In defence of challenging rubber stamp
I take issue with Louisa Chan's views in her letter ('Bad influence on younger generation', June 10).
Our Legislative Council is lopsided; half of the lawmakers are directly elected, and the other half are returned by small-circle elections in functional constituencies. It is absurd to see the pan-democratic lawmakers become the minority in the chamber, even though they win the majority of the popular votes.
I am surprised by the statement: '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.'
The reality is that the pro-government lawmakers, who form the majority in the legislature, always abuse their dominant position to ensure the passage of unjust government bills which seek to undermine citizens' rights. The recently passed by-election law limiting people's rights to stand in an election is one example of such unjust laws.
This is a blatant tyranny of the majority to oppress the minority. The 'radical legislators', as Ms Chan called them, are just exercising their limited powers to deter and block the passage of unjust laws to protect our rights.
She also wrote she was concerned that the radical lawmakers' behaviour will have a long-term impact on the younger generation, saying: 'Will they come to believe that politics is about expressing hostile sentiments towards successive governments?' What's wrong with a lawmaker attacking the government if it seeks to undermine people's interests or rights?
However hostile they may appear, the People Power and league politicians are discharging their core duty as legislators to provide a check and balance on the executive branch. They are role models for the younger generation, encouraging them to stand up against injustice and unfairness. If anyone would like to see a legislature which never criticises the administration, they should look to the National People's Congress.
Our legislature is dominated by pro-government politicians who rubber-stamp every government bill. We should appreciate the effort made by those radical lawmakers who put citizens' rights before their personal images.
Michael Ko, Sham Shui Po
Herbalists' beliefs are outdated
The Agence France-Presse article about the decimation of yarchagumba, a traditional aphrodisiac from northern Nepal, contained a mistaken and traditional belief held by Chinese herbalists about the cordyceps fungus. They believe that the fungus boosts sexual performance because it is 'an excellent balance of yin and yang, as it is both animal and vegetable' ('Himalayan Viagra at risk of extinction', June 11).
Most high school students of biology will know that fungi are neither animal nor plant, but an entirely separate kingdom of organisms. Chinese herbalists, by obstinately believing that their methods, views and philosophy never need updating in the light of accumulated knowledge, or never need evidence based on quality-controlled randomised trials, are, by definition, out of date.
This is only one example of the nonsensical beliefs held by alternative practitioners that include doctors of traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic therapists. Such traditional beliefs, bolstered by uncritical thinking, contribute to ignorance within society and impede progress. We should expose non-evidence-based traditional practices for what they are - outdated and out of whack.
Will Lai, Sai Ying Pun
Let's show originality in architecture
Working with the Urban Renewal Authority to revitalise Hong Kong's historic Central Market, architect Arata Isozaki was recently quoted as saying: 'Hong Kong has no need of iconic buildings but simply architecture that takes care of people's needs.'
Did Mr Isozaki actually mean to say interesting architecture and not cookie-cutter boxes built in the 1960s and '70s? Would Hong Kong people be accused of being greedy by demanding that iconic landmarks as important as the Central Market be both very beautiful and practical?
Mr Isozaki's comments run counter to our wish and determination to build an artistically sophisticated city, one that would extend open arms to works done by the likes of Frank Gehry, Wang Shu or our very own Andre Fu.
Most of us interested in buildings argue that if we could relive the past, pre-war architectural gems such as the old Gloucester Building or the General Post Office would have been saved from the wrecking balls, and the '60s building craze could have been be tightly contained.
Buildings give a city its brand and identity, much like the household product brands we come to know today. They also represent a people's culture, and ours do leave a lot to be desired.
The Hong Kong government is now playing catch-up to make amends. The public and private sectors have woken up to the fact that what we build today will have a lasting effect on future generations. So let's not turn back the clock to that era of cookie-cutter architecture.
Philip S.K.Leung, Pok Fu Lam
Incinerator plan is a disgrace
I refer to James Middleton's letter ('Ash from incinerator is hazardous', June 7), citing hazards associated with incinerators, and wish to point out that the use of such facilities to get rid of waste is basically the same as dumping this waste into our oceans.
Burnt waste is turned into gases; they stay with us and are then dissolved into rain clouds, and then the rain falls into our oceans. Most incinerators are located to allow emissions to discharge into the sea to reduce the impact to us land-dwellers.
Modern incinerators, such as the integrated waste management facilities being proposed in Hong Kong, merely ensure that emissions are odourless and invisible to the naked eye. However, no greenhouse gas will be captured, which will affect global warming. The Environmental Protection Department and minister Edward Yau Tang-wah, who are promoting these waste facilities, are a disgrace for not protecting our environment.
Nigel Lam, Kowloon Tong
Is Yam showing off his influence?
In the Legco Lehman report published last week, fingers were pointed at our former bank chief, Joseph Yam Chi-kwong. As I see by the top story 'HK 'can ditch dollar peg' - Yam' (June 13), his displeasure was fully exposed in this response. Yam's stunning suggestion fully showed he still has influence.
In fact, there is no new idea. All I see is either a forum to vent his rage or to divert public attention. It looks like an attempt at revenge: you give me a reproof, and I give you a shock, just to teach you a lesson.
What Yam wants to demonstrate is that people who think it is so convenient to offload all the blame on former officials like him are just naive. But I also hope he is sensible in his steps so that the honour he has achieved will not be ruined.
Wilson Lee, Ho Man Tin
Tsang, like us, is not above the law
I am writing in response to the letter from Sister Margaret Fung Sui-fun ('Show some compassion to Tsang', June 13). We are all equal. Is Sister Margaret trying to imply that some people are more equal than others? If Tsang has done something good for Hong Kong, that is his job, and he gets the credit for it.
But when an ordinary citizen is arrested for any offence, is he set free because he has done some good deeds, as well? There are hundreds of examples in history of vast empires that don't exist any more because the rulers and elite class thought they were above the law.
There must be the rule of law if we are truly 'Asia's World City', as we boast. Singapore has it. Let us learn and let justice prevail, no matter what.
Murtaza Gujar, Central
No trace of history left, just concrete
I am writing to oppose the government's plan to demolish the west wing of the government offices in Central. It is such a historic location that enables us to see the old Central. It would be a complete disaster to tear it down, leaving us no trace of the history of Hong Kong.
The government has done very little to preserve the old buildings in Central, and as a result we have only a concrete jungle instead. Compared with Singapore, we should be ashamed of what our government has done so far.
David Yuen, Shau Kei Wan