Letters to the Editor, February 17, 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 February, 2016, 4:19pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 February, 2016, 4:19pm

Keeping Arctic animals in mall is very cruel

I refer to the article (“Arctic Blues? Mall under fire for new ‘polar world’ ”, January 31).

The report underscores the urgent need for the introduction of animal protection laws in China.

Currently China has no anti-cruelty legislation at all and its newly revised Wildlife Protection Law still fails to protect wild animals held in captivity.

A 2003 study by Oxford University’s Animal Behaviour ­Research Group found that large carnivores (such as polar bears) suffer severe stress in confinement.

Such animals are used to roaming large areas for hunting; an individual polar bear has an average hunting range which is 125 times the size of Hong Kong. Polar World [“in a mall in downtown Guangzhou”] also has six beluga whales on display in a 15-metre-long tank. In the wild, these animals swim thousands of kilometres and can dive up to 800 metres.

The act of placing such ­animals in a mall display is both cruel and an affront to modern animal welfare science.

While China has no laws to protect the unfortunate polar bear, beluga whales and other species displayed in Polar World, one wonders which overseas zoos sanctioned the ­export of these miserable creatures to their appalling fate, and which international carrier has been complicit in their transport and delivery.

Amanda S. Whitfort, associate professor, faculty of law, University of Hong Kong

Drivers ignore no-parking yellow lines

Yellow road-marking paint and traffic signs are clearly businesses to be in these days.

Yellow paint is liberally ­applied to almost every roadside gutter in Hong Kong – but for what purpose?

My understanding is that where a single line of yellow paint is applied, vehicles are not supposed to even stop at certain times of the day, never mind park up for the day.

Where a double line of yellow is applied, the restrictions on vehicle stopping are even more stringent – sometimes 24/7.

Traffic signs are displayed to complement these yellow markings, so that there can be no ­confusion. Presumably someone in authority thinks it is a good plan, for road safety and the efficient use of road space, to install these traffic aids at so many locations.

Clearly this line of thinking is not shared, not only by many road users, including professional drivers, but also by those tasked with enforcing the restrictions, judging from the total lack of compliance without a worry of being caught that can be observed on many roads.

Why bother to apply these signs and markings in the first place (and waste taxpayers’ money) if so many of them, it would seem, are purely decorative and serve no practical or useful purpose? How much is spent on their installation and maintenance?

Perhaps someone from the authority concerned would ­provide this information and ­account for the lack of any ­serious attempts being made to justify the expenditure.

David Sorton, Tai Kok Tsui

Why simplified Chinese should not be a subject

There was a recent revival of the debate about whether to introduce learning simplified ­Chinese characters into the curriculum of local primary and secondary schools.

Compared with traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese has fewer strokes and a simpler character structure and therefore takes less time to write. Secondary school students commonly use it in an exam to save time. However, it would not be a good idea to introduce it as a separate subject.

It would be a waste of time if at some point in the future the Education Bureau proposed adding this new subject because secondary students and ­teachers are already busy preparing for the Diploma of Secondary Education. They face tight teaching schedules.

Primary pupils would find it confusing to have to learn traditional and simplified Chinese.

It would also be a waste of resources. As I said, many secondary students have already used it in exams. It is therefore clear they can learn it by themselves through different channels, for instance, the internet.

One argument in favour of introducing it as a subject is that learning simplified Chinese can help youngsters know more about their country. I do not see how adding it as a subject would achieve that objective.

Tse Ka-wing, Yau Yat Chuen

Smog puts citizens in capital at risk

Beijing is one of many cities in the northern part of the country that face the serious problem of air pollution in the form of ­yellow smog.

When the smog is particularly bad the authorities advise the elderly and children to stay indoors and for even healthy adults to avoid strenuous ­outdoor activities. I wonder if Hong Kong could one day face air ­pollution problems that are as bad.

This smog can do ­serious harm to humans, exacerbating respiratory conditions.

The many factories on the mainland that cause so much of the pollution produce fine particulate matter. This smog is ­another wake-up call highlighting the effects of global warming.

China should be trying to strike a balance between economic development and environmental protection.

Alison Yu Tsz-man, Sham Shui Po

Flexible policy on unlicensed hawkers

The mishandling of the crackdown on illegal hawkers on the first day of Lunar New Year ­that led to the rioting in Mong Kok resulted in many people sustaining injuries, including police officers, journalists and some protesters.

The rioters had no right to use violence against the ­police and journalists as these individuals were simply doing their jobs.

In previous years these unlicensed hawkers have been ­allowed to operate for the first three days of the New Year. Street vendors are part of the shared history of the city and are popular with locals and also with tourists. This street food culture is important and it must be preserved.

I hope the government will reconsider the policy it adopted this year. Officials should allow hawkers to ply their trade for the three days during Lunar New Year.

Citizens must recognise the need for us to use peaceful means, such as the Occupy ­Central movement, to express our views. We should not resort to violence.

Kitty Chung,Yau Yat Chuen

Residents’ lives and businesses were disrupted

I can understand why the protesters clashed with police in Mong Kok on February 8.

They wanted to show their level of discontent over the government which would not allow unlicensed hawkers to run their businesses in that area over Lunar New Year. However, their actions were inappropriate. They caused ­severe disruption and brought disharmony to Hong Kong ­society.

By starting fires on the streets of this very crowded area and pulling up bricks which they then used to throw at police ­officers, traffic was blocked and Mong Kok MTR station was closed until the following ­morning.

What they did adversely ­affected those who live and work in Mong Kok, including shopkeepers who have businesses to run.

I am also worried about the effect it will have on the tourism sector with potential visitors thinking it is not safe to come here and choosing another destination instead.

I believe there are many ways in which people can ­express their views and any dissatisfaction they may have with the authorities, but violence is not one of them. It will not solve any of the problems that we face.

It brings more harm than benefits.

Samantha Ho Lai-ching, Kowloon Tong

Missing those peaceful days of the past

I refer to the letter by Tiffany Wong (“Use peaceful means to protect culture”, February 17).

I could not agree more with your correspondent that violent conduct should not be encouraged in any case, including what happened in Mong Kok. This was despite the fact that the protesters claimed they were protecting a local tradition during Lunar New Year.

What was even more frightening than what happened on February 8 was the subsequent discovery by police of weapons. This raises suspicions that the riot was well organised by ­people who were out to pick a fight with the police. If this is the case I find it heartbreaking.

I look back to all those calm and peaceful days I have ­enjoyed as an ordinary Hong Kong citizen over the past half century.

That started to change with the protests by students last year. When I looked at footage of some of these protests, I was ­reminded of archive ­pictures of the 1967 riots.

The peace of Lunar New Year we were enjoying was shattered by this latest incident. The strong comments by a top ­Beijing official about the riot last week indicates that the central government takes it very seriously.

I think this is because it wants to keep Hong Kong peaceful and maintain its prosperity.

Pang Chi-ming, Fanling