Letters to the Editor, November 23, 2015

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 November, 2015, 9:31am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 November, 2015, 9:31am

Issues within Islam must be recognised

Hardly have the bodies been counted in the latest jihadi atrocity than the "IS has nothing to do with Islam" crowd renewed their chant. The latest example is the letter by Kwok Hau-lam, "IS has nothing to do with genuine Islam" (November 18).

This is dangerous nonsense.

It is nonsense, because it is clearly wrong on the evidence. The evidence is in Islamic State's multilingual publication, Dabiq, which explains their aims and motivations. It is replete with Islamic doctrine, from the Koran, the hadith, the Sunna and the life of Mohammed. This is not "cherry picking", for the quotations are extensive. And they are not wrong, for they can be checked.

The leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has a doctorate in Islamic studies from the University of Baghdad. Are we to believe that Kwok, joining the ranks of "nothing to do with Islam" crowd, knows more about Islam that Baghdadi?

It is dangerous, because unless and until people recognise the issues within Islam, there is no hope for reformation of its problematic aspects. The concept of martyrdom and sanctity of armed jihad are about as controversial within Islam as the resurrection of Jesus is in Christianity.

Of course most Muslims are peaceable folk, as Kwok says. I have worked in North Korea, in China of the Cultural Revolution and in the Soviet Union. All the people I met were fine and friendly. But those ideologies weren't. However nice and moderate the Muslims that Kwok met has nothing to do with the ideas within Islam. The worst of those ideas need to be challenged.

The human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali tweeted on November 14: "As long as Muslims say IS has nothing to do with Islam or talk of Islamophobia they are not ready to reform their faith."

She later tweeted: "Reform Islam to save it from extremists". Reform requires facing the facts. It doesn't help to say, even if well-meaning, that IS has nothing to do with Islam. It doesn't represent all Muslims, to be sure, but it does represent a large number, with ideas and an ideology, which are inimical to our open and tolerant societies.

For readers wishing to learn more about this, I recommend Muslim reformers like Maajid Nawaz (a former radical Muslim), Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and knowledgable non-Muslims like Sam Harris. Their ideas, not the platitudes of Mr Kwok, are what may offer some hope of change in radical Islam.

It may take generations, but it will be even longer if we turn our faces away from the plain truth in front of us.

Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay


Violence won't rid the world of terrorism

After the terrorist attacks in Paris, the French government launched dozens of raids on suspected extremists while French jets also bombed the Syrian stronghold of Islamic State jihadis ("France hits back as PM warns of more bloodshed", November 17).

Taking violent revenge is not a good way to maintain peace in the world. The bombing in Syria may kill innocent people while it would do nothing to change the minds of IS militants determined to mount another attack.

IS militants want attention. They are happy to get a big reaction from us. Therefore, the world must show them the power of true recovery - we must beat them in a peaceful way.

These militants may have wrong views, but this is not a reason to kill them. We need to help them until they go back to the correct ways.

Kelly Cheung, Tseung Kwan O

Why not expand art collection?

I welcome the many initiatives in progress to improve the cultural attractions in Hong Kong ("A tourism dilemma: How to play up Hong Kong's culture and heritage as mainland tourists lose interest in shopping and eating?", November 19). I also propose that the government acquires some of the world-class private collections in Hong Kong, for examples Dr S.Y. Yip's furniture collection and Mr Au Bak Ling's ceramics collection, for the Hong Kong Museum of Art.

Some of these collections are the best in their fields outside the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Acquiring these collections will elevate the reputation of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, to rival the best Chinese fine art museums in the world.

Such a museum will not only attract high-quality visitors from all over the globe, but will also improve Hongkongers' pride as Chinese. Most importantly, it will prevent the national tragedy of those priceless collections being broken up once their collectors pass away.

Ivan Yuen, North Point


Too many risks to use of nuclear energy

I do not agree with the views of Bonnie Lo on nuclear energy ("Nuclear energy still the best option", November 19).

It is true nuclear energy has its advantages, but there are many disadvantages, which can cause serious environmental problems.

First is the radiation released by the nuclear power plants. These plants cannot completely block the radiation produced during nuclear reaction. Although the radiation released is low and does not harm humans, living near power plants is still not recommended.

Another problem is environmental pollution. During the generation of electricity, hot wastewater and steam are released to the environment.

Hot wastewater released into the river and the sea can hurt marine species and seriously damage the marine ecology; steam released to the air can burn or even kill the flying birds nearby.

Besides, nuclear waste buried deeply under the ground can pollute the soil, causing damage to plants.

Finally, nuclear power plants carry safety risks. Nuclear plants need to be carefully operated. If there is any component malfunctioning, the whole generator may break down and cause explosions.

As a result, I suggest the government use other ways to generate electricity instead of relying on nuclear energy.

So Chak Wai, Sha Tin


Bus arrival times available through app

I refer to the letter "Good public transport could be great with bus timetable upgrade" by Mr David Sorton (November 13).

We would like to share with Mr Sorton KMB's latest developments regarding the provision of the estimated time of arrival (ETA) service.

Since September 5 this year, the KMB and Long Win Bus ETA service has been applied to a total of 363 bus routes through the companies' smartphone app, the KMB website and LCD panels at some larger bus stops.

When passengers enter the bus route and bus stop information, the app and the website will show the estimated arrival times of the next three buses of a particular route within the next hour. In the case of LCD panels, these show the departure time of the next bus of a particular route.

Nathan Road is mentioned in Mr Sorton's letter and we wish to point out that the ETA service is available on the majority of KMB routes using Nathan Road.

LCD panels on Nathan Road have been installed at the northbound bus stops in front of the Park Lane, Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station and Kowloon Central Post Office bus stops.

By means of the ETA service, passengers can now check in advance the estimated bus arrival time. We are now working to extend the ETA service to all regular KMB and Long Win Bus routes through the app and the website by the end of 2015.

Susanna Sin, head of corporate communications, KMB


Not immature to be living with parents

I refer to Peter Kammerer's column on November 10 ("Cocooned in a virtual world, our young delay entry into real one"). I don't agree that living with one's parents means that the young person is immature.

There are many reasons why young people don't move out. One is the rising property prices: many young people cannot afford a flat of their own.

Besides, some young people prefer to stay with their parents because they enjoy living together. As we grow older, we get busy with our work and may not get much time to spend with our parents. We show our love and care for our parents by continuing to live with them until we get married. This is a display of filial piety, not a sign of immaturity.

Kammerer speaks of young people burying their faces in a screen. Yet this is not just a problem with young people: people of all ages are similarly obsessed with their gadgets. Besides, there's nothing wrong with reading manga or spending time on cosplay. It's just a hobby - like watching Korean drama.

Sure, perhaps young people spend too much time in the virtual world, but they are born in the digital age after all.

Elaine Tse, Sha Tin