Letters to the Editor, September 23, 2017
Censorship of internet affects critical thought
I refer to the article about a man who was sentenced to nine months in jail because he sold virtual private networks to bypass internet censorship in mainland China (“Man jailed for selling VPNs to evade ‘Great Firewall’ ”, September 5).
I wish to ask, first of all, is the law that bans VPN apps reasonable? I do not think so. I believe mainland citizens should be able to access information from around the world, to broaden their horizons. Also, rigid censorship may create social instability, as people may think that the government is aiming for thought control and that may create discontent.
Secondly, why does the central government apply internet censorship? This issue is very complicated. I think foreign websites, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, are blocked so that any sensitive information or inflammatory speech, especially anti-communist opinion, does not spread around the country.
Thirdly, compare the degree of freedom of expression in Hong Kong with that in mainland China. In Hong Kong, we are free to access different websites and download apps, which keeps us connected and better informed. A ban on information, I believe, may affect critical thinking. I hope the central government can rethink its stance on internet censorship.
Anson Ng, Tseung Kwan O
Recycling in Hong Kong needs a boost
Every day, Hong Kong citizens will generate tonnes of waste. Where is all this waste going? Most likely to landfills or even exported to other regions, such as the mainland. But stricter rules in the mainland on solid waste imports mean this cannot be a long-term solution for our problem of excess waste.
The local government must give more support to the recycling industry. Hong Kong has several recycling companies that process different kinds of material, but their profits are too low and people are not too keen to invest in this industry. More technological and financial support from the government could act as an encouragement.
Meanwhile, officials must do more to regulate and enhance the use of recycling bins. Public awareness on sorting recyclables is still lacking. Also, recycling bins are not as widely available as needed, which means recycling works are still not effective and efficient enough. Some reports even claimed that some of the waste in the recycling bins was transported to landfills but did not go to recyclers because of poor collection mechanisms. So the government should promote and regulate this process.
The most efficient solution, however, is to reduce waste at source, and public service messages about this should be promoted more intensively.
Simon Chung, Kwun Tong
Time to tackle mountains of waste paper
I suggest that the people of Hong Kong, and indeed the world, try to save on the use of paper and so reduce waste.
For instance, we can carry small towels for use in public toilets. That way, tissues are not needed and a lot of paper is saved. Also, towels can be used several times, which is more environmentally friendly.
I also encourage everyone to use both sides of any sheet of paper, for writing, photocopying and the like, to reduce waste. Using cloth napkins instead of disposable tissues at restaurants would also be helpful.
Import restrictions on garbage in mainland China are already hitting local waste paper recyclers. About 80,000 tonnes of waste cardboard, newspaper and office paper are collected in the city each month, almost all of it exported across the border. We should do all we can to prevent the creation of a crisis if this waste cannot be cleared.
Toto Chung, Tseung Kwan O
Study hours not sole cause of teen suicide
During the past year, there has been a spate of student suicides in Hong Kong, and people are beginning to ask who should bear the blame for this tragedy.
Many parents believe the main reason is the hours teenagers must devote to studying and the pressures of school work. So they have called for a cap on the hours of study, at no more than seven per day. However, is that really the main reason for teen suicides? In Hong Kong, the average school day lasts six hours, but students have to spend many more hours at tutorial lessons later, and then at hobby classes at weekends.
Students also face extreme pressure to achieve academic success, not only at school but from parents as well. The pressures may begin to weigh them down so much that those who lack the skills or maturity to cope are tempted to end it all.
To prevent this, students have to learn to appreciate themselves as they are, and social workers at school can help them with emotional problems.
Jessie Leung, Yau Yat Chuen
Book-sharing trend deserves more support
I am writing in response to your article on book sharing (“Why public book sharing hasn’t taken off in Hong Kong”, September 13).
The article said that “book crossing”, or leaving books in public places for people to read, is popular in Europe or in Asian locations such as Singapore or Taiwan, but has been slow to gain popularity in Hong Kong.
Generally, book crossing or exchanging can leave a positive impact on society. Books are the best type of entertainment, and reading used to be a popular pastime. But with technology advancing so fast, people are turning away from books, to their smart gadgets instead.
I think the government should support the annual Book Crossing Festival in Hong Kong, even if the trend is only taking off slowly in the city. Many readers, students in particular, can benefit from this event, where visitors can exchange up to 30 books.
Hongkongers are criticised for being too tech-oriented and not reading enough. Promoting book crossing can help make reading a joy and not a chore for even the younger generation.
Icelyn Choy, Kwai Chung
London Tube beat MTR to property focus
I refer to your report on the MTR Corporation’s plans (“MTR looks to sell trains-and-property business model in UK and Sweden”, September 18).
So Chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang thinks that in suggesting flats and offices above London train stations he is exporting the MTR’s idea to the UK, does he? Think again.
In the 1920s, the Metropolitan Railway, now part of the London Underground, built the vast Chiltern Court above its Baker Street station.
And even earlier, before the first world war, Leslie Green, the architect for sister firm Underground Electric Railways Company of London, designed his characteristic tiled stations so they could be extended upwards for offices or flats.
I worked in one such office, above Covent Garden station, in the 1980s.
Alan Burkitt-Gray, London, UK