Killer does not deserve release

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 September, 2004, 12:00am

Your leader headlined 'Rehabilitation the issue, not sympathy' (Sunday Morning Post, September 5) on the Braemar Hill killers did not go far enough in describing the extreme brutality with which teenagers Nicola Myers and Kenneth McBride were put to death.

They were tortured over a period of some four hours, suffering not just knife wounds but beatings so severe that the club broke twice. The assaults on Nicola were depraved in the extreme. At no stage in these ghastly proceedings did any of the killers desist or show regret. As a father of daughters of Nicola and Kenneth's age, I have carried the memories of that atrocity as clearly as if it happened yesterday. My daughters are now fine young women with children of their own, and I am a proud grandfather. Nicola, Kenneth and their parents will never have this joy.

And now we read that one of the killers may be released, having been fed, housed and educated, yes educated, so that he may return to society after a mere 20 years incarceration. You call this a 'humane step'. That they were not put to death for their senseless barbarity is 'humanity' enough, indeed more than I would have wished and still wish. To contemplate that one, and perhaps others, will ever be permitted to rejoin society is not just improper, it is obscene.


Vote - and be thankful

As a registered voter in the coming US presidential election, I think Hong Kong residents would ask me to cast my ballot this November. 'Please get that [President] George [W.] Bush out of office,' they would say. And though my vote may be small and it may be different from my family at home, it is my privilege, my right. And this year it certainly comes with even more responsibility. In December I will have no right to complain if the wrong guy gets elected and I did not vote.

So let me turn the table back to Hong Kong: if you expect me to vote, then I expect you to cast a ballot in the Hong Kong election. The elections our countries hold are far from perfect, but in the quest for a more accountable system, and to let your voice be heard, I urge you to exercise the same responsibility as me - and be thankful that you too have this right.


Sticking to the 2007 issue

I was much impressed by editor-at-large Chris Yeung's conclusion ('The forgotten issue', September 8) that any party sticking to its guns by fighting for the election, by 'one person, one vote', of the next chief executive and all Legco members in 2007 and 2008, respectively, should prevail.

This is a matter of a party's beliefs, character and integrity, he said. Indeed, I would not vote for any candidate departing from these principles, on which China's Joint Declaration with Britain was based.


Teach elections all year

Voter education in Hong Kong, which is launched two months before the election instead of being year round, is regrettably inadequate.

How many voters actually understand the proportional representation voting system versus the first-past-the-post method? How many study the election platforms of the candidates and can tell the difference between rival parties?

Since direct elections were introduced in 1991, we are still tramping on old ground as far as voter education is concerned. Without ongoing efforts to arouse voters' awareness of and interest in politics, they remain relatively uninformed. Votes are cast according to the popularity of the candidates rather than party performance.

Hong Kong can borrow from elsewhere to improve voters' knowledge and voting technology. The US, for instance, educates different age groups of voters, providing election information and voting skills. They analyse the toughest issues facing the nation so that people are better armed when considering politicians' plans. They urge voters to speak out and contact their congressmen.

Informed voters are essential to the development of true democracy. To this end, Hong Kong should start election education in school; the government and non-profit organisations should explain the functions of Legco and other bodies, and the powers and privileges of voters; the parties and Legco members should take up voter education as a day-to-day mission and to ensure ongoing public accountability; and the media should publish articles on legislative bodies and political parties.


Secret of policeman's exit

I refer to the article headlined 'Ex-police chief takes secret of his departure to the grave' (Sunday Morning Post, September 5).

I offer one or two ideas which I had (and still have) in 1967, as a young, naive but loyal and enthusiastic inspector stationed in the then Bay View Division.

On hearing the news that the commissioner of police would not return from 'leave', we speculated it was due to (a) his ordering murder charges against three members of the 'rank and file' (now known as junior police officers) for allegedly beating to death a known 'stone thrower' in Wong Tai Sin who was under arrest. The action led to disquiet in the ranks, the levels which matter. There was even talk of a go-slow when responding to calls to deal with riots. The officers were later 'cleared' of the charges. And (b) not really endearing himself to his men during his short tenure as commissioner.

While he had good ideas (like we should use 'brains and not bullets'), he only 'managed' the force but did not 'lead' it. By comparison, his successor Ted Eates endeared himself to 'his men' by leading from the front and standing up for them, especially on the issue of the $45 tax on the allowance paid to us for not leaving the station for 28 days.

JAMES A. ELMS, Mid-Levels

Creating an underclass

Thomas Hon Wing Polin ('Democracy's first steps', September 5) is right to point out that outsiders sometimes see the mainland in the wrong light. As an insider I am also aware, however, of the danger of being dazzled by the shiny new skyscrapers and shopping malls.

He may be right that the Communist Party 'knows something' that others do not. Much more likely, though, is that they will make the same mistakes as in many other countries: a mixture of clinging to total power too long and dealing with the genuine grievances of minority groups with a heavy boot in the name of 'stability'. Look at South America's strongmen, Israel's Likud party, Indonesia's tough guys and Vladimir Putin's boot boys in Chechnya. All seek stability but engender the opposite. Mr Polin mentions South Korea - does he remember the instability and near civil war caused by dictatorship in the 1980s? The signs are worse on the mainland.

The economic advance in the mainland is creating an underclass that has no access to the new opportunities. At the same time, the party's policy of swamping Tibet and Xinjiang with Han Chinese and imprisoning tens of thousands of Uygurs (among others) is creating sizeable minorities who feel their identity is being crushed. In other words, Beijing is creating a huge group of people who have no reason to toe the line because they have no place in the new China. That is the breeding ground of terror. From the school in Beslan to bus stops in Israel, see what happens when the festering resentment of downtrodden minorities gets mixed up with the twisted world of terrorists.

Mainland China has a fantastic opportunity to create a dynamic, diverse, inclusive and truly magnificent state. But the steps need to be taken right now, not in 10 or 20 years.