Paying for what you want to hear
I refer to the letter by Director of Public Prosecutions Kevin Zervos ('Prosecution processes accountable', May 9), in reply to the article by Grenville Cross ('Too hot to handle', May 4).
The Department of Justice claims that prosecution decisions on people with whom there are 'sensitivities' are made fairly and impartially. By 'sensitivities', I take it to mean cases involving the rich and famous, senior civil servants and relatives of senior judiciary, based on recent precedents.
It is worrying that this assessment is made not only based on whether the evidence is sufficient for a prosecution but also whether the 'public interest' warrants such action.
How does the department decide on this subjective question? I don't recall in the past the public being consulted on whether such people should face the courts like most of us ordinary mortals.
Zervos tries to put our minds at ease by informing us that on certain occasions, independent advice from outside counsel is obtained. This is very troublesome for us laymen to comprehend. When you 'brief' (that is, pay) a top barrister, you have an intention definitely in mind.
You pay the barrister to pull the stops out to defend you. Or, if it is the department paying him to prosecute, he will likewise do his utmost to secure a conviction. Are these lawyers really going to tell clients they don't have any realistic chance of winning their case and shouldn't waste any more money on hiring them?
Lawyers are human and their whole mindset has to be that the client is paying them for a certain desired outcome; they will do their best to satisfy and argue the case for their client.
I refuse to accept that, when the department consults private counsel on whether a prosecution is warranted, there isn't even so much as a nod and wink on what recommendation the department would find it more comfortable to receive.
P. A. Crush, Sha Tin
CLP should help pay for clean energy
Michael Kadoorie's attack on Hong Kong's clean energy policy (''Clean energy means higher power bills'', May 9) is an attempt to portray CLP Power as a private-sector victim of government regulation. Kadoorie, the CLP chairman, ignores two simple truths of the power sector in Hong Kong and around the world.
First, the company operates as a monopoly in much of Hong Kong. Basic competitive economic theory states that such a privilege must be regulated, otherwise price gouging for consumers will be inevitable (something that Hong Kong experiences in any case, thanks to a relatively weak regulator).
Second, he ignores the challenge that Hong Kong and many other cities and countries around the world are rising to: how to cut greenhouse gas emissions and avert catastrophic climate change while providing clean and affordable energy for all.
CLP's lip service in its annual report towards tackling climate change is now clearly exposed, with Kadoorie's only true aim being to operate his highly profitable monopoly unfettered. This is the antithesis of modern business leadership, which strives to go beyond the bottom line.
CLP has shown little interest in shouldering more responsibility for tackling climate change. It is therefore time for the Hong Kong government to step in and regulate more strongly to ensure that CLP helps pay for clean energy rather than passing it all on to the public. Let's split the bill, and offset any bill increases with more concerted efforts on energy efficiency.
Gavin Edwards, Greenpeace International
MTR fare rise too much for many to bear
I am opposed to the fare rise to be implemented by the MTR Corporation next month.
It will increase the financial burden on passengers who use the network every day to commute to and from work and school.
Many of them come from the grass roots and middle class and this rise will lead to an increase in their cost of living.
Also, general prices in Hong Kong are increasing because of inflation, so the cost of food, clothes and even electricity is going up.
Given these extra financial burdens, the MTR Corp should not have been allowed to increase fares.
It may also reduce the incentive for people from the grass roots to find work, given the high cost of travelling on the MTR. Lower fares could make them more willing to work rather than claiming welfare benefits from the government. The MTR enjoys high profits every year and it should consider the importance of corporate social responsibility.
Jessica Tsang Kit-yi, Ma On Shan
No need for national education
The Education Bureau claims that the national education course for schools has been revised following accusations that the original proposal was tantamount to brainwashing pupils.
Officials argue that the syllabus will not be one-sided.
Affected teachers say the new subject will add to their workload and some still claim that there remains a risk of pupils being brainwashed. They point out they will have to make an extra effort, in addition to their other duties, to prepare material and lessons for their students.
The reason for this extra work is that additional staff will not be recruited to teach the course. I am concerned that pupils will receive mostly positive comments regarding their motherland and there will be an unwillingness to consider the negative side. This diverges from the goal of education, which is to develop students' critical thinking.
This is one more subject for students to study. It will take away time better spent on other subjects, such as Chinese, English and liberal studies. It will also overlap with Chinese, liberal studies and Chinese history.
Critics of the course have challenged the government about how, for example, it would deal with the June 4 Tiananmen Square incident. Students fear teachers will skip such topics.
However, the bureau has pointed to the positive aspects of the course. Students will learn more background information about China and will have a clearer idea of their identity as Chinese citizens. Officials suggest teachers should make good use of online resources and be flexible with teaching methods.
While I see it can instil a sense of belonging in the country, I still do not think the course is necessary. The government should take into account the opinions of students and pupils and revise the whole curriculum.
Jackie Lo, Tsuen Wan
Keep Mui Wo cows away with fence
I am a country girl from the beautiful English county of Yorkshire, growing up where farm animals are in abundance.
I am now lucky enough to live in Mui Wo on Lantau because I love the outdoors life and there is the added bonus of having some beautiful rural bovine animals in the neighbourhood.
However, I am concerned that almost every day the feral cows have been sleeping in the Mui Wo children's playground and in the morning it is covered in their excrement.
It is hosed away each day by the hard-working cleaners. However, I would like to point out the health issues associated with cow excrement. There is a high chance it may contain E coli and other bacterial diseases such as listeriosis and salmonella.
These are microscopic bacterial organisms that cannot be seen by the naked eye and yet cause diarrhoea, pneumonia, respiratory illnesses and urinary tract infections.
I have children who regularly use the playground and I am concerned about how safe the playground surface is, especially for toddlers who crawl around and then put fingers in their mouths. Anyone can google E coli and cow excrement and come up with many webpages of information on the subject.
Fence the playground - not only to protect it from cow excrement but also from the roving dogs which also use this children's play area as a toilet.
R. Smith-Ali, Lantau
Park repairs improve sites' safety
I refer to the letter by Winnie Lee Fung-ming, of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department ('Work was necessary at two parks', May 8).
She felt that the work recently undertaken at Quarry Bay Park and the area between No3 and No4 soccer pitches of Victoria Park, and on the footbridge connecting to the Central Library, was necessary.
To a certain extent, the work was necessary and had to be carried out as quickly as possible.
After it had been completed at Quarry Bay, it did improve the problem of drainage and heat dissipation on the affected surface.
This was more convenient and safer for park users.
There was also room for improvement at the Victoria Park soccer pitches.
The facilities are old and if the work had not been done, there would also have been safety issues, especially with regard to the elderly and children.
I do hope any work that is still ongoing will be completed in the near future.
Candy Lam Yin-Kwan, Sha Tin