Online Letters Page, April 18, 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 April, 2017, 3:11pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 April, 2017, 3:11pm

Trump must share blame for casualties in Syria

Syrian state media claimed that the missile attack on the al-Shairat airfield ordered by US President Donald Trump, killed seven people, including four children.

I am with the president when he spoke compassionately about the tragic deaths of children gassed to death. I am with him when he backs the right of people to live without the threat of warfare. I am also with him whenever he stands for humanitarian aid and diplomacy. But I will not be with Trump when he authorises the killing of civilians just to make a statement. Shame on him if he ever does it again just to boost his approval ratings. For how does launching Tomahawk missiles end war? How does blowing things up bring about peace for the victims of war? How does killing four children with 1,000 pound conventional explosives reconcile the murder of other children choked to their graves by sarin? It doesn’t make any sense.

As I see it, the reason Bashar al-Assad is brutalising his own people is because he believes that his use of violence is protecting them from radical Islamic terrorism. The reason Russian president Vladimir Putin is sponsoring Assad’s regime is because he believes that he is making Russia peaceful through strength. The reason Islamic State is kidnapping and torturing anyone it serves them to call an infidel is because they believe they are ushering in Allah’s terrestrial peace. Likewise, Trump’s decision to launch missiles against the Syrian government is a message to the whole world. America is free and prosperous because we can afford to blow stuff up. If need be, we will lead by brute force.

I do not know what Trump should have done. I refuse to speak for him or for anyone else. All I know is that Trump is no more or no less guilty of murder than Assad and Putin. The life of one child is no less or more worthy than the lives of thousands.

George Cassidy Payne, Rochester, New York, US

Vladimir Putin will test the resolve of new president

Russia is a proximate challenge to the US and is sure to cut into President Donald Trump’s golf time. Russian President Vladimir Putin, conditioned by eight years of Barack Obama’s backing-and-filling in global pastures, of one step forward and two steps back, will almost certainly cause stress to our new president in many ways.

He will want to take the measure of his new antagonist as well as that of the new secretary of state. Will John Kerry’s replacement continue his predecessor’s role as favoured interlocutor of tyrants and miscreants? Will we continue to put ultimate faith in the arc of history bending our way in lieu of effective strategy?

Will high moral pronouncements continue to supplant backbone? Vladimir Putin wants to know and he is not alone.

Paul Bloustein, Cincinnati, Ohio, US

Cash incentive can curb terrorism in region

I refer to the report (“Rewards of up to 5 million yuan offered for terrorism tip-offs by remote area in China’s Xinjiang”, April 13).

Through my travel experience in Altay in Xinjiang, I believe that cash rewards for terrorism tip-offs will be an effective solution to Xinjiang’s extreme separatist issues in the short term.

Altay is in a safe region. A large proportion of its population is not Uyghur, the major ethnic group that is supportive of independence for Xinjiang. In and around Altay Chinese Hans and Kazaks live peacefully together. From what I could see there is little in the way of terrorist activities.

However, the cash payments for tip-offs will still have a positive effect. They will make residents feel more confident about local security and encourage more tourists to visit. In fact, Altay has many tourist attractions. For example, around one million tourists visit Kanas National Nature Reserve every year. If the local government can create a safer atmosphere by this cash for tip-offs policy, more businesses may be attracted and help the tourist sector to flourish in this part of Xinjiang.

Terrorists often can be effective, because they operate in the shadows and on the margins of society and cannot easily be found by the authorities. Cash incentives can be effective and ensure society is more transparent.

Nevertheless, this is only a short-term policy. To solve the problems posed by the independence movement, local government should offer more political and economic rights to the Uyghur people and help improve their quality of life. Local cultures and customs must always be shown respect if there is to be a long-term solution.

Jiaxuan Lu, Shanghai

Influx good for small businesses on Cheung Chau

During holiday periods like Easter Hongkongers love to go on day trips to places like Cheung Chau and this can generate large volumes of waste (“Rubbish mounts up as Hongkongers and tourists flock to Cheung Chau over Easter holiday”, April 17).

Street sweepers will complain that they face an impossible job trying to clear up the deluge of refuse. It causes hygiene problems in those areas which are particularly popular with day trippers. Citizens need to act responsibly and ensure all rubbish is deposited in the bins provided to make street sweepers’ tough job a bit easier.

However, while refuse problems were bad on Cheung Chau during this break, the huge influx of visitors will have been good news for the island’s shops and restaurants. Mostly these are small businesses, so a boom long weekend like Easter makes a big difference to their profits and shows that Hong Kong is still competitive in the tourist sector.

I do not think the islanders will mind some inconvenience if local businesses do a roaring trade.

Joey Wong, Kwai Chung

E-cigarettes can help people to quit smoking

While I agree with those people who say smoking is bad for our health, I do not agree with those who argue that increasing the tobacco tax is the best way to get more citizens to give up.

Raising taxes of cigarettes can force some people to give up because they cannot afford the higher cost of packet of cigarettes, especially elderly citizens, teenagers and the poor. With fewer people lighting up in public places there would be less second-hand smoking.

However, it could lower profits for some tobacco-related businesses and we could see a substantial rise in the number of illegal cigarettes smuggled into Hong Kong and so criminals would benefit.

I think a better solution is for smokers who want to give up to switch to electronic cigarettes. People who choose e-cigarettes are more likely to be able to gradually give up smoking. They will do less harm to themselves and to those around them.

With more people moving to e-cigarettes I think we will eventually see fewer smokers in public places in the city.

Sharon Cheng, Yau Yat Chuen