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Letters

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2012, 12:00am
 

Filibuster is part of democracy

Hong Kong has been criticised for lacking democracy.

For example, we still do not have universal suffrage for the election of the chief executive and we have functional constituencies.

What we need to keep in mind is that democracy is something that we need to strive for, instead of only chanting slogans and waiting for changes.

Filibustering is a democratic act which should be supported.

The tactics of lawmakers supporting a filibuster may seem outrageous to the public because people are not familiar with it.

They think this act is a nuisance which will place a heavy burden on taxpayers and hinder our progress in tackling urgent issues.

But the People Power lawmakers were trying to raise awareness about the by-election bill. The more than 1,300 amendments to the bill were not a waste of time but a meaningful act.

A filibuster is an inseparable part of a democratic system and should not be banned.

It was a tactic which was employed in ancient Rome and is an acceptable tactic in many modern democracies such as Britain, Canada and the US.

We should treasure the opportunity to embrace democracy through a filibuster.

It is high time Hong Kong people realised the meaning behind the act and that it is not good to be at the mercy of the government.

Karen Lee Ka-ki, To Kwa Wan

Allegations have not been proved

Your editorial ('National education needs impartiality', May 17) objected to the exclusion of 'the June 4 crackdown and the suppression of civil right lawyers on the mainland' from the curriculum guide on national education. I have no doubt many people share your view, most notably the Professional Teachers' Union.

The union objects because its members will lose the freedom to continue brainwashing generations of schoolchildren with allegations of atrocities committed by the Beijing authorities, for which credible evidence has not been produced.

The most notable of some teachers' allegations is that the central government ordered tanks to roll over students while they slept in their tents in Tiananmen Square. Many Western reporters' eyewitness accounts dispute such a claim.

The forthcoming June 4 vigil in Victoria Park will be a timely opportunity for all unbiased eyes to see that allegations are not substantiated.

With all the hi-tech espionage equipment available to the many foreign agents present in Beijing in 1989, how could there not have been any film recording showing the deaths which allegedly happened?

If we can't have unbiased information to pass on to future generations, the best thing to do is not to talk about it.

As to the truth of what happened to rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng , I leave it to unbiased minds to gauge Jerome A. Cohen's article ('Flights of fancy', May 9).

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

The bar is definitely independent

While I do not agree with the cynicism of P. A. Crush in the letter ('Paying for what you want to hear', May 18) in answer to my letter ('Prosecution processes accountable', May 9), I do note the comments made.

I can assure him and others that the decision-making processes as to prosecutions are made in strict adherence to established legal criteria and principles.

When seeking the advice of outside counsel, it is done in a strictly professional and proper manner.

The independence of the bar is without question and the giving of independent and objective advice is the creed by which all private counsel follow.

We provide an array of information and materials on how the prosecution processes work so that the general public can understand the basis of our decisions.

This would allow the public to better appreciate the professional and sincere approach we take in the exercise of our prosecutorial responsibilities.

Kevin P. Zervos, SC, director of public prosecutions

MTR must clean up stations

Various commentators have questioned the necessity for the MTR Corporation to raise fares by 5 per cent from next month, bearing in mind that even with its existing fare structure, the corporation already generates over HK$1 billion every month.

Be that as it may, let us recognise that in our MTR network, Hong Kong has one of the world's most effective and safest underground train systems.

It also used to be a byword for cleanliness, but that accolade has faded over recent years.

It is unfortunate that the MTR chooses not to spend enough of its colossal income on enhancing the travelling experience of its millions of daily passengers.

I refer to the now-widespread eating and drinking on MTR trains. In theory, this is prohibited; but you never see any MTR employees on board the trains enforcing the ban.

As a result, it is commonly ignored. Too many of those who break the by-laws by consuming food and drink mid-journey are also not above throwing the packages on the carriage floor, or leaving their greasy remains on the seats.

More dangerous, as well as being unpleasant, are the plastic bags which join discarded cigarette ends in the stairwells and corridors of MTR stations. Stepping on an abandoned plastic bag on a staircase, especially in wet weather, could cause a dangerous fall.

Again, too few MTR cleaners are deployed to keep these areas as pristine as they used to be.

So here's a suggestion to the MTR: to help justify your coming fare increases, spend more of your vast profits on the additional staff services outlined above.

That would help bring public opinion around to at least accepting these fare hikes: as well as returning our MTR to being the cleanest such system in the world.

Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels

Government should pay for flat fare

I think the public transport firms should not be paying for the HK$2 flat fare for the handicapped and elderly.

Firstly, although they are public transports firms, they are listed companies. The MTR Corporation is a listed company. It has shareholders, including the government. Some people argue that, because of their status, these firms should be paying for the cost of this subsidised fare.

I agree with corporate social responsibility. However, these firms are also responsible to their shareholders who expect to be rewarded for their investment. Therefore, I do not think these firms should have to pay for this special fare. If it affected these firms' profits, then obviously shareholders would suffer and people would be less inclined to purchase shares.

Also, if the government and these firms continue with the flat fare each year, the scheme will become more expensive. Hong Kong is an ageing society and we will have a greater number of elderly every year. If the transport firms had to pay for it, it would affect their revenue. The government is capable of subsidising this fare.

I do support the principle behind the fare. Elderly citizens contributed a lot to society during their working lives. It is only right that society should give them something back. They should be able to enjoy their old age after they have retired.

In other countries and cities, such transport schemes for old folk and the handicapped are common. Hong Kong has been relatively late introducing this flat fare and I think taxpayers should foot the bill for its implementation.

Rae Chan, Sha Tin

Simple way to curb law breakers

I refer to the letter by Leigh-Anne Wong ('Bar staff have ashtrays for smokers', May 17).

The solution to the ongoing lack of compliance of smoking in bars is surprisingly simple. Place the legal onus on the owner/manager, not on the individual smoker.

As the legislation stands, bar owners have no interest in making sure their premises are smoke-free, and some even plant look-outs to alert the establishment if tobacco control officers are seen nearby, so they could warn their customers to put out their cigarettes. But if owners feared losing their licence, the law would become enforced overnight.

This makes enforcement of smoke-free restaurants and bars particularly difficult. Legco could change this at the stroke of a pen.

Dr Judith Mackay, senior adviser, World Lung Foundation

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