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To boost the sluggish uptake of Covid-19 vaccination, Hong Kong should consider banning the unvaccinated from shopping centres, restaurants and public transport. Photo: Felix Wong

Letters | To encourage vaccination, Hong Kong has used carrots. Now it’s time for a stick

  • Readers discuss the need to get tough on the unvaccinated, the Come2HK scheme, airmail to the UK, the future of Afghanistan, and Marvel’s first Asian superhero film

The “carrot and stick” is a metaphor for the use of a combination of reward and punishment to induce a desired behaviour.

The Hong Kong government has been exceptionally lenient with its people regarding vaccinations against Covid-19. Vaccination has been totally voluntary, and the government and major industries have given away probably billions to induce the people of Hong Kong to get vaccinated. This is the carrot.
As the vaccination rate is dropping off, there is a danger of this delaying any possible reopening alongside the rest of the world. It is high time that our government brought out the stick.

This could take many different forms, along the lines of banning those that are unvaccinated from entering shopping centres and restaurants, and from travelling on any form of public transport.

The government should stipulate a date when we are going to reopen Hong Kong, so that those that are not yet vaccinated have a very last chance to get vaccinated.

We should not let the unvaccinated minority override the majority.

It is time for the stick.

David Passow, Pok Fu Lam

Deal allowing mainland visitors in was poorly negotiated

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has once again displayed her inability to be an effective negotiator. In agreeing to allow 2,000 visitors daily from Guangdong and Macau to enter the city with no quarantine, she has effectively played her only card with zero benefit to Hongkongers who are required to quarantine for 14 days upon entering those regions.

Hongkongers have worked hard to bring the pandemic under control here. Yet we continue to pay the price, from BBQ sites that remain closed to no relief from wearing masks outdoors, from families separated to economic hardship.

Hongkongers have for almost two years been subjected to some of the world’s toughest quarantine restrictions. Our chief executive states that she “cannot speak for the central government”; could she, however, for once, speak for the people of Hong Kong?

Mark Peaker, The Peak

Air mail to the UK too slow

On frequent visits to my local post office in the past weeks and months, I was repeatedly informed by the clerks that there was no air mail to the United Kingdom.

On September 8, I visited the post office in Central where I was informed that air mail is now available to the UK but that my letter would take more than a month to arrive. This seems like an inordinately long time for air mail.

B.J. Carroll, Ap Lei Chau

Future of Afghanistan looks grim

These past weeks, we witnessed a grave humanitarian tragedy and possibly the most terrible geopolitical blunder from a superpower since the end of the Cold War. The planned withdrawal of the Nato forces from Afghanistan this summer degenerated into a chaotic escape from the country, with the Taliban quickly gaining control of most of the country’s territory, including the capital.

Thousands of Afghans who were part of the previous government or who worked with Nato forces, flocked to Kabul airport with their families in hopes of escaping from Taliban tyranny. The situation at the airport went further out of control after terrorists from Islamic State Khorasan blew themselves up, killing scores of civilians and American soldiers.

Afghanistan is currently at a crossroads. With the Nato forces went huge numbers of educated and skilled Afghans, causing a brain drain. On top of that, Western countries have suspended their aid to the country, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have halted their payments, and the foreign reserves of Afghanistan’s central bank have been frozen.

Severe environmental degradation, exacerbated by climate change, affected the lives of Afghan farmers, which arguably pushed them into joining the Taliban.

The Taliban now inherits a country that has been through 40 years of fighting, and distrusts any central government emanating from the capital; also, the international community refuses to accept its legitimacy, due to its human rights record.

The Taliban has been undertaking a massive public relations exercise, claiming it has “moderated” its policies. But from the latest reports – the ban on music in public places, for example – we can quite safely infer that the moderation of policies is rather limited.

Business cut for Afghanistan’s barbers as men grow beards under Taliban rule

The rhetoric about trying to form an inclusive government, although promising, may not translate into action, considering the decades of conflict and distrust between various actors in the country.

Isis-K poses a huge challenge to the Taliban. Its only resort might be strengthening relations with the country’s neighbours, particularly Pakistan, China and Russia.

This might help legitimise the Taliban government, and ameliorate the country’s economic malaise. But it probably won’t do much to create a unified central government, bring peace and security, and help improve human rights in Afghanistan. The future of the country appears to be grim.

Roberto Santos, Belas, Portugal

Timely launch of Marvel’s Chinese superhero film

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the first Marvel film to feature a superhero of Asian descent. Given that we have seen the rise of anti-Asian hate in recent times, this film couldn’t have come at a better time.

In the past few years, films featuring Asian characters, such as Crazy Rich Asians and Parasite, have gained attention around the world. The recent Marvel movie is a step towards diversifying the portrayal of Asians in Western cinema.

I hope we can see more of such films so that the world will realise we are all the same, even though we may look different.

Jamie So, Sai Kung