Letters to the Editor, August 1, 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 4:32pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 4:32pm

Wise leaders needed to avoid conflicts

As China expands its world-wide commercial and military outreach, its actions in international waters are attracting much more attention, leading to possible conflicts.

Recently, mainland fighter jets intercepted a US electronic surveillance flight in the South China Sea. The interaction was unfriendly since the jets flew very close and in a challenging manner. This kind of interaction is highly undesirable, since any ­pilot error or misunderstanding can lead to death or military conflict.

We can expect more of these provocative incidents as China and the US squabble about the “freedom of the seas”.

In addition, the many atolls and shoal islands in that area are sources of friction, especially with Vietnam and the Philippines, thus aggravating China’s foreign policy.

Of course, many pro-military “patriots” will say they don’t care – that a resurgent and powerful People’s Liberation Army can do what it wants, despite the fearful consequences. However, our modern world cannot accept this primitive and rash “might makes right” form of thinking. We live in a closely-knit family of nations and ­people.

Military confrontations are primitive, destructive and stupid. They are short-term and failing resolutions of long-term problems.

We need wise leaders of all the concerned Pacific nations to come together and work out a rational and peaceful law of the seas to regulate and administer the resources of these international areas and the rights of passage of ships and planes. This cannot be achieved by bilateral talks where one powerful party dictates terms to a weaker nation.

If we let generals, admirals or powerful commercial interests determine these policies or ­insist on their “freedoms”, we can be sure of years of future frustration and conflict.

Are there any such wise leaders in our Pacific Rim ­nations?

Jason Kuylein, Stanley

People on low incomes struggle in city

I do not agree with Billy Sit (“Annual review of minimum wage unwise”, July 24) that looking at the statutory minimum wage once a year instead of every two years will lead to a higher ­inflation rate.

It is very difficult for people on the minimum wage to cope with high prices, including transport, high rents and hospital fees. When inflation is rising, I think there is a case for having the minimum wage reviewed biannually.

Some might argue that this could create problems for employers, but we have to consider the difficulties faced by low-wage earners in such an ­expensive city.

The administration grants high salary increases to senior officials, but neglects the needs of workers on low incomes, including those employed by the government.

It will argue that ­inflation is not that high, but poorer citizens still suffer. Even in the US, poorer citizens are ­entitled to food stamps.

High prices do hurt people from the grass roots. The government enjoys huge surpluses every year.

It should use some of its reserves to ensure more affordable housing is made available. When people are struggling to cope, it creates unhappiness in society in the long run.

A. L. Nanik, Tsim Sha Tsui

HK laws can still apply at new station

We need to reach a compromise at the West Kowloon express rail terminus.

Mainland officers deployed there would enforce national laws with regard to mainland citizens, but Hong Kong residents would only have to ­observe local laws while going through immigration and ­customs clearance.

Put simply, Hongkongers going through the area under mainland jurisdiction, and on board the train, would be protected by Hong Kong laws until the train crossed the border where national laws would apply to them.

Chinese citizens would be subject to national laws even in those areas of the terminus that are considered Hong Kong ­territory.

This should allay any concerns felt by local residents and plug any loopholes so the system could not be abused.

I think there is certainly a case for discussing this arrangement at the new railway station.

Raymond Chan, Pok Fu Lam

Welcoming reprieve for stray cats

As an animal lover, I was pleased to read that cats at Tong Fuk prison would not be evicted (“Surprise U-turn keeps cats in jail”, July 22).

The prison for these stray cats has been their home for more than a decade, so it is good that they will be allowed to stay. So often, you see stray cats wandering the streets in Hong Kong and it saddens me when I see them being mistreated, such as being chased. There are so many feral cats and they struggle to survive, having to live on food they find in bins and facing the threat of disease.

They have been abandoned and do not have anywhere that they can call home.

The government has failed to effectively deal with the problem of strays. I urge people to think carefully before they decide to buy a pet, because it is a serious, long-term commitment.

Ng Wai-nam, Tseung Kwan O