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  • Jul 25, 2014
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Letters

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 July, 2012, 12:00am

Police turn blind eye to bar smokers

My son is visiting Hong Kong from Colombia where he normally lives.

He was born here and still has a number of friends living in the city. On Saturday night, he went with some of those friends to Lan Kwai Fong, spending the evening in a few bars.

He has told me that he may not go there again because of the large number of people smoking in the bars.

It is an obnoxious habit, which research shows shortens people's lives.

It also often affects in a negative manner the health of those who are unfortunate enough to be close to those smoking, especially bar staff, and it is against the law to smoke in bars and restaurants in Hong Kong.

My son was astonished and not a little upset to find out that the law is being flouted so openly.

In Colombia, a country which has a negative reputation regarding law and order, there is a similar law and it is, apparently, strictly adhered to. In Hong Kong, the police appear to have little interest in enforcing it.

If this is the case, and the evidence appears to concur with this opinion, then the police need to be brought to task.

May I suggest that people who are concerned about this issue contact the Office of the Ombudsman (2882-8149) to complain about the police wasting taxpayers' money through not enforcing the relevant law?

Chris Stubbs, Discovery Bay

Big Macs not right for Olympics

I would like to know why the companies McDonald's and Coca-Cola have signed up as sponsors of the London Olympics.

The Olympic Games is about healthy sporting activities and yet these two firms do not sell healthy products.

Moya Hone Takeuchi, Mid-Levels

Consistent approach is lacking

While still chief executive, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen appeared in the Legislative Council to face his critics and apologised for having accepted luxury trips from friends at low prices.

Many people appreciated his show of courage in making a public apology, but others felt that this did not go far enough and wanted further punishment, even to the extent of a possible prosecution.

This did not happen, but if it had, he would have been treated like any other person appearing in a court of law.

In this society, the law courts treat every man equally.

However, such an approach does not apply to illegal structures and how officials deal with them. In the New Territories, villagers face severe sanctions. Once an unauthorised structure has been identified by officials, residents have to demolish it. But similar action did not apply to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying or to his opponent during the election for the top post, Henry Tang Ying-yen.

As I say, villagers can face almost immediate punishment, but the revelations about Mr Leung did not affect his prospects as chief executive.

This seems to be unfair to ordinary citizens and appears to be a case of double standards. It raises questions about justice and democracy in Hong Kong society.

With greater power comes greater responsibility. If a leader has broken the law, he must face the same consequences as any other citizens.

Michael Chong, Yuen Long

Top leader must be role model

I believe in having a leader with the highest ethics and integrity to run Hong Kong.

It saddens me that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had illegal structures in his home while criticising his opponent for the same transgression during the election campaign.

We need leaders who have a high moral code, are disciplined and perform the role of ideal citizen.

If ordinary people get penalised for having illegal structures, then even our chief executive deserves some disciplinary action so that he realises that he must also live like an ideal Hongkonger.

Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels

Illegal is not the same as unauthorised

I believe that there is a huge difference between illegal structures and unauthorised building works.

An illegal structure is built without the consent of the Buildings Department and the authorised person and/or registered building contractor may be sanctioned and proceedings taken against them under the Buildings Ordinance.

Meanwhile, many households enclose balconies or erect structures to provide shade without taking advice from building professionals.

When reported to the department, the compliance officer may simply issue a letter demanding that the building be returned to its original state. The unauthorised building works must be removed within a given time limit.

If the owner of the structure affected by these works fails to comply with the order, then, and only then, are legal proceedings enacted.

The question of whether a canopy or shade structure breaches the Buildings Department's gross floor area definition is often a matter of judgment.

It sometimes turns on how easily the structure can be removed.

In the now infamous case of Leung Chun-ying's Peak house, I would say that the department has made a ruling that the various temporary-in-nature building additions should have been the subject of an alterations and additions submission and are therefore classified as unauthorised building works.

As far as I can ascertain, Mr Leung has not raised an objection and has ordered all works to be removed within the prescribed time set by the department. There is nothing illegal about this.

John Latter, Happy Valley

Give Leung a chance to prove himself

Leung Chun-ying has assumed office as chief executive in a stormy political climate.

He has faced questions over his integrity, but I think the requests of some critics have been unreasonable.

He should be allowed to make a fresh start.

Hong Kong now needs a leader of talent and vigour. In the past seven years, we had a chief executive who felt he had done his duty. But it is easy to pinpoint the inadequacies and maladministration of the government.

We need a leader to clean up the mess left by the administration of Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. The new government team must fight the uphill battle of narrowing the gap between rich and poor. It must also deal with social mobility, demographic issues, and education and housing problems.

We must give it a chance to show it can overcome the obstacles it faces.

We have enough time to make Hong Kong an ideal place to live and bring up a family. We need a leader who can put us back on track and build up a harmonious society.

Politicians make mistakes. Take former US president Bill Clinton for example. He may have had integrity problems, but I am sure readers would agree that he did a lot for his country.

C. Y. Leung and his team of ministers will be closely watched, so there is no question of them evading scrutiny.

Lo Wai-kong, Yau Ma Tei

Advocacy and science tangled

I refer to the letter by Bertha Lo-Hofford, of the Hong Kong Shark Foundation ('Shark-finning advocate in Hong Kong accused of distorting facts', June 22).

She confirms that the wealthy US-based Pew Charitable Trusts was involved in assembling the 41 signatures of fisheries biologists, which gave scientific credibility to the petition on shark finning. The assistance of overseas organisations such as Pew should have been mentioned.

That some of the signatories are supported financially by Pew should also have been mentioned. Some signatories have contributed to 'peer-reviewed' scientific articles about sharks, but their work has been criticised in scientific journals, by some of the world's foremost fisheries biologists.

When advocacy and science become entangled, as they have in the shark debate, the government should be wary about petitions and turn for guidance to their own fisheries managers.

Charlie Lim, chairman, conservation and management committee, Marine Products Association

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