Tough checks and balances long overdue
As a Hong Kong resident, it is disheartening to read about various scandals involving civil servants.
Following reports that then chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen had accepted favours from tycoons, we then had the fiasco of unauthorised structures at new Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's home. Consequently, a number of people have called for the integrity-checking system for civil servants to be reformed. It is high time the government plugged the loopholes in the system.
It must ensure that everyone, including our top leaders, abides by the relevant rules. The problems with the system are long-standing. For example, Antony Leung Kam-chung stepped down as financial secretary in 2003 after buying a luxury car shortly before announcing a vehicle registration tax hike.
Only by revamping the system can the government eradicate any abuses by civil servants. It can also act as a deterrent to officials who may be tempted to break the rules.
Tightening the rules can also ensure that society's trust in the civil service is restored.
Many citizens, especially social activists, responded angrily when the various scandals were made public. Under such circumstances, it is hard for a government to implement its proposed programme. A tighter vetting structure can help to build a harmonious relationship between the government and residents.
Also, we have to consider the need to protect Hong Kong's image as a international centre of finance. The dealings of the administration must be seen as beyond reproach, if we want to attract more investment from multinationals and more tourists. Hong Kong has long been renowned for being incorruptible and rates well in the Corruption Perceptions Index.
This has helped the economy to develop, but these gains will be reversed if the defects in the integrity-checking system are not addressed.
Charles Choi Hin-cheuk, Sha Tin
Will English commentary be inferior?
Well done ATV and TVB for securing the rights to broadcast the Olympics to all of Hong Kong.
I feel sorry for Cable TV which secured the rights five years ago and has tried hard to get the go-ahead to launch a free-to-air channel.
My main concern with coverage by ATV and TVB is that the English commentary will be an afterthought and we will have the same person commenting on all sports, as has happened in the past.
Timothy Teahan, Tsing Yi
Positive aspects to book fair
As one of the volunteer helpers at the seven-day Hong Kong Book Fair, I was encouraged to see so many visitors enjoying reading books and sharing in other cultural activities.
There were so many exhibitors which gave local citizens a fantastic opportunity to look at a wide range of books, something many people find difficult with such busy working lives.
I have noticed that publications looking at political issues have become more popular especially with teenagers.
This shows that more young people want to understand and share their thoughts on current affairs.
I am also pleased that the influence of the pseudo-models, known as lang mo, has shown a significant decline at the fair. I cannot see any connection between these young models and the acquisition of knowledge.
Their autobiographies with racy photographs promoted distorted values regarding women.
I hope that in future the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council will give careful consideration to the exhibitors they allow to set up stalls at book fairs so that the values and principles behind the fair are maintained.
I also welcomed the late session at the weekend.
This enjoyed strong support from people who have had to work during the day and could not get to the Convention and Exhibition Centre during normal hours.
However, I would like to see improvements in public transport. Transport services were not adequate to cope with the large crowds.
There should be temporary additional bus services provided in future to cope with the massive crowds leaving the convention centre.
Vincent T. C. Tang, Tsuen Wan
Mediation suitable for law schools
I agree with those who argue that law schools should incorporate mediation into their core courses.
Mediation is a far more desirable option than a lawsuit.
Through mediation, the opposing parties can get a better understanding of each other's needs and there is a better chance of reaching a consensus.
It is particularly effective in less serious cases, where there might be an application for damages. The mediation process tries to ensure that both sides are treated fairly.
It is essential that law students learn to acquire the skills needed for mediation.
These students have to learn that being adversarial is not always the best option and that the aim of the mediation process is to achieve justice and a fair outcome.
Lawyers should not see their priority as just winning a case.
They also need to try and understand their clients' needs.
It may be that with a particular case, there is no need to go to court.
If mediation becomes a more popular option, it is a skill which lawyers should be learning.
I also think that having this as a course in law schools is important because the curriculum of a law school should be as comprehensive as possible.
Knowledge and skills regarding the law can cover many areas and the use of them depends on the nature of different cases.
Mediation is undoubtedly one of the solutions for simple lawsuits.
With a view to ensuring law students are capable of dealing with a variety of cases in the course of their careers, mediation is necessary.
It enriches the content of the teaching syllabus and they will learn more through experience.
Cheng Wing-cheung, Sha Tin
Standards dropping in Hong Kong
Warren Russell ('If you don't like the place, why stay?' July 13) seems to have missed completely the point Beatriz Taylor was making in her letter ('Why HK is not best city in world', July 9).
Outlining what is wrong with Hong Kong is a call to put things right and restore it to what it was like before pollution took hold. Standards are dropping, good manners being mostly a thing of the past.
It is a concrete jungle, though an amazing one, lack of greenery and love of cement being all too obvious. If you don't encounter someone eating or drinking on the MTR, flouting regulations, it's a miracle, and litter is dumped anywhere. There is definitely an undercurrent nowadays, an 'us and them' mentality, regarding acceptance of other people.
Mr Russell has been here for nine years and loves it. I love it too, but having lived in Hong Kong for almost 40 years (and not as an expat), I've seen the harbour shrink, the once-clear air turn smoggy, and the sea once full of tropical fish become a dead zone full of rubbish.
People have trashed their city and surroundings and it's now time to try to reverse the damage that's been done so that Hong Kong can live up to its name 'fragrant harbour' and truly be the best city in the world.
Joan Miyaoka, Sha Tin
At least try to learn Cantonese
I refer to Stephen Anderson's letter ('Basic Law protection for English', July 20).
While I agree that English plays a vital role in an international business hub such as Hong Kong, I think Mr Anderson was so wrapped up in his defence over the use of English that he missed one key fact.
It is not the first language of more than 90 per cent of Hong Kong's residents. This is a predominantly Cantonese-speaking city.
I'm not saying foreigners who come to live here should be forced to learn Cantonese, and I don't think this was Edward Tsui's main argument ('Embrace HK by learning its language', July 13). However, would it hurt expats like Mr Anderson and Beatriz Taylor ('Why HK is not best city in the world', July 9) to at least make an effort to learn the local language of the city you are living in?
Mr Anderson writes from Macau. Like Hong Kong, Macau is another predominantly Cantonese-speaking city, and so I would suggest that if Mr Anderson dislikes the southern Chinese dialect he should move to a non-Cantonese speaking environment, preferably somewhere only English is spoken.
Andrew Nunn, Stanley