PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 May, 2012, 12:00am


Go-slow in Legco about basic rights

I back the filibuster launched by lawmakers from People Power and the objections they raised to the amendment bill for by-elections. The filibuster is one effort to secure democratic development in Hong Kong.

I have learned as a liberal studies student that the rights to vote and to stand in elections constitute basic rights and they should apply to Hong Kong.

All permanent residents have the right to vote and to stand in elections, according to Article 26 (chapter three) of the Basic Law, and this should also apply to a lawmaker even if he has resigned from Legco.

The pro-establishment lobby claimed that the filibuster debate was a misuse of public funds. But what price do you put on democracy? Government funds must be spent on any policy changes, even those supported by the establishment. If a policy benefits the citizens of Hong Kong, it is worth the expenditure.

Legco meetings should be about more than merely rubber-stamping government bills. I hope all Hongkongers will think carefully about the reasons for the filibuster.

Kelly Leung, Wong Tai Sin

Bill dramas only stymie reforms

The filibuster drama in Legco was the focus of a great deal of public attention.

By tabling more than 1,300 amendments to the by-election bill, some lawmakers paralysed the operations of our legislature.

Legislators had to stay up around the clock in an effort to complete the debate on the bill so that they could move on to other bills, including the proposal to reform the structure of chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying's new administration.

Under his proposals, the accountability system will be expanded in government by having a deputy chief secretary and deputy financial secretary. The intention is that they will share the heavy workload faced by their immediate superiors.

More importantly, they will closely monitor the progress of some specific tasks, including strengthening economic ties with the mainland, with the focus on the development of new industries in the 12th five-year plan. The deputy financial secretary will preside over the co-ordination between different bureaus and departments, for instance, the new industrial, commercial and tourism bureau and an information and technology bureau, in order to work on the development of new industries in Hong Kong. This should be good news for the city.

Due to the criticism of a lack of vision and good government leadership in cultural development, Leung proposes that the new culture bureau will be directly overseen by the deputy chief secretary. This concentration on cultural development is a positive response to public opinion.

The reform of the government structure aims to enhance co-ordination between government departments and hence make for better governance, which will benefit society.

Whether Leung can obtain approval from Legco before taking office in July will very much depend on any obstacles that may lie ahead, similar to the filibuster drama created by some disruptive lawmakers. We will keep our fingers crossed.

Holden Chow, chairman, Young Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong

More means more in wage debate

A person earning a minimum wage, working a 48-hour week, will earn about HK$5,820 per month. I assume that Hebe Cheung ('Minimum wage law has not worked', May 15) feels that this is more than enough to live on as he advocates paying people less.

He says that some companies have to lay off workers who are either low-skilled or not productive. That is known as 'running a business'. You have to manage costs and margins in order to be profitable.

It seems that all the people who oppose workers' benefits are always claiming that companies will go bankrupt. I notice the price of property in Hong Kong and the number of very expensive cars being driven around on an island where you don't need a car and wonder how many of those owners are protesting about paying their workers the princely sum of HK$28 per hour.

The best firms in the world pay the highest wages, have better staff working conditions and produce consistent profits.

The moral is that if you pay more, you can get better and more productive staff.

The minimum wage is for the people who do the minimum amount of work and anybody who works harder or is more productive should get paid more. Income inequality is not because of low wages paid to some, but excessive amounts paid to bosses, while they hold down pay for the workers.

Look at the multiples paid to CEOs and how they have risen over the years compared to the average worker's income.

Maybe the training levy that was imposed in 2003 on employers of domestic helpers could be used to train people to a higher standard so that they are employable. Or was the so-called levy just a way of reducing domestic helpers' salaries? This fund should stand at around HK$2 billion. How has it been used?

Michael Jenkins, Central

E-textbook reality still a long way off

Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung has encouraged schools to use e-textbooks ('HK$50m boost for e-textbooks', May 8).

He talked about the 'successful development of electronic books', but I cannot agree with his comments.

I think e-textbooks will be the future for the Hong Kong education system, but such changes take time.

He announced a HK$50 million subsidy to enable him to bring his plan to fruition.

Although some countries such as Singapore have made great advances in this field, there are still insufficient funds being allocated in Hong Kong to achieve the education minister's aims.

It is hard to see the new technology replacing traditional learning material quickly. As a student, I still prefer to use textbooks. If find that when you are studying online, it is easier to get distracted.

I think that Suen is being over-optimistic. As I said, the transition will take time and cannot be achieved overnight.

We still have a long way to go. Therefore, it is important that the government should think carefully about how it wants to proceed, before going ahead with a widespread implementation of an e-textbook scheme.

Veronica Leung Sze-kan, Tsz Wan Shan

Public not needed for fare decision

Some of your correspondents have expressed their views on whether the transport firms or the government should absorb the revenue loss arising out of implementation of the HK$2 flat fare scheme for the elderly and handicapped.

This issue has unnecessarily become controversial.

In my opinion, this is a matter to be decided by the two parties themselves. Whether the burden of subsidy should be equally shared or borne by a single party is not a big deal.

They have all the necessary data to come to a fair decision that is acceptable to both parties.

I am sure both the government and transport firms have got the interests of the beneficiaries in mind. Where is the need for public to get involved?

We should, on the other hand, express our appreciation of the initiative taken by the Hong Kong administration to provide this facility to the weaker sections of society.

It is assumed that the concessionary uniform fare of HK$2 per trip under this scheme will be applicable across the board (to all modes of transport, namely to travel by MTR, buses or ferries), and that it will be valid throughout Hong Kong.

It is hoped that this excellent scheme will be implemented at an early date.

B. K. Avasthi, Lantau

Price to pay for Manila's hostility

The dispute between China and the Philippines over islands in the South China Sea has not helped Manila.

Even military aid from the US will not help the internal state of the economy in the Philippines. If it uses tax revenue to pursue this issue, then this will only worsen the livelihood of its people.

It already has serious problems of income disparity caused by corruption and poor education. Its leaders are taking a great risk if they attempt to divert attention from these internal social problems to any military aggression.

Also, if Manila increased its military budget, this could create tensions between it and fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

China's economic and political growth helps the balance of power in the region and cannot be viewed as a threat.

We should all oppose any form of military aggression, because we all must coexist in the same world.

The future of the Philippines will depend on the wisdom of its people rather than its president, Benigno Aquino.

Simon Tsao, Wan Chai