Letters to the Editor, November 19, 2015

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 November, 2015, 4:55pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 November, 2015, 4:55pm

Support for Paris no mere posturing

The reaction around the world has been one of condemnation over Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris, with vigils held in major cities in many countries.

Social media users are also standing in solidarity with the people of France, not least by changing their Facebook profile picture to the French national flag, as suggested by the site.

However, at the same time, some have pointed out our apparent lack of interest in other recent terrorist attacks in Lebanon and elsewhere. Some critics called the change of profile picture a form of cheap posturing.

They argued that the selective identification with the victims of the Paris attacks shows indifference to other victims of terrorism. Some Facebook users argued against changing the profile picture.

What is wrong with changing the profile picture in support of France?

It is true that some attacks have received more worldwide attention than others. Dreadful attacks happen in the Middle East and other areas of conflicts, and do not get such prominent headlines as Paris.

I am not endorsing this differential treatment, but it can be explained. We act on information available to us. If media outlets give more air time or space to a particular issue, we are more aware of it than others.

Also, the Paris attacks highlight the fact that the terrorist threat is close for all of us living in large cities in the developed world. Even with stringent security, terrorists can commit atrocities a long way from conflict zones.

There is nothing wrong with people expressing their support for the victims of such attacks.

Sunny Hor, Siu Lam

Attacks may shift blame on refugees

There was criticism of those who used the button created by Facebook where you could automatically add the French flag to your current profile icon, following the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Some critics said it showed a bias against other recent victims of terrorism at locations in the Middle East.

The point of the button was to allow people to show their sympathy and support for all victims, but, especially, at this particular point in time, the victims in Paris. While we all felt upset about what happened, I do not know if it was really necessary for people to change their Facebook icon.

Also, I am concerned about the hasty reaction of some people, linking what happened with the influx of refugees in Europe. The problem of global terrorism is very complex and it is simplistic to link it to the present refugee crisis.

I do not want to see societies in Europe turning against these refugees because of what happened in Paris.

Chan Hei-lam, Ma On Shan

Take charge of our own nutrition

I refer to Kinzie's article, "Misleading food labels leave a bad taste" (November 16) about some companies exploiting the labeling system.

Hong Kong's nutrition labelling scheme was approved in 2008, and, by 2010, most prepackaged foods came with a nutrition label. People can now compare food labels to find the healthiest food for themselves.

Special labels, such as those indicating a food is gluten-free, or soy-free, or vegan, are becoming more common. There are even bottles of water labelled gluten-free! Presumably this helps to boost sales, since many of us mistakenly associate such special labels with health.

The government should do more than set up regulations. However many the rules, some companies will always try to find loopholes to avoid being honest about their food-making process. So the government must do everything it can, including through the use of incentives, to encourage food companies to list only the facts and remove unnecessary labels.

The public at large must also make sure they read and compare the nutrition labels on food items, and research the ingredients and facts about nutrition. Most information is only a click away on the internet anyway. Just surf the internet and it's easy to find, say, how the cultivation of palm trees (for oil) can harm our biodiversity.

All of us are responsible for the quality of our food. We can't just blame lax government regulation.

Raymond Lok, Tseung Kwan O

Let young people find their passion

I refer to the article by Bernard Chan ("You don't have to wear a suit to be a success", November 13), which talked about how Hong Kong people are biased against people in non-professional jobs.

Ambitious parents want their children to earn a better living by, for example, entering the business sector.

I agree wholeheartedly with Bernard Chan. Our education system has become much more competitive, with an increasing number of tiger mums. They have adopted a more aggressive style for bringing up their children. They see their role as persuading their children to pursue professional careers, preferably in business. They encourage them to grow up looking down on workers who are not professionals.

It is sad if these driven parents push their children into these high-paying professions and they fail to achieve their real potential in another field, such as the creative industries, where they might have developed a passionate interest in their chosen line of work.

The views of these pushy parents are reinforced by the education system in Hong Kong, where emphasis is placed on doing well in your studies. High grades are often required to get a place in a business studies programme at one of our universities.

The message seems to be that, given that Hong Kong is an international commercial hub, the business sector is of paramount importance.

Children should not be seen as "bottles to be spoon-fed".

It may be largely true that working in the business sector can bring one a higher salary. Yet, our community ought to embrace diversity when it comes to careers.

Fresh graduates should be encouraged to pursue their own dreams in their targeted fields, instead of being pigeon-holed into taking up a career they may not like.

Samantha Lee, Ngau Tau Kok

No need to politicise soccer match

The World Cup soccer match between Hong Kong and China in a local stadium should logically be a friendly sports event beneficial to both sides. Unfortunately, some radical parties have politicised it by asking Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying which side he would support.

This reminds me of the ugly interview a Hong Kong reporter had with the former president Jiang Zemin when the latter called the reporter's question [about whether he supported then Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa] naïve.

Obviously, both Hong Kong and Chinese soccer players were equally matched and the result has nothing to do with politics!

Peter Wei, Kwun Tong

Nuclear energy still the best option

The Hong Kong government has proposed two electricity generation plans so as to reduce our reliance on coal, a polluting fuel. Both options include importing around 20 per cent of nuclear power from the mainland, which caused a stir in the city.

Some say Hong Kong should stop relying on nuclear power for energy, and invest more in renewable energy. While renewable energy is much safer than nuclear power and is inexhaustible, I don't think investing in it is a wise decision.

To start with, generating electricity from nuclear energy is much cheaper than using renewable energy. According to CLP, the unit price of nuclear electricity imported from the mainland is about HK$0.50 per kWh. However, it is estimated that the unit price of electricity generated by wind power in Hong Kong will be more than HK$1.20 per kWh. The high cost of renewable energy will undoubtedly increase our electricity bills.

Moreover, nuclear energy is more stable than renewable energy. Once built, nuclear power plants can supply electricity for many years. By contrast, the supply of renewable energy is affected by several uncontrollable factors, such as the weather.

Further, only a small amount of air pollutants and greenhouse gases are produced during the generation of electricity from nuclear plants. Thus, it can be considered a clean fuel.

Safety remains the biggest issue in the use of nuclear power. By taking more thorough safety measures and precautions, however, the negative impact of using such power can be minimised.

No matter which electricity generation option we adopt, however, we should try to reduce electricity use in our daily lives. This is the most effective way to reduce our reliance on coal and other non-renewable fuels.

Bonnie Lo, Ma On Shan