Letters to the editor, January 3, 2016

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 January, 2016, 10:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 January, 2016, 10:00am

Let French journalist stay in China

French journalist Ursula Gauthier is effectively being expelled from China, after she had refused to apologise for an article she had written (“French journalist ‘forced out of Beijing’ over reporting”, December 27).

Her article, published in the French magazine L’Obs, said a deadly attack by Uygur Muslims in the Xinjiang (新疆) region had nothing in common with the killings in Paris on November 13. The Xinjiang incident claimed an estimated 50 lives, while the Paris attacks killed over 100 people. Gauthier’s article said the Xinjiang attack was a rebellious act against the “pitiless repression” of China’s Muslim Uygur minority.

If one argues that it is insensitive to blame the French government’s policies for the Paris attack, is it not also insensitive to blame the Chinese government for the Xinjiang attack? If one argues that the Chinese government does share the blame for the Xinjiang incident, does it not follow that the French government should be scrutinised over the Paris killings?

Although I do not agree with Gauthier’s views, I support the statement of the French philosopher Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

The Chinese government should allow her to remain in China and let her be subject to criticism and debate.

Toh Han Shih, Happy Valley

Hard not to be cynical over climate pact

So UN climate change conference in Paris is done and dusted. One has to wonder, after US Secretary of State John Kerry declared that even if the entire US went carbon-free tomorrow, it would make absolutely no difference, what was the point?

The agreement was presented in such a way, and terminology, that it would not require ratification by the US Congress because they knew it never would be.

But we in Hong Kong are strongly urged to green our city and economy, no matter what the cost, to help save the planet!

Nothing that came out of Paris is legally binding on any of the parties. China and India have indicated quite clearly that economic development and eradication of poverty are their prime concerns, as it should be, and will leave it up to the so-called developed world to lead the way in greening (destroying) their economies and societies in the meantime.

Yet, even developed economies like Japan and South Korea have indicated that coal will continue to be their main source of power for the foreseeable future.

We will never be able to do enough to control the climate. Give us a cleaner environment, of course, I am all for that, but please don’t confuse that with global warming and climate change. Normal technological development and advancement will provide, as Bill Gates and his fellow billionaires invest vast amounts to find the panacea that wind and solar are failing miserably to provide. But we must be careful what we wish for.

G. Bailey, Ta Kwu Ling

Teenagers’ rooftop antics foolhardy

Perhaps some teenagers think their lives are too dull, but it’s hard to understand why they risk death to take photos from the edge of a rooftop.

It’s baffling to me why some of my peers even removed windows from the management office of one building so they could shoot a video from the roof. They told me they were just finding a wonderful view.

Unfortunately, there are groups of such photographers, known as “rooftoppers”, who encourage teenagers to be “cool” by rooftopping.

I didn’t think businesses would support such meaningless acts. Unfortunately, some big companies have sponsored those rooftoppers, asking them to use their goods in their videos, and even letting those fanatics appear in advertisements – just like pouring oil onto the fire.

Thanks to those companies , more and more teenagers are climbing up buildings, and not mountains on Lantau Island or in the country parks where the views are spectacular and more safely captured.

Perhaps the government can clamp down on these foolish climbers, but youngsters like to rebel by doing what they shouldn’t do. If we ignore them, perhaps they will see the stupidity of their actions.

Henry Wong, Kennedy Town

E-cigarettes not the way to quit smoking

I disagree with the viewpoint of Mr Brian Duggan (“Don’t ban e-cigarettes in Hong Kong, they help addicted smokers”, December 20).

A lot of research evidence shows that e-cigarettes do not really help people quit smoking.

In a June 2015 finding detailed in the American Journal of Public Health, people who used e-cigarettes were 49 per cent less likely to cut cigarette use and 59 per cent less likely to quit smoking, when compared with people who never used any e-cigarettes at all.

In fact, another study done in the US last year showed that e-cigarettes do not help teenagers quit smoking. In fact, it is encouraging them to smoke, and they are also more likely to be regular cigarette users.

Researchers overseas have found that the effect of using e-cigarettes is just as harmful to people’s overall health. In June 2012, scientists from the University of Athens reported in the European Society’s annual congress that e-cigarettes can be harmful to the lungs. They discovered that even among lifetime non-smokers, using an e-cigarette for just 10 minutes raised their airway resistance significantly, from a mean average of 182 per cent to 206 per cent. Similar results also appeared for regular smokers. After smoking an e-cigarette for just 10 minutes, there was also a significant rise in their airway resistance, from a mean average of 176 per cent to 220 per cent.

A study in May last year found that e-cigarettes deliver high levels of nanoparticles and this has been linked to asthma, stroke, diabetes and heart disease.

I agree with the decision of the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health that e-cigarettes should be banned as there is insufficient and inconclusive evidence to prove they will help people quit smoking in the long term.

Eunice Li Dan-Yue, Singapore

Pension would promote sport pursuits

There are sports complexes in Sheung Shui and Fanling, and indoor ping-pong and badmination game centres in each market centre, plus a beautiful big swimming pool.

But they are under-utilised because Hong Kong people are too busy working, and while resting at home, playing mahjong is the only sport many can manage.

There is one condition that would encourage the construction and use of more sports centres – a universal pension, so that we don’t have to spend so much time at work and have more time for leisure and sports.

If the future is uncertain, nobody has time to enjoy life and must work hard to secure our own future.

That is why so many people choose to migrate away from Hong Kong to Canada and Europe.

Pang Chi-ming, Fanling