Letters to the Editor, July 1, 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 July, 2016, 12:56pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 July, 2016, 12:56pm

Racism has no place here, or anywhere

I witnessed a French man racially abusing a Muslim family with two small children on the Island Line on Saturday night a week ago. The man was blaming them for the terrorist attack in Paris, terrorism and the Brexit vote, amongst other things.

I was stunned to see this kind of behaviour, and confronted him about it. The Muslim family exited at the next station, while the man stayed one more stop to continue his rant at me. After I called the police, he exited at the next stop.

Two things angered me about this incident. The first one is obvious: overt racism on public transport in an international city is an outrage in 2016. However, I realised later that when I got on the train, the racism was already happening. Yet no one had confronted him about it. No one else supported me while he was shouting at the family or me.

Racism is a scourge and should be confronted wherever we see it in our lives. If behaviour like this is not challenged, then I fear it will become acceptable. I don’t want to live in a city where racism is watched passively.

I apologised to the family as they exited the train, but I wish to do so again. Please remember that, unfortunately, ignorant people live everywhere, and that some of them live in Hong Kong. I hope that your children weren’t too shaken up by the incident, and I wish you all the best for your future.

David Wood, North Point

Brexiters given false hope of better times

Please let me put right the mistaken view of your writer Barnaby Ieong, who lives in Macau, on the referendum result in Britain (“British people voted to assert control over their own destiny”, June 27).

His opinion that it was a good thing is based on the fact that he saw lots of foreigners in London and the British people fear a takeover of their “culture and lifestyle”. So Barnaby says they voted to leave the EU.

A few things he doesn’t know: London voted heavily in favour of remaining in the EU.

And thinking about the future of Britain, young people between 18 and 34 voted overwhelmingly to remain. Disproportionately, too, university-educated Brits voted to remain.

A whole section of the population in Scotland and in Northern Ireland who have a different take on “culture” also voted heavily to remain. That leaves the old and older, less well-educated, less prosperous England outside London.What they fell for was a propaganda machine that told them their miseries – poor housing, a creaking health service, mediocre education and unemployment (all the responsibilities of the British government, not the EU) – would be over if they voted to leave.

The result of leaving for them will be devastating over the next decade.

David Townsend, Kennedy Town

Learning how to learn is key to success

I refer to Raphael Blet’s letter calling on Baptist University to scrap its compulsory general education courses (“Baptist University should stop forcing students to do courses”, June 8). As a journalism student of the university, I disagree with this view, as I think holistic learning is desirable for most students, especially those who study the arts.

One lecturer in photojournalism once told us that the boundaries between academic subjects are not fixed, and that categories exist more for the sake of making exams possible. He is right. Take photojournalism, which touches on different disciplines. To learn how to take a good photo, we need to know a little about refraction and the science of colour, for instance. And students who want to further their study of optics can choose the course “Everyday Physics for Future Executives”, for instance.

Learning how to learn is the best weapon against spoon feeding.

These courses are suitable for everyone, not just journalism students. Steve Jobs took audit and caligraphy classes before he created the iPhone. The actor Rowan Atkinson has a master’s degree in electrical engineering. Instead of politics and governance, Margaret Thatcher studied chemistry.

We don’t know how “useful” their studies were to their achievements, but we do know that they must have been a great learner. And a focus on “whole person development” helps us become great learners.

If there is a problem with university requirements, I would say it is the compulsory Putonghua classes. It is not reasonable that undergraduates must pass this course before being allowed to graduate.

Wesley Yip Chan-wai, Wong Tai Sin

Mainland help needed to stem beach litter

It would be most helpful if Hong Kong government officials, instead of arranging stage-managed visits for high-ranking mainland Chinese officials, take these people around Hong Kong to inspect first-hand the damage caused to Chinese coastal cities by communities living inland and adjacent to the mainland waterways.

We in Hong Kong and residents of other Chinese coastal cities are proud of our cities. However, we are the unfortunate recipients of waste discarded in mainland rivers, and recent storms have only exacerbated the situation.

It is most embarrassing when walking around prime tourist destinations such as Stanley, Repulse Bay and Deep Water Bay to hear visitors making disparaging remarks about the filth floating in the water, which they incorrectly assume has been dumped there by Hong Kong residents.

After the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2003, Hong Kong has taken great strides to ensure that the city was more focused on cleanliness and general hygiene. The constant deluge of waste washing up on our beaches is beyond our control and requires assistance from the mainland. We need to bring to the attention of our neighbours the consequences of irresponsible waste disposal. Good neighbours are considerate neighbours.

Tourism is one of the ­anchors of our economy and ­urgent action is required to ­address this situation.

G. Patterson, Stanley

China’s faults plain to see if eyes opened

I would like to eviscerate almost all of T.P. Cheng’s premises in his letter, “Term from civil war was really inappropriate” (June 22). Cheng’s rhetoric is an example of gaslighting, a strategy that China and its pundits are increasingly unleashing on Chinese people around the world.

Take, for example, Cheng citing China’s greatness because it is on the UN Security Council; China is there because it represents one billion people, not ­because it deserves to be there. China’s track record of helping the world via the UN is atrocious and self-serving.

Firstly, how dare Cheng tar and feather a whole generation of Hong Kong university students as being unworthy to serve the city’s future based on words and actions that contradict his communist sympathies? Courageous leaders should be applauded because they evoke change, or at least a discussion on pertinent issues.

Secondly, Cheng accuses Hongkongers of harbouring “hatred” towards China. I would call it well-founded mistrust based on the last 100 years of history and violence perpetrated by megalomaniacs upon generations of innocents.

It is true that RTHK is funded by the Hong Kong government. Yet, with a free press, any reputable radio or television report has a duty to present both sides of an issue rather than become a mouthpiece for the government.

It is obvious that Mr Cheng does not agree with this principle. I can only deduce that he prefers the control of information that the Chinese government employs.

It is Cheng who is blind to the political realities of China and who has lost touch with historical facts. China is controlled by a bunch of bandits.

Ryan Culliton, Tseung Kwan O