PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 July, 2012, 12:00am


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Manipulation by Barclays defies belief

The manipulation of the London interbank offered rate (Libor) by Barclays brings disrepute to the core of the British financial community.

It beggars belief that Bob Diamond, the bank's former chief executive who bestrode the financial crisis citing his bank's ability to navigate the tempest, knew nothing of his senior staff allowing practices of corruption to exist. His comment that traders' actions were 'purely for their own benefit' is floored by the reality that his staff enacted illegal operations to boost their own profits as they sought to increase their own bonuses - which were ultimately agreed to by Mr Diamond.

These were not one-off trades by a rogue trader. Libor rates are calculated daily and published daily at 11am by the British Bankers' Association. It is the benchmark for setting interest rates. Barclays, as a high street lender, is a core component in the setting of Libor and staff making up the contributing panel would have been aware of the actions of the dealing floor. Recorded phone conversations have revealed the complicity between traders and back office staff.

The reliability of Libor is sacrosanct. It should have been calculated on the honest integrity of contributing banks from which loans were made to honest hard-working companies battling in the face of fiscal hardship.

As these small firms failed, Mr Diamond's staff were posting record profits. It is a moot point that Mr Diamond seems to be trying to state that their traders only manipulated the rate of Libor down or that 'interventions in question were typically on the short term one and three-month Libor rates' which are generally only used by the wholesale market. It is moot because we don't know how far the manipulation of Libor has gone. It is moot because Libor should simply not have been manipulated.

It is deplorable for Mr Diamond to try to lay the blame on ministers or the Bank of England when he knew fully the consequences of making false Libor rates. Where was his integrity?

The financial community used to be defined by the motto dictum meum pactum, or 'My word is my bond'. It is time to redefine banking as a service industry that is there at the behest of the community to serve the needs of the community.

Mark Peaker, The Peak

Police tactics on protesters despicable

I was one of the people stuck on the third soccer court pitch in Victoria Park at the start of the July 1 march.

Police must explain why we were 'kettled' in the searing heat for more than two hours. Kettling is a police tactic used in Britain to pen everybody in one place for a long time. We were penned in like animals - Hong Kong people, old, young, in wheelchairs, and young families. The police action was despicable.

The commissioner of police should apologise to us for using inappropriate kettling tactics against ordinary citizens who wished to demonstrate in a peaceful manner.

Demonstrators stuck in the park behaved with dignity and incredible patience despite this provocation. If there were only around 63,000 of us, why was there any need to keep us penned up for so long?

Sadly, the commissioner of police is intent on politicising the Hong Kong Police Force - he should resign.

Joyce Wong, Pok Fu Lam

Protection of the press a priority

Hong Kong law protects press freedom.

We depend on the police to enforce the law and on the Justice Department to ensure those who break it are prosecuted.

When policemen break the law, the department must prosecute those officers without fear or favour.

Once officers on the street realise that abusing press freedom means a prison sentence and the end of their careers, then press protection will become a police priority regardless of anything senior officers, the local government or Beijing may have to say on the matter.

For this to happen, we do not need to pray for a sudden outbreak of probity on the part of the police.

Neither do we need to lobby the chief executive for statements of support.

All we need is for the public servants in the Justice Department to do the work we pay them to do and prosecute those who break the law.

We're waiting.

Jay Shaw, Causeway Bay

We must reduce the wealth gap

Hong Kong is one of the best cities in the world when it comes to, for example, the economy and welfare system.

Hongkongers work hard to keep the city competitive. But while this is a rich city, that wealth is not evenly distributed.

Some argue that the rich are becoming richer and the poor sinking deeper into poverty.

The city's latest Gini co-efficient - a measure of income inequality - bears this out.

The previous government did act to try to reduce the gap. The minimum wage law was introduced last year and the hourly rate will be reviewed on a regular basis.

However, in recent years, the high inflation rate has left workers with less spending power despite higher wages, and they are struggling to improve their standard of living.

The new administration should accelerate the process for reviewing the minimum wage level, given rapid economic developments outside Hong Kong, especially in the euro zone.

Also, the government must focus more on population planning and education.

Officials must think again about the one-way permit quotas for mainlanders. This is because the supply of low-skilled workers is exceeding demand.

The government must also increase resources for continuing education to encourage workers to learn different types of skills. These measures will be more practical than legislation for standard working hours.

I think all citizens should feel confident that the new administration will bring about improvements in society.

W. H. Chan, Kwun Tong

Minister has done nothing wrong

There has been public criticism of new health minister Ko Wing-man ('Ministers urge Leung to explain structures', July 4) for apparently removing a non-structural wall between two adjacent units in his home.

I wish to point out that I do not know Dr Ko, but I did something similar to him. I removed a non-structural wall connecting two adjacent units in 2003.

Before I did so, I consulted a veteran architect who was involved in the construction of the housing estate in question.

He said this could be done and there was no need to ask for permission from the Buildings Department. But I did write to the department. Its reply was 'that the partition walls between A and B enclosing the bedroom of flat G as marked in the sketch are non-load-bearing walls and submission for approval to remove these walls is considered not necessary'.

In view of this, I don't think Dr Ko has done anything wrong.

Fung Yee-wang, Pok Fu Lam

Shocked at Tsang interview

As a Hong Kong permanent resident returning to the city after several years away, it is great to be back.

I am extremely impressed by the vibrancy and resilience of the city and its people. But I was shocked to watch the July 4 rebroadcast of Michael Chugani's interview with then-chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, on Newsline, on ATV World.

The rudeness and hostility shown towards Mr Tsang was completely out of place and disrespectful of the office. Mr Tsang deserved better and so do the Hong Kong people.

Paul Carlier, Wan Chai

Court should be backed in graft case

I refer to the report ('New PM given deadline on corruption case', June 28).

Pakistan's Supreme Court wants new prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to let it know if he will ask Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

I urge countries in the UN Security Council, including Britain, the US and China, to back the court's call.

The prime minister should act within the court's two-week time limit or be told he will face tough reprisals from the international community.

K. M. Nasir, Mid-Levels