Letters to the Editor, February 1, 2018

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 February, 2018, 5:37pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 February, 2018, 8:03pm

Cross-border empathy is a two-way street

I am writing in response to the article by Peter Kammerer (“Hongkongers should get to know mainlanders before judging them”, January 30).

I totally agree with Mr Kammerer. After all, it is universally acknowledged that judging a book by its cover is unwise. However, it’s really hard to pick up a book with an unappealing cover. Therefore, in order to bridge the communication gap between them, both Hongkongers and mainlanders need to understand each other better.

It is true that the behaviour of some mainlanders, such as talking too loudly or scrambling for food at hotel buffets, is far from pleasing, but it is actually understandable, given their history. During the Cultural Revolution, being “polite” was equivalent to putting a “hit me” sign on your forehead. The only way for Chinese to survive was to be tough, strong and resilient.

Many mainland Chinese are accustomed to a lingering mindset of “if you want it, fight for it”. This understanding is the first step to help Hongkongers get to know mainlanders better.

The same works for mainlanders. It is clear the expression of distaste some Hongkongers tend to sport when faced with those they dislike is irritating and frustrating to those on the receiving end. Yet, such reactions are understandable, as Hongkongers are used to a different, more orderly lifestyle, and most have never had to experience a time when you had to fight off others to secure the basics. They feel like their calmness and quiet have been disrupted by this sudden intrusion.

So, while there is no need to place radical blame for all troubles on mainlanders, a degree of ­resentment is understandable. Accepting this would be the first step to getting to know Hongkongers better. Communication is the answer to improving all ­relationships. We have to paint our lives in colours other than simple black and white.

Rachel Fu, Tsing Yi

Teens should find polite way to let off steam

The uproar over Baptist University students using foul language in a recent stand-off with teaching staff reminded me of something that happened in my class just a few days back.

A student swore loudly just as the teacher was walking in. The student was punished, but the incident got me thinking about why secondary school students might resort to using foul language to express strong feelings.

Students in Hong Kong these days are under a lot of pressure, whether at school or at home. And, under such duress, they have to find a way to express the sometimes extreme emotions they experience. Foul language may be a way for them to let off steam, as it were, although it might not be a good way.

Again, the use of foul language or swear words among themselves is common for adolescents of most societies, it is even a way for youngsters to bond or show that they are nearly adults. But the use of such language among peers is one thing, but to use it against your elders or teachers is quite another.

Students have to be polite, and being under a lot of pressure is no excuse for being otherwise.

Ian Wan, Hang Hau

Dad, 90, left depressed by hospital staff

I refer to your article on medical disputes at Hong Kong’s private hospitals (“Sorry seems to be the hardest word”, January 28).

But Hong Kong’s private hospitals are not the only ones reluctant to apologise to victims of potential medical blunders and unprofessionalism. My father was left deeply humiliated with his recent experience during a stay in Kowloon Hospital.

My father was receiving his daily diaper changes, and the two therapists who assisted him did not display the characteristics typical of carers for the elderly. After changing him, the therapists proceeded to forcefully prod his cheeks, along with Cantonese comments drizzled with a slur in Mandarin, saying, “Don’t you poop again.”

Defecating is a natural bodily function; there is no way a health worker can ask a patient, whether healthy or sick, to comply with that request. This is not exactly a sign of exceptional service from the health sector.

A 90-year-old who has paid his taxes for over 60 years should not be treated in this manner, especially during what are effectively his dying days.

My father has now been left embarrassed about his condition. He is depressed and often will not eat for the fear of bothering staff who change his diapers.

I have written to the hospital demanding an apology; I have yet to receive any.

Maggie Li, Hurstville, Australia

Will May raise rights issues on visit to China?

Lord Patten, the former and last governor of Hong Kong, has rightly called on British Prime Minister Theresa May to challenge Beijing over the erosion of the former British colony’s rights and freedoms, during her ongoing visit to China (“Patten urges British PM to defend Hong Kong’s freedoms”, January 31).

What was inconceivable a generation ago – the ever-diminishing autonomy of post-1997 Hong Kong – is becoming increasingly evident under Beijing’s long reach.

There is the unseemly notion that Britain can retain its “golden era” ties with Beijing while turning a blind eye to its repression of human rights.

Perhaps Prime Minister May should not only raise the issue of political activist Agnes Chow Ting being barred from the legislative by-election, but the blacklisting of British human rights activist Benedict Rogers, denied entry to Hong Kong in October.

Aside from Hong Kong, there is the plight of mainland China’s beleaguered political prisoners. Will May not speak out on their behalf as well?

Brian Stuckey, Denver, US

Brexit UK can hardly afford to irk Beijing

Living in Hong Kong, one can still sees relics of empire, manufactured items that were delivered to the colonies despite an ability for local companies to produce them.

As British leader Theresa May travels across China, she no longer represents a country that produces much at all, a fact that Brexiteers fail to recognise, as they seek the halcyon memories of empire.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is indeed a resurgence of the Middle Kingdom to dominate global trade and, as the British Empire did, benefit itself while offering economic advantage to those it works with.

The United Kingdom would do well not to irk the Middle Kingdom too much. As the Brexit day of March 29, 2019 – the date for the UK to leave the European Union – draws closer, we really cannot be too fussy about who we seek to trade with.

Mark Peaker, The Peak