Letters to the Editor, March 9, 2018

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 March, 2018, 3:40pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 March, 2018, 3:40pm

United Korea a celebration of Olympic spirit

At the risk of appearing to condone a vicious regime in North Korea, kudos to the Korean people on both sides for hosting and participating in a magnificent Winter Olympic Games – a brilliant display of technological efficiency and artistic grace.

The games also epitomised the spirit and purpose of the Olympic creed.

Most bravely, the South Koreans made a heroic choice to use the event not just as a platform to showcase their economic prowess, but as an opportunity to extend their hand to their Northern neighbours.

That North and South marched together under one flag during the opening and closing ceremonies was certainly a visually captivating moment that played well to an international audience; but for these two ­nations, it was a tangible sign that peace and reconciliation in this region is possible.

For the South Koreans to host Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, and a North Korean delegation, was a remarkable gesture, disregarding critics who said it catered to Northern propaganda.

This radical hospitality was meaningful diplomacy which created a sense of hope for the future.

In fact, it was the first time a member of the North’s ruling dynasty had visited the South since the end of the Korean war in 1953.

George Cassidy Payne, New York

Sports funding boost deserves to be cheered

Despite the debate over how Hong Kong’s massive surplus has been distributed in the 2018-19 budget, I congratulate Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po for giving priority to the city’s often-neglected sports sector, by pledging another HK$5 billion for the government’s Elite Athletes Development Fund.

The fund was set up in 2011 and aims to provide financial backing for the Sports Institute, which supports 19 tier-A sports at its Fo Tan centre. The latest injection brings the total funding capital to HK$12.5 billion.

This is good news for athletes and sports teams, especially for part-time athletes who struggle to find funding. Not only can the fund ensure more subsidies for players, it can also inspire more teenagers to ­become athletes.

This latest step, after former chief executive Leung Chun-ying set up the office of the sports commissioner in 2016, and his successor Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor urged public schools to ­allow the public access to their sports facilities outside hours, is part of a welcome trend, especially after the heartbreak of returning empty-handed from the Rio Olympics.

Carly Fung, Tseung Kwan O

Respect DSE pupils toiling for better future

Paul Chan has said the 2019 DSE fee waiver announced in his budget can be “adjusted” to ­ensure that pupils are not affected by any candidate surge.

That came after fears were raised about bogus candidates abusing the grant, sitting the exam just for fun and disrupting the outcome for genuine pupils. There were also concerns that the large number of additional candidates would affect the overall grading mechanism.

I suggest that the government waive the fee only for pupils and those retaking the exam for the first time. This reduction of scope would reduce the chance of misuse by troublemakers. Pupils have been working very hard for good results and a bright future, and society needs to respect that.

Loretta Tsoi, Kwai Chung

City’s tigers are long gone, let’s save the rest

The recent report of a tiger sighting in Hong Kong ignited our imaginations. Sadly, the likelihood that a tiger was actually seen is close to zero. So what was it?

What large animals roam through our relatively remote forests and country parks?

In fact, we host a wealth of ­diversity in life here. Maybe it was a leopard cat – this appears to be the current consensus. It could have been a muntjac/barking deer or a wild boar. Masked palm civets are quite catlike and can look pretty big from a distance.

Hong Kong was of course home to tigers many decades ago. The last of the tigers was hunted in the 1940s.

The South China tiger species is now likely to be entirely extinct in the wild, as no one has seen any evidence of their existence since the 1970s.

Hong Kong’s tigers are gone. Unfortunately our other charismatic mammals may follow if we’re not careful.

We need to maintain the integrity of the country park system and resist development and ­degradation of our last remaining wild places.

Timothy Bonebrake, assistant professor, biological sciences, University of Hong Kong

Dead ends test loyalty to Marco Polo

I have been a Marco Polo Club member for about 15 years now. However, lately I’ve been having a lot of issues with their system.

I’m not saying that the service is bad. In fact the service is quite quick and seamless. The problem is actually getting someone on the phone to process your inquiry.

I have been trying to contact the AsiaMiles and the Marco Polo number for the last three days during office hours.

Every time I dial, I get a busy tone. Not even a voice recording to leave a message, which, from past experience, never elicits a ­reply either.

I tried to process my inquiry online before calling. But this was also a failure because every time I confirmed, all I would get was an error screen.

This has happened many times in the past as well.

It’s quite surprising that an airline such as Cathay Pacific is having difficulty hiring staff to attend to phone calls and can’t get a stable online booking system.

Dinesh Parvani, Mid-Levels