Letters to the Editor, November 11, 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 November, 2016, 4:59pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 November, 2016, 4:59pm

Important that any debate is balanced

I agree with retired judge Woo Kwok-hing that it is OK to talk about independence, as long as Hongkongers don’t go beyond that (“Discuss independence but don’t act, says Woo”, ­November 2).

While the Basic Law states that Hong Kong is an “inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China”, merely discussing the issue should not be a ­problem, particularly in schools, where discussion should not be banned.

This became a hot topic when, on the first day of the new school year, pro-independence leaflets were handed out at some schools.

This issue must be handled in a positive way. The more the authorities try to stop any such discussion, the more eager the people will be to talk about it.

If ­students are deprived of a ­balanced debate, the only views they will then hear will be from pro-independence voices.

In the classroom, teachers should not have to shy away from contentious topics such as localism.

One of the aims of a school should be to improve the critical thinking skills of young students, and open discussion helps make that possible.

It is vitally important that freedom of speech is maintained in Hong Kong. However, that right should not protect those who go further and do things that could be harmful to the SAR.

Unlike the mainland, Hong Kong is a society that embraces diversity and we must be willing to allow different opinions to be expressed if we are going to have a harmonious society.

Wong Hoi-lam, Yau Yat Chuen

We can now choose serious lawmakers

I refer to the article by Perry Lam (“Oath saga shows ugly side of colonial legacy”, November 4).

Colonialism can be blamed for many things, but the recent oath-taking pantomime staged at the Legislative Council is not one of them.

If Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung Chung-hang had attempted such a prank under the jurisdiction of the British crown, they would have been in for a very rude awakening.

Such a stunt would never be tolerated in Britain.

Bring on the by-elections and let us vote in two serious and conscientious democratic legislators.

I disagree with Perry Lam, Hong Kong society is not “in ­denial about its colonial past” but in acceptance of its past ­reality. The reality for most ­ordinary Hong Kong people is that life was better pre-1997 than it is now.

Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels

Wartime trail neglected by government

I ­refer to the article concerning the pipeline construction works being conducted by the Water Supplies Department in the ­vicinity of a pillbox position on the Tai Tam Country Trail (“Pipe ‘desecration’ of battle site”, ­October 22). The site is part of Hong Kong’s second world war era military ruins in the Wong Nai Chung area.

Local military historian ­Philip Cracknell has described the siting of this pipeline as ­reprehensible and disrespectful ­towards the men who fought and died at this location in ­December 1941, during the ­battle for Hong Kong. I am in full agreement with him in this ­respect.

The article concentrated on the construction work being conducted in that one location. I would like, however, to draw attention to the deterioration of the Wong Nai Chung Trail as a whole, of which this pillbox is just one small part.

A little over a decade ago, this heritage trail was established, not, I emphasise, by the Hong Kong government.

The trail, which starts opposite Parkview on Tai Tam Reservoir Road and ends opposite the tennis courts on Wong Nai Chung Gap Road, commemorates the fighting which took place in and around this area as the invading Japanese Army sought to capture the strategically important Wong Nai Chung Gap.

A total of 10 information boards and a number of directional indicators were erected and the trail includes many military ruins constructed by the British military prior to the ­outbreak of the Pacific war.

It is patently obvious to any visitor to the trail that little or no maintenance is being ­conducted there.

A number of the information boards have been allowed to ­deteriorate to a shocking extent; the direction boards have for the most part been rendered useless, and many of the military ruins have been reclaimed by dense undergrowth.

As a licensed tour guide who specialises in second world war hikes in Hong Kong, I am ­saddened when I take visitors on the trail and have to explain to them why the authorities have allowed it to deteriorate to the extent to which it has done.

The deterioration is also very disrespectful to those who fought and died during those dark days of December 1941.

I urge the government to take whatever remedial steps are deemed necessary to restore the trail to its original condition.

M. H. Heyes, Causeway Bay

Raising birth rate not the right policy

I do not agree with those people who argue that as we have an ageing population, the government should be offering greater financial incentives so that more couples start a family and the birth rate increases.

They say that having more young people will help to add to our depleted workforce and alleviate the shortages in certain ­sectors. This is because, with more people ­retiring, there are fewer young people available to take their place.

However, every day, 150 one-way ­permits are issued to mainlanders to move to Hong Kong. Most of these migrants are young ­people. So every year we have more than 50,000 people who can fill vacancies. How can we say that we have a shrinking workforce?

In countries with tight immigration controls, raising the birth rate is seen as a priority, but given Hong Kong’s situation with the 150 daily arrivals, we can find more efficient solutions. An increase in the birth rate is actually not necessary.

Also, if a lot more women were giving birth, this could ­create a number of problems. Would we have the resources to deal with a sharp spike in the birth rate?

Having more women giving birth means that we need more beds in public hospitals. Given the present shortages of ­medical staff, would we have enough ­gynaecologists and obstetricians? Also, as the babies grow up, we would need more schools to educate them and have to train more teachers.

I do not think there is any need to offer extra financial ­incentives to couples to start a family.

Wong Cheuk-ling, Kowloon Tong

Tougher food import rules are needed

The discovery of excessive levels of likely cancer-causing chemicals in hairy crabs imported from farms in eastern Jiangsu (江蘇) ­province is a cause for concern.

Unsafe levels of dioxins in the food chain can have serious health implications, with not only the risk of cancer, but also the potential to damage ­immune systems.

What has happened with ­regard to the crabs makes it clear that food import companies must be far more vigilant. The government also has to revise its food safety checking system so that it is more effective. It needs to establish tighter regulations and stiffer punishments for importers who break these rules.

The priority of the Centre for Food Safety is to protect the health and well-being of Hong Kong citizens.

Chau Siu-mei, Kwai Chung