Letters to the editor, January 21, 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 January, 2016, 5:23pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 January, 2016, 5:23pm

Anarchistic action the wrong tack

The romantic virtues that Mr Paul Serfaty attaches to “independent thinking” via anarchistic action does not give him the licence to be shoddy about facts that can easily be verified via the internet (“Encourage youth’s love of freedom”, January 17).

Ms Leslie M. Tam is actually a female American university administrator based in the Lion City, not a male Singaporean whose instincts have been dulled by a restrictive intellectual climate, according to his letter. She had worked at the University of Hong Kong, and ought to be well versed with the “freedom of expression” practised there as well as in her home country.

To quote her letter’s parting shot, “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” (“HKU students not helping their university”, January 4). Does this sound like a “stick-in-the-mud” who is uncomfortable with change?

Perhaps “devil-may-care” change agents like Mr Serfaty should spend some time reviewing their blanket formula for “independent” thought. Must rabble-rousing and filibustering anarchism be its sacred cow? Surely life cannot be that simple?

Otherwise, a Singapore that purportedly discourages independent thinking and stifles creative free expression, according to staunch liberals, because it bans street protests and so forth, would not have progressed as a society and an economy, as well as punched way above its weight in international affairs, including in the development of academic curricula for maths and science.

So many baby boomers would not have sold out their anti-establishment youthful ideals to make a living and loads of money as part of an Establishment with a tendency to resist change and protect its vested interests.

John Chan, Singapore

A jolt in store for caffeine purveyors

On a trip through China in 2012, I noticed sporadic Starbucks coffee shops along the way. In Shanghai, I went inside one; only to discover that the only other prominent presence in the emptiness of space I found within was the echo of my footsteps. Ordering a small coffee roused the barista’s webby memory to his purpose there. My wallet slimmed visibly when I paid the 37 yuan he asked for in return; the equivalent of US$4 for that thimble of bitter brew which, at the time, fetched US$1.60 in the States.

This experience was repeated more or less in Beijing, Nanjing ( 南京 ) and Changchun (長春). Perplexed, I went in quest of the logic for such usury and hesitance on the part of their potential clientele. This rumination concluded in the phenomenon we know as common greed, in conjunction with a misperception that the financial fortunes of China were at such high tide, their ignorance so great, and their curiosity in famous Western institutions so rabid, as to make success all but certain.

With China’s economy now slowing considerably, I can’t imagine it encourages plunging a handful of dearly earned yuan upon the counter for a cup of Joe.

Michael E. White, Oxford, Massachusetts, US

Abe’s motives reflection of a dark past

Finally, someone courageous enough to openly say what is common knowledge – that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies are moves to “resurrect the past to vindicate his grandfather” (“The tragedy of Shinzo Abe’s narrow-minded nationalism”, January 15). They are not to promote peace and regional stability, as Abe so often asserts.

Likewise, Abenomics is just Abe’s smokescreen to get himself elected. His real ambition is to finance Japan’s re-militarisation. This is the reason Abe is so desperate to clinch the A$50 billion Australian submarine deal.

To “resurrect the past to vindicate his grandfather”, Abe needs to deliver another military defeat to China as Japan did in 1895. That is why Abe is so keen to patrol the South China Sea – he is spoiling for a war with China – and why his officials “sleep” at meetings which do not present opportunities to smear China.

The war which Abe’s grandfather helped initiate and propagate resulted in devastation for Japan. Does Abe have a secret Nero wish either to successfully take Japan uber alles and whitewash his grandfather’s crimes through the brutality of arms, or to take the whole nation down with him in another Armageddon? One seriously hopes not, but only Abe knows best.

W. L. Chang, Discovery Bay

More housing should be a priority

I refer to Peter Kammerer’s column, “In my backyard: The importance of open space for Hong Kong” (January 18). I agree that open space is essential for people’s relaxation and interaction. Without adequate open space, our standard of living will suffer.

However, I believe Hong Kong has enough open space. There are lots of small and large public playgrounds and parks in every district. These are the “backyards” of Hong Kong citizens. Many children and adults like to go there and have some leisure time. Based on our limited land resources, I think it is good of the government to provide us with such open space.

Apart from that, we also have many shopping malls, country parks and beaches for us to visit and take a rest. It is obvious that Hongkongers do not lack open space, whether it is for relaxation or shopping.

However, we do lack private living space. Housing prices and rentals in the private market have been sky-high, and the queue for public housing is long. It is inevitable that some people have to live in subdivided flats and even cage homes. The living conditions in Hong Kong can be improved. First and foremost, the government should solve this housing problem.

I hope the government takes more action soon to tackle this problem. I do not want to work for 60 years and still be unable to buy my own flat.

Carmen Li Ka Man, Kowloon Tong

Social media fallout a cautionary tale

I was dismayed to read about the criticism of Taiwanese singer Chou Tzu-yu for waving a Taiwanese flag on Korean television (“Taiwan’s teen pop star Chou Tzu-yu: how a wave of a flag caused a great flap in China”, January 20). Some mainland Chinese regarded the flag-waving as indicating her support for Taiwanese independence. This is not true.

There is nothing wrong with a Taiwanese person waving a Taiwanese flag. It just shows how much she loves her home, and her sense of belonging to it. She never said a word about supporting independence for Taiwan.

I believe the misunderstanding stemmed from a social media post by the mainland-based, Taiwan-born singer Huang An, who criticised Chou for being a supporter of Taiwanese independence.

I draw two lessons from this incident. First, we must make sure what we post on social media and the internet is the truth, and we must be responsible for our words. Second, we should be considerate and not post anything that makes others unhappy. We must stop the misuse of social media.

Emily Yeung Chung Yi, Sham Shui Po

Organ donor system needs streamlining

From time to time, we see debate in Hong Kong about what we can do to persuade more people to donate their organs. Some have suggested an opt-out scheme, whereby consent is assumed unless otherwise stated.

As much as I would like to see more lives being saved through organ donation, I agree with many others that such a scheme would lead to unnecessary conflict and may infringe on people’s rights. So I don’t support such a move.

We should think of other ways to raise the rate of donation. Public education is important. We must promote such donation as an act of generosity and make it more convenient for people to enrol themselves as potential donors.

Lovelyn Wong, Tsing Yi

Monk’s US visit opened up minds

Your correspondent Mischa Moselle mentioned a Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda’s visit to the United States in 1930 (“Hectic India takes its toll but the quest rolls on”, January 19). This great monk in fact died in 1902 and had addressed the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. His speech of just three minutes triggered a new wave of religious and spiritual awareness throughout the US.

K P Daswani, Mid-Levels