Letters to the editor, January 4, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 January, 2016, 9:30am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 January, 2016, 9:30am

HKU students not helping their university

I am saddened by the controversies that have surrounded the University of Hong Kong in recent years – from the appointment of a non-Chinese vice-chancellor, to the leaking of confidential discussion in an HKU council meeting, to the present row over Arthur Li Kwok-cheung’s appointment as the new council chairman. Having worked at HKU at the time it was heralded as No 1 in Asia , it is with great sadness that I now see the university being constantly on the defensive in the media.

The storming of the council meeting by HKU students is deplorable and the leaking of confidential information discussed in a closed meeting by an elected student representative is shameful. It is an honour to be given an opportunity to take part in discussions related to high-level agenda items, and for a young person with that power to abuse it simply shows their disregard for their post.

Billy Fung Jing-en and his student supporters should be ashamed of themselves, and such a role should be given to a student who understands the decorum behind meetings.

The saddest part is that these students don’t realise that their shenanigans are the reason why HKU will continue to drop in its rankings around the world.

Hopefully, we will see some sense from other students at HKU who can show the university and the world that Hong Kong students are not just about protesting, yelling at people, and being rude, but actually about initiating and implementing real change.

Leslie M. Tam, Singapore

It’s common courtesy to give up a seat

It has been about six years since the MTR launched its Priority Seat campaign, and four years since these seats can be found on KMB buses. Priority seats are reserved for those who may need the seat more, such as the elderly and pregnant women. These campaigns have raised public awareness of the need to be more considerate of others.

Yet, there is criticism that these seats have become an excuse for the inconsiderate among us – some of us sitting on the normal seats do not offer our seats to people in need because we think it is the duty of those sitting in the priority seats to do so.

Actually, every seat is a priority seat. We all should be prepared to offer our seat to others in need. The government could do more to promote the importance of such courtesy.

On their part, parents should also be role models for their children, and teach them the importance of caring for others.

John Hung, Tseung Kwan O

Ahead of 2047, air pact is in need of change

In his December 29 article, “The road to 2047”, Cliff Buddle said “There may be some changes Hongkongers would like to see to the Basic Law, but ... there is no telling where it will end”.

Well said. But expediency being human nature, the stakeholders will drag their feet over some changes, but couldn’t wait to effect other changes.

It was the same when the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the future of Hong Kong was drawn up two decades ago. For example, all manner of scare tactics were employed to dupe the Chinese side into agreeing that we should go against the Convention on International Civil Aviation to allow the Hong Kong-based British airline Cathay Pacific to remain under substantial British ownership and effective control and yet be eligible for designation under the bilatral air service agreements, as merely “incorporated and having its principal place of business in Hong Kong”, to exercise what are Chinese traffic rights.

Even Chinese domestic traffic rights were later granted to it – also against the convention’s norm.

But when other non-Hong Kong Chinese owned and controlled airlines wanted to follow suit, to be capable of being designated under these air service agreements with the make-do “incorporation and principal place of business” criteria, the original “ownership and control” criteria were thrown at them.

In the meantime, the International Civil Aviation Organisation has not been persuaded to adopt the “incorporation and principal place of business” criteria. Surely, here is a change that has to be effected in the run-up to 2047, to fall back in line with the international norm.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

China is not ready to be global leader

Once again, your paper invoked the need for China to get involved in a major global issue to show leadership, and you suggested in your editorial that “China has role to play in beating IS” (December 24).

Frankly, if China wants to be a leader, in a fashion that transcends the folly of Vladimir Putin and other heavy-handed bullies, it will need to set a higher bar.

Global citizens want leaders that are capable of being strong, smart and benevolent. The heavy hand of the Chinese internally and externally – seeking to crush the country’s legal system practitioners and any possible dissension, the government’s methodically diabolical approach to environmental protection, and its island-building in the South China Sea miles from China, to cite just a few examples – suggests they are not ready for a global leadership role. Just because you can be a global bully doesn’t mean you should be.

So, your “bold” assertion that China has “foreshadowed an invitation to the Syrian government and rebel representatives to China for talks on political transition on the road to peace” is laughable. Why on earth would they come to China? Your suggestion, aligned with some hagiographic view of Chinese foreign policy and the desire to “lead globally and here’s how”, is just nonsense.

Here’s my thought: maybe China should just send Syria a stern letter telling it to stop the madness. I’ll bet that will be enough.

This much is clear: the Chinese have no other sensible idea on how to play a role in “beating” Islamic State. Simply, they could not care less. Answer me this: what are they actually doing to stop Islamic State?

Mark G. Hooper, Pok Fu Lam

Punish those responsible for landslide

I felt sad and angry when I read the reports about the landslide in Shenzhen, in which so many died or went missing. Before the accident happened, residents had complained about the storage of waste from construction sites, but nothing was done about the dump that collapsed.

Heavy rains and collapse of a mountain are natural disasters, but this was a man-made disaster, which we cannot forgive. If the government had taken the proper measures in the first place, this would not have happened.

There was a time in Hong Kong when we experienced problems with landslides, but appropriate measures were taken to reduce the risk, such as by planting more trees, strengthening piling and retaining walls to make the structure safer. Beijing must now give people a full report on why the Shenzhen landslide happened, and pay compensation to the victims and their family.

The relevant government departments must take a closer look at safety to prevent such accidents from happening again.

Katherine Wong, Sham Shui Po

HK must not ignore its growing waste

The landslide in Shenzhen was a result of the illegal dumping of construction waste. In Hong Kong, our waste problem is becoming more and more serious. If we keep dumping waste into our landfill, it will be full within a short period of time, and this will similarly cause problems.

To avoid going down the same diastrous road, we must start to reduce the volume of waste we produce every day. We must recycle paper, cans and plastic bottles, reduce our food waste, and reuse glass bottles.

Chung Kei See, Kowloon Tong

Children are smart enough to handle TSA

I don’t think the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) test is difficult at all, despite the calls to get rid of the test to ease pressure on students. I found it quite easy. Has anyone asked students how they feel about this?

Parents, I know you love your children and don’t want them to feel stressed, but don’t you think you are spoiling them and not letting them try more things? Isn’t it good to test children to help them find out what their strengths are and how to improve themselves? If tests or exams are gone, how can children know if they have learned something?

Children today are smarter than us. We should not be afraid that they cannot handle this task. We should believe in them.

Angela Siu Wing-yan, Tai Wai