Letters to the Editor, June 15, 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 June, 2016, 3:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 June, 2016, 3:57pm

Obsession with hubs is costing taxpayers

I refer to the report (“Shenzhen plans new airports in a push to be a transport hub”, June 6).

Aviation in the Pearl River Delta illustrates a case of one country and too many airports, with no overall strategic runway utilisation or airspace planning.

Conflicting airspace control is a central problem which is being ignored. I agree with S. P. Li (“Aviation hub status does not help local people or the economy”, May 25).

Hub is a magic word the government uses to intimate an overriding importance, thereby making all reasoned opposition irrelevant. But I think the government’s hubs are normally hubris.

There is a surfeit of self-interest and much confusion. The Hong Kong Airport Authority is laden with vested interests. Its priority for a third runway and aprons requires a massive outlay of public funds. Why should the travelling public have to pay a surcharge to accommodate private jets at the airport?

Since 2006, the Zhuhai airport has been managed by a joint venture in which Hong Kong Airport Authority has a 55 per cent interest.

In this case, I am perplexed why influential members of the authority did not press for an ­extension of the MTR’s Airport Express to the Zhuhai and Macau airports, rather than acquiescing to the road-only proposal on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge. It appears their eyes have been firmly on the third runway and the massive apron development.

As your report states, the Zhuhai and Macau airports are underutilised. Hongkongers are getting fed up with hubs that suck money from our ­wallets.

Frank Lee, Wan Chai

Defiling public library books unacceptable

I often find that books borrowed from public libraries in Hong Kong have been vandalised by readers.

Sentences have been highlighted with different coloured felt pens and phrases underlined or circled by pencils. In English-language books, you often see Chinese translations written down.

Unfortunately, this is not a recent problem.

I appreciate that many students are hardworking and keen to raise their levels of knowledge by borrowing books from the city’s libraries. But they must recognise the importance of acting responsibly and consider other ­readers who will borrow the books after them.

It spoils your enjoyment of reading a book if it is covered with highlighting and circling. It is a distraction, as what someone has highlighted may not be regarded with the same importance by the next reader.

Also, some of the Chinese translations on top of the English words are inaccurate, for example, confusing the meaning of “angry” with ­“furious”.

I urge all users of Hong Kong’s public libraries to exercise social responsibility. All ­individuals should be trying through their actions to contribute to the common good.

I am sure some of the world’s greatest writers, such as William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Anne Brontë and Virginia Woolf, would be turning in their graves over the way in which their works are being vandalised.

Clarence Yip, Tai Po

Officials could have sent strong message

The inexplicable silence of Hong Kong officials in the wake of the Orlando mass shooting is a ­jarring reminder of our leaders’ Victorian-era attitude towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

As a self-proclaimed world city, one would think Hong Kong’s leaders would stand in solidarity with Orlando to ­denounce the heinous act and to grieve the loss of so many ­innocent lives.

More importantly, by taking a stand, this would send a ­powerful message to the local community that hatred towards LGBT people is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, there has been nothing, not even one iota of condemnation or a statement.

While Hong Kong is blessed with having very little gun ­violence, this doesn’t mean things are okay for the local LGBT people.

Not only does homophobia exist in all corners of society, discrimination also takes a toll on our LGBT citizens.

The choice is simple. Our leaders can continue to dig their heels in and make themselves look foolish, or they can rise to the challenge and start addressing the welfare of our LGBT citizens.

Jerome Yau, Happy Valley

Red Cross must let gays give blood

Hong Kong Red Cross urged more volunteers to come forward on World Blood Donor Day on Tuesday, because of a decline in the number of blood donors (“As numbers ­decline, Red Cross calls on more young Hongkongers to give blood”, June 14).

I would like to urge the Hong Kong Red Cross to stop disallowing gay and bisexual men from donating blood simply because they have sex with other men.

As we all know – but perhaps the Red Cross isn’t aware of this – condoms are highly effective at preventing the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases.

Doesn’t it make sense then to disallow persons (whether straight, gay, bisexual , or something else) who disclose unsafe sex ­practices from donating blood, ­instead of disallowing all ­sexually active gay and bisexual men, many of whom practise safe sex?

Will Yip, Sheung Wan

E-learning means lighter load in bags

Critics argue that e-learning has disadvantages but I support it.

Some Hong Kong schools are replacing textbooks with tablet computers.

This is good for ­students’ health as they do not have as heavy a load to carry in their schoolbags.

They can also check spelling and grammar mistakes quickly on computers. If a word is incorrect, a new word will be suggested. This makes it easier for them to learn from their mistakes.

However, some people say e-learning has a downside, such as the emergence of cyberbullying. And others fear that if youngsters write everything electronically, their writing skills will become rusty.

They may rely too much on the computer to come up with correct words.

However, schools can programme their computers so that they do not have a function that predicts a word and finishes it before ­students have had a chance write it out in full.

And students should still write out exercises when they are doing homework, rather than using their tablets.

Claudia Lau, Mid-Levels

Time to end cruel live chicken trade

It is horrific to see humans being so uncaring in handling the slaughter of birds.

Couldn’t a more humane approach have been taken other than to dump the poor birds into a bag, one on top of the other, smothering them in carbon dioxide, ready for a landfill?

The picture in the South China Morning Post of a chicken being weighed was also appalling.

The savagery we show to lesser creatures is shameful. If your friend was being weighed, ready for the pot, and you were next, how would you feel?

Fear of bird flu will always ­remain no matter how much public health protection is in place. The live chicken trade may be profitable but will ­continue to be a danger to the public. It is cruel and should be discontinued.

Jean Afford, principal, Wembley International Kindergarten