Letters to the Editor, April 3, 2016
Beijing must learn lessons from scandal
The scandal of improperly handled vaccines on the mainland has affected the whole country.
Of course mainland parents are worried about the health risks, which is why many of them want to come to Hong Kong to make sure their children get a safe vaccine.
Tips about how best to do this can be found on mainland websites. This shows mainlanders lack confidence in the vaccine system north of the border. But local parents have expressed concerns about a possible shortage of vaccines here with increased demand. Because of this, a quota system has now been adopted and public hospitals will have to monitor it.
This scandal has exposed the weaknesses of the regulatory system for vaccines north of the border.
The central government must deal with this problem. There must be tougher laws and a stricter monitoring system in place.
Helen Lau Hei-lam, Kowloon Tong
Blanket ban of e-cigarettes not a good idea
I refer to the report (“E-cigarette body tells Hong Kong officials to regulate industry, not ban its products”, March 30).
I agree with the Asian Vape Association that the government should not ban e-cigarettes and that a total ban would not help to protect public health. I have no doubt that e-cigarettes contain a variety of harmful substances, but also am sure they are less dangerous than conventional cigarettes.
Therefore, if you are going to ban e-cigarettes on health grounds and conventional cigarettes pose an even greater health risk then surely you would have to ban them as well.
A blanket ban on e-cigarettes would be totally unreasonable. It would simply lead to the growth of a profitable black market to meet the demand and it will be relatively easy to smuggle them.
I agree that teenagers should not take these e-cigarettes, because of the potential harm they could do. I think the best policy is for the government to regulate the e-cigarette sector.
Many shops sell them already from sources which have not been checked. A regulatory system could be introduced to monitor products that are imported.
E-cigarettes can do some good. A study has shown that they can help people give up conventional cigarettes and so that is another good reason for not banning them.
Roslin Law, Tseung Kwan O
Disgraceful treatment by Dragonair
On Monday, March 28, my disabled wife and I were business class transit passengers at Hong Kong airport flying from Tel Aviv to Shanghai on a Dragonair flight.
For some reason Dragonair had no record we were flying with our own 20kg wheelchair. Instead of sorting things out speedily, and issuing our boarding passes and tagging the wheelchair, they first insisted we would have to clear immigration and then go to check-in in departures.
They then kept us waiting for more than two hours at the transfer desk, asking the same questions about the wheelchair, as if this was the first time they had ever seen one. They even had the impertinence to ask why my wife has to use a wheelchair.
If this is the way that disabled tourists are treated in Hong Kong, then it would no surprise if the tourists trade suffers as it deserves to do.
Dragonair should apologise for the disgraceful way we were treated.
Peter Simpson, Jerusalem, Israel
Garrison paid by central government
In the letter (“Politics, not economics, scares Moody’s”, March 26) S. W. Lau said “Hong Kong could be forced to raise taxes if the central government required the SAR to contribute to national expenses, such as defence”.
To do this, the central government would have to amend Article 14 of the Basic Law which states that “Expenditure for the garrison shall be borne by the central people’s government” and Article 106 which says “The HKSAR shall use its financial revenues exclusively for its own purposes, and they shall not be handed over to the central people’s government.”
If the central government wanted to squeeze Hong Kong, it would have much easier means than amending the Basic Law. It could unilaterally put the price of Dongjiang water up which satisfies more than 70 per cent of Hong Kong’s needs to exorbitant levels.
It could also require all the 300,000 Hongkongers who work on the mainland to apply and pay for work permits. And it could end the present arrangement whereby only Hong Kong lorries can be driven across the border into the mainland and this would mean losing thousands of jobs for local drivers. I could go on and on.
Your correspondent is not helping Hong Kong by reminding mainlanders of the privileges that the SAR enjoys.
Chow Pak-chin, Mong Kok
Scrap captive breeding programmes
I am concerned about marine animals which are kept in captivity around the world for the purposes of entertaining the public, for example at theme parks.
They are either captured in the wild or bred in captivity. They are trained and spend sad lives in tanks.
They lose their chance of living in the ocean which is their natural habitat.
In the wild orcas and dolphins live in large, complex social groups and swim vast distances every day in the open sea. No orca born in captivity has been released successfully into the ocean.
They lose the instincts that enable them to survive at sea. They are denied the opportunity to engage in any natural behaviour.
Some people argue that in captivity these marine animals are at less risk, because of the serious pollution problems nowadays in our oceans and the fact that whales are hunted. However, what they lose is far, far worse.
They are deprived of their right to live in the wild which is what nature intended.
These whales and dolphins need to be allowed to exist in their natural environment in the open sea and interact with their own kind.
We should encourage aquariums, including in Hong Kong, to stop any breeding programmes of captive animals. Ways should be found to try some sort of controlled release of captive animals that can be monitored.
Abby Luk, Kowloon City
Bad sign and wine at HK Arts Festival
I attended the Concerto Copenhagen concert at the City Hall on March 17 and was struck by the enormity of the klutzy, 1960s-design billboard announcing the 44th Hong Kong Arts Festival.
The sign dominating the stage was as large as the entire 15-strong Copenhagen ensemble.
After wading through the bureaucracy of ordering festival tickets and manoeuvreing traffic to reach the theatre on time, did one still need to be reminded that one was attending the 44th Arts Festival?
The sign preached to the converted yet one was obliged to stare an entire evening at that unattractive commercial. Might the organisers dispense with these large billboards on stages at next year’s festival?
Oh, and one more item that requires attention, the wine served at the interval was abysmal.
Frank Fischbeck, Central
Traditional stores in city are dying out
It saddens me that traditional stores in Hong Kong appear to be dying out, replaced by large chain stores.
These small shops have been hit in recent by skyrocketing rents, but when they go something precious is lost and I believe some way should be found to protect them.
They are part of our collective memory from our childhood. We can remember going to these shops to buy snacks and sweets unique to Hong Kong. They have all but disappeared.
Surely there is something that can be done to make sure they survive.
Natalli Lo, Tseung Kwan O