Letters to the editor, April 22, 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 April, 2016, 3:29pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 April, 2016, 3:29pm

Russia and Nato playing tit-for-tat game

I refer to the report (“Russian jets ‘simulate’ attack on U.S. vessel”, April 15).

At the height of the cold war, some 45 years ago, I was one of several dozen RAF fighter pilots who rotated on detachment for a few weeks, twice a year, from RAF Chivenor in Devon to RAF Gibraltar, where a continuous military presence had been ­retained after the Spanish ­became bellicose in the mid-1960s.

Our task was to “wave the flag”, protect civil flights if ­needed and reassure the Gibraltarians that there was no chance of them being abandoned, while mounting a benign social onslaught on the residents, the ­various messes and bars and on visiting Royal Navy vessels.

For several reasons, it was fortunate we were only there, on each occasion, for a few weeks. We each flew daily on training and local reconnaissance sorties, and conducted simulated attacks on Royal Navy vessels to assist in their (and our) ­training.

In 1970 or 1971, we were tasked to recce a North African anchorage, as some Russian naval vessels had recently passed through the Straits, and intelligence were interested in their whereabouts.

We found one or two Russian frigate/destroyers anchored there, and proceeded to welcome them warmly to the Mediterranean.

This task became a regular feature of our morning flights – and, as it gave us something ­useful to do, we were glad of the diversion.

Eventually our morning visitation must have been a little boisterous – or coincided with an inspection, perhaps, and they saluted our efforts with some “break-up” shot as we approached. We gave them a slightly wider berth thereafter, but maintained a regular visit to the anchorage for many months.

The Russians were doing no more in the Baltic than we were in the Mediterranean.

I would be surprised if the ­incident were indicative of ­anything other than high spirits and behaviour patterns to be ­expected of testosterone-fuelled young single-seat fast-jet military pilots. Although they may now be in deep trouble, the incident will be aggressively justified by Russian senior officers, in line with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s well-known modus operandi.

Nato and Russia are playing a tit-for-tat game; were they going to “try it on” in the Baltic, they certainly would not show their hand in this way.

J. M. E. Pym, Tuen Mun

Good to get rid of older street names in HK

I applaud and wholeheartedly support the suggestion of N. Balakrishnan, in the article “Why Hong Kong should have a Sun Yat Sen Avenue” (April 16).

I agree that we should change Queen’s Road Central to Sun Yat Sen Avenue and ­Waterloo Road to Bruce Lee Boulevard.

It is sensible, logical and ­absolutely lovely. Why didn’t I think of that?

Otto Lin, Tung Chung

Why Beijing had to demand screening

The Occupy movement and street violence in Hong Kong originated from the pan-democrats’ assertion that screening of candidates for the chief executive was not “true democracy”.

This was why they impatiently rejected the proposals put forward for choosing the chief executive candidates in August 2014. In doing so, they robbed us of a step-by-step route to universal suffrage.

This premise was carried to an illogical and irresponsible conclusion by the University of Hong Kong student magazine Undergrad, suggesting independence after 2047. The authors lost credibility by saying ­whether the city’s survival in such a position was viable “is not our main concern”.

The pan-democrats believe they invented “true democracy”, but there is no such thing. Every modern ­Western democracy took time, some centuries, to arrive at a different end-product by a ­different process.

The pan-democrats forgot the sovereign’s power to decide, and their insistence on having their way immediately ruled out discussion. Hong Kong is an inalienable part of a unitary state with no right of self-determination or secession.

The pan-democrats ignore the imperative of a mechanism to ensure a chief executive acceptable to the central government to ensure a good working relationship. But making an ­effort to improve relations does not seem to concern them.

The wanton waste of hundreds of millions of dollars in filibustering, shows they could not be trusted in power.

Imagine if Beijing had agreed to drop the screening of candidates and a defiant chief executive was elected.

Anointing him could result in confrontation and dismissal; ­rejection could precipitate a constitutional stalemate. Both could lead to civil disorder and violence, prompting use of force, and direct rule by a Beijing-appointed chief executive.

The endemic disregard of duties and responsibilities highlights an immature understanding of democratic practices. Therefore, the screening of candidates for chief executive makes sense.

W. E. Cheong, Kowloon Tong

‘Chalk and talk’ teaching puts off students

I think so many students hate going to local schools because of the stress caused by the education system.

They worry about the future and do not think there is anyone they can talk to about their problems.

Schools adopt a “chalk and talk” method of teaching. The priority is to memorise knowledge and so students find their experience in class boring and demotivating. For the most part, what they have memorised will be used in exams and then they will forget it. Also, in Hong Kong, students are often not given ample opportunities in society to apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired.

For example, many youngsters who are studying art or music will not have many opportunities to let them use the skills and knowledge they have acquired. Even if they want to become a painter or professional musician, they are often discouraged from doing so for fear that they will not earn a good salary.

The exams and tests ­students have to sit in Hong Kong, such as the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) and Territory-wide System Assessment, cause them to feel a lot of stress. The spoon-feeding method of teaching makes things worse.

I am now studying in Secondary Four and we have been told we must remember all the model answers we have been taught in Chinese or we will not pass the DSE exam.

However, the whole process of memorising these answers is not enjoyable. I think lessons would be more enjoyable if ways could be found for us to really appreciate the articles we are studying instead of just being subjected to spoon-feeding teaching methods.

Vannessa Kwok Nga-yu, Tai Po

Raise workers’ skill levels on mainland

I refer to the report, “China could be facing a hard choice over painful job losses” (April 15).

China has enjoyed rapid economic growth, but it also has a skyrocketing unemployment rate. It has a large population of low-skilled workers who ­constantly face the risk of unemployment.

In order to deal with this, the central government, as part of its economic reform programme, must ensure there are more training courses for these citizens so they can learn new skills. To ensure economic sustainability, a country must try to fully utilise manpower.

If people on low incomes with rudimentary skills are given no opportunity to improve themselves, nothing will change for the better in their lives and this creates a vicious cycle.

If the country continues to have a large pool of jobless, this could be one factor in causing ­economic recession. With the right training enhancing their skills and knowledge, factory workers can continue to earn a living in a competitive market.

Something else that can lead to an economic downturn is ­corruption and it is always a problem in China. Policies ­cannot be implemented overnight to end it. However, the leadership must accept it is deep-rooted and it means that efficiency at different government departments stays at a low level.

Corruption can lead to laws that have been enacted to protect citizens not being ­enforced. Social problems are not dealt with effectively.

Only when China has an efficient government will it be able to deal with these problems ­and have a labour market with low unemployment.

Many Chinese citizens work long hours, but still earn a ­pittance and are constantly worried about being made ­redundant.

Rachel Ma, Yau Yat Chuen

Hongkongers still need visa for India

As an ethnic Indian, I can sympathise with the recent hue and cry of Indian visitors to Hong Kong whose privilege of years of visa-free entry has been under threat. However, Hong Kong SAR citizens visiting India have to go through a painful process of dealing with a curt and cumbersome Indian bureaucracy, even though the process has been outsourced.

Can the Indian consulate comment as to why, when ­Indians have visa-free access to visit Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR passport holders have to apply for a visa to India? Why is India not reciprocating years of Hong Kong hospitality?

Recently, under the new Indian visa policy, the citizens of most countries can apply online for an e-tourist visa to India, but not Hongkongers. Why?

Sanjay Varma, Discovery Bay