Letters to the Editor, August 28, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 August, 2016, 12:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 August, 2016, 12:15am

Legco election leaflets add to waste problem

As Legislative Council election day approaches, many candidates are trying to win over ­voters.

They are sending leaflets to each eligible voter in a household, which means a lot of ­material is going into residents’ mailboxes. For example, my household has two members who can vote and we get two leaflets for each candidate. So for up to five candidates we will get at least 10 leaflets.

This is neither practical nor is it environmentally friendly as a lot of paper is being used. And some voters will not even bother to read this material and will throw it straight in the bin.

This will exacerbate a waste problem that is already serious in Hong Kong.

Surely it would be better for all candidates’ leaflets to be put together into one ­large envelope per household.

Also, before the next Legco election in 2020, the government could undertake a public survey, to see how many of us actually want to receive these promotional leaflets from ­candidates and how many would choose to opt out from getting them.

Trying to reduce the volume of leaflets would help to alleviate Hong Kong’s waste problems, so it would be good for our planet and make the public happy.

Eunice Li Dan-yue, Causeway Bay

A pity corporal punishment was scrapped

I fully agree with the sentiments of Mark Peaker (“Sentences for student leaders too lenient”, ­August 17).

The sentences awarded to students found guilty of ­breaking the law in Hong Kong of late have been far too lenient. This serves only to encourage others to break the law with ­impunity.

Why do the courts ­appear to bend over backwards to be lenient when sentencing?

Are they afraid that harsher sentences will upset some members of the public and cause them to break the law too? They should not be: courts should administer the law with fairness – fairness to all, not just to those being punished – and without fear or favour.

I blame some of the media in Hong Kong for encouraging ­students, by giving far too much coverage to their illegal actions and their court appearances, even sometimes organising stand-up press conferences for them.

Students throughout much of history have rebelled against authority. This is acceptable, provided that they don’t break the law; if they do, and are found guilty by the court, then they must expect to be punished ­proportionally, including the possible ­imposition of prison sentences or fines.

But schools are also to blame. I am saddened that some in Hong Kong appear to be ­prepared to allow discussion of issues, in class or on school premises after school, which are illegal or undesirable.

The job of a school is to teach, not facilitate its students to fight authority or break the law. In the past, discipline in schools was sometimes enforced through corporal punishment; it is a pity that today this is illegal in many places, including Hong Kong.

Corporal punishment caused no lasting damage to those who received it and, ­indeed, fear of it kept students out of mischief.

Surely, though, the problem starts at home. Many parents ­ ­today in Hong Kong and overseas rarely discipline their children, even by chastising them or saying “no”, never mind administering a sharp “clip around the ear”.

When I was growing up in the UK in the 1940s and 1950s, we were told that “children should be seen and not heard”. It is a shame this does not apply in Hong Kong today.

John Shannon, Mid-Levels

Chief executive just makes matters worse

Whether the topic of independence for Hong Kong can be ­discussed at secondary schools has led to heated debates, not only between educators but also politicians canvassing for ­Sunday’s Legco election.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said there was no room for such a discussion in schools. However, he did not help matters. Because of his low popularity rating he has simply added fuel to the fire.

In fact the debate has intensified since he criticised an article advocating independence in a University of Hong Kong magazine, in his 2015 policy address.

It is no wonder some people have said that because of his ­actions he could be seen unwittingly as launching the independence movement.

Even though the independence debate has struck a raw nerve with Beijing, it would have been wiser for Mr Leung to keep quiet and the discussion would probably have died down.

Angus Chan Siu-keung, Ma On Shan

What election slogan should really be saying

The slogan for the Legco election on September 4 is “Vote for Your Choice”.

Presumably something was lost in the translation and what the Electoral Affairs Commission really means is “Vote for what the government has ­decided is your choice”.

Peter Russell, Cheung Sha Wan

Convenient smartphones have downside

Some correspondents have urged people to cut back on their smartphone use. Most Hongkongers now have a smartphone. They also spend a lot of time on it, especially young ­people.

There are many reasons why youngsters are so preoccupied with these devices. A major one is that they have a lot of functions and apps. People can read, play computer games, communicate on social networks with friends and take photos. All these functions are available, which is why you see people so engrossed in their smartphones for such long periods of time.

Sometimes this can have a positive effect. Most people in Hong Kong are very busy and work long hours. The smartphone offers them a convenient way to reduce the levels of stress they are experiencing. Wherever they are and whatever the time of day, if they have some spare time, they can simply switch on their smartphone and find ways to relax.

However, prolonged use has proved to be bad for some ­people. Looking for so long at a small screen can lead to eye strain.

Also, extended overuse can turn some individuals into smartphone addicts. It is easy to become addicted and it affects people’s daily lives. They may stay online all night and not get enough sleep and so it disrupts their working lives.

People should be aware of the pitfalls and try to spend less time on their smartphones.

Yoyo Li Fung-lan, Sham Shui Po

Preventive measures can cut death toll

The earthquake which hit ­central Italy on Wednesday, highlights the importance of the need to be prepared for natural disasters like this one.

Hopefully the authorities in quake-prone regions draw ­lessons from these events and this helps them take better ­preventive measures, so that when the next earthquake hits they are able to keep casualties to a ­minimum.

They must ensure more is done to strengthen old buildings and make new buildings as quake-resistant as possible.

The authorities must have a system so rescue teams can quickly reach the worst-hit areas. Education is also important. People must keep checking news reports so they can ­respond swiftly.

They should carry a smartphone at all times, so if they are trapped rescue teams can locate them more easily.

Thomas Wong, Tseung Kwan O