Letters to the Editor, December 9, 2017

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 December, 2017, 9:47am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 December, 2017, 9:47am

Education best way to prevent teens smoking

I refer to the article on calls to make cigarettes costlier (“Call for Hong Kong tobacco tax hike next year, and cigarette ban in 10 years”, December 1).

I do not think merely increasing the tax on tobacco is an effective way to stop people from smoking, especially teenagers.

Firstly, most smokers know where to buy cheaper cigarettes, that is, contraband packs. A pack of these cigarettes usually costs HK$30, about half the price of those sold legally in shops.

Instead of discouraging smokers, increasing the price of cigarettes with a tax hike would just drive many to buy the cheaper, illegal packets.

Hardened smokers who find it impossible to give up the habit, and impressionable teenagers who keep ignoring the obvious health risks, will simply find outlets where they can get the contraband versions.

Secondly, a more effective way to stop teenagers from smoking would be a government crackdown on the promotion of smoking in TV dramas and movies.

Actors are often seen as role models, and teens think smoking is cool because they do it.

I believe education is the most effective way to stop teenagers from becoming smokers. Schools should teach about the negative impact on health.

Zeb Shah, Tuen Mun

Minorities in city deserve more support

Two films with ethnic minority themes recently shown in Hong Kong may have helped promote understanding of the needs and strengths of these groups, and the benefits of inclusion in a culturally diverse society.

The movies show different groups of minorities in different contexts. In Our Days in 6E, the focus is on the ethnic minorities who are eligible for right of abode and permanent residency, while in The Helper, the spotlight is on foreign domestic workers who are not allowed to apply for permanent residency in Hong Kong.

While both movies portray the hurdles that ethnic minorities encounter in their daily lives, Our Days in 6E unintentionally labels local Chinese people as heroes and portrays ethnic minorities as “helpless” or “seeking help”.

In contrast, The Helper conveys the strengths and skills of domestic workers. Presenting the strengths of the non-Chinese population will promote their acceptance in the wider society and help end the stereotyping of foreign workers.

There is concern in the city about ethnic inclusivity. However, more must be done to facilitate local Chinese people’s understanding of difficulties that minorities face and of their strengths, so that they may view them as “assets” to Hong Kong.

Gizem Arat, postdoctoral fellow, University of Hong Kong

China being hypocritical in shaping views

Alex Lo is correct when he writes that China is copying the US when it comes to changing public opinion and promoting China-friendly views (“China simply takes a leaf out of US book,” December 2). However he misses the bigger point.

The US has unabashedly ­admitted trying for several decades to change other countries’ attitudes on human rights, free trade and democracy, as it sees fit. The attitude may be overbearing, but it is consistent for the global hegemon.

China, on the other hand, ­espouses non-interference as the core principle of its international relations.

So when China sets up think tanks in foreign countries to change opinions, seeks to censor foreign university curriculums, and uses economic sanctions targeting specific companies to get them to exert pressure on their governments, it isn’t just being overbearing, it is being hypocritical.

Keith Noyes, Clear Water Bay

Rules needed to ease worries over AI race

I refer to the article on China’s A I capability (“China’s AI dreams stymied by a shortage of talent”, December 1).

With rapid technological ­advancement, artificial intelligence has sparked fierce controversy amid claims it would greatly benefit human lives, ­including through more sophisticated and successful surgery and smarter home devices.

But there are concerns, as some countries pledge to use AI in the military. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has described AI as the greatest potential existential threat to humanity, as nations race to achieve AI supremacy.

China’s lack of AI talent leaves it trailing well behind the US, which leads the world in both quantity and quality of AI skills, the article said, citing a report by the Tencent Research ­Institute. China still has a long way to go to realise its ambitions of being a global leader in AI.

But I am worried about the dangers of the AI rush. Countries must set up regulatory bodies to guide the industry in developing, and controlling, this powerful technology.

Chan Wai Wing, Kwai Chung

Show respect for hurdling champion

Since Hong Kong hurdles champion Vera Lui Lai-yiu claimed that she was sexually assaulted by a coach as a teenager, some people have questioned her ­intentions in going public.

She showed a lot of courage when she joined the “MeToo” movement on Facebook. Why would people dispute her claim? She is facing a lot of pressure from different media and I just wish she could be left alone.

Many people like to criticise celebrities online because they think they don’t need to take any responsibility for what they say. Such thoughtless actions cause distress and can even push them to suffer anguish, or develop mental illnesses.

I would like people to empathise and step into somebody else’s shoes for a moment. We should admire our achievers, or at least show respect.

Lee Wing Yan, Kwai Chung