Letters to the Editor, June 1, 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 June, 2016, 4:44pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 June, 2016, 4:44pm

June 4 vigil still important for Hong Kong

I am concerned about the controversy over commemorations in Hong Kong of the Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989.

In April, the Hong Kong Federation of Students withdrew from the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organises the annual June 4 candlelight vigil at Victoria Park. Althea Suen Hiu-nam, president of the University of Hong Kong students’ union, asked whether such commemorations should be ended.

Localists in the pro-democracy camp oppose the China-oriented remembrance of the massacre in Beijing 27 years ago, particularly the call for democratisation in the country. They are also dissatisfied with the candlelight vigil, for being merely ceremonial and ineffective.

I disagree with localists and student leaders who say there should no longer be any remembrance of the June 4 incident.

The 1989 student-led, pro-democracy movement and military crackdown on June 4 are taboo subjects on the mainland.

Activists like Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) demanding official reassessment of the movement are persecuted. Youngsters on the mainland are increasingly ignorant about what happened. For 27 years, Hong Kong has been the only Chinese city where large-scale commemorations of the Tiananmen Square crackdown are freely held. If Hongkongers abandon such remembrances, precious memories of the crackdown will gradually fade.

No matter which event Hongkongers attend on June 4, the candlelight vigil at Victoria Park or academic forum at Chinese University, we must be conscious that the June 4 massacre is a dark episode in China’s history that it has to squarely face.

Ben L. P. Tsang, Yuen Long

Recalling a city united in condemnation

I disagree with your columnist Alex Lo, who describes June 4 as the pivotal event that split local politics into the pan-democratic and pro-government camps (“Locked minds of independence advocates”, May 30).

My own recollection is of a Hong Kong united as never ­before or since. Let us spare the blushes of the countless individuals, public companies and professional associations of the highest standing whose public condemnation and outrage was printed in your newspaper.

Mainland entities, for the first time, joined hands with Hong Kong people: how could we ­forget the black banners draped from the Bank of China. Many would doubtless wish these to be consigned to history. However, as Lo wisely writes, you know what they say about people who fail to learn from history.

G. Taylor-Thomas, Discovery Bay

Councillor was aiming at wrong target

Central and Western district councillor Ted Hui Chi-fung seeks to create recognition for himself with the unfortunate ­collapse of a partial part of a building within the Central Police Station renovation area.

Describing the incident as “an international joke” is absurd. The rest of the world is not monitoring Hong Kong’s building renovation.

Yet any international visitor will leave the city with abundant memories of illegally-parked cars clogging our streets and pavements and rightly condemn Hong Kong as an international joke – streets that mostly fall ­within the jurisdiction of the Central and Western District and illegality it does nothing to curtail.

Mark Peaker, The Peak

Deliver this heritage project as envisioned

The partial collapse of a structure within the Central Police Station is not “an international joke” Ted Hui Chi-fung. However, a knee-jerk reaction to it would be ­(“Collapsed building known as vulnerable”, May 31).

Comprehensive restoration of multiple heritage buildings for multiple uses, in a densely packed urban environment, is no mean feat. And with the finish line ­almost in sight, every party ­involved must keep Hong Kong’s global reputation firmly on their minds.

The city will grow immensely in stature if it can deliver this project as envisioned. Hesitate, legislate, or deviate, and its only recognition will be among ­local citizens who will shake their heads and bemoan another missed opportunity.

Now is the time for smart responsive thinking, the employment of engineering technology, and the deep pockets of the project owners.

Mark Cumming, Stanley

Strict checks of green roofs are essential

The roof collapse at the sports centre at City University last month set alarm bells ­ringing. Concerns have now been raised about the potential perils of overloaded roof ­gardens.

While the construction of roof gardens is well-intentioned, we have to ask if any of them might adversely affect the architectural structure and structural loading of buildings.

Hong Kong is a densely populated city where the urban heat-island effect and a lack of green spaces are problems. So the government has encouraged the construction of roof gardens.

Schools get subsidies to launch green roof projects.

While the ecological and social benefits of these roofs are acknowledged, safety issues must clearly be addressed and the relevant regulations must be followed. The Buildings Department is required to process ­building plan submissions ­involving green roof in accordance with the provisions of the Buildings Ordinance.

While City U has admitted “it had not sought approval from the Buildings Department for changes to the structure of the rooftop” (“Answers demanded over campus roof’s collapse”, May 21), the government must also be held responsible.

The absence of much-needed routine inspection and proper maintenance reflects problems with government oversight. Enforcement of the relevant legislation should be tightened.

Offering subsidies for rooftops is not enough. There must be safeguards and monitoring.

Following the roof collapse, the public seems to have overreacted.

Cool heads are needed and members of the investigation committee looking into the City U incident should work together to bring out a comprehensive report, and make recommendations so that similar cases can be prevented in the future.

Given that we are seeing more roof gardens sprouting up, closer scrutiny of these developments is required, to ensure the safety of citizens using them.

Matt Kwok, Wong Tai Sin

Discrimination has not died out in workplace

There is no doubt that gender equality has improved in Hong Kong and there is less discrimination here than, for example, on the mainland.

However, gender discrimination still exists in the workplace and it would be wrong to think that in all cases, women are ­treated equally.

Often, a female employee ­doing the same job as her male counterpart in an office will earn a lower salary. Also, many companies will still hire more male than female employees and women in these firms will often find they have fewer opportunities for ­career advancement.

In some firms, once a woman becomes pregnant, the bosses will try to find a way to dismiss her rather than pay her maternity leave. Even if they are kept on, they may again find they are not offered the chance for promotion because the employer does not think they will stay long after ­giving birth. Another form of discrimination relates to mothers who encounter rudeness when they want to breastfeed their baby in a public area.

Awareness has to be raised in society about the importance of stamping out gender discrimination and the media has an important role to play.

Kassandra Wong Hiu-tung, Tseung Kwan O