Letters to the Editor, November 24, 2017

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 November, 2017, 5:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 November, 2017, 5:08pm

Allow pupils to join debate on independence

The decision by some secondary school pupils to start handing out pro-independence leaflets again has proved controversial (“Hong Kong teachers ‘stop ­pupils from handing out’ ­pro-independence fliers”, ­November 14).

Pupils in local schools face a lot of controls because of the exam-oriented nature of the ­syllabus. But teachers should not place limits on freedom of expression, including handing out these fliers.

It runs counter to what teenagers are taught in liberal studies, where independent analysis and critical thinking are encouraged. In these classes pupils are told that human rights and ­freedom of speech are protected in Hong Kong.

Also, I have heard liberal studies teachers discussing the subject of independence in class, so it seems contradictory that pupils should now be stopped from handing out ­pro-independence leaflets.

Whatever people think about independence, youngsters should be free to talk about it on the school campus. Then they can decide for themselves whether they support it.

Katrina Ho, Tsuen Wan

Democracy already exists in Hong Kong

In his recent column (“Carrie Lam between a rock and hard place”, November 21), Alex Lo talks about the opponents of the government wanting “ ‘real ­democracy’, whatever that is”.

This bone of contention has led to the current festering sore, with university students ­demanding independence for Hong Kong.

Activists used this supposed lack of democracy to launch the ridiculous 79-day Occupy Central in 2014, arguing that the political reform package ­offered by the government was not universal suffrage and ­therefore not “real democracy”.

I cannot understand why the government never came out to refute the opposition’s false allegation that what was on offer, ­including the National People’s Congress’ decision of August 31, 2014 , was not genuine universal suffrage and real democracy.

It led to the otherwise neutral students thinking that the ­government was being cagey, ­because it felt guilty.

Article 45 of the Basic Law has all along said the chief ­executive would be elected by universal suffrage upon nomination of the candidates by a nomination committee.

That is, it is universal suffrage, though indirect election. Even the US practises indirect election, hence the electoral college reversing the result of the popular votes on more than one occasion.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Angered by latest internet crackdown

I am concerned about the latest internet crackdown on the mainland by the central government (“Goodbye Skype. China internet censorship juggernaut rolls on without its former cyber tsar”, November 23).

This is the latest form of internet censorship, with the popular Skype application no longer being available in app stores for people to install in their ­smartphones.

People have used some of the apps on sale to read news from outside China, but they also use them, especially Skype, to keep in touch with friends and family. Now it will be more ­difficult for them to do this.

Not only are their rights being infringed, but I see this as an invasion of their privacy.

Such a move must raise concerns among citizens that virtually everything they now say online will be ­monitored by the authorities.

If they say something that the security forces object to, they could be arrested and end up in prison. So just expressing themselves in the ­privacy of their own home could land them in ­trouble.

However, I wonder if the central government can really crack down on all forms of internet communication between citizens, including shutting down virtual private networks (VPNs).

Tony Tsoi Chun-wai, Tseung Kwan O

Citizens rightly objecting to restrictions

The central government is continuing to expand the “Great Firewall”, following from its decision earlier this year to shut down unauthorised VPNs. I do not think this crackdown can be justified.

Basically, China’s leaders do not want their citizens to know about the country’s dark side. For example, they want people to accept their sanitised version of history, such as the actions of Mao Zedong. They prefer to gloss over the tremendous suffering caused by many of his policies, such as the Cultural Revolution.

It also wants no discussion about what happened in ­Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

The central government does not want its citizens to know the truth.

Many people have reacted angrily to these forms of online censorship.

They feel they should be free to use VPNs to surf websites they want to look at. I can understand their anger over these heavy-handed ­crackdowns by the authorities.

I am sure citizens on the mainland will continue to object to this internet crackdown.

Marco Kwan, Hang Hau

Helper subsidy for elderly an overdue move

China plans to allow more of its citizens to hire domestic helpers from abroad.

At the same time, the Hong Kong government says it may look into the feasibility of a subsidy so that elderly citizens who are on low incomes and living alone may hire helpers.

As the demand for these workers increases, we will have to find ways to encourage them to choose Hong Kong, including attractive terms.

I certainly back the launching of a pilot subsidy scheme for the single elderly to hire helpers.

Many elderly people who live alone in public housing would prefer to stay in their own flats rather than at a care home. They value their independence and believe they would enjoy a better quality of life by staying at home. Having a full-time helper would make this more feasible.

The subsidy scheme could also be extended to old people living with their families, as often the children have a lot of ­demands on their spare time, with jobs and their own young ­children to look after.

Sara Wong Kit-yu, Tseung Kwan O

Set up separate food safety test department

I agree with your editorial on ­the quality of imported produce ­(“Improve checks on fresh food ­imports”, November 21).

The Hong Kong government must definitely impose tighter controls on the checking of food that is imported from overseas or the mainland.

Most of our fresh vegetables are from the mainland and a lot of beef comes in from Europe. Tainted food can have serious consequences for consumers, and so the present monitoring system must be overhauled.

As the Ombudsman pointed out, there are “potentially hazardous loopholes” with “slack safety tests in imported fruit and vegetables”.

In view of this, the Hong Kong government should consider setting up an independent department to supervise the entire fresh food safety system in the city.

This will improve public confidence in food safety checks.

Crystal Au, Yau Yat Chuen