Councillors need to 'serve the people'
It will soon be election time, and we shall read the promises, true and some maybe untrue, of candidates for the next Legislative Council.
Having been a member of the (former) urban council and Legco, I have seen both kinds. Having the title of councillor, and the publicity given to those who become members of government councils, is a great attraction to some people but their work does not always, or even often, match their promises.
This verse written nearly 100 years ago by a famous Muslim writer, Saiyid Sulayman Nadwi, may speak to some legislators of today: 'The legislatures in every country make and unmake laws endlessly, but seldom their labours are for the benefit of the people whom they profess to represent.'
Does this ring a bell concerning the activities of some of the legislators we have seen recently posturing in our time? May we hope that the coming elections will produce candidates who really mean it when they say they will, 'Serve the people'.
The people are in need and deserve genuine service these days, when the gap between the rich and poor has widened too far, a gap similar to, or even worse than that which existed in the 1950s to the 1980s in Hong Kong.
Elsie Tu, Kwun Tong
A day for celebration, not protest
On July 1 we celebrate our reunion with the motherland. But it has become a day of complaints. A vociferous group of malcontents usurps centre stage on the festive occasion to demonstrate their penchant for carping.
Obsessed with fault-finding, they exaggerate the developmental problems which our respected central government and the nascent special administrative region government aim to overcome.
They fail to review their fundamentalist ideals of individual rights in the realistic context of globalisation, where governments act for their citizens in the competition for economic growth and employment opportunities. They disregard our country's achievements, overlook historical hardships which our countrymen have overcome and ignore our leaders' struggle in the international arena to improve the nation's economic, political and cultural standing.
They idolise the Anglo-American form of liberal democracy, not knowing that such a tradition of idealistic liberalism is predicated on the economic exploitations of historical US hegemony or British imperialism. Without such historical advantage, countries such as those in Europe may only afford social democracy which emphasises collective social responsibilities instead of the misguided belief in the individual's right to maximise personal interests.
Liberalism is a luxury that cannot exist without a strong economy. As the US economy falters, individual rights inevitably dwindle while the government expands controls. In an article in The New York Times on June 24, former US president Jimmy Carter lamented the US government's gross human rights violations in recent years, such as 'assassinations', indefinite detention and 'warrantless wiretapping' of American citizens and foreigners, and air strikes on civilian homes in foreign countries. But no American would protest against these violations on July 4, the day of their country's national celebration.
For us, the Tiananmen tragedy is a historical issue and not the only national issue. We must look into allegations about maltreatment of political activists who, however, are not the protagonists of July 1 - a day for jubilant consolidation and not for rowdy rallies to incite dissent.
While an agnostic, I'm prepared to quote from Galatians and plead that 'for at the proper time we shall reap, not desponding; then, as we have opportunity, may we work the good to all'.
Anna Tse, Mid-Levels
Little Bridge's win a proud moment
I refer to the report ('Ascot victory makes it a big day for Little Bridge', June 20). I would like to offer my heartiest congratulations to the owner, trainer and jockey of Little Bridge who won the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Little Bridge had achieved only minor group wins in Hong Kong.
After a long trip, the horse managed to acclimatise to the cold and even to a course that was too wet for its liking.
Luckily, a few days after the horse's arrival in England the rain stopped, much to the relief of his team. His achievement was a bit like Boris Becker winning Wimbledon as an unseeded tennis player.
I felt very proud for Hong Kong and am confident the horse will go from strength to strength.
Eugene Li, Deep Water Bay
Solution to the mess in Europe
I am chairman of a charity, National Solidarity, based in Athens, Greece, and refer to Hu Shuli's column ('Democracy, common sense and compromise avert a Greek tragedy', June 28). The charity assists Greek people who have been affected by the current economic crisis and I have seen first-hand what this has done to my country.
Hu points out that Greece has a pension and welfare system, but this is not the cause of the economic crisis. The euro's strength and Germany's insistence on it remaining strong over the past decade has created this mess. The whole of Europe, including Germany, will suffer due to this belligerence.
Germany's recession will be as bad as that of Greece.
National Solidarity wants European nations and the European Central Bank to review their position on the currency and let goods and services become competitive. We want Britain, France and the Netherlands not to let Germany push its own agenda.
I would remind people who blame national welfare systems for this mess that it all started with Lehman Brothers' inability to keep its house in order. Austerity measures without growth incentives can only continue and prolong a recession.
Create policies which bring parity between the euro and the US dollar and you will quickly see a change to this whole mess.
George Vasilopoulos, Central
No room for ignorance of liquor laws
P. A. Crush, who I believe is a one-time bar owner, pretends ignorance of the liquor laws his employees have had to follow for decades ('It would not be feasible to make bar owners responsible for illegal smokers', June 27).
He claims that 'it is unjust for the licensee to be held accountable for breaches of the [smoking] law within his premises, provided he has not actively encouraged this misbehaviour'.
Yet he must know that the liquor laws have always stated that the licensee cannot 'permit' illegal activity.
Fortunately for employees and customers, the Liquor Licensing Board would not think much of Mr Crush's arguments.
The board has, in the recent past, told licensees (and by extension owners) that if they continue to permit smoking, they will have their liquor licence pulled.
Presumably Mr Crush's main motivation for wanting to permit smoking is economic.
Many bar owners hire bouncers who are expert at plucking from their seats customers who are breaking the law or causing trouble and tossing them onto the street.
Mr Crush is championing those who want to rake in the profits from selling liquor. They won't pay for a bouncer and so leave customers and employees at the mercy of mean drunks.
Annelise Connell, Stanley
Downside of policies to help couples
The introduction of government policies to encourage more Hongkongers to start a family could present problems.
Child-friendly employment policies could ease the worries of couples wanting to have children, but could lead to increased running costs for small and medium-sized enterprises.
This could result in those firms cutting staff numbers, which could lead to an increased workload for some employees.
The unemployment rate could go up and those people who still had a job might have less leisure time.
While tax exemptions can provide an economic incentive for couples to raise more children, there would be less tax revenue for the government.
This revenue is important, as it helps provide welfare to the needy, including elderly citizens.
I think the low birth rate in Hong Kong is also related to the high economic pressure young couples feel.
The administration has to introduce practical measures which lessen the financial burden, such as stabilising the property market and allocating more resources for free education.
Boris Lau, Sha Tin