Letters to the editor, February 23, 2016

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2016, 4:57pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2016, 4:57pm

Tycoon right to criticise speech by president

I read with dismay the report “Outspoken Chinese ­tycoon comes under fire for attacking Xi Jinping’s lecture to the media” (February 22).

Ren Zhiqiang, a mainland Chinese property tycoon, wrote on his microblog Weibo that if all Chinese media obeyed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) call to toe the party line, “the people will be forgotten and abandoned”.

Ren is right to say this, and is also right to state that news organisations should serve the people instead of the leadership.

It is alarming that a Chinese government-linked news site, Qianlong.com, accused Ren of representing capitalism that sought to topple the Chinese Communist Party and replace it with Western-style constitutionalism.

Let us hope the central government and other Chinese ­media will not adopt Qianlong.com’s stance, otherwise China would move one step backwards towards a closed, autocratic dictatorship like North Korea.

It is essential for Hong Kong to preserve its freedoms, to ­enable Hong Kong tycoons as well as ordinary citizens to ­continue to be able to speak out without being condemned as capitalists that seek to topple the Communist Party.

It is also important that Hong Kong resists any calls from ­China’s leaders that “all news ­media run by the party must bear the surname of ‘party’ ”.

Toh Han Shih, Happy Valley

Case of missing booksellers is worrying

I am writing in response to the report “Brits for Hong Kong plan Lee Po protest to put pressure on UK government” (February 21).

I worry about the missing booksellers as it relates to ­freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Hong Kong.

Mystery has surrounded the disappearance of five people connected with the Causeway Bay Books. However, I do not think there is any doubt that their disappearance is related to the mainland.

Lee Po and his colleagues sold books about negative aspects of the mainland and that would be banned there. Beijing is very sensitive about negative ­comments.

How many governments of a nation would be ­concerned about a tiny bookstore selling censored material? One explanation that Lee had gone to the mainland to “understand some personal issues” does not make sense.

I agree with those who ­suggest his involuntary removal by the mainland authorities. What I do not understand is why the five booksellers appear to have been targeted but other strong opponents of Beijing remain untouched.

Some people feel the UK government should not interfere in this matter, but Lee Po is a British citizen and Britain is expected to protect its citizens. Also the Basic Law states that the central government cannot enforce its laws on Hong Kong.

Hong Kong people are ­worried about what has happened and it has raised doubts about how free Hong Kong ­remains.

Su Yuen-ching, Tsuen Wan

Government must do more for dolphins

I refer to the report “Speed ­limits protecting dolphins ­relaxed” (February 16).

The Airport Authority is ­allowing captains of high-speed ferries to break the speed limit in waters frequented by the ­Chinese white dolphins. The speed limit was set at 15 knots [to and from the authority’s SkyPier] and this has been lifted.

Concerns have already been expressed about how the dolphins’ habitat would be affected by the third runway project as construction work could cause pollution. The government should try harder to reduce any potential pollution to our ­marine environment.

Sometimes I feel many citizens are unaware of this ­problem. However, our officials must recognise the potential problems and they must also try to raise the awareness of ordinary citizens about the importance of trying to keep our marine environment clean.

The numbers of Chinese white dolphins have fallen in ­recent years as they face the ­effects of overfishing, water pollution and heavy marine traffic.

More attention has to be paid to ensure there is greater protection for the dolphins.

Rachel Leung Cho-kwan, Sham Shui Po

School test should provide useful data

It appears that the Education Bureau has made modifications to the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA), but I do not think these changes will ­persuade me that it is an effective test.

The difficulty of a test is not the best way to measure how ­effective it is.

What is more important is recognising the aims of the test and the impact it will have on students.

You can make a test very easy and everyone gets good results, but I cannot see the point of that. It is just a waste of time and does not help the children.

I do not think the problem is to do with TSA test putting too much pressure on children, but the schools doing so.

They have been concerned in the past about how poor ­overall results would be viewed by the Education Bureau.

The government has ­defended the TSA, saying ­it provides important data for analysis. But data is only useful if it is of good quality and officials can make good use of it.

If the TSA is to continue it will need substantial improvements.

First, the pressure imposed on students by schools must be reduced. Test results can be anonymous, so neither the school nor the bureau can ­identify the bad students.

Also, as I said, the data ­collected only matters if it can be put to good use, in this case, if it can be used for effective ­research or to formulate a new education blueprint for Hong Kong.

Data collected should be made available to academic researchers in Hong Kong.

Rather than blindly ­opposing the TSA, we should look more closely at the possible advantages and disadvantages.

Marco Cheung Ming-kin, Sha Tin

Word of advice for FBI investigators

I read with interest the ongoing battle between the FBI and ­Apple, who are seeking to ignore a court order to unlock an Apple iPhone to assist an FBI investigation.

May I suggest the Feds take the phone to any of the little shops in Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po?

They should be able to help.

David Grant, Discovery Bay

Encourage greater use of country parks

It is estimated that on average, Hongkongers visit our country parks only twice a year.

I think this is partly due to a lack of awareness on the part of many citizens, and the government should be doing more to promote these parks and ­outdoor activities such as hiking and camping.

It could offer subsidies to organisations that could arrange hikes in country parks, with a low flat rate being charged for students.

Some young people ­complain that there is not enough for them to do in Hong Kong and not enough variety when it comes to the entertainment that is available. But I think if more of them got involved in hiking and other forms of exercise, they would appreciate what our country parks have to offer.

We need to make better use of this valuable resource.

Nancy Lam, To Kwa Wan