Letters to the Editor, February 4, 2018

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 February, 2018, 9:46am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 February, 2018, 9:45am

Elections are prime time for alternative facts

Your columnist Mike Rowse is always worth reading, and usually eminently sensible and practical.

However, his contention in his latest article (“Agnes Chow’s by-election ban robs us of a ­debate on Hong Kong’s future”, January 31), that an election is a good time for people to learn about such things as what the Basic Law really means, and what Hong Kong’s position in China really is for the rest of the time, seems flawed.

It is precisely during elections that candidates and their supporters throw out all sorts of half-truths and what have now become known as alternative facts. This is unfortunately true of both sides of the debate.

What is really needed is for a proper study of the Basic Law in circumstances when a rational approach can be taken.

Perhaps those who advocate the study of the Basic Law in schools are right. I would say that a further study of it at universities as part of general studies, as well as, dare I say it, Mandarin, could also be of benefit to the younger generation.

David Gwilt, emeritus professor, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Losing steam in calls to fire Teresa Cheng

Your columnists, Alex Lo and Jake van der Kamp, have continued with their relentless calls for the removal of the new Hong Kong justice secretary, Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah (“Short-term pain best for Hong Kong leader in Teresa Cheng case”, January 25; “What happens when the justice secretary’s very action encourage people to disrespect the law?”, January 20, etc). However, their arguments are losing steam.

Mr Lo’s latest argument is that both the opposition and some lawmakers from the pro-establishment camp want Teresa Cheng to go.

He is of the view that short-term pain for Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in letting Cheng go is better than long-term suffering.

Could Mr Lo come up with more convincing grounds, such as case law that holds that an ­investor is guilty of an offence if a property acquired by that investor contains an unauthorised building work?

Or, alternatively, an investor is culpable if he or she fails to ­detect the existence of an unauthorised building work on an acquired property?

Mr Lo needs to prove that Cheng is guilty of an offence if his case is going to succeed.

For his part, Mr van der Kamp has alleged that Cheng thumbed her nose at our legislation – because she bought other properties in the name of a limited company, and may have taken advantage of a 19th century legal precedent, Salomon vs Salomon, that held that a limited company had a separate entity, so she was able to save millions in stamp duty when she bought a second property.

Could Mr van der Kamp enlighten readers, since when did legitimate tax planning become an ­offence?

Mr van der Kamp’s accusations ring hollow if he fails to prove that legitimate tax planning is prohibited by law.

Sam Wong, Chai Wan

Focus on claim of buying for the first time

I refer to the Teresa Cheng affair. Your correspondents (“Letters to the Editor”, January 31, etc) seem to be focusing on unauthorised structures at her homes, and turning everything into a debate on building regulations.

However, the most serious point in the matter is that Ms Cheng claimed to be a first-time buyer of her Repulse Bay flat, ­despite owning companies that had bought at least three other properties, thereby possibly avoiding having to pay millions of dollars in stamp duty.

How then could Carrie Lam tell the Legislative Council last week that she trusts Ms Cheng?

K.L Pang, Central

More power ­to the #MeToo movement

I refer to the article about Casey ­Affleck (“Affleck to skip Oscars after sexual abuse claims”, January 26). Sexual harassment used to be a taboo-bound subject best kept in the dark, with the victims rarely encouraged to speak up. But this conspiracy of silence may only have further encouraged would-be abusers.

Sexual abuse of the weak by the powerful happens in every corner of the world, whether in showbiz or sports, or even religious spaces. We should not tolerate such crimes only because the abusers are of a higher social status or authority figures.

People should continue to support the #MeToo movement, to stand up for the victims and for a safer, fairer society.

Natalie Chan, Sha Tin

Less gifted children may be left behind

I refer to the article on online classes for students in China’s villages, to tackle the shortage of teachers (“Online classes may ease rural woes”, January 22).

Online classes can be a two-edged sword: a blessing for talented students, but less so for low-achieving ones. Intelligent students may gain more from online classes with experienced teachers. But for those less gifted, there can really be no substitute for live teaching.

Such children may have more questions and need more personalised guidance – difficult for an online teacher to provide. If they fail to keep up with peers, the point of going to school may be lost. Some may even lose ­interest with one-way online “knowledge inputs”.

Emily Leung, Tseung Kwan O

Knee-jerk reactions are no solution

I welcome the HK$500 million cash injection for extra beds, staff and allowances in Hong Kong hospitals.

However, I believe it is more important for the Hong Kong government to tackle the deep-rooted problems in the health care system, instead of adopting ad hoc measures when faced with seasonal flu outbreaks.

Our public hospitals have long been struggling with a manpower shortage. The need of the hour is to bring in overseas professionals, as well as nurturing our local manpower by providing more training courses for medical staff.

As the old saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure”.

Yoyo Wong, Kwai Chung