Letters to the Editor, September 14, 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2016, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2016, 4:30pm

China should think twice about this ally

Press photos of Russian and ­Chinese warships in the South China Sea are ominous and ­disturbing (“China, Russia to launch South China Sea drills”, September 12).

Why is China so accepting of Russian military assertiveness in our neighbourhood? The latest actions by Russian forces against Ukraine reveal that its leadership under President ­Vladimir Putin is not interested in world peace but in Russian hegemony.

The civil was in Syria has been intensified because of ­Russia’s support of the failed despot, Bashar al-Assad, who has brought agony upon his own people.

How can China ally itself with such an immoral and ­vicious regime? Did Russia under the USSR ever help China in its fight against Japan from 1935 to 1945?

While Russia was the nucleus of the Soviet Union, it extended its military influence around the globe and sold weapons to all buyers, no questions asked, for money and influence are the best tools of diplomacy. The Middle East is the playground, the happy hunting ground of the Russian AK-47, the machine gun beloved by all terrorists.

So it is revolting to see ­Chinese naval officers befriending such a nation and its ­salesmen of death.

Why wasn’t the Russian navy active against the Somali pirates who hijacked ships and extorted ransom money to fund their ­terrorism? The Russians have built many nuclear submarines that eventually failed and are now polluting the oceans.

A look through the internet shows how proud the Russians are of their latest weapons and how ready they are to market them.

What can we in Hong Kong and China do to show our rejection of Russian militarism and Mr Putin’s errors?

It would be good if we stopped all tourism to Russia and avoided travelling on ­Aeroflot, the Russian airline. Some will say that commercial boycotts are ineffectual, but they do have an educational value.

Not condemning evil or turning a blind eye to immorality can make us callous and numb. Lastly, Hong Kong ­harbour should not be visited by Russian warships. We don’t need any more pollution from European gun-selling neo-colonialists.

Jason Kuylein, Stanley

Beijing right to reject double standards

Australia called on China to abide by the arbitration award over disputed territory in the South China Sea. However, now Canberra is protesting that the same Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has no jurisdiction over its maritime ­border dispute with East Timor (“East Timor urges Hague to ­settle sea border dispute”, ­August 30).​

The US, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, all called on China to abide by the arbitration ruling, but they have said ­nothing about Australia’s position on this dispute with East ­Timor.

The double standards at play cannot be clearer.

The arbitration judges were appointed by the then president of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, Shunji Yanai. He was a senior adviser to Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Surely this represents a conflict of interest.

The arbitration judges and Mr Yanai should have declared such a conflict of interest, but for whatever reason this did not happen.

In not recognising the court’s decision over the South China Sea, Beijing is in effect rejecting these double standards.

It is fully entitled to oppose any efforts to coerce it into ­accepting this arbitration decision by the court.

W. L. Chang, Discovery Bay

Cut back on mooncakes and glow sticks

Hong Kong citizens can be very wasteful during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

A green group has estimated that 40 million glow sticks were discarded after last year’s ­festival.

Because it is extremely difficult to recycle them they end up in landfills which are already nearing capacity. And the ­chemicals in the glow sticks can pollute soil and ground water. This can obviously pose a risk to human health.

A lot of mooncakes are ­wasted, by the same green group’s estimate, about one ­million last year.

Why do people continue to buy so many mooncakes when they know that they are very ­unhealthy?

I realise that eating them is a Chinese tradition and part of the festival. However, surely people can purchase only what they need rather than buying boxes of them.

We all need to be less ­wasteful in order to relieve the ­pressure being placed on our landfills.

We need to try and remember the real purpose of celebrating the city’s traditional festivals, including the Mid-Autumn ­Festival.

It is not just about shopping and eating, it is also about ­families reuniting and people feeling grateful for what they have.

Joyce Li Hei-ying, Yau Yat Chuen

Transport sector still has negative image

I refer to the letter by Ivana Lam (“Transport sector must ­increase wages to attract young recruits”, September 8).

The average age of employees in the transport ­sector is over 35 and the number of youngsters joining transport firms is decreasing.

The major reason for this low level of recruitment may not be a lack of promotion opportunities but the generally bad working environment.

Bus drivers put in long hours and cannot have a break while on a route. The travel time for a bus route can be anywhere ­between 30 minutes and one hour, depending on distance and traffic conditions.

Also, drivers have to work ­different shifts, and that will ­include sometimes having to work on buses running through the night.

They only get fairly short breaks and so overall their ­working environment puts off some youngsters.

Bus drivers are not required to have good educational qualifications. Parents often think that the job will only be done by people who got bad exam results and quit school early. So they will oppose their children if they say they want to ­become a bus driver.

In 2013 the South China Morning Post ran a story about a degree holder who gave up his well-paid job as an analyst to ­fulfil his dream of being a bus driver. Young people should not ­dismiss the idea of driving a bus as a career choice.

However, companies in the transport sector have to look into improving the overall working environment, if they want to change the negative image of bus driving as a job and get enough young people to fill the many vacancies.

Jacky Leung Kai-kit, Tseung Kwan O

Not illegal to back changes in Basic Law

Any politicians who say that ­discussion of Hong Kong independence is against the law, are guilty of deliberately misleading the public, because they know full well that what they are ­saying is not true.

We have the Basic Law, often called our mini-constitution. Any written constitution has a mechanism to change it and ­update it (Article 159). Proposed changes may come to nothing, but they start with discussion of the idea. If changes are allowed then proposing them and ­discussing them is also allowed.

If you listen to pro-establishment parties and the government, the chief executive would be disqualified from holding ­office for proposing a change to the Basic Law. None of them would agree with that, so ­making such a proposal must be allowed and candidates in the Legco election must have been within their right to propose independence.

The government must think that this idea has legs, judging by the effort it has put into saying it will have no support. But are none of its members parents? Tell your child not to drink ­alcohol and what is the first thing they will do?

Tony Harding, Kennedy Town

Independence definitely valid topic in schools

I think the idea of independence for Hong Kong is too radical. It would be hard for Hong Kong to function as a country without an army.

Supporters talk about Singapore prospering as a city state, but how could we do that if China withdrew all support?

However, while I do not think it is feasible, it is a topic which should be discussed in schools.

It can help educate ­students about the Basic Law. Also, protecting our freedom of speech is important.

Martha Choi, Sheung Shui