quo is necessary to maintain independence. A perceived tilt towards China would be risky.

Bhutan's currency is pegged to the Indian rupee. India will be a buyer of the hydroelectricity that is produced from a Bhutanese project that places a dam upriver in its section of the Brahmaputra. Electricity generation is a bigger earner for Bhutan than tourism.

Bhutan has thrived via its careful management of tourism, but it also brings challenges. Developing a tourism sector is akin to opening Pandora's Box.

Simon Osborne, Pok Fu Lam

Overprotective approach is wrong attitude

Parents have to give children the freedom to make mistakes.

They can learn from these mistakes and solve their own problems.

Therefore parents should not be overprotective. Unfortunately "helicopter" parents do just that and it is a common phenomenon in Hong Kong. Their children are not given the chance to learn self-reliance which puts them at a disadvantage as they grow up.

They are less able to care for themselves and cannot display resilience when faced with adversity.

Because they have been spoiled they are often impolite. Even a simple courtesy like saying thank you to an elder, or giving up a seat in public transport to an elderly passenger is beyond them.

They may also be rude to their own parents.

It is up to their parents to recognise the signs and to realise if they are being overprotective.

They need to rectify this and while offering guidance ensure their sons and daughters can learn to think and act for themselves as they grow up.

Desmond Chan Chun-fai, Tseung Kwan O

Students should realise help available

Earlier this year teaching unions expressed concern about the rising number of students who were self-harming.

It is certainly the case that schools can help children who are doing this to themselves.

For example, in my school, there are many workshops, talks and seminars where students are taught about positive living styles. They are organised by our counselling team.

Also, I believe teachers are willing to listen to our concerns over various issues and can help students address their worries. If we reach out and talk about our problems there is often someone there who is able to listen and offer help.

I urge young people to try and maintain a positive attitude to life.

Paula To Hiu-man, Tsing Yi

Forgetting lessons of Confucianism

I think that Hong Kong has a problem with regard to politeness.

People do not stress the importance of politeness and courtesy, which is something they did in the past.

Then they were influenced by the principles of Confucianism which they tried to follow.

Therefore good manners and acting with integrity and in a righteousness manner were considered to be very important.

People no longer appear to hold on to these values in the way that the they did in previous generations.

The acquisition of knowledge does matter, however, you will not win respect if you cannot act towards others with courtesy.

For example, if someone is refusing to give up an seat on the MTR to an elderly passenger who needs it, he may be very well educated, but he will not be admired.

If adults cannot act correctly then how can children ever have the chance to learn about basic etiquette?

I think an effort must be made to improve teenagers' manners. Schools should have courtesy classes. This can help to offset the lack of parental education in etiquette.

This would be a kind of moral education class with the teacher.

They would look at various topics, including, for example, table manners, conversation and foreign customs.

Hongkongers are quick to cold-shoulder mainland visitors and accuse them of being impolite. However, there is a need for some serious self-examination and a recognition that there is much room for improvement among citizens of this city.

Anthea Chan Hiu-yu, Yau Yat Chuen

Teens should be careful when online

Using social media to communicate with each other is becoming very popular, especially Instagram.

With Instagram you can let other people have a better idea about what you are doing with your life. But if people do not take care they can experience privacy problems.

This is an important issue for teenagers, because they love using social media. However, I feel they are overusing platforms like Instagram.

It is important for them to recognise the potential pitfalls and to take care when communicating online and posting pictures. Incorrect use of social media can do harm to yourself and to others.

Kelly Leung, Tseung Kwan O