Letters to the editor, March 3, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 March, 2016, 5:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 March, 2016, 5:09pm

Independent inquiry key to way forward

The Mong Kok riot is a timely wake-up call for everyone that Hong Kong has approached an extremely critical junction, where good judgment must be exercised so that a smoother course can be plotted for society to sail away from turbulent storms.

Those who participated in the riot will have to answer for their actions and accept the consequences, but it is foolhardy to think that a blunt instrument like the criminal justice system can provide the silver bullet to tackle the challenges the city is facing today.

Any responsible leader will recognise that an independent inquiry, if properly convened, is a time-tested way for fact-finding and healing of social rifts. Getting to the bottom of the Mong Kok riot is not the same as finding an excuse for the riotous behaviour, but rather to help us to understand the matter dispassionately and identify potential solutions.

As Gandhi famously said, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” We cannot afford to see the ­continued political brinkmanship, where the never-ending tit-for-tat will only push society into the abyss.

I urge our political and ­opinion leaders to refrain from ­adding fuel to the fire. Instead, it is time now to stop the rhetoric and engage in meaningful ­dialogue so that the voice of the true silent majority – those who genuinely love Hong Kong and embrace diverse opinions – can be heard.

Jerome Yau, Happy Valley

Listen to the people to prevent riots

After the Mong Kok riot, some lawmakers urged the government to introduce anti-mask legislation in the hope that it might deter people from rioting in future as they can be more easily identified.

I am not convinced such a law would have the effect ­intended by these pro-establishment legislators.

Perhaps a disturbance that was not planned could make people who have impulsively taken to the streets think twice about the consequences of their action.

However, I think some of the actions witnessed in Mong Kok on February 8 were planned. Some people went out with the intention of committing criminal acts and I do not think an anti-mask law would deter such people. They would simply ­disobey it.

The best course of action for the government if it wants to prevent future riots is to actually listen to the citizens of Hong Kong. The main reason relations between the administration and the public are so bad is the policies of the former have failed to address serious social issues, such as housing and poverty.

If it listens to what people have to say, especially youngsters, and gets to the root of the problems they describe, it is less likely to have to deal with such disturbances in the future.

Nancy Lam, To Kwa Wan

Handouts not the solution for inequality

Government policies aimed at helping the poor in Hong Kong tend to be concentrated in ­giving out subsidies.

Of course, any government has an obligation to help the poor, but it should not just focus on subsidies.

It is clear to me that the sweeteners handed out by Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah in last week’s budget must end.

These sweeteners lack any real direction in terms of ­economic policy and do not ­reduce income inequality.

If too many subsidies are given to those on low incomes, it reduces their incentive to find work.

Government policies should be having the opposite effect and encouraging citizens to go out and earn a living.

Also, the government should set time limits for people getting subsidies. If they fail to find a job within a set period, say, they will no longer be entitled to receive allowances, except for special cases.

Again, this increases the ­incentive for people to find work.

The government also needs to look more closely at allowances given to migrants.

Some citizens argue that they should not be entitled to social security allowances and other subsidies as they have not made any contribution to society. The government should take this into consideration.

Chan Kwan-tung, Tsuen Wan

Paying a little extra can help environment

A recent survey has shown that 75 per cent of Hongkongers are prepared to pay more for sustainable products that are good for the environment. But they are less willing to do this if it proves to be inconvenient to them in their daily lives.

I was pleased by the results of this Consumer Council survey because it proves that more Hongkongers are now ­trying to be environmentally friendly.

A lot of paper is wasted in Hong Kong every year.

Some companies are now selling reprocessed paper, made of recycled paper which has been collected from households.

However, it is more expensive than normal paper made from wood.

I think the survey shows that more citizens will be willing to pay the extra amount for the reprocessed paper and other products made in a sustainable way.

If more individuals follow this course of action, we will have fewer waste problems in Hong Kong.

It is important for all citizens to recognise that they have a responsibility to protect our environment.

We should treasure our ­limited natural resources and preserve them for future generations. We need to ensure a good and green future for our ­children.

Yuen Ka-ki, Yau Yat Chuen

Too much waste from festivities

We all need to be more aware of the levels of waste that are generated in Hong Kong during Lunar New Year, with so many red lai see packets, and ­different kinds of seasonal food and gifts given to relatives and friends with wrapping paper.

When we visit our relatives’ homes during this period, as a show of respect, we generally bring them a gift of some kind of food, often sweets, biscuits or fruit. The wrapping paper used for the sweets is just torn off and thrown away, as are the boxes containing them.

A lot of the food such as fruit does not last long and if you have too much, it will be thrown out, which creates a lot of waste.

We all need to be more environmentally friendly in future. During this festive period, we can buy smaller quantities of food.

Also, we should try to recycle the lai see packets and wrapping paper. Or people can just avoid using wrapping paper altogether, which is surely the simplest way to avoid waste.

Ivan Tsoi, Tseung Kwan O

The time is now to go greener

I refer to the letter from Minnie Dong (“Greener Lunar New Year is possible”, February 25).

Festivals like Lunar New Year and Christmas do generate a lot of waste with red packets and Christmas cards and we face the same problem at Easter.

We will soon be celebrating Easter and we should aim to be greener this year.

Supermarkets can cut back on decorations and those they have should be reused next year and not discarded.

Also, many Hongkongers like to give chocolate Easter eggs as gifts and these are often wrapped up, which is not really necessary. The eggs often come with too much packaging and this is waste that can be reduced.

These are festivals we should be celebrating, but we should now try to do so in a more environmentally friendly manner.

Yoyo Li Fung-lan, Sham Shui Po

Avenue of Stars rethink the right move

The simplified revamp plan for the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui will cost less than the ­original proposal and not cause as much disruption to stakeholders.

Railings and tiles will be ­repaired, but proposed developments such as a film gallery and sightseeing deck have been scrapped.

Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront does need to be improved with more facilities for tourists. but what matters is striking the right ­balance between the needs of tourists, including mainlanders, and local residents.

I think that with the revised scheme, the government has made the right decision for the waterfront.

Chang Wing, Kowloon Tong

Legal clamp on discrimination long overdue

The spotlight is back on the issue of an anti-discrimination law in Hong Kong which protects ­people belonging to sexual ­minority groups. Opinion is divided over this proposed legislation, although I fully support it.

Hong Kong is an international city with citizens of different races, religions and cultures. Yet when the issue of legal protection of sexual minorities is raised, there are voices of opposition and this is disheartening.

We should welcome our differences and also recognise how, in spite of them, we are also similar in many ways. It does no credit to Hong Kong’s reputation to delay this law.

We are not talking about legalising gay marriage, which is even more controversial, just putting all citizens on the same footing by outlawing discrimination.

Harry Ng, Tseung Kwan O