Letters to the Editor, May 3, 2015

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 May, 2015, 11:01pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 May, 2015, 11:01pm

Not man's place to play with our DNA

To tamper with human DNA is trying to play God ("Chinese scientists genetically modify human embryo", April 24).

Proponents of genetic modification wax lyrical about the possibilities never seen before. We could fix ourselves where it all begins, our genome. We could replicate spare organs of ourselves for replacement. We could side-step the flaws in our genes to reduce birth defects.

But how far we push this limit is worrying. What would it mean for the procreation of our kind if we could choose the gender of our unborn? Would diversity of races be eradicated as a result? Would there be traders peddling human organs, which is taboo for now?

What would stop nations from creating "supergene" soldiers? What does the proffer of eternal youth mean for our planet's shrinking resources?

It is naive to think that we could set up a watchdog body to ensure that this know-how stays out of the hands of those with ill intent. The non-proliferation movement of nuclear arms is a case in point. A genome race, like the arms race, may start.

The science is far from perfect. Even if we could sport baby-soft skin at old age, our psychological make-up may not match our looks. Dolly, the cloned sheep from Britain, had aged prematurely. Scientists had not predicted this.

Yet again, we humans have fallen prey to our folly. Attempting to play God may prove to be the last of such follies that ends us all.

Lee Teck Chuan, Tsim Sha Tsui


Quality of life will draw migrants

Late last month, the Immigration Department announced a new pilot scheme aimed at attracting second-generation overseas Hong Kong people to return.

This is in line with the government's drive to enhance the size and quality of the working population, so as to relieve the pressure on society as our population profile ages.

The pilot scheme comes into effect on May 4.

Applicants must be aged 18 to 40, born overseas, have good education (this includes technical qualifications and professional experience) and be proficient in written and spoken Chinese.

I agree that the government should implement measures to attract more professionals to enhance the quality of our working population. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the Immigration Department is too naive to believe that a policy change alone will be effective in attracting Hongkongers to come back.

To begin with, the government should create a better living environment. As we all know, Hong Kong has a serious air pollution problem, and living space for many is cramped. Long-term measures to improve the environment should be implemented.

Some short-term measures may also be useful. For example, the government can provide short-term residence to applicants to allow them time to settle down and find a job.

This at least means applicants don't need to worry about accommodation when they first move back to Hong Kong.

Vicky Lui Wai Ki, Kowloon Tong


An education that is truly priceless

I read with great interest Juli Min's article of April 22 ("Many young people continue to flourish in boarding schools") and feel that I may be qualified to say a few words on the subject matter.

I am with Ms Min.

For reasons other than good planning, I was cast off to a faraway school one autumn morning. The year was 1962; I was 13 years old.

The South China Union College (now the Hong Kong Adventist College) in Clear Water Bay was run by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, one of only a few boarding schools in Hong Kong. Not long after my dad was told the school offered part-time jobs for students who could not afford the steep fees, I found myself doing clerical work at the teacher's office.

Life was hard, so I thought at the time. Month-end statements showed a substantial debit figure at the beginning, this would gradually be replaced by a small credit balance a few years later. That sense of accomplishment built impetus and instilled confidence.

Unbeknown to me at a tender age, my boarding school experience comes as a real blessing; it brings warm, fuzzy memories, not to mention I count these rambunctious kids of the '60s among my best buddies to this day.

In 1996, it was our son's turn to do the unthinkable when he was dropped off at the Shawnigan Lake School on the Canadian west coast. Not knowing how he would take life away from home, my wife gingerly approached the subject at the Christmas dinner that same year. "Loving it," my son said. "Wish you had sent me there in my 8th grade."

This pretty much sums up the Leung clan's experience in two generations regarding boarding schools.

Boarding schools prepare us for life. Parents will continue to hear horror stories about drugs or any other undesirable activities lurking in the dorm corridors, but I remain a diehard and true champion for boarding schools, as I believe the positives far outweigh the negatives.

To have your children spend their precocious years in an environment that instils courage and altruistic values, while nurturing independence and comradeship, is priceless.

Philip S. K. Leung, Pok Fu Lam


Seat belts must be worn for our own safety

Whilst waiting for a bus on Leighton Road one afternoon, around the time of the collection of small children from their schools by parents or their drivers, I was taken aback at the frequency with which cars passed me with children unrestrained by seat belts.

Very small children often occupied front seats without wearing a seat belt. In several instances, women were seated on a back seat holding a small child on their lap, neither restrained.

One shudders at the consequences in the event of an accident.

Unlike parking on pavements or double yellow lines, not wearing seat belts is significantly more dangerous and appears to be widespread.

Doubtless the parents are either unaware or oblivious to the possible consequences of their disregard for this law, which has been enacted worldwide as a safety measure. The police may sometimes turn a blind eye to traffic illegalities but in this instance, turning a blind eye is to invite tragedy.

Tony Price, Mui Wo


Death penalty won't solve drug problem

Given the bigoted and knee-jerk society we live in, I'm not surprised at the reaction from many people voicing their opinions about the recent executions in Indonesia. After all, the consequences of smuggling drugs into Bali is written in black and white.

But let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. If Indonesia truly wants to solve its drug issues, it needs to look inwards and start rounding up the chiefs - not just the Indians. An unlikely course of action given that an elephant-sized proportion of the Indonesian government is rotten.

Making out that Indonesia's drug issues are all down to a handful of foreigners will not deal with the elephant in the room.

The execution ceremony of the "Bali 9" criminals was, among other things, a media circus, and a cruel one at that.

Justin Hayward, Tai Po