Online Letters: rowdy students, testing times, animal rights and foul Hong Kong air

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 5:21pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 5:21pm

Rowdy students defied Christian heritage of Baptist University

A group of angry students stormed the Baptist University’s Language Centre to protest against a compulsory Mandarin test, then threatened and harassed its staff for more than eight hours. At one point, the student union leader swore at teaching staff present. That resulted in two students being suspended over the protest, for having breached the institution’s code of conduct and unacceptable behaviour.

As we know, Baptist University is a publicly funded tertiary institution with a Christian education heritage. As the university website states, it was first established as Hong Kong Baptist College in 1956 by the Baptist Convention of Hong Kong, as a post-secondary college committed to whole person education. In 1983, the college became a fully funded public tertiary institution. It gained university status in 1994 and was renamed Baptist University. It aims to become the region’s premier liberal arts university, delivering academic excellence, innovation and social progress.

As a Christian, an old man of 80, I was curious as to why the students of the university used foul language, or words considered offensive, in protesting at the Language Centre.

I urge Baptist University students, as well as teaching staff, to value the Bible and obey God’s Word. Because, in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Watch: Baptist University Mandarin test row boils over

May I exhort the students not to observe the sky from the bottom of the well? I believe students should master both Mandarin and English well. Because Mandarin is the professional language of the future and must be a priority for all Chinese, though knowing Cantonese is good, too.

I think most people know of Dr Sun Yat-sen, the first president and founding father of the Republic of China; and, if you are a Hong Kong resident, you probably know also of its 27th governor, Lord David Wilson, now 82, both speakers of Mandarin. We know that even US President Donald Trump’s granddaughter has learnt Mandarin.

Finally, I advise the two students to read and think about 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

William Chiu, Victoria, Australia

Compulsory Mandarin course for graduation is discriminatory towards locals

I am writing to express my views on the recent protests by Baptist University students, who have called for the removal of a compulsory Mandarin course as a graduation requirement.

This criterion in effect applies only to local undergraduates, as those from mainland China are generally proficient in the language and non-Chinese speakers are exempt.

This is blatant discrimination against local students, and gives students from elsewhere an advantage, as they do not have to take an extra three-credit minor course. This puts additional pressure on local students when they already have their hands full with academics, internships and part-time jobs.

I sincerely urge Baptist University authorities to repeal the unjust graduation requirement, as it places local students at a huge disadvantage.

Wai Lam Yip, To Kwa Wan

Substandard zoos fail to recognise the needs of captive animals

Conditions at zoos in Malaysia are in the news again, and this time the focus is on the Kemaman Zoo in Terengganu. Pictures of animals in tiny cages, and an elephant chained outside in the rain, speak volumes about the way the animals are kept.

Despite their professed concern for animals, zoos can more accurately be described as collections of interesting animals for human entertainment, rather than as actual havens or homes. Even under the best circumstances at the best zoos, captivity cannot replicate the animals’ wild habitats.

Animals have evolved over thousands of years, adapting to certain types of natural environments. Placing them in surroundings unsuitable for the species can cause stress and behavioural problems.

Friends of the Earth Malaysia (FOEM) believes it is best not to keep wild animals at all if their needs cannot be met.

Presenting animals to zoo visitors as living trophies teaches children that animals can be manipulated in order to fulfil their own curiosity.

Zoos seem to teach people that humans have the right to enslave animals, and reinforces the notion that animals have no other purpose but to amuse or benefit humans. The disturbed and often bizarre behaviour of animals in zoos provides further evidence that holding animals in captivity is wrong. Zoos fail to recognise that animals have their own needs to be met, for their own purposes.

Zoo officials should stop kidding themselves about the tremendous educational value of showing an animal behind a glass wall or in a metal cage. The alleged “educational” role of zoos needs to be challenged if society is to have respect for animals.

It is time to assess how animal exhibitors licensed by the Malaysian federal government are complying with minimum animal welfare standards. The current system of licensing and inspection does not ensure that our zoos meet and maintain, let alone exceed, the minimum animal welfare standards.

FOEM urges the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and the Wildlife Department to cease granting permits for the opening of new zoos. Instead, they should focus on substandard zoos to ensure they meet exacting standards of housing, husbandry, welfare and health for all inhabitants.

S.M. Mohd Idris, president, Friends of the Earth Malaysia (FOEM)/Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), Penang, Malaysia

Pets help to make the world a better place

What the world needs now is love. And lack of human trust and interest has inevitably stimulated the trend for pets.

A dog is man’s best friend. Conflicts in the human world are not uncommon, but have you ever heard of an animal betraying his master?

The world would be more peaceful and happier if everybody bore this in mind, without engaging in conflict and power struggles.

Peter Wei, Kwun Tong

Hongkongers clearly willing to pay more for cleaner air

I am writing in response to the article on consumers in Hong Kong being willing to pay more for clean power (“More than half’ of Hongkongers can accept 5 per cent rise in power bills to support renewable energy”, January 26).

The air pollution problem in Hong Kong is becoming more serious. The Environmental Protection Department reported that smog levels at several monitoring stations recently reached 10+ on the Air Quality Health Index, corresponding to the “serious” health risk level.

The harmful gases produced by fossil-fuel vehicles and factories are a major cause of the bad air. The government should put greater effort into improving air quality, by reducing the number of cars on the road and controlling the amount of harmful emissions from factories.

The government may also think of developing renewable energy in larger quantities. A study by conservation group WWF-Hong Kong found the majority of Hongkongers are willing to contribute to society and do their bit for the development of renewable energy, by paying up to HK$20 extra each month for electricity. This should come as a signal to the government to put more resources and effort into developing and distributing clean energy.

Anny Lin, Tseung Kwan O