Letters to the editor, February 18, 2016
Water cannons can quickly stop rioting
It is about time the Hong Kong authorities started to crack down to restore the law and order situation here, which has deteriorated to an unacceptably low level, worse than at any time since the 1967 riots.
Starting with the so-called Occupy movement in 2014, Hong Kong has witnessed too many acts of violence against the police and others, damage to property and inconvenience to the general public, carried out by those who consider their cause to be just, or life to be unfair.
This situation has continued, with the recent violent student actions at the University of Hong Kong, culminating in the riots in Mong Kok on February 8.
It may further deteriorate, unless action is taken now to prevent further lawlessness. Breaking the law, regardless of the motive or perceived justification, should not be tolerated and firm action should be taken by the police on the ground against those miscreants and, for those arrested and charged with an offence subsequently by the court.
The police should stop pussy-footing around, leaning over more than backwards so as not to upset these law-breakers and their supporters, and should step in at the first sign of trouble. They should not have to worry about using batons and shields, tear smoke and pepper spray in order to restore order; restoring order is what matters, though the police must remain accountable for any actions they take.
If order is not restored at an early stage in a disturbance, then inevitably the violence will spread, as others will be encouraged to join in with impunity, believing that they will get away with it and that it is their “right” to protest in any way that they think fit.
It is a great pity that the police do not have water cannons and baton rounds at their disposal to deploy should the situation require this, as it did, I believe, on the night of February 8. I consider that the time has now come for their armoury to be enhanced in this way.
John Shannon, Mid-Levels
Government to blame for the violence
I refer to the report “Former Hong Kong security chief condemns young ‘beasts’ of Mong Kok riot as losing ‘their sense of reason’ ” (February 15).
The unrest which broke out on the first night of the Lunar New Year left many people injured, including police officers. The ex-minister who made these comments, Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong, a local deputy to the National People’s Congress, asked what had happened to young people of noble ideals to turn them this way. He felt such ideals were contaminated if they used unlawful or violent means to achieve their goals.
History offers plenty of examples of violent protest in which people have sacrificed their lives in struggles for democracy.
Injury and death are abhorrent, but sometimes people take to the streets when those in power refuse to listen to their wishes: they will dispute the authorities violently if they simply ignore them.
Hong Kong people have already tried peaceful protests many times, for example, the “Umbrella Revolution”, but their efforts have totally failed to improve governance.
The violence might have been wrong, but it was the government that pushed people who had been mild-mannered in the past to start hurling bricks.
The government and establishment camp keep censuring young people and blaming their behaviour on the failure to introduce moral and national education.
Students and academics are heavily involved in disputes because they are more knowledgeable and understand the necessity of political participation and the importance of democracy.
If the government continues to ignore the resentment people feel, I think there will be more protests, which are unlikely to remain non-violent.
Tsang Wai-hung, Tsuen Wan
No place for bureaucrats in new ventures
I agree with Natalie Siu Hoi-tung’s letter (“Government’s food truck cost is far too high”, February 11).
Your business columnist Jake van der Kamp has regularly derided the government for thinking that it can decide what tomorrow’s business winners will be.
I agree with him that, simply put, the government should not be involved in such endeavours.
It should allow private enterprise to innovate to meet market demands, and should stop trying to protect large vested interests, which are more than capable of handling competition.
The grass-roots versions of the food trucks have once again shown that the government is out of touch with business opportunity. It should stay out of the game, but facilitate the response of small enterprises.
Christian Rogers, Wan Chai
Monopolies stifling young entrepreneurs
In Hong Kong, the market is dominated by large enterprises which create monopolies.
This means it is an uphill struggle for young people who want to set up their own businesses, unless they can get encouragement and the help they need from the government.
Earlier this month, many stalls were set up for the annual Victoria Park fair to celebrate the Lunar New Year festival and there were other similar fairs.
Some secondary and university students had set up a stall and there were stalls where people were selling their own artistic products, such as bags, postcards and stickers with humorous themes.
Many designs were inspired by things that are happening in Hong Kong, such as the MTR Corporation’s rules on oversize bags.
They were really original and the government should be giving these young people and others with original ideas more opportunities to develop their business ideas.
In Hong Kong, if you are planning a business start-up, it will be very costly.
More help must be given to young entrepreneurs. The government should offer subsidies so they can get started.
It must also provide office space where they can base their company and be charged below the market rent.
The relevant department should also set up talks given by successful professionals who can share their experiences and young adults can learn more about what it takes to run a business. This will help these youngsters to have a clear understanding of the challenges they will face as first-time entrepreneurs.
If more small and medium-sized enterprises can be set up, it can help counter the domination of monopolies in Hong Kong.
Maggie Chan Hiu-suet, Cheung Sha Wan
Policies to tackle poverty inadequate
I understand that the problem of poverty in Hong Kong has become serious.
We are seeing more street sleepers on roads and under bridges and seeking shelter in 24-hour branches of McDonald’s.
Sometimes, they lose the few possessions they still have.
They have often fallen on hard times because they do not have the educational skills needed to find a job in today’s competitive society.
The government says poverty is hard to tackle, but its policies are inadequate.
There is still not enough public housing so that more people can have a decent home.
More effective policies must be adopted to deal with the practical needs of the poor in our society and that includes street sleepers.
Officials must look into what can be done to provide more assistance to our homeless citizens.
Too often, they are neglected and they are entitled to have a safe place where they can stay.
Natalie Chiu, Lai Chi Kok