PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 February, 2004, 12:00am

Tibet issue

I refer to the article headlined 'Beijing helping Tibetans catch up with the west, says author' (January 28).

It is ironic that Ma Lihua dismisses critics of China's rule in Tibet as unobjective when she herself heads the publishing unit of the Beijing-backed China Tibetology Research Centre and discounts human rights abuses in Tibet as exaggerated.

Ms Ma attempts to frame Tibet as an issue of development, as does Beijing. She entirely ignores the key issue: Tibetan desire for self-rule. Ms Ma herself saw firsthand the pro-independence demonstrations of the late 1980s, when thousands dared demand power to shape their own political and economic fate.

Tibet's economy in the late 1980s was expanding after Communist Party chief Hu Yaobang's liberalisation, and the protests showed Tibetans to be unsatisfied merely with development on China's terms. Thus, Ms Ma laments, 'I felt terrible. We came to Tibet to help the people', but she overlooks that many Tibetans resent Han Chinese as overbearing foreigners.

'Stability' based on disenfranchisement and suppression of nationalistic aspirations is inherently fragile, and unfortunately Beijing seems just as unobjectively dismissive of this reality as Ms Ma.

NIMA R. TAYLOR, department of law, London School of Economics

Government for all

I would like to heartily applaud Reggie Ho's article 'Why Hong Kong's gay vote matters' (January 28), on equal rights for sexual minorities, but I cannot.

Reggie Ho, though well intentioned and mostly correct, puts his argument in the wrong by choosing the opposite pole to Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa. The error is an assumption that government should segregate different groups and can offer them different 'equal opportunities'. It should not and it cannot. Any government is of and by the people. We should insist that it is also for the people, not some of them. Instead of making more legal divisions in society, the government should get out of our lives, bedrooms, living spaces and pocketbooks as much as possible.

I applaud your desire for full freedoms. But I, my life partner and all reasonable and democratic people would like you to stop obstructing our lives, liberties and pursuit of happiness.