Highly paid officials need to do their job
Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee is right to point out that it is imperative that confidence in our civil service be restored as soon as possible ('Upright ways', July 17), but she does not offer the way to do it.
All the average citizen sees is a bunch of highly-paid people who would rather sit in their comfortable offices than perform their duties. The illegal structure mess is the result of inaction over a period of years, before the issue became too big to deal with effectively.
The government in an effort to show its environmental awareness introduced a ban on idling car engines. The enforcement of this stupid law will prove costly. All relevant officials have to do is to go out of their offices to see for themselves the chaotic road design and signage that causes drivers to circle unnecessarily to get to a destination.
A greater reduction in harmful emissions is possible with some simple technology, but this requires real work on the part of officials.
Expedience always supersedes propriety. Ordinary people feel that senior officials are better at kowtowing to the super rich than serving the city, to ensure plum post-retirement jobs.
After 1997, they had an additional priority - pleasing Beijing to garner undeserved promotion. The charging of a former top official [with bribery] simply reinforces this observation.
Generalisations can never be 100 per cent correct.
I am sure there have been and still are senior officials who want to win the confidence of the people by doing their job well, but they are obviously in the minority. And I am sure Mrs Ip knows better than most of us and should be able to tell her ex-colleagues and the people how to restore confidence in Hong Kong's governance.
Writer and politician Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said: 'Knowing is not enough; we must apply.'
Wilkie Wong, Wan Chai
Greed of some tycoons is shameful
We are reading more now about tycoons who believe their wealth is their divine inheritance, and high-ranking civil servants, never content with what they earn.
It makes me angry when I read of their arrogance. They have no conscience when it comes to those who suffer from their greed, while they throw a few crumbs to the hungry, and care nothing for the degrading circumstances in which hard-working people live.
The sole concern of those who consider themselves to be part of this aristocracy is money, which they treasure for the enjoyment of their heirs.
The starving children, the elderly driven to scavenging on the streets, young couples unable to take out a mortgage for a small flat - all these result from the greed of the tycoons who stoop to any means to raise the price of land and the cost of transport, utilities and food.
Some are tainted by corruption and corruption is now the curse of mankind.
I am old now, and often wonder how some old people manage to live without enough money to buy the little comforts that the elderly need.
Often they are left alone to suffer in pain.
Some survive on barely enough to keep them alive. But the tycoons say, 'We must ensure that our wealth is passed down to our own family.' 'Shame on you', I say.
Elsie Tu, Kwun Tong
Draconian measures to stop dancing
I refer to the report on the court ruling regarding police 'halting dancers during a gay rights rally' last year ('Dancing challenge trips up in court', July 17).
If dancing in public requires special permission, should the police round up and arrest those old women who exercise and dance in parks in Hong Kong every morning and evening?
Am I an offender if I walk down the street with my MP3 player, singing a song to myself?
Surely, these are all clearly examples of an unauthorised entertainment performance?
How can the public respond to these draconian measures?
In one recent example, some Russian citizens, in response to new restrictions on protests and public gatherings, started filing official applications for such public events as 'waiting for a bus at a bus stop' or 'publicly going shopping in a group of people'.
This protest technique may raise the level of awareness in Hong Kong. You could file an entertainment event application every time you want to whistle a song in the street, or if you feel you might want to dance on the way to work and do not want to commit an offence.
Gu Minfeng, Lamma
No questions asked, if you have money
I have been reading about how HSBC's lax controls made it easy for terrorists and other criminals to launder money in [or via] the United States ('HSBC says sorry to Senate for drug money blunders', July 18).
Well if that is not kicking in an open door. On many occasions I have been standing in a queue in a branch of HSBC and other banks in Hong Kong and have seen someone depositing huge amounts of cash.
For example, once I saw a mainlander emptying a bag full of HK$1,000 notes. I estimated he must have had millions of dollars.
Frequently I see people from South Asia making US dollar cash deposits of US$500,000 or more.
Then of course we have all the mainlanders and mainland (state-owned) companies who have bank accounts in Hong Kong to keep their black or illegal money away from the prying eyes of the central government. And last, but not least, all the non-resident Westerners who use Hong Kong accounts to avoid paying taxes back home.
Obviously I cannot say where all this money was coming from when I was standing in these queues.
However, if any of them had tried to make a similar deposit in a bank in Europe, of HK$100,000 or more, they would be asked a lot of questions and would have to fill in forms.
This not the case in Hong Kong. If you've got money, you are welcome - no questions asked.
Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay
Time for rethink of China view
I refer to the letter from Arthur Waldron ('China has not yet had 'renaissance'', July 13) in reply to Alex Lo's column ('Hong Kong blind to China's renaissance', July 10).
Professor Waldron (of the University of Pennsylvania in the US) objects to Lo's criticism of reflexive negativism about the mainland common in Hong Kong, on the grounds that China has not had the kind of renaissance the professor prescribes, 'free media and culture, and democratic institutions'.
India, soon to be the most populous developing country, is the only state comparable in size to China.
The current Indian and Chinese states were created in the late 1940s, when India's level of development was higher than that of war-torn China. India today has media critical of the government and contending political parties. Yet, data shows it is now far behind China in, for example, living standards, education and gender equality.
Chinese amply discuss China's many problems of inequality and inequity, problems that will not be solved through authoritarian rule.
The example of India shows, however, that electoral politics also do not solve the problems of developing countries and, as with authoritarianism, also have aspects that inhibit solutions.
It is time to abandon the binary thinking that forces discourse about China into a choice between only liberalism or authoritarianism.
Barry Sautman, associate professor of social science, University of Science and Technology
Basic Law protection for English
In his letter ('Embrace HK by learning its language', July 13) Edward Tsui chastises Beatriz Taylor ('Why HK is not best city in the world', July 9). He says newcomers should learn the language to get a 'better understanding or respect'.
For the record, English is one of two languages of Hong Kong protected under the Basic Law. Furthermore, the government spends millions of dollars worldwide, marketing Hong Kong as the best place in Asia to do business with the major selling point that it is an English-speaking city. Also, let us not forget the explosion of joy for those lucky parents who see their children being accepted into an English medium-of-instruction school.
Before accusing Ms Taylor of disrespecting the Cantonese dialect, Mr Tsui should consider that it is not the language of the mainland and hardly registers in the world of business.
Stephen Anderson, Macau