Letters to the editor, January 15, 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 January, 2016, 3:38pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 January, 2016, 3:38pm

Japan’s whale mission is beyond belief

I refer to the letter “Court did not prohibit Japan from doing research whaling” (December 18) by Dan Goodman. I would like to point out the following errors in his piece that may misinform and misguide your readers.

Mr Goodman challenged a statement in an earlier South China Morning Post editorial that the “court ordered Japan to stop whaling after determining that the programme could not be considered scientific in nature” and claimed it was misleading (“Japan’s dogged pursuit of whale hunting despite global outcry puts at risk its international standing”, December 6). However, in fact, the paper’s statement was correct.

The International Court of Justice actually stated and ruled that the programme was “not for the purposes of scientific research” and that “Japan was abusing a scientific exemption set out in the 1986 international moratorium on whaling”. It concluded that “Tokyo was carrying out a commercial hunt and using science as a fig leaf”, according to a report.

Mr Goodman is correct that Japan may submit a new revised scientific whaling programme, and so Japan has created the “Newrep-A” proposal as a lethal scientific whale research programme. This was submitted to the International Whaling Commission this year (as Mr Goodman correctly points out). What Mr Goodman neglects to mention is that the commission’s 2015 scientific committee report found “the new proposal contained insufficient information for its expert panel to complete a full review” and specified the extra work that Japan needed to undertake in order to fill these gaps.

Regardless of failing to appease the International Whaling Commission, Japan sent its whaling fleet south at the start of December last year to kill 333 whales in an internationally recognised whale sanctuary.

The International Whaling Commission is not the only body in doubt of the Japan-based Institute of Cetacean Research’s work. The Japanese government itself is clearly not confident, so has filed a “declaration” to the International Court of Justice to the effect that Japan will no longer recognise the rulings of the international court on matters including “research on, or conservation, management or exploitation of, the living resources in the sea”.

If the Japanese government were confident in its research, why would it be so concerned to have it put under international scrutiny again?

Gary Stokes, director (Asia), Sea Shepherd Global

Crime cannot be undone by payment

I do not see how “restorative justice” could be applied to crime. Take an example: if your daughter were raped, would you simply accept an apology from the rapist and let the whole thing go? What if the rapist were rich and offered you a handsome compensation? Better still, in some parts of Asia, women raped by men were made to marry the rapists, and the women had no say in the matter.

Personally, I think restorative justice, now being proposed to be applied to situations of crime (“Hong Kong should adopt restorative justice to cut repeat offences and spur understanding”, January 4) will pave the way to exonerate the super-rich from acts of crime by means of payment/compensation.

This has happened in mainland China, and it is sick.

Cynthia Szeto, Discovery Bay

Politicians too weak to tackle social issues

The reason for the divide in Hong Kong is clear – we are dealing with a government which lacks vision, as well as courage. Officials kowtow to vested interests, as well as Beijing. Examples are: a failed education system, a failed housing scheme, and a failed rural village housing scheme.

We spend millions on public consultations, but consultants are only writing what the government wants to hear. If not, a different consultant is appointed.

We do not need white elephants like the bridge to Zhuhai and Macau or the fast train connection to Guangzhou or even the third runway. If the money involved in these projects could be spent on our society – care for the elderly, relocating people living in cage homes, implementing a universal pension scheme and standard working hours legislation – less would be used for more.

But, then again, if you lack the courage to fight vested interests and are afraid to discuss these issues with Beijing, it is correct to be placed in a pupil chair next to the teacher (“Smaller side seat for Leung Chun-ying sparks debate on Hong Kong chief executive’s footing with Xi Jinping”, December 24).

Li Ka-shing and other Hong Kong tycoons made it very clear (“Hong Kong’s ‘patriotic’ tycoons try to put one foot out of China”, January 13). There’s no trust in our leaders, and no trust in China.

It is time our so-called (and overpaid) leaders start to listen to the people they represent. The government’s lack of courage and vision is what divides our community. Nothing else.

Peter den Hartog, Tuen Mun

Supermarket staff deserve a break

Mr Narendra Kumar (“Check prices at supermarket cashiers”, January 7) must have a delicate mind like the many housewives, or see lai, in my estate: they never leave the ParknShop cashier counter until they have finished checking their long bill to make sure they did not overpay.

I notice that the staff are very diligent, because there are thousands of food types with different price tags.

For example, Guangzhou white cabbage came in the morning, while Yunnan ( 雲南 ) white cabbage arrived in the afternoon, following Ningxia ( 寧夏 ) white cabbage in the evening; the lady had to change the price in the computer three times a day just for a single food type.

My presence in the supermarket is short usually, because I do not want to hog the staff’s valuable time. I believe they have done the best to serve us. I dare not check the bill and ask questions to keep the cashier much busier.

Even if I might have been overcharged, it would be a small amount, and the mistake would not be on purpose.

Pang Chi-ming, Fanling