Letters to the Editor, June 25, 2016

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 June, 2016, 12:17am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 June, 2016, 12:16am

Nine-dash line not intended as national border

It has been reported by news agencies that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is about to publish its ­ruling on the South China Sea dispute and is expected to rule in favour of the Philippines.

These agencies say that China’s nine-dash line is invalid and therefore does not support the Chinese claim of sovereignty over the South China Sea waters and island groups, the latter of which were ordered by the 1943 Cairo Declaration to be restored to China.

It has also been reported that China is considering pulling out of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ­(Unclos) if that is the basis for invalidating the nine-dash line (the “tongue”).

Well, the nine-dash line was never meant to be a national border, or to enclose, as China has been alleged to be doing, ­“almost all of the South China Sea”. As was made clear in a 1992 pronouncement, China reaffirmed its sovereignty over the territorial waters around its ­offshore islands, “the islands, reefs and shoals of the Pratas, the Zhongsha (in which is embedded the Scarborough Shoal), the Spratlys and the Paracels, ­inside of the nine-dash line”, but did not close off the international waters next to them.

If China should pull out of Unclos, it would join the same category as the non-Unclos US, no longer recognising the 12-nautical-mile territorial waters or the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone of any state, Unclos or non-Unclos, nor ­Vietnam’s “tongue” which stretches across more than half of China’s “tongue”. But why should the tribunal recognise Vietnam’s claim?

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Drones must not put people out of work

It was reported earlier this year that Foodpanda, the food ­delivery service, hoped to eventually be able to use drones to get meals to customers. It wants to reduce its reliance on motorbikes.

While it is innovative to ­deliver takeaway food using unmanned drones, there are still some underlying problems that companies have to consider ­beforehand.

Apart from bureaucracy and government regulations, the payload, battery life and the ­stability of drones would have to be tested before a firm applies this new technology.

Being operationally profitable, the company has the positive margin to make room for developing new technology.

Technology may bring new ways of life but we cannot ignore the negative side of it.

While new technology can bring convenience to customers and benefit employers with ­lower costs, employees who are working hard for a living may lose their jobs.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to using technology in the workplace. I believe if the companies can use technology properly without abusing it, then it can definitely benefit the companies and their customers.

Yoyo Sin Tak-yiu, Sha Tin

Zero-emissions activists are full of hot air

There are ivory-tower activists armed with computers who champion a “zero-emissions world” where man’s activities release no carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

These evangelists posing as energy engineers want to force us back to the Middle Ages when low-density green energy ruled – wood fires, whale oil lamps, charcoal forges, human treadmills and horse power.

They oppose the main thing that sets us apart from all other species – the creation of continuous, concentrated energy from modern fuels such as coal, oil, gas and nuclear power, and its easy transmission to every ­consumer via tankers, power lines and pipelines.

They have yet to explain how our massive fleets of planes, tractors, harvesters, buses, trucks, bulldozers, graders, cruise liners, container ships, tankers, battleships and submarines will be powered and lubricated by muscle power, wind power, solar power, water power or the energy from ­burning wood or ethanol.

The future for refining, processing and manufacturing is easy – they will relocate overseas.

Still want zero emissions of carbon dioxide? Please hold your breath.

Viv Forbes, Rosewood, Queensland, Australia

Reef disaster may have had natural cause

I refer to the report (“Bleaching kills a third of coral in Barrier Reef”, May 31) and the report, (“Coral in crisis”, June 11).

The best explanation for a trigger for the bleaching of some of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the sudden heating of seawater by a submarine volcano, named Hunga, off Tonga from December 2014 to January 2015.

The timing coincided with the hottest period of the ­southern hemisphere’s summer. After the eruption, authorities in Tonga reported that an island about 120 metres high and with a width of 1.5km to 2km was created.

An analysis of maps of ­sea-surface temperature anomalies provided by the US ­National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is in support of the hot seawater ­explanation.

Other regional impacts of the hot seawater include Super ­Cyclone Pam, which devastated Vanuatu in March 2015, and a succession of disastrous storms accompanied by powerful winds, torrential rain and hail which affected the New South Wales coast ­during April and May 2015.

Any reduction in our carbon dioxide emissions is totally ­ineffective against such ­naturally driven climatic ­disasters.

Wyss Yim, Pok Fu Lam

Advantages in learning electronically

Despite the fact that online learning has started to become popular, a majority of schools still prefer paper books to e-books. But in my opinion, e-learning is more beneficial.

People used to think that face-to-face tuition was important, so they preferred learning in the traditional way. Nevertheless, e-learning has several ­advantages. To start with, it can increase the efficiency of ­learning. Since online courses are often open to anyone who has an internet connection, learners can absorb knowledge any time they want, which is more effective than the traditional way. Students can use software to help them proofread their own work.

Online learning is flexible. The range of courses is limitless. Lastly, it is more environmentally friendly to learn with electronic devices. A lot of trees are cut down for printed books, while learning online causes less pollution.

Yvonne Cheung, Lam Tin

Taxpayers will foot the bill for third runway

I refer to the report (“Hong Kong air passengers to pay fee from August to fund third runway as Cathay Pacific welcomes first of Airbus A350s”, May 31).

From the article, I understand that outbound and transit passengers will need to pay HK$180 from August to fund the construction of the airport’s third runway.

However, it is said the third runway would only be used for landings, not for take-offs.

Although the chief executive officer of the Airport Authority said that 70 per cent of the users of the Hong Kong International Airport are not Hong Kong ­citizens, the costs of the construction apart from the runway may still require funding to be voted on at Legco.

In other words, the construction of the third runway may end up being funded by Hong Kong taxpayers.

Heidi Leung, Tseung Kwan O