Constitutions are not fixed in stone
I refer to the letter by K. M. Chong ('Small- house grant elevated to constitutional right under Basic Law', June 28).
The main thrust of the letter is that because the small-house policy is now a constitutional right, this right should be protected even if the indigenous villager abuses this right by selling for a quick profit.
The fact that your correspondent was 'alarmed' by changes proposed by the development minister would suggest that even mere discussion of a change to the constitutional right would be regarded as an attack on it.
What was not mentioned is that freedom of speech is protected under Article 27 of the Basic Law. There is nothing in the Basic Law that specifically prohibits discussion of the constitutional right of indigenous villagers to build small houses. Or is it suggested that the right to build small houses is presumed to be included in Article 40, making it a constitutional right, and so makes it discussion- and amendment-proof?
Constitutions once drafted are not meant to be fixed in stone for all time as a testament to the wisdom of its drafters. In fact, they are amended when necessary to fix unintended loopholes and to better reflect the times and situation of the country.
The US constitution has been amended 27 times, with the first 10 amendments ratified within three years of the ratification of the original constitution, well within the lifetimes of the original drafters. The constitution of the People's Republic of China was first amended in 1988 to allow for a private economy and transfer of land use rights.
The socialist leaders of China had no qualms about allowing for private enterprise even if the country was supposed to be a socialist paradise.
If the constitutional right of indigenous villagers to build small houses obstructs the overall development of Hong Kong, then it should be removed. This right has long outlived its usefulness.
Danny Chung, Tai Po
Government must listen to citizens
Last Sunday Hong Kong celebrated 15 years since the handover. Over that period the city has had its ups and downs.
A lot of people have come from the grass roots and successfully climbed the social ladder and joined the ranks of the middle classes.
I am grateful that such upward mobility is possible in this society. It helps the community and can be a blessing for many families.
I have taken advantage of the possibilities offered thanks to our education and free-market systems and am now at middle management level, studying for a postgraduate degree.
However, although the city has done well economically, there are still young people and citizens from the grass roots who feel unhappy with what they see as policy blunders by government, in areas such as housing.
I do not think social problems can be resolved by a spoon-feeding approach.
What the new government needs to do is create more opportunities for Hongkongers.
In order to determine how best to achieve that it must to listen to ordinary people, but this should not be done in some sort of formal, official manner.
Our government must sound out citizens' views in the wet markets, public housing estates, private apartment blocks, cha chaan teng, and in MTR train compartments.
Also, I urge the administration not to listen only to the pro-establishment camp.
Do not turn a deaf ear to the pan-democrats and do not see these politicians as simply 'the opposition'.
T. Tang, Ma On Shan
Helicopter can be used for count
Robert Chung Ting-yiu, director of the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme, has talked of the problems encountered when trying to get accurate counts at the July 1 march in the city.
Video recording coupled with actual counting on static pictures is clearly a convincing scientific approach and provides visual evidence of the counting at different points in time.
I propose that in future the Census and Statistics Department use a helicopter to take static pictures to provide an aerial view at various points in time of the rally and let the academics do the counting. The pictures and the counting at various points in time can then be published in the media to support the department's claim about the number of rally participants.
C. Wong, Mong Kok
Organiser of event is responsible
I refer to the letter by Kelvin Chu ('Poor sound system at concert', July 1), regarding the K-pop Festival - Music Bank Live in Hong Kong, held on June 23. We believe there has been a misunderstanding.
AsiaWorld-Arena is equipped with state-of-the-art acoustic panel wall treatment, which allows for the most elaborate sound productions by individual professional performances.
Many world-class performances have been staged and AsiaWorld-Arena has been favourably rated by audiences and by industry professionals, which is why it attracts many top international acts to Hong Kong.
As a venue operator, we are responsible for working with event organisers to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for participants.
The sound system, stage design and production of concerts are the responsibility of respective event organisers.
On the rare occasions where the quality of individual sound productions might be in doubt, we will take all comments seriously. It is regrettable that in this case the sound system affected some people's enjoyment of the show. We have passed Mr Chu's comments to the organiser.
We value all comments from our customers and also offer i-express' as a convenient on-line platform for views to be expressed.
Kenneth Chan, head of corporate affairs and communications, AsiaWorld-Expo Management Limited
Ban shark's fin soup from banquets
The Hong Kong government must do what's right to protect marine ecology by banning shark's fin soup.
We hope our new chief executive will recognise the ethical and responsible path and join the many who have banned shark fin from their banquets.
Last week the Government Offices Administration of the State Council mandated the phasing out of shark's fin soup at official functions, acknowledging the severe damage that shark's fin soup is causing to marine ecology. Beijing has taken the right step forward and our government can now do more, and do it quickly.
The SAR government's leaders must recognise what Toronto, Hawaii, California, Palau and now China's leaders have accepted - that there is no place for shark's fin soup on any menu.
Ran Elfassy, director, Shark Rescue
Morality is without boundaries
I refer to Lau Nai-keung's article ('Sharing secrets and courting media is simply irresponsible', June 22), in which he distorts the true meaning of ethics and morality.
He says the 'recent death of Li Wangyang is a case in point' and that as it is a 'mysterious case... public figures have to be extra cautious in their comments, especially when this is a matter outside our jurisdiction'.
As some great political figures, like Aung San Suu Kyi, have said, there are no boundaries to ethics and morality.
Even if this case of what I consider to be the murder of Li Wangyang is 'outside our jurisdiction', this does not mean that we should be 'extra cautious' in our comments.
What is true cannot be false and what is false cannot be true, no matter how cautious or diplomatic you are.
Stephen C. K. Chan, Lai Chi Kok
An abuse of taxpayers' money
I refer to the letter from Guy Lam ('Over-the-top reaction to Tsang's hotel', June 25).
Although Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was Hong Kong's chief executive, that grade is equivalent to the mayor of Shenzhen.
I do not think he was entitled to stay in the presidential suite of a hotel when on overseas trips.
His actions were tantamount to an abuse of taxpayers' money.
Eugene Li, Deep Water Bay