Letters to the Editor, July 08, 2015

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 July, 2015, 4:40pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 July, 2015, 4:40pm

Long history of homosexuality in China

I refer to the letter by Peter Wei ("Same-sex marriage not right for HK", July 2).

He says, "according to tradition in China, a country with a long history, it would be against the yin/yang principle not to observe the 'one man, one woman' marriage system". This shows his ignorance of his own cultural history.

Chinese historical data provided by ancient records dealing with male homosexuality dates back to the Shang dynasty (second millennium BC), according to Professor Li Yinhe in her study of the history of Chinese homosexuality.

The term "Luan Feng" was used to describe homosexuality in the "Shang Dynasty Records" and there are historical records of male homosexuality persistently through the different dynasties from ancient times to the present day.

When he cites religious beliefs that Christians believe homosexuals shall not enter heaven, he is expressing views that are no longer representative of the majority of people who have the maturity and wisdom to understand that inclusive love is far better than divisive beliefs. This is aptly recognised in Ireland, a predominantly Catholic society and now in the United States.

Peter Wei concludes with "the harms caused by same-sex marriage are too many to enumerate". Let me assure him that the benefits of an accepting society, united by its diversity, where love replaces discrimination and tolerance replaces intolerance, are indeed too many to enumerate.

Mark Peaker, The Peak

Same-sex union claims puzzling

I refer to the letter by Peter Wei ("Same-sex marriage not right for HK", July 2).

I find his argument rather confusing. He cites Chinese tradition as not supporting same-sex marriage, and then seems to find it surprising that Barack Obama (who is not Chinese) is not following that.

Barack Obama, as far as I am aware, is a Christian. He seems to have a rather better understanding of the core messages of Christianity than others who use the Bible in an attempt to condemn homosexuality and tend to turn to a very few mainly unclear phrases (while being willing to ignore other areas in the Bible where the world has clearly inconveniently moved on).

It is not clear in any case why Mr Wei should feel any belief system he may hold, whether Chinese or Western, should trump the equal rights of his fellow citizens.

Mr Wei's last paragraph is perhaps the oddest, in which he states that the harms caused by same-sex marriage are too many to enumerate. It would be interesting if he would name just one or two. It is very difficult to understand why the harms, or indeed multiple benefits, would be any different in a same-sex marriage than in a straight one.

Hopefully, before too long Hong Kong too will be talking only about marriage without worrying about the sex of the spouses.

Peter Stigant, Tai Tam 

Students must raise their own standards

I refer to the letter by Kendra Ip ("Students have been let down by local exam that is far too difficult", July 1) replying to my letter ("Reading is key to language learning", May 4).

She said that teachers like her try hard to encourage their students to read more in English, including giving them articles from Time magazine.

I appreciate the effort teachers make, but I repeat my question. Do her students take time to read English actively?

Teachers should encourage students to learn more. However, when it comes to language learning, the main responsibility lies with the students. If they lack diligence, they will not learn anything. Teachers and students need to understand this.

In primary school my English teacher tried very hard to encourage us to read more in English. Most of us tried our best to read more English books and newspapers, and so we did well in English exams. Classmates who did not take time to read English barely got a passing grade. This proves that the onus is on students to improve their grasp of the language.

I believe it makes sense to set a high standard in the Diploma of Secondary Education reading paper.

Hong Kong is an international financial centre. It is important that professionals in this city are fluent in English. Universities in Hong Kong require undergraduates to be proficient in English, because these young people will have to succeed in a very competitive environment.

It would be short-sighted for the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) to have a paper which is lower than international standards, just to achieve a higher pass rate.

If students read more and increase their vocabulary before the reading exam, no passage should pose any great difficulties. Even if they encounter difficult words, they should be able to make an educated guess by reading the article.

Kendra Ip said she is fighting for students' justice. However, shouldn't she have a look at her students before complaining to the HKEAA? She should realise that as a global city Hong Kong needs talented people with a good command of English.

Henry Wong, Kennedy Town 

Still some confusion over bag levy

I think the extended plastic bag levy has advantages and disadvantages.

On the plus side it is another way of trying to provide greater environmental protection. With the charge covering all retailers from April 1, more people are likely to bring their own bags when they go shopping and so fewer plastic bags will end up in our landfills.

This is important, because most plastic bags are non-biodegradable.

However, I think some shopkeepers have been a bit confused by the extended levy about which bags are exempted and which ones are not. They are therefore not sure when they should impose the 50-cent charge.

Fung Tsz-kwan, Tuen Mun 

Crack down on reckless motorists

Many road traffic accidents are caused by reckless drivers.

These drivers are not just facing injury, they also pose a significant risk to passengers, other drivers and sometimes pedestrians.

Countless innocent victims are killed on roads here and abroad because of dangerous driving. When there is a bad accident, it can also lead to public property being damaged.

Drivers must appreciate that their actions can have consequences not just for themselves.

They must act in a responsible manner. The problem of reckless driving must be addressed.

I would like to see heavier punishments for people found guilty of dangerous driving.

Fung King-ho, Yau Tong

Flexible hours can help boost workforce

Hong Kong faces a problem with an ageing population and because of that a labour shortage.

Offering subsidies so that more couples are willing to start a family will help, but it is a short-term measure.

What will also be needed in workplaces throughout the city are flexible working hours, especially for staff with young children. This could encourage more mothers to return to the workplace and help alleviate the labour shortage.

Better medical services can also encourage more people to have families.

Also raising education standards can help. Couples are more likely to start a family if they know their children will get a decent education in our local schools and have a good start in life.

Ho Shuk-ching, Sha Tin