Bad influence on younger generation
For some time we have witnessed a clear sacrifice of the public interest by the pan-democrats through their constant opposition to government policies. We saw the People Power and League of Social Democrats lawmakers exploiting the rights they have as legislators through their childish tactics in Legco last month, depriving the majority in the council of its rights.
What causes me the greatest concern is the long-term impact their behaviour will have on the younger generation. Will they come to believe that politics is about expressing hostile sentiments towards successive governments? If this happens, then these young people will be less likely to see a political landscape where politicians balance the interests of different parties.
If more of these radical legislators are elected and this obstructionist culture gains greater momentum in Legco, who will want to join the government and take up important posts when their talents can be better rewarded in other sectors? The proposed restructuring of the government will increase annual staff costs by an estimated HK$72 million, but when compared to the HK$150 million spent on the widely disapproved by-elections in May 2010, this amount may seem more justifiable. Hopefully the pan-democrats can put public interest before their personal image.
Louisa Chan, Kennedy Town
DAB has supported filibusters
Lawmakers from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong have changed their tune on filibusters.
At the second reading of the Provision of Municipal Services (Reorganisation) Bill 1999 in Legco on December 1, 1999, Lau Kong-wah of the DAB described the filibuster on that occasion as 'totally acceptable in a parliamentary assembly'.
The practice and procedures of Legco have long included filibustering. It is a tactic employed in many legislatures and assemblies, including Britain's House of Commons, the US Senate and state legislatures, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and others. The DAB has shown that it can filibuster with the best of them when it suits its purposes.
Any perception of collusion between the president and pro-government actors to terminate debate, or of bias on the part of the president of Legco, undermines public confidence in the integrity of the system. One way to dispel such perceptions and restore public confidence may have been for the matter to be properly examined in a court.
The purpose of the doctrine of the separation of powers is to provide checks and balances on the exercise of power by the legislature, executive and judiciary.
A judicial review allows the courts to review acts of public officers, including those which are illegal, irrational or unreasonable; procedural impropriety; breaches of statutory procedures; and breaches of natural justice, including bias and failure to provide reasons for a decision.
If there is evidence suggesting bias or collusion by the Legco president, in breach of applicable rules, it should be brought to light. The operation of Legco should be transparent, rather than tainted with perceptions of hidden paths and favouritism.
Allan Woodley, Sydney, Australia
Wonderful lady adored by millions
I must take issue with Hamish Mackenzie's Channel Hop column and his views on TV coverage of Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee in Post Magazine on June 3.
I find it presumptuous of him to state, 'We find it hard to get excited about a royal octogenarian.' Given his clear republican persuasions I doubt that he was using the 'royal we', so presumably he thought he was speaking on behalf of the rest of us.
Mr Mackenzie, had you actually bothered to tune into any of the coverage you would have seen just how much Queen Elizabeth does mean to countless millions of people across the globe; not just Britons. I saw people of different nationalities, ages, social backgrounds and ethnicities united in their respect of this wonderful lady who has selflessly devoted her entire life to the service of others. How many other world heads of state command such universal popularity?
In this day and age, where the culture of 'me first, last and always' is so utterly dominant, hers is a noble example for us all to admire.
Neil Burnett, Sai Kung
Most modern art is just a sham
T. Zhai's letter ('Disappointed by boring art expo', June 3) describes well a defining sign of modern times.
Most of what is purported to be contemporary art is just a sham. This farce is palpable at fairs like last month's Hong Kong International Art Fair and has reached a climax with Damien Hirst's exhibition at the Tate Modern.
The reasons for this expanding phenomenon are complex: the lack of a cultural environment nurtured at home, sketchy art education at school and a society that has lost every aspect of a living culture within it. Intellectuals are banished from public life and art critics have disappeared from the serious press, or have twisted their roles, now under the pay of the powerful art industry and its marketing machinery.
As a result there are no hierarchies and price has taken precedence over intrinsic value. Skills are disregarded. Self-expression is a mockery and emotion is served raw. Sadly, under these conditions genuine and worthy artists cannot find their way.
The effects of this manipulation passing for art are prevalent in places lacking a deep cultural life, like Hong Kong, or where the cultural heritage has been destroyed or subdued, as in modern China, now turning into the paragon of art as spectacle.
The history of art is very rich in masters and masterpieces. To approach them in museums or through a proper art education makes us less vulnerable to pernicious influences.
We can be more discerning when becoming familiar with a Vermeer or Picasso, a Shi-Tao or Qi Baishi. Public policy should serve this foundation rather than the undesirable outcome I have described.
Juan Morales, Causeway Bay
Victim of racism in Hong Kong
I had only read about discrimination in newspapers, but now I have had first-hand experience of race discrimination.
My wife and I sold our apartment and started to look for a flat to rent. We found one we liked in Kowloon Tong.
The property agent, after giving our background information to the landlady, told us what rent we would be paying.
We offered a slightly smaller rent and the agent advised us that the homeowner would get back to us after consulting her husband.
The next day the agent phoned us to say there had been a disagreement between the couple and that the husband did not wish to offer us a lease on the flat.
We asked for clarification on the matter and requested a meeting with our prospective landlords.
Two days later the agent phoned to say that a meeting would not be possible, as the husband had made it clear he would not deal with us in any way.
I asked the agent if this was all due to racial discrimination and he agreed that it was.
He felt very embarrassed and assured us he would find another flat for us.
This is shallow and prejudiced thinking and does not reflect well on Hongkongers.
I believe in democracy and support the Democratic Party. I realise the party has many issues to deal with, but its members need to take a serious stand against racial discrimination in the city.
Ranjit Bhawnani, Tsim Sha Tsui
Myanmese expats can help nation
I refer to the report ('A nation where health care is on life sup- port', May 28).
Myanmar, formerly Burma, is rich in natural resources.
For example, its precious gems, such as rubies, sapphires and imperial jade, are highly prized.
Yet many of its citizens continue to live below the poverty line and its health care system is in similar dire straits. This is because the government which has run the country for the last 50 years has been very corrupt.
The lucky Myanmese are the ones who have managed to get overseas to live in places such as Hong Kong.
Mostly they are professionals such as medical doctors and nurses.
I think it would be good if they were now willing to share what they have earned abroad with their poor fellow countrymen, so that they can help their country develop.
K. M. Nasir, Mid-Levels