Letters to the Editor, June 2, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 June, 2016, 5:06pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 June, 2016, 5:06pm

Customers at HSBC have right to privacy

I agree with Neville Sarony (“HSBC under fire for ‘snooping’ on clients”, May 30) that HSBC has gone too far in expecting customers of safe deposit boxes to give away their rights to ­privacy.

­The letter to which Mr Sarony referred was sent to customers who started their rental contract before 2004.

For those who started after 2004, the clause had already been ­included and I am sure the vast majority were not even aware of its existence. In either case, it is totally unreasonable of HSBC to include such a broad clause.

To search my apartment, the police would need a warrant. This is issued by a magistrate, who must be convinced that there is probable cause to warrant such action. Does HSBC believe it has more ­authority than the police?

Can HSBC please explain to the public what gives it the right to unilaterally decide when it can open up a safe deposit box without the customer being present? Who takes responsibility if things go missing, and how can we be assured that confidential documents have not been read?

L. Chang, The Peak

Containment policy of US is interference

Last month US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter made a speech about the Chinese government’s actions in the South China Sea (“Beijing’s actions risk ‘Great Wall of self-isolation’”, May 29).

This claim that China was ­isolating itself because of its ­actions was totally unreasonable.

I think he was trying to emulate Winston Churchill’s ­famous speech condemning the Soviet Union’s actions in post-war ­Europe when he said “an iron curtain has descended across the continent”.

It is not fair to make such a comparison and use the term Great Wall. The Great Wall of China was a defensive fortification aimed at keeping out invading barbarians. That is very different from the Soviet Union’s iron curtain.

I find the containment policy of the United States is really annoying – it feels it is entitled to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

In this case, I think it is motivated by a ­concern that China will grow stronger than America and so Washington sets up alliances with those nations which have disagreements with Beijing.

Historically, US interference in other countries has even extended to violence, such as the attempted assassinations of Cuba’s former leader Fidel ­Castro.

With its foreign policy, it purports to want to ­preserve world peace, but I think it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

History shows us that superpowers do not keep that status forever and, like the Roman empire, will eventually begin to decline.

America’s containment policy can only lead to animosity between nations.

Billy Sit, Tseung Kwan O

Savings on security bill were feasible

A major security operation was launched ahead of and during the visit to Hong Kong last month of Chinese state leader Zhang Dejiang ( 張德江 ).

At times, major transport ­arteries such as Harbour Road and Expo Drive were closed to keep away protesters.

The police even put up very high water safety barriers.

Of course, some security protocols were needed in case of violent protests, but was this massive security operation actually necessary?

If he was considered to be facing such a high risk, surely he could have been accommodated at the Marriott Hotel at the airport and all functions could have been held at the Asia-World Expo?

Only a few hundred police officers would have been needed to keep that area secure and it would have caused minimal inconvenience to Hong Kong citizens.

Ashley Leung, Mid-Levels

Reduce waste with much more recycling

Hongkongers are throwing away about 9,700 tonnes of municipal solid waste and it ends up in our landfills.

This is a huge volume of refuse and because of it, the three landfills are nearing capacity. Therefore the government proposed landfill expansion and the building of an incinerator. But are these measures the right way to solve the problem?

Surely citizens can do more to cut back on waste. For example, we could try not to purchase items that we do not need and will not use. Hong Kong people love shopping, but often they buy stuff they will not use, in particular, clothes. So many items of clothing are thrown away without ever ­having been worn and this is so wasteful.

If we got into the habit of buying what we need rather than what we want, the volume of waste generated in the city would drop. The government can help through education to raise awareness about the need for all of us to be less wasteful.

We also must do a lot more recycling. Compared to other prosperous cities in Asia, the amount of refuse produced every day per citizen in Hong Kong is very high. It is about double that of Tokyo.

Citizens there and in Taiwan need to classify rubbish so that all recyclable material can be utilised. This is not compulsory in Hong Kong and, in fact, the recycling rate in the city has dropped. The government should find ways to help develop the recycling ­sector.

Incineration and landfills should only be for refuse which cannot be reused and ­recycled. Relying on landfills and incinerators to deal with refuse is unwise. Incinerators are unpopular with nearby residents and expensive. And they can only deal with so much ­garbage on a daily basis.

The key to reducing volumes of waste is for us to recycle more and only buy what we need.

Kwok Wing-yee, Kowloon Tong

E-learning not the ultimate solution

I can understand why some correspondents have said that schools in Hong Kong should embrace e-learning.

They point to the main advantages it brings. For example, digital learning material reduces waste, because at the moment, teachers have to print out exercises. Also, students carry rucksacks full of heavy textbooks; with e-learning, the load will be much lighter.

However, it will not be easy to ensure all schools embrace e-learning. Some students who are so used to textbooks will have difficulty adapting to the switch to learning everything online.

Also, overuse of computers can harm young people’s eyesight. So I remain unconvinced about the need to switch to e-learning.

Heidi Cheng, Lam Tin

English can be improved outside school

It is obvious that English standards are declining in Hong Kong.

Schools focus on writing skills and grammar and pay far less attention to spoken English. Therefore, many youngsters, when speaking, resort to Chinglish and think that will be all right.

Some students have become discouraged at the way English is taught and have stopped ­doing homework. Some have even handed in blank exam papers.

They need to realise it is ­possible to learn spoken English outside the classroom and ­become quite proficient. Browsing YouTube is an interesting way to improve their ­spoken English and they can concentrate on things that interest them, such as drama, DIY or sports. This is an effective way to improve pronunciation.

Hillary Chan, Tseung Kwan O