Letters to the Editor, April 04, 2016
Djibouti must have elections which are fair
The United States has a single military base in Africa, near Suez in the Republic of Djibouti.
China is now building its first foreign military base in Djibouti where France also has its largest number of troops on the continent.
President Ismaïl Guelleh has made Djibouti an ally in the “war on terror”, and from this tiny country on the Horn of Africa, Washington flies its second-largest fleet of drones across the narrow strait to Yemen, Iraq and beyond.
The ruling People’s Rally for Democracy currently controls all 65 seats in parliament, an unhealthy monopoly, but elections are due on Friday.
Since independence from France in 1977, the country has had only two rulers: Mr Guelleh and his uncle.
Shortly before Christmas, police opened fire on a peaceful demonstration in the capital, Djibouti City, killing several dozen people and wounding many others.
Whatever index of misery you choose, Djibouti ranks among the most miserable countries on earth. The wealth of the ruling elite contrasts with a majority who lack access to water, food and sanitation.
Torture is common, and extra-judicial killing, exile or forced disappearance is the fate of anyone who stands up to the state.
Yet Djibouti is a member of the International Criminal Court.
We have heard repeatedly that the “war on terror” is being fought to make the world safe for democracy.
If Djibouti is so strategic to the major powers, surely stability is key to maintaining its role as a partner. But, long-term stability depends on respect for human rights.
Since the French Revolution of 1789, history has had no end of dictators who pushed their people too far, resulting in chaos and even more misery, and sometimes genocide.
We are academics, professors and lecturers in the study of genocide and human rights.
We call on Washington, Beijing, Paris, members of the UN, the African Union and all peace-loving nations to monitor the April 8 elections, and to give the people of Djibouti a right to a government of their choice.
Dr Mark D. Kielsgard, City University, Hong Kong,
Dr Melanie O’Brien, University of Queensland, Australia,
Professor Gregory Stanton, founder, Genocide Watch, Washington DC, US
(and 11 other academics)
MTR Corp is answerable to shareholders
There has been a public outcry about the MTR Corporation’s proposed increase in its fares.
Hong Kong is a bastion of capitalism and, as such, businesses are privately-owned and compete in a free market. The principal function of all businesses is to maximise profits.
It is utterly naive to suggest that the MTR, having made billions of dollars of profit, should not increase its fares. Although the government is the majority shareholder owning 76 per cent of the MTR, the MTR must be answerable to its 24 per cent minority shareholders for its financial performance.
If the MTR were completely nationalised, we all would have free rides all the time.
Alex Ng, Sham Shui Po
Teens used by different political parties
Regarding the Mong Kok riot in February, youngsters need to be reminded that violence cannot solve any of the problems that Hong Kong people face.
It saddens me when I think back to what happened. Police officers and demonstrators were injured, with some people throwing bricks. There was footage showing people bleeding. Maybe some did not appreciate the consequences of their actions.
Some people have used the term “fishball revolution” to describe what happened that night, but I do not think that is appropriate, because I do not believe those vendors of fishballs were involved in the violence. Some youngsters say they were fighting injustice, but they were fighting police officers and that is not the same thing. The officers were innocent and were just doing their jobs. The actions of the protesters have not brought about any improvements in Hong Kong.
These young people had no right to blame the police. It is wrong to put police and the government in the same category, because, as I said, the officers were simply doing their duty.
I think some youngsters were used by political parties such as Hong Kong Indigenous, to achieve their goals. Some groups and people in the riots had come well prepared. For example, they had brought shields with them, so they were clearly ready for unrest.
It appears most of the young people involved in the disturbance were unemployed. Some may have felt empowered during that night. But, they were involved in behaviour which could lead to them sacrificing their freedom and their chances to pursue a career. If convicted, some people could end up getting custodial sentences.
Political parties should not get young people involved in protests that could ruin their future prospects.
I miss the peaceful yellow umbrella protests during the Occupy Central movement. I would like to see people fighting for justice in a peaceful way like that. I think we should all feel proud for the way the umbrella revolution protesters conducted themselves. What happened in Mong Kok in February means that there are now seem to be two categories within the pro-democracy camp, those who are non-violent and those who are willing to be violent.
I do not want to see a repeat of what happened in Mong Kok.
Lovelyn Wong, Tsing Yi
Quota system right way to go at clinics
The government has introduced quotas in public clinics for non-local children whose parents want them vaccinated.
This situation has arisen because of scandals on the mainland with some children having been given vaccines that were improperly stored and managed. This means that when they go to a hospital on the mainland for a vaccine, they cannot be sure if it is safe or that it will actually work. So they come to here to get a vaccine.
Some Hongkongers were critical, saying mainlanders should not use a service that is provided for Hongkongers.
The quota system will address their concerns. Local people will still be able to get their children vaccinated if they wish.
The government should allay any concerns expressed by local citizens and make sure Hong Kong children get all the necessary medical services to which they are entitled.
The government must ensure that these clinics have enough doctors and nurses to provide all the services children need. At the moment medical staff are overworked.
Ronnie Tse, Tseung Kwan O
Parents have very important role to play
The spate of suicides by students since the start of the school year has been severe and we cannot ignore what is happening.
I think one way to deal with this crisis is to have more talks and life education lessons so that students can understand that suicide is not the right way to deal with their problems. Good parent-child communication is also important.
Parents need to spend more time communicating with their children.
This will help them have a better understanding of the problems their children face and help them deal with it and give proper advice.
Support and care from parents are important. If more parents show that support, I think the suicide rate would drop.
These young people need to be made to understand that life is precious and that they should look forward to the future. Katrina Lo, Tseung Kwan O