Letters to the Editor, April 14, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 April, 2015, 4:38pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 April, 2015, 4:38pm

Both China and Japan rewrite history

Once again, it is time for regional bickering over the content of school textbooks ("Japan unapologetic as China and South Korea fume over new textbooks", April 8).

China is dissatisfied with Japan's description of the Nanking Massacre as an "incident". A spokesperson for Beijing said that history "cannot and should not be allowed to be changed wilfully". It is hard to take the lesson seriously when it comes from a state which recast the Tiananmen massacre as "the June 4 incident" and routinely censors its own history.

Similarly, complaints about Japanese claims to the Diaoyu (Senkaku) islands ring hollow considering China's outrageous claims to, and inflammatory reclamations in, the South China Sea.

The history of conflict between Japan and China has left residual pain and distrust. But Europe has shown how such a legacy can be addressed with relative maturity, honesty and goodwill.

Japan and China have pledged their peaceful intentions internationally, and apologists will say their nationalistic pronouncements are designed for domestic audiences.

But is it any wonder the US is keeping an eye on the playground?

Almost 70 years after the second world war, it seems the best-case scenario is that our grandchildren will be reading the same story in another 70 years.

The worst-case scenario does not bear thinking about.

Brendan Clift, Tai Hang

Olympic champion a real inspiration

It is a pity that Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Liu Xiang has had to announce his retirement ("Star athlete Liu Xiang reaches final hurdle", April 8).

Although we will not see him again competing in a sports event, we can still look back with appreciation at the spirit he showed in competition and his most remarkable achievement, winning the 110-metre hurdles in the Olympic Games in Athens. Also, he broke the world record in 2006. Through his efforts, he was an important role model for young people.

While he had an extraordinary record in competition, it is also important to pay tribute to his perseverance. When other youngsters were outside playing after school, he was honing his skills as a young athlete. Thanks to the many hours he spent practising, his efforts finally paid off and he was able to enjoy success.

We can also learn from his resilience. After he was injured in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, he went to the US for treatment and recovered and was able to compete again successfully.

Unfortunately, he had a recurrence of his injury problems and has now decided he can no longer continue.

While he has decided to retire, he has given us an inspiring story, showing that it is possible to succeed in sport even though you must overcome many obstacles.

Karen Lau, Clear Water Bay

Remember Liu for his achievements

Olympic champion Liu Xiang has been warmly praised following his announcement that he was retiring.

He deserves praise and respect for what he has achieved despite the pain he endured through his injuries.

He was the first Asian athlete to break the world record in the 110-metre hurdles.

His disappointments at the Olympics in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012 will never erase his achievements in Athens in 2004 when he won gold.

Most track and field athletes in China have passed on their best wishes to Liu on Weibo, and many said that he inspired them over the past decade.

I hope he will be remembered for his achievements rather than his disappointments.

Claire Li, Western District

MPF failing to offer security in old age

Mandatory Provident Fund schemes have generally performed poorly since being launched in 2000.

Although the MPF overall shows a profit most years, that is not much help when it is below the inflation rate for that year. For example, the inflation rate for 2014 was 3.5 per cent, while the overall return rate for MPF schemes in 2014 was only 3.1 per cent (according to the MPF Schemes Authority website).

Therefore, these MPF accounts which employers and employees pay into are in real terms losing money every year, leaving insufficient funds for many people for their retirement.

I would like the government to come up with a better policy that can give citizens a more secure retirement.

Winky Chan, Kowloon Tong 

Elderly poor need universal pension

With Hong Kong having an ageing population, we are likely to see more elderly people living in poverty.

While they were working, these citizens made an important contribution to the prosperity of Hong Kong. Offering them some retirement protection is a way of showing our appreciation for that contribution.

Therefore, the government should be implementing a universal pension scheme. It is also an expression of filial piety, which is part of our traditional culture. Under such a scheme, the elderly would be able to live in dignity with a protection scheme that was not means-tested.

Means testing could be unfair to those people who saved up and hope to use these savings for necessary medical treatment, especially those with chronic conditions who have to make frequent trips to see a doctor.

You still see some elderly citizens, some of whom are clearly not well, picking up cardboard that they can sell for recycling to pay for necessities, such as their medical treatment. With a proper universal pension, they would no longer have to do this.

Opponents of a universal pension talk about the cost. But look at the 12 years of free education. While there were opponents, you do not hear them now. With better-educated students, we can have a better-quality workforce. This makes Hong Kong more competitive and helps the economy.

Elderly people who enjoy a level of financial security will have greater purchasing power and will spend more.

Also, universal pension will put less pressure on public medical facilities and reduce long waiting times at public hospitals.

Tang Sha-lee, Yau Yat Chuen

Liberal studies has helped students

I refer to the letter by Chau Pui-yan's ("Keep liberal studies, but scrap exam", April 6).

As a local secondary student, I have been able to compare schools before and after the subject was introduced.

It was aimed at developing the critical thinking skills of young people and has succeeded in doing this.

There is an ongoing online debate about whether it should remain part of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exam.

To a large extent, I agree with your correspondent that it should still be in the curriculum but not be part of the exam.

There is no doubt that it is helping teenagers look at different aspects of society, including the role of the chief executive.

They are forced to analyse the many problems that society faces and to try and come up with solutions that are feasible and practical.

However, there are some students who are suggesting that liberal studies should no longer be a core subject, but an elective. They say this will reduce the heavy workload students face in secondary schools.

However, what liberal studies can also help you do is juggle your busy schedule so you learn time management skills.

I can understand why some young people have misgivings about the subject and consider it to be a very hard subject.

If the Education Bureau plans to make any changes to liberal studies, I hope they will take into account the views of different groups of students on this matter before coming to any decision and implementing changes to the course.

Kenneth Chan Yu-hin, Sai Kung

Seeking an explanation for police raids

Could someone from the Hong Kong Police Force explain its policy of raiding Wan Chai bars at 1am in the middle of the Rugby Sevens party weekend with 30-plus uniformed and plain-clothes officers?

This happened on the Saturday and the Sunday.

Bars were forced to stop the music and turn up the lights for up to 15 to 20 minutes, while only female customers from Southeast Asia were checked for identification.

What sort of image do the police want to give to the many visitors to Hong Kong - that they have a policy of only checking the identity of certain races?

Many customers left the area due to these police tactics.

Businesses in the Wan Chai bar district are having a hard time as it is with increasing rents and the Occupy demonstrations on Hong Kong Island last year affecting trade, without the police also trying to ruin the bar area.

Stuart Jackets, Wan Chai