Letters to the Editor, July 24, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 July, 2016, 12:16am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 July, 2016, 12:16am

‘Leave’ backers definitely not anti-Europe

Your recent correspondents on the subject of Brexit seem in a confused state of suspended shock, horror, and disbelief.

As a UK citizen who has long campaigned for a Leave vote, perhaps I could attempt to alleviate their apparent traumas by summarising my reasons.

First, there are vast cultural and historical differences ­between European countries. These do not prevent enduring friendships and mutually-beneficial trading arrangements, but make the notion of full political, economic and social union unattractive and impractical to many. To illustrate the point, readers may care to pick their own hypothetical groupings of countries from the Asia-Pacific region and ask themselves how long any federal structure ­between their chosen nominees would last.

Second, the campaign’s foundation was not ­anti-Europe, but anti-EU, with its vast body of unelected, ­dynastic, incompetent, bureaucratic, overpaid, senior officials and civil servants overseeing an ever-increasing budget which has failed every full audit test for years. Binding edicts on the size and shape of bananas may just be within their compass if time and money are no object, but put them to work on something important such as the recent ­refugee crisis and look at the unspeakably appalling mess they make of it.

Third, the free movement of labour (the logic behind which has never been explained), has caused untold unnecessary ­misery, alienation and poverty. My granny could have told ­anyone prepared to listen that it would cause unmanageable numbers to flock to rich countries from poorer ones, leaving the former unable to cope and the latter even poorer. Just look at what has happened to Greece and the southern parts of Italy.

But what of the future for the UK? The words I uttered when the referendum result was known were , “Free at last”. Free to connect with the whole world through enlarged friendships and wider trading arrangements. Free to set our own laws, and sack our elected representatives if they do not heed our ­bidding. Free to set our own budget priorities and stop UK taxes draining down the black holes of Brussels. Free to set ­sensible and fair migrant and refugee policies. Oh yes, and free to go back to those lovely bendy bananas from the West Indies.

Mike Pitcher, Pok Fu Lam

Supermarket’s new policy wastes plastic

ParknShop’s website proudly proclaims that “environmentally sustainable practices are ensured throughout” their ­business and that they “strive to improve energy efficiency and reduce waste to minimise their impact on the environment”.

Everyone now accepts the plastic shopping bags levy, so why does the company ­suddenly insist that every item it sends for home delivery ­(including fruit and plastic ­bottles) must now be either ­bubble wrapped, or enveloped in inflatable plastic cushions?

Philippe Espinasse, Central

Fewer cars can cut roadside air pollution levels

When it comes to reducing air pollution in Hong Kong, which is damaging people’s health, the government will play the most important role.

It must do more to curb roadside pollution, introducing measures which limit the ­number of cars on the city’s roads and must crack down on idling engines.

It must also produce adverts which raise the awareness of ­citizens so that we all make the effort to be less wasteful, such as switching off lights at home when they are not needed and taking more public transport.

Actions by individuals can make a difference.

Rachel Leung Cho-kwan, Sham Shui Po

Extremists more than a tiny minority

In the letter (“Vast majority of Muslims are peaceful”, July 17) Siddiq Bazarwala, referring to Hong Kong people, says most of them “broadly understand that recent events in the West are a consequence of its failed foreign policies in Muslim countries since time immemorial, among a host of wide ranging factors”.

This is a huge claim of dubious veracity. And, the notion that those foreign polices “failed” is an assertion which is contestable on a balanced analysis of historical facts. Far more Pakistanis try to move to Britain than the other way around, for example (and Algerians to France, and Iraqis to the US and so on), so alleged policy failures are difficult to discern.

The Muslim world broadly seems either unwilling or ­unable to bring into line the many militant factions claiming to represent it in some way. Mr ­Bazarwala says these factions are supported by “a tiny ­minority of Muslims”. This terrorist tendency of one hue or ­another ­– numbering in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions – enjoys de facto state support from many Muslim countries, ranging from Iraq to Saudi Arabia. This is not some fringe movement detached from the Muslim world at large.

Few dispute that there are countless peaceful and compassionate Muslims. Like many in Hong Kong and elsewhere, I know many Muslims for whom the terrorism perpetrated in their name is a source of bewilderment and shame. But that is to ­ignore the main point.

Blaming Islamic terrorism in part on centuries of Western ­foreign policy is obfuscation: the Islamic world needs to get its own house in order.

Christopher Ruane, Sheung Wan

Exciting new frontiers, but there are risks

There are so many innovations with new technology.

For example, one new smartphone is being developed which could have a contact lens ­camera which can be triggered by blinking and which could project images directly into the user’s eye.

Google is also working on a smart contact lens. And it has its Glass headset, which includes map directions and video ­recording.

While many innovations can help people and make their daily lives more convenient, we should not become too dependent on our smartphones.

Some people have become so dependent on these devices to the point they are actually ­addicted.

New technology can make our daily lives easier if we use it sensibly, but we must be aware of the pitfalls resulting from overuse.

There are potential psychological and physical health risks to consider.

We must always remember that relationships with friends and family are what really ­matter.

Mandy Yeung, Yau Yat Chuen

Discussions about scams long overdue

The report (“Ground zero for a scam”, July 20), raises an ­important issue that is largely ­ignored in Hong Kong.

It would be beneficial for Hong Kong companies engaged in international trade if organisations like the chambers of commerce or Hong Kong Trade Development Council would make this topic a priority.

In fact when searching the TDC’s website one finds no warnings on these worldwide fraudulent activities and no guidance on how to deal with either.

Only the Hong Kong Institute of Directors raised the issues in their April 2015 publication titled “Directors Beware: Business Email Compromise – the Latest Fraud Scam Threatening Hong Kong Companies”.

Recent developments like “business e-mail compromise”, “exchange of tax information” and “base erosion and profit shifting ” – which will be a major topic at the G20 summit in Hangzhou (杭州) – urgently need a more open and high level ­discussion if Hong Kong wants to maintain its role as a conduit for international business.

Jurgen Kracht, Tai Tam