Letters to the Editor, August 18, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 August, 2015, 4:16pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 August, 2015, 4:16pm

Let democracy help mend our society

As a recent graduate from arguably the best university in this cosmopolitan city, I am deeply worried about a materialistic ideology that is prevalent among the majority of adults, notably those over 40 years old.

Citizens of this age in a supposedly mature society should be the pillars of society, working for its stability and advancement. Yet many have an obsolete belief that democracy cannot possibly be sustained in Hong Kong unless we have more wealth and prosperity.

Objectively speaking, Hong Kong is rich - wealthy enough to, say, save Greece from its sovereign debt crisis. Our treasury records fiscal surpluses, and our financial market has displayed maturity and stability amid recent market turmoil in the mainland stock markets.

With these facts in mind, I do not see the lack of economic capability as a reason for not installing democratic legislative and executive bodies in this metropolis.

This obsolete thinking in Hong Kong is effectively obstructing its civil society development, which is essential to the success of any democracy. Obviously, the problem we now have in Hong Kong is "not having a right knife to cut the cake into slices of fair portions", rather than "not having a big-enough cake".

Democracy, which holds policymakers to a higher level of accountability, is the knife we need.

We are witnessing the beginning of a breakdown of the social contract that once existed between the public sector and people. The inability of our government to efficiently adopt any policy is caused by its lack of legitimacy, not the existence of opposition.

Our chief executive stresses the importance of our relationship with the draconian central government and how the dictators would assist us in sustaining our prosperity. Yet, it is our right and responsibility to discover a suitable system for ourselves that would rebuild the social contract and accountability here that have slowly been fading since 1997.

Hong Kong has been a lonely beacon of justice and liberty in China for decades. As one who loves this place I grew up in, I genuinely hope we would make the right choice and take a courageous step forward.

I am confident that the step to democracy would bring this crown jewel of Asia to a brand new level where we will no longer judge success by economic advancement alone but by an array of diverse values.

Hong Kong shall thrive again, if we think right.

Benson Lee, Kwai Chung

Leave Uber be so it can serve Hong Kong

The arrest of Uber staff and drivers means the public have been left without an option.

Clearly, there is a demand in Hong Kong for alternatives to taxis. The taxi service has worsened over the last few years.

Drivers are more often impolite.

Passengers have to tolerate the loud radio and the multiple mobile telephones blocking the windscreen of the taxi.

Cabbies pick and choose their fares and, at peak times, there is often a shift change, making taxis scarce.

And if you lose something in a taxi, you may as well go and buy a replacement because it's unlikely you will get it back.

Uber is necessary, welcome and needed.

I call upon our police commissioner to do a bit of policing by consent rather than blindly applying laws without any common sense.

When I see the police dealing with such things as the rampant blocking of parking meters by car repair shops (including right outside the Sham Shui Po police station), or the illegal parking of personal drivers in Central, I will accept that all sections of society are being fairly treated.

Until then, leave the Uber drivers alone. A majority of the Hong Kong public want them.

Jules Tidmarsh, Discovery Bay

Cabbies have themselves to blame

How amusing that the police reacted to the powerful taxi lobby with undercover police arresting several Uber drivers while raiding the company's office.

One wonders when the last undercover operation took place to arrest illegal behaviour of taxi drivers who use dangerously maintained vehicles with banks of phones attached to their dashboards, and who overcharge passengers and refuse to go to destinations they feel are not profitable enough.

The reason for the rise of Uber can be found with taxi drivers themselves; Hong Kong people are fed up with poor service offered by rude drivers in filthy cars who often drive with scant regard to safety.

Uber is a breath of fresh air in a market dominated by self-interest and competes by offering better service.

Mark Peaker, The Peak

An overseas education is not for everyone

There are more and more ads in Hong Kong today promoting the advantages of an overseas education and, in fact, many parents are sending their children to study abroad. Why do they do so?

The main reason is parents' and students' frustration with the spoon-fed education in Hong Kong. Many parents no longer want to put their children through such exam- orientated schooling.

There is also too much focus on after-school tutorial classes, which underlines the sad fact that students regard education as having to do with passing exams rather than with acquiring real knowledge. In this way, they never learn to develop their own world views and goals, or get to know their own interests.

Some students go abroad after failing to gain a place in a local government-funded undergraduate programme.

Many people will still remember the case of young entrepreneur Chan Yik-hei, who was admitted to the University of Science and Technology despite his mediocre results at the secondary school exam.

Chan thanked his university for believing that "learning is more important than scoring", but his was a one-in-a-million case.

Many students do not get results that are good enough for them to study the course of their choice in a local university. They see going overseas as their only choice.

An overseas education is not for everyone, however. No doubt it can help to sharpen a young person's competitive edge and improve his or her English. It may also teach the values of independence and responsibility.

However, without parental supervision, many youths end up idling their time away. On top of that, some of them can't adapt to the fast pace of life here after they return to Hong Kong.

Rico Lam Man-ho, Ma On Shan

Protecting firefighters takes priority

I refer to the Tianjin explosions. The death toll is rising, and there are now fears of toxic contamination.

Tianjin officials are struggling to tackle the potential hazards caused by chemicals spilled in the blasts. However, I think the most important thing is to ensure the safety of the firefighters.

The death toll now includes at least 21 firefighters, and dozens more are missing.

Firstly, we should appreciate the efforts of the firefighters who do their best to respond to a dangerous situation no matter how serious the accident is. Some of them are even ready to make a sacrifice. We must thank them.

Secondly, the officials should consider holding back before sending more firefighters to the site. The spilled chemicals are hazardous, and any wrong decision could complicate the rescue efforts, or even cause further contamination.

Thus, the officials should wait for the active chemicals to be inactivated before sending more firefighters to the site.

Katie Leung Ka Ki, Tseung Kwan O

Check-ups can help beat health scare

It appears that patients suffering from hypertension, high cholesterol and high blood-sugar levels are getting younger, leading to retinal vascular occlusion.

If these problems are getting worse, then there is clearly a need for better public education.

The government needs to promote lifestyle changes that can diminish the chances of young people getting these medical conditions.

Public education is vitally important. The administration should encourage people to exercise more and have regular health checks, especially eye tests.

It should offer subsidies to ensure that more people have check-ups. Citizens should be told to check for and recognise the warning signs that indicate they may have this potentially serious condition.

Tong Tak-yu, Yau Yat Chuen

Why is sex discrimination not genuine?

I refer to Ndemio Stephane's letter of August 17 ("Gay rights simply not an issue in Kenya").

He said: "We should fight against genuine discrimination - against colour, race, gender and faith."

Why is the above-mentioned discrimination genuine, while discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is not genuine? I am baffled.

Francis Lo, North Point