Letters to the editor, January 28, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 January, 2016, 5:26pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 January, 2016, 5:26pm

Administration is no business of students

On the flimsy pretext of academic freedom, the University of Hong Kong students who are confirmed spoiled brats have focused on the administration of their university to the exclusion of their studies (“Surrounded: University of Hong Kong students besiege governing council meeting, demand talks with Arthur Li”, January 27).

The administration of universities is completely beyond their capabilities. As students, their responsibilities are to aim for outstanding academic achievements. Whoever heads the universities should have no direct bearing on their studies.

That the appointment of a head not to their liking should jeopardise academic freedom is the flimsiest of pretexts for throwing a childish tantrum. They do not have any passion for their disciplines of studies.

Their parents should accept criminal responsibility for brining up these hooligans, who are openly flouting the law.

Alex Ng, Sham Shui Po

HKU protests are just and supported

I disagree with Peter Wei’s letter, “HKU boycott shows a lack of gratitude” (January 25).

First, every government funds its universities. The students earn such privilege. Your correspondent showed no proof that taxpayers were not happy with the students. I, for one, believe that the protest is the right thing to do. I have discussed this with exactly 13 University of Hong Kong alumni; all supported the students. Your correspondent should explore the reasons why there was a protest in the first place.

Second, what proof is there that such a protest was motivated by politics? I see the protest as just a reaction to an unjust decision.

Third, why is there a common saying that students risk their future by protesting? I was a protesting student 45 years ago. I have never been asked [about it] by employers or governments in Hong Kong, Canada or the US throughout my career. I just wonder what that means. Is Hong Kong a totalitarian society already?

Fourth, I fail to see how a student protest of this magnitude can relate to the benefits or detriments to society as a whole.

Finally, your correspondent’s comment that “learning without thinking is superfluous” is a contradiction. The HKU students are the cream of the crop of the local student population. In university, you need to think to learn. They stand up to authority precisely because they possess the ability and capacity to think. I find it cruel that the students were frequently being labelled as misled. To quote a line from David Bowie, “they’re quite aware of what they’re going through”.

Tony Yuen, Mid-Levels

Huge budget used to little apparent effect

I fully agree with Joseph Lee (“How did the Observatory get it wrong?”, January 26).

In the days leading up to the severe cold snap, I noticed that the forecasts changed non-stop. The Hong Kong Observatory was adamant and sceptical about the possibility of snow, and yet, could not get their own forecasts right.

The Observatory has a budget of more than a quarter billion dollars a year and more than 300 staff members. Throughout its history, they have called it wrong again and again, have manipulated typhoon signals to suit work-day hours, and now insist that weather forecasting is as much art as science.

If that’s the case, please take away their quarter billion dollars, and use it to give us better public services, more proper medical care, better roads etc. And let’s all use AccuWeather for our weather purposes.

Bernard Lo, Mid-Levels

Assassination was par for the course

I refer to your article “Vladimir Putin ‘probably approved’ assassination of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko, UK court finds” (January 21) concerning the enquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko in London.

Litvinenko was a fugitive officer of the Russian secret police, the FSB, who had (as the evidence at the enquiry showed) transferred his loyalties, for money, to Britain’s overseas secret police MI6.

He also had converted to Islam, and had become a supporter of jihadists in Chechnya (southern Russia) who aimed to overthrow Russia’s Christian democratic government, at least to the extent of establishing a “jihadi” caliphate in southern Russia.

In 2005 and 2006 (following opposition to the Iraq war by Moscow, Berlin and Paris), Washington and its London “satellite” were bent on punishing Moscow, and separating it from other European powers. They found the Chechnya Islamist revolt a convenient stick with which to beat Moscow.

In this context, it would not be so surprising if the Russian secret police had taken steps to remove such a dangerous man as Litvinenko from the scene. It was of course a breach of England’s domestic law, but in an imperfect world, such things will happen.

We have seen only recently how the British government killed in Iraq a British subject, the notorious Islamic extremist “Jihadi John”, and how the US government invaded Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden.

In those two cases, although the homicides were technically murder under the local law, no one of right mind would shed a tear for either deceased; yet it must be borne in mind that the killing of Litvinenko is much closer morally to those killings by the US and its UK satellite than to anything else.

It is logically possible that the Russian president did know of the plan to eliminate Litvinenko. However, it is equally likely he did not know.

In autumn 2006, President Putin’s focus was very much on promoting (much to Washington’s displeasure) good and close relations with his fellow Europeans.

Had he known specifically of what was proposed, he would probably have at least delayed it, because he would have seen clearly that, at that particular time, it would risk playing into the hands of the US and its UK satellite who were each so anxious to split Russia from the rest of Europe.

Maurice Peter Tracy, Central

Don’t overlook harm of shisha smoking

I refer to the article, “Tar in one hookah session as much as you get from smoking 25 cigarettes” (January 15). Scientists have found that smoking hookah, also known as shisha, delivers approximately 125 times the smoke, 25 times the tar, 2.5 times the nicotine and 10 times the carbon monoxide compared with a single cigarette.

It seems clear that hookah smokers are exposed to more harm than they realise. Perhaps many do not care, but Hong Kong should do something to prevent hookah from becoming a sort of trend, especially among teenagers, who are always curious.

There are several shisha bars in Hong Kong. I think these shops should be banned.

Hookah should be treated as seriously as cigarettes, and more people should be made aware of its harm.

Seki Chan, Tseung Kwan O