Letters to the editor, December 16, 2015

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 December, 2015, 4:52pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 December, 2015, 4:52pm

Children the real victims in divorce cases

I refer to the article, “Children of divorces need more than new Hong Kong custody law, critics say” (December 11). We often hear of how parents say they want the best for their children and cite the same ­reason when they go their separate ways. But, I wonder if children feel the same way.

Adults will rush their children to hospital when they have a persistent fever, but fail to think about the emotional ­havoc they can inflict on the young when they divorce.

It is cruel to pitch one parent against the other. Like shoes, parents come in pairs. Forcing a child to take sides, whatever the justification, is inhumane. To hear of how one parent demonises the other is blatant disregard for the feelings of the child.

Children are great adapters. While some of them might see themselves as victims in a ­divorce, others put on a tough front. They may cope differently but are no less hurt by the people that had brought them into this world.

They may find it hard to trust others in their adult lives. To think of how the very first people they have trusted abandoned them puts them on their guard.

The frailty of human nature and the fragility of relationships as they have experienced in their early years may be transposed into their adult lives, thus perpetuating a downward spiral of dysfunctional families.

Legal systems afford little protection to children.

Also, they are too young to articulate their wishes and invariably have one parent “representing” their interests. Laws exist to ensure parental access to a child but can do nothing to fill the emotional void after ­weekend visitations.

Lee Teck Chuan, Singapore

Zuckerberg’s generosity is inspiring

I was pleased to learn that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, and his wife had ­decided to give away 99 per cent of their Facebook shares, currently worth about US$45 billion, into a new philanthropy project focusing on human potential and equality.

Together with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, Zuckerberg is regarded as one of the world’s greatest philanthropists. They have made huge contributions, which have benefited the whole of society. They are role models that all wealthy people should follow.

Making donations and doing charity work not only helps those in need, but makes the lives of those making the contribution more meaningful. ­People appreciate the important contributions they have made. The efforts of these philanthropists make a difference, as the livelihoods of people are improved and many are relieved of having to endure stress, physical illness and poverty.

I would like to see this culture of giving given greater emphasis in Chinese society and for all of us to give more when we can. I would also like to see more charities allowing donations to be made by tapping your Octopus card. This should be possible if you want to make a donation in a church or temple or make a ­donation when an organisation is holding its annual flag day in the streets of Hong Kong.

Being allowed to use your Octopus card to make a donation is very convenient. It would also be helpful if you could make a fixed donation with the card, of say, HK$5. If it became routine to make donations with ­Octopus, more assistance could be rendered to those in need in Hong Kong.

Barry Kwok Tak-ming, Wong Tai Sin

Exaggerated claims over common law

Richard Wong Yue-chim makes sweeping claims about the ­superiority of the common law over the civil law system (“Not much in common”, December 9), in a thinly-veiled attempt to proclaim Hong Kong’s superiority over mainland China.

He says that “freedom and prosperity have made bigger strides in common law countries”. Really?

Tell that to countries like Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, or the Netherlands, or to the poor in Hong Kong. It is certainly true that the law profession has made bigger strides in common law countries where legal expenses far outstrip those in civil law jurisdictions.

However, in the world happiness ranking’s top 10, ­common law countries only score fifth (Canada), ninth (New Zealand), and 10th (Australia) while the UK, the mother of common law, is in 22nd place.

A far more accurate predictor of economic prosperity and happiness lies in culture rather than the legal system.

This is amply demonstrated by the wide variety in prosperity levels between common law countries.

In any case, Mr Wong’s ­article is testament to the excellent job the British have done in convincing their colonised of the superiority of all things ­British.

Josephine Bersee, Mid-Levels

We must all try to clean up the environment

I refer to the report (“Hong Kong sweating towards hottest year on record as El Nino and global warming take effect”, ­November 27).

According to the report, the mean temperature this year is the highest since 1998.

There are a number of ­reasons for this, primarily ­climate change caused by ­increasing deforestation.

We see more homes being built, more shopping malls going up and many more trees being felled.

Other human activities ­exacerbate this situation. We are responsible for the overuse of air conditioners and too many of us drive private cars instead of ­taking public transport. Greenhouse gas emissions also ­increase with the high demand for beef.

Climate change is destroying our beautiful planet.

I think governments and citizens all over the world have to recognise that we must take ­action to address these serious problems.

Governments must get citizens used to using less electricity and saving energy when appliances are not in use.

Also, they must invest more in renewable energy projects such as solar energy and wind power, so that they can eventually replace coal-fired power plants.

Citizens need to recognise they have a responsibility to protect the planet and they should be encouraged to join tree-planting programmes.

We could also have a world vegetarian day, which would help draw people’s attention to the fact that we face severe changes in the weather. Individuals can cut back on use of electricity at home.

Changes in human activity can mitigate the severe effects of climate change and lead to improvements in the environment.

Hester Leung,Tung Chung

Japan’s whale hunt decision is wrong

I refer to the report (“Japan’s whaling a ‘crime against nature’”, December 8).

I do not understand why the Japanese government has made the decision to hunt 333 whales for research. There is no need for it to kill so many whales to carry out their research.

There has been strong opposition to its decision from a number of countries, because some species of whales are endangered.

Nations reached a decision on a moratorium on the killing of whales, but Japan has ­declined to do this.

Will it continue to kill them until they are hunted to extinction? Other countries should be willing to take action against Japan for the decision it has taken.

The priority of the international community should be to protect whales, not to kill them.

Rita Chan Man-ting, To Kwa Wan