Letters to the Editor, June 18, 2017

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 9:02am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 9:02am

Rangers risk death at hands of poachers

Like Chris Hall (“Calls to destroy antique ivory are misguided”, June 14), I attended the talk on the ivory trade at the Royal ­Geographical Society on June 5.

The speakers included two people on the frontline of the fight to save the African elephant from extinction at the hands of poachers feeding the Asian ­demand for ivory.

Both spoke of the terrible ­human cost, in rangers’ lives lost in the war against well-armed and well-resourced poachers. One of the speakers told of the death of a friend, a fellow ranger, in a firefight with poachers just two weeks before.

No one spoke of destroying antique ivory. The concern was how to save a key species from extinction and prevent further human lives being lost. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that when Mr Hall sought to suggest ancient ivory artefacts might be endangered by a move to save the elephant (appearing to ­ignore the human and ecological tragedy that had just been so graphically described), he was shouted down.

In his letter, Mr Hall again conflates two separate issues. If the elephant is to be saved from extinction, the ivory trade must be shut down. There is no justification for suggesting, as Mr Hall does, that this will somehow lead to the wholesale ­destruction of ivory antiquities.

Mr Hall suggests that ­campaigners against the ivory trade may be looked on by ­future generations as similar to the ­Taliban and Islamic State, whose fanaticism led to the ­destruction of antiquities. The analogy is without foundation.

It is more likely that future generations will not forgive us if we fail to act now to prevent the extinction of the majestic ­elephant ­because of the ­misguided interventions of those such as Mr Hall.

Stuart M. I. Stoker, Happy Valley

Plastic surgery cannot be taken lightly

Cosmetic surgery is becoming more popular, and it was reported earlier this year that some students are resorting to it on the mainland to help with job ­interviews.

I can understand why some people might opt for cosmetic surgery for health reasons on the advice of a physician. But I have less sympathy for those who do it to improve their appearance. They need to recognise that these procedures are not ­without risks.

Also, there are some people who become addicted to this kind of surgery, despite the high costs involved.

There may also be problems if people who want to look better have unrealistic expectations.

I think people have to think very carefully before going ahead with any form of cosmetic surgery. They need to be absolutely sure of what they are doing and find a fully qualified ­surgeon with a good record.

Chloe Choy, Sha Tin

Playgrounds in urgent need of creative facelift

I have noticed that there are now fewer playgrounds in Hong Kong. Those that remain are boring. There is a certain sense of uniformity, with the same facilities wherever you go.

The slides, swings and rope nets and ladders are very simple designs. Children will just not find them exciting or even ­challenging.

Because they regard a trip to these playgrounds as fairly pointless, they and their parents tend not to visit them and ­sometimes these spaces are found virtually ­deserted.

The government has to ­recognise these shortcomings and take action.

It should hire designers who can come up with creative and innovative ideas so that children can really connect with and enjoy the city’s playgrounds.

I would also like to see more of these redesigned facilities established in the public housing estates around the city.

Tony Tam, Tseung Kwan O

Think carefully before taking in rescued pet

With so many pets being abandoned, it is good people are willing to adopt them.

But they have to weigh up the pros and cons before going ahead with the adoption.

They must decide if they have time to look after the ­animal, because they do need a lot of care. Also, will the pet be suitable for a flat, especially if it is one of Hong Kong’s typically small homes?

People need to realise that having a pet is a long-term commitment. It would be so sad if a rescued animal were abandoned for a second time, all ­because the ­person hadn’t thought it through.

Peter Tam, Tseung Kwan O

Poverty relief measures are inadequate

As Hong Kong prepares to mark two decades since the handover ending colonial rule, latest data shows the wealth gap has hit the highest levels in nearly 50 years. Poor living ­conditions are fuelling ­discontent among people.

A Census and the Statistics Department report said that the high cost of living is outstripping the wages of many ordinary ­citizens. Prices of flats and rents keep rising, in spite of the ­government’s measures to cool the property market.

The unequal distribution of wealth and incomes makes the situation worse for the weaker sections of society.

Despite economic developments in the city over the last 20 years, there has been no reduction of the wealth gap.

A narrowing of this gap would have meant that we lived in a more just society.

The department pointed out that poverty alleviation and ­support for the disadvantaged (including the needy elderly with limited resources) were at the top of the agenda for the government.

Ironically, we have an ­administration with huge fiscal ­reserves, but I do not think ­poverty alleviation programmes are being treated as a priority. This is wrong.

I urge the government to fast-track poverty alleviation programmes and immediately raise the old-age and other social security allowances, to provide prompt relief to citizens who are suffering.

Dr B. K. Avasthi, Discovery Bay