Letters to the Editor, July 30, 2015

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 July, 2015, 3:49pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 July, 2015, 3:49pm

Plan will ruin quiet pastoral lifestyle

The South China Morning Post could not have come up with a more apt heading on the graphic ("Road to ruin?") to the story highlighting the government's foolhardy proposal to increase vehicular traffic in south Lantau ("Lantau residents fear car restriction changes", July 27).

Officials cannot be unaware of the road safety issues that the South Lantau Road is already facing, and these will only be exacerbated by an influx of drivers totally unfamiliar with the terrain.

And how dare the Transport Department claim that it "had been consulting relevant stakeholders". So the opinions of the residents who actually live there count for nothing?

No surprise, then, as it seems the views of the public are of little consequence to our current administration when weighed against those of the Island District Council and the rural committees, which can only count their coffers.

South Lantau, where I live, is an area of outstanding beauty which offers incredible diversity to those who visit as relief from the city and a peaceful, pastoral lifestyle to those who choose to live there.

All of this will be destroyed by the numerous development projects in the pipeline, which pass as "economically or environmentally beneficial" dredged up by our materialistic masters.

Just one more nail in Lantau's coffin.

Jacqueline Green, Lantau

Parade could help heal deep wounds

The article ("Wary world leaders mull RSVP to war parade", July 27) claims that the September 3 parade in Beijing to commemorate the end of the second world war is "an event designed to boost nationalist propaganda rather than to encourage reconciliation". But if Japan really wanted to reconcile, it has had many chances to do so and this is a major one that could greatly heal the deep psychological wounds suffered by the Chinese people.

Far from imitating Willy Brandt's "Warsaw Genuflection", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has colluded in the whitewashing and revision of Japan's history.

I have visited Yasukuni Shrine on two occasions, and there was no media around on those days.

Before Japan's politicians visit Yasukuni Shrine, they alert the media in order to gain maximum exposure in an attempt to curry favour with conservative voters, which is understandable domestic politics. However, such high profile visits harm Japan's relations with its neighbours.

If those politicians' real aim is to honour those who died for their country, they could visit quietly.

After all, before American politicians visit Arlington National Cemetery, they don't alert The Washington Post and other media.

John Chiu, Wan Chai

Do more for subdivided unit residents

I have some ideas about addressing the prevailing problem of poverty in Hong Kong, especially with regard to public housing.

Many poor people continue to live in subdivided units.

They endure inferior, overcrowded conditions and have a low quality of life.

They are low-skilled workers who will be paid a very meagre hourly rate by the companies they work for.

Having to living like this causes discontent in society, and there is not enough public housing to meet the needs of all of Hong Kong's low-income groups.

I think the government has to increase its building targets for public housing estates.

This is crucial if it is to enable more people who are living in these subdivided flats to be able to get out.

I would also like to see NGOs doing more for those living in this cubicle-style accommodation. Also, there must be better communication between the government and the poor so that officials fully understand their needs.

I think in society there tends to be discrimination against people living in these flats, and that is wrong.

Those of us who have the time should be willing to do more voluntary work so we can help the poor in Hong Kong. This could be something as simple as visiting an elderly resident of a subdivided unit.

Poon Wing-man, Yau Yat Chuen

Use new tax to build cheap homes

It is the right time to implement permanent capital gains taxes in Hong Kong.

This will stabilise speculation in the property market. Initially this will create panic, but in the long run it benefits Hong Kong people as higher government spending will be possible. It will also mean Hong Kong is matching international standards of taxation on property.

If the government can use the income from the new tax to provide more low-income housing and offer affordable homes to the public, this will over time become a popular measure.

The government cannot gain the support of middle-class citizens unless it can genuinely help them.

Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels 

Is exposure to lead really that serious?

The findings of lead in drinking water in some public housing estates with levels higher than the World Health Organisation's recommended limits have caused panic among some residents. There have been calls for water supply pipes in the worst-affected housing blocks to be replaced as soon as possible.

The concern is that drinking water with a lead content exceeding the WHO's recommended limits by whatever amount is detrimental to health.

We must bear in mind that using lead pipes for supplying water was the norm in the last century. Nobody seemed to care much about this form of lead contamination. As I understand it, the switch to copper pipes only got underway in the 1990s.

Lead is found, for example, not only in drinking water but also in food, air polluted by traffic and industries, lead-based paints and toys, batteries, plastic bottles, and pottery decorated with lead glazes.

Therefore, all of us are exposed to various sources of lead in our lifetime. Yet, we have seldom heard of someone, young or old, falling ill or dying from lead toxicity.

I wonder whether the relevant authorities, including Health Minister Dr Ko Wing-man, can tell us about patients who have died of illnesses arising from excessive amounts of lead in their bodies.

Statistics are useful references. The figures could go a long way towards relieving the anxieties of residents in affected estates.

Chan Wing-keung, Pok Fu Lam

We should be up-front about mixed race

It was touching to read about American-Chinese Jeff Chinn feeling proud to be Chinese because of Bruce Lee ("How Bruce Lee made it 'cool' to be Chinese," July 19). But I wonder if he has researched his idol's background and found that his mother was reportedly part German, which didn't make her completely Chinese. Bruce's face alone shows he may indeed have been Eurasian.

This is rather like the case of the US president whom the black community claims to be of their race.

In the midst of all the past politically incorrect brouhaha, the matter of Barack Obama's white mother has been completely ignored.

If people were honest, they would acknowledge their ethnically and culturally diverse antecedents, no matter what their citizenship.

More to the point, Latinos and Filipinos use the term mestizo to denote mixed-raced individuals, not in a derogatory or triumphal manner but as a matter of fact. There really should be no cause to display overweening pride for one's race over another's.

Because Mr Chinn decries the "subtle" racial prejudice against Chinese in the US, perhaps he should also spare a thought for the Southeast Asian migrant workers in Hong Kong who have long been treated by the locals with disdain. And he might ponder the fact that the US has welcomed countless immigrants into his adopted country.

Isabel Escoda, Lantau

Deal with Iran ignored plight of prisoners

Despite stern Israeli warnings that the Iran nuclear deal would have grave consequences, the Obama administration and its signatories have acceded to the notion that Tehran will respect the insidious accord and abandon its nuclear schemes in the Middle East. There is not the slightest evidence to support that argument.

Regretfully, the signatories refused to insist on preconditions for the release of American political prisoners, including pastor Saeed Abedini and Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian. Two other Americans are also believed to be held in Iran: Robert Levinson and marine veteran Amir Hekmati.

It is better to have no deal at all than one that virtually dismisses the plight of Iran's political prisoners.

This terrorist regime remains committed to the destruction of Israel. But the White House stopped at nothing to acquire the Iran deal, even if it meant railing on Israel, a faithful American ally for more than six decades.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rightly calls this deal a "historic mistake".

Brian Stuckey, Denver, Colorado, US