Letters to the editor, January 30, 2016

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 January, 2016, 10:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 January, 2016, 10:00am

Walk the walk and stamp out prejudice

The majority has spoken out loud and clear – it is time for the government to accept the findings of the Equal Opportunities Commission and launch, without delay, a public consultation on how to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status (“Hong Kong ready for anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBT people – and government must act now, study says”, January 27).

As stated eloquently by the commission’s chair York Chow Yat-ngok, “discrimination is unacceptable and should be eliminated”. Indeed, no one in their right mind would condone discrimination, and it is totally unacceptable for the government to continue to drag its feet by repeating the “lack of consensus” mantra.

Such an excuse is nothing more than a thin veneer for the lack of governmental leadership on advancing equal rights for all.

We no longer live in the Victorian era, where self-righteousness trumps human rights. It is simply unacceptable for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons to continue facing discrimination because of who they are.

Also, religious freedom is not a trump card that can be used to deny equal rights to our LGBTI citizens. In essence, it gives people the freedom to worship and practise their faith as they see fit, but that does not include the right to impose one’s beliefs on others.

I applaud Chow’s leadership on this issue, as the findings are unequivocally clear on what we should do to address a major injustice in the society.

I also support granting reasonable exemptions to the faith community, as per the practice in leading common law jurisdictions, such as Canada and the United Kingdom.

If you truly believe in universal human rights, then let’s walk the walk and support anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTI people.

Jerome Yau, Happy Valley

Wikipedia should lower reading bar

Hat’s off to Andrew Lih for a very fine article on Wikipedia in the Sunday Morning Post (“Can 15-year-old Wikipedia remain the planet’s font of all knowledge?”, January 24)! As an occasional contributor, I am often amazed at how well it works as a mostly volunteer organisation.

One problem I have noticed, however, is the high level of readability of the articles, generally written at the 12th-grade level according to the Pearson Reading Maturity Metric. This is a writing style too difficult for the average adult reader, who reads at the 9th-grade level. Some 20 per cent of adults read below the 8th-grade level and another 20 per cent read below the 5th-grade level.

Wikipedia now offers an alternative “Simple English” version that uses Charles Kay Ogden’s Basic English controlled vocabulary, which has its own problems. As author Rudolf Flesch pointed out in 1944: “Basic English is not basic and it is not English.” It often results in language more difficult than the original. The average grade level of Simple Wikipedia is still at the 11th-grade level, which misses the audience most in need of help.

The readability problem can be addressed with greater use of illustrations and video clips. We also hope that some day a Wikipedia user will be able to choose a writing style that matches one’s reading level just as one can now choose a language.

Willam DuBay, Ap Lei Chau

Look within to help push for world peace

Peace in the world is possible only when man is at peace with himself. The world comprises a variety of nations, and multiple communities embracing peoples of different mindsets. Unless each individual recognises his organic unity with the rest of creation, he cannot be at peace. His alienation from the rest is the cause for all conflicts and consequent pain and suffering.

It is sad to read about the terrorist attacks around the world, from Paris to Indonesia, some of which were apparently motivated by religious beliefs.

We need to look for a factor which sustains diversity. Until one discovers the unifying factor, human transformation is not possible.

The analogy of the seed and the tree can be quite helpful in this regard. The seed manifests as the trunk, the branches, the leaves and the flowers yet none is the same as the other.

Thus I need to question my religion and find out if it teaches me of “The One” that holds and sustains the variety. In a practical sense, does it prove to me that as each limb and cell in my body is organically connected with the rest of my body; so, too, I am connected with the whole universe. Therefore, the value of unconditional love is the only solution to resolve all conflicts .

Today, each one of us is walking around with a particular label on our head – I am a Hindu, the other is a Christian, a Bahai, a Muslim, etc. No one calls himself a human being and acknowledges the other as a human being also. Unless we decondition ourselves from these labels , how can we talk of peace?

K P Daswani, Mid-Levels

Weapon of fear not the way to promote cause

I refer to your editorial, “Bomb hoaxes cannot be tolerated in Hong Kong” (January 19). The apparent rise in the number of bomb hoaxes here brings home the fear of a terrorist attack.

It is hard for us to anticipate an attack. Whether or not one happens is out of our control. The only thing we can do is to educate the public about terrorism. We should learn to express our views in a proper way instead of using fear to get attention.

Michelle Chu Wing-shan, Fotan

Bags of trouble at HK airport carousels

I would ask the management of the Airport Authority to explain to the travelling public the appalling baggage delivery service at the Hong Kong airport.

I arrived on Cathay Pacific flight 162 from Sydney on Monday ahead of schedule but, alas, had to endure a 45-minute wait for my bags. Had this been an occasional event, I would not be writing this letter. But having flown about six times in the last 12 months, this is a common situation recently.

Looking around, I could see other baggage carousels displaying the “Baggage delayed” sign, despite the arrivals area being relatively quiet.

There seems to be a systemic problem and no attempt by the management to improve the situation. This is not world-class service from a supposedly world-class airport.

Dr Susan Cheng, Tai Tam

Too cold to go to school – for all students

The Education Bureau cancelled classes for primary school students on Monday during the cold snap, yet secondary school students must still attend class. This is unfair.

Hong Kong experienced its coldest weather in nearly six decades last weekend. Students had to wear gloves and ear muffs to keep warm.

Primary school students could stay home to avoid hypothermia but secondary schools couldn’t. Many schools have no heaters, so it feels just as cold inside as outside, and students could not pay attention to the lessons and were just wasting time.

Secondary school students felt the cold too. Classes should have been cancelled for them as well.

Coco So Kwan Yu, Tseung Kwan O