Letters to the Editor, April 24, 2015
Make parallel trading less profitable
I refer to the report, "Slashing visits by Shenzhen residents 'won't' end parallel trading problem" (April 12). The amendment to the individual visit scheme slashing the frequency of mainlanders' visits brings both advantages and disadvantages to us, but the pros outweigh the cons.
Firstly, the new policy will curb parallel trading. By limiting visitor entry to once a week, the costs of parallel trading will certainly rise as the owners have to employ more people to work. It will reduce the congestion problem caused by the parallel traders, which would alleviate Hongkongers' ill feelings towards them.
Moreover, though many businesses argue that the policy will hurt them economically, we can see this as an opportunity to correct the unhealthy development in the retail industry, with shops patronised by mainland visitors dominating some areas. We hope the change will bring back shops that serve the majority needs, such as restaurants and book shops. Small businesses may once again flourish and bring us more choices in shopping.
The government should consider doing more to stop parallel trading once and for all, such as stepping up measures at the border.
Ming Lee, Tai Po
Entry limits only harm Hong Kong's image
No doubt the government's new regulation to restrict the number of mainland visitors is seen to be a way to deter parallel trading. But I think that the policy is really being introduced to appease the sentiments of the local people.
The government stated a result it would like to see, but failed to attend to the reason.
Parallel trading, like any other business activity, is undertaken to make money. By limiting the presence of traders from Shenzhen, we are encouraging them to find other means to continue their business, like recruiting people in Hong Kong. A sizeable number of Hongkongers are already involved in this sort of trading, and the policy simply promotes their full participation.
This policy in fact harms the image of Hong Kong as a free trading port. It is ill-conceived. A more acceptable policy to restrict this sort of trading should include punishment measures like confiscation of undeclared goods, a penalty with a fine, or imprisonment.
Li Haijie, Fanling
Tuition gives the better off an unfair edge
I refer to the letter from Rachel Lam ("School system has no level playing field", April 9).
As a candidate sitting for the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exams this year as well, I agree strongly with Ms Lam's views.
Secondary students flock to tutorial classes because of the unreasonable education system.
The DSE students who go to these classes do so because they want to do well in compulsory [core] subjects such as Chinese and liberal studies and they want to get a place at a university.
While I am not against secondary students studying Chinese literature, I believe it is unreasonable for universities to exercise the point-scoring system where Chinese is given the same weight as those subjects that are directly related to the course they will study. A student may excel in his or her prospective area of study at the university, not related to Chinese, but have their dreams shattered just because their performance in Chinese literature is unsatisfactory.
So well-off students sign up for expensive tutorial classes, leaving behind those from low-income families who can't afford the fees.
Education is supposed to prepare students for their future; results in subjects unrelated to students' potential future career or course at university should not be required to be excellent.
Currently, thousands of students go to tutorial classes not because they want to learn more, but because they want to do well in these subjects that they are forced to take. This is against the original aim of the education system - to arouse students' interest in learning.
The above is only one of the many flaws of the current education system.
Great modifications are needed to make the system fair and reasonable.
David Lai Yu-sang, Tai Wai
No basis for opposing third runway
I refer to the letter by Nazreen Banu ("Third runway not necessary if existing two managed better", April 19).
The major argument of those opposing the third runway is usually related to the current mismanagement of the airport: what if there are constraints that prevent maximisation of usage?
The first thing we must recognise is that the future demand on the airport is strong, and can be met only with new hardware.
Further, the argument that we have not been making full use of the airport has no ground because the current utilisation is already maximised.
The argument is based on the misconception that there is room for improvement with respect to the initial design of the first two runways. However, the fact is that the situation has changed and there is no room for improvement.
As for the airspace problem, government officials have explained that airspace can be shared by airports in the Pearl River Delta. It is very likely that the negotiation with the central government [on airspace allotment] will be successful.
Our responsibility is to prepare ourselves by building the third runway.
No one can deny that the airport has had some management problems with regard to the initial design, but these are irreversible. The officers in charge should take accountability and explain the truth to the public.
Government officials should also explain the existing weaknesses of the other airports in the Pearl River Delta.
The arguments of the runway opponents do not stand up to scrutiny, as we can all analyse the data and information available.
The general public should have a look at the relevant materials before making judgment.
Thomas Chu Ka Wa, Tin Shui Wai
Arthur Li wrong on civic protests
Students and academics should, as Arthur Li Kwok-cheung thought, put more focus on their academic work, rather than "disappearing off into Neverland", in the face of the falling academic standards of local universities ("Arthur Li hits out at HKU academics and students", April 22).
That is totally understandable. But their involvement in politics must not be made a scapegoat. In fact, some well-known scholars in the past, such as Hu Shih, who was influential in China's May Fourth Movement, demonstrated how academics' political participation does not necessarily hinder their academic achievements.
I was also disappointed to hear Li's claim that some students participated in the Umbrella Movement to impress their girlfriends, by pretending to be heroes. This was an insult towards those who wholeheartedly aspired for democracy and social justice.
Despite its illegal nature and fruitless end, the civil disobedience movement showed how concerned youngsters in Hong Kong were about the city's political development. Their defence of Hong Kong's core values, such as freedom and integrity, inspired many others to fulfil their own civic responsibilities.
Thus, as long as their protests are peaceful and rational, they should not be discouraged.
Ben L. P. Tsang, Yuen Long
G7 statement a 'face-saving' gesture
Policy analyst Michito Tsuruoka said there was "significant give-and-take" between Japan and its European partners in arriving at the grouping's "Declaration on Maritime Security" ("G7 puts pressure on China over sea claims", April 17). However, the practically zero coverage in the Western press, plus the fact that no country was specifically named in the declaration, show that the Western members of G7 are too aware of Japan's own infractions in the East China Sea and that Japan is in no position to point fingers.
It is not unreasonable to conclude that the Western members of G7 agreed to this declaration mainly to give Japan face.
For it will not have escaped these members' attention that by knowingly breaching the understanding with Deng Xiaoping to shelve the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute, Japan has turned its back on a law-based approach to settling claims. And in offering aid to Vietnam and the Philippines in the form of patrol boats, Japan has altered the status quo. These are the reasons why tensions in the disputed waters are as high as they are today.
It is a shame that G7 was coerced by Japan to spend time and energy on this issue when the grouping has other pressing problems to solve.
W. L. Chang, Discovery Bay