Tsang's pledge betrays his narrow thinking
Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's article 'My pledge to connect with the people' (February 14) is textbook bad politics. Having raised three major issues he faces - pollution, collusion and heritage - he fails to address them, instead pointing out that the economy has bounced back rather well from severe acute respiratory syndrome. This only gives the impression that, for him, good economic performance trumps healthy air. As if the two must be opposed!
Why is it so difficult to understand that economic wealth is pursued not for its own sake, but because it allows us to afford smaller class sizes to invest in our long-term human capital or to pay slightly higher fuel bills so that we do not breathe in our own effluent? We can also afford to deny ourselves the largest possible profits from development, in order to create and enjoy a city with that balance of old and new that makes London, Paris and a host of other cities such desirable places to live in and to visit.
We would not sell our children because they might fetch a pretty penny, so why destroy our civic heritage for an extra dollar or two?
Mr Tsang, though very competent, wouldn't get my vote, if I had one, because his thinking is too short term.
PAUL SERFATY, Mid-Levels
More equal than others
We are all equal, but someone is more equal than others. That is the impression I get on reading 'Richard Li seeks Tsang stance on democracy' (February 11). Clearly presuming priority over his fellow citizens, Mr Li says Donald Tsang Yam-kuen 'should make his statement on universal suffrage to the public after he replies to me'. Somehow, such a prescription does not fit with the social equality implied by 'democracy' - if real democracy is what Mr Li believes in.
It is amusing trying to read Mr Li's mind when he says he 'needs to follow his voters' views' rather than his own. As an democratically elected member of the Election Committee, surely his voters would have considered his views before voting for him, and these views would represent their own. If Mr Li believes Mr Tsang 'has the advantage and the strength to get the job done', so be it - and that should be his vote.
During his campaign for a seat on the committee, Mr Li pledged to fight for 'real democracy'. Come now, Mr Li, enlighten me on what you think this is. You never know, you may even get a vote from me come the day of universal suffrage - in 2012 perhaps?
ALEX TAM, Sai Kung
Smoke and mirrors in HK
The article 'Smoke and mirrors' (February 11) tells how ExxonMobil has spent enormous sums funding surrogates in the scientific community to create doubt about global warming and so influence the US government.
How timely that the story was published the day before another full-page advert from CLP Power warning: 'Without LNG, blue skies may only exist in advertisements.'
Let's get the facts right. The company that wants to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in Hong Kong is Capco, a 40/60 per cent partnership between CLP Power and - guess who? - ExxonMobil. It looks as if its surrogate persuasion techniques have arrived in Hong Kong. In common with recent advertisements suggesting that blocks of flats are palaces with royal gardens, CLP Power's adverts should be taken with a pinch of particulates.
If ExxonMobil would sign a contract with Hongkongers promising (with penalties) that its proposed LNG terminal will bring us blue skies, we might believe it. Of course, our government will not be misled like that of US President George W. Bush, will it?
LI SI-PING, Lantau
Referring to your article 'Smoke and mirrors' (February 11), I would like to clarify ExxonMobil Corporation's position on climate change - a position which continues to be misunderstood by some individuals and groups. There is increasing evidence that the Earth's climate has warmed about 0.7 degrees Celsius over the past century. Many global ecosystems, especially the polar areas, are showing signs of warming. Carbon dioxide emissions have increased over the same period - and emissions from fossil fuels are one source of these.
ExxonMobil recognises that the potential impact of climate change could prove to be significant. The corporation and its affiliates have invested substantially on climate-change research. Scientific and technical investigations over the past 25 years have produced more than 40 peer-reviewed papers. ExxonMobil scientists take part in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and numerous related scientific bodies. The corporation also engages in public-policy discussions by encouraging serious inquiry, the sharing of information and transparency.
As for the contributions ExxonMobil makes to various public-policy organisations, this support is transparent. However, these organisations are independent of their corporate sponsors. ExxonMobil does not control their views and messages, nor do they speak on its behalf.
On the technological front, ExxonMobil supports the development of advanced energy technologies with the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These include partnerships with vehicle manufacturers, energy efficiency at refineries, support for the Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford University, and working with the US Department of Energy and the European Commission to study carbon capture and storage.
GRACE LAM, vice-president, public affairs shared services centre HK and southern China, ExxonMobil HK
Jeffrey Kuperus ('We want femininity', February 14) is outraged that fellow letter writer Renata Lopez should imply that Asian women are either servants or sex slaves ('What men want', February 10). I am a bit outraged myself at his implication that western women are masculine. My own 'beautiful, intelligent, well-educated and financially independent' western wife does not (at least, in my opinion) look and behave like a man. And if she did, that's our choice.
Nevertheless, I'm sure western women all over Hong Kong are at this very moment 'upping the competition' in an endeavour to snare a prize like Mr Kuperus.
MARK L. DONNELLY, Tai Po
A shabby comparison
Letter writer Angelo Paratico (Iniquitous antiquity', February 15) makes strange comparisons in slamming Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee for the opinions she expresses in 'The view from Mong Kok' (February 12).
Is he suggesting that the Yau Ma Tei cinema and fruit market are comparable to the Colosseum in Rome or Bavaria's castles in architectural grandeur or historical significance? Does he honestly believe preserving such rundown structures would provide a big boost for local tourism?
I would be the first to protest if bulldozers are called in to knock down truly outstanding and valuable buildings like The Peninsula hotel. But treating myriad decaying, nondescript old structures as though they are wonders of the world is ill-considered.
WALTER CHAN, Wong Tai Sin
Either black or white
In her indignant letter asking why people are considered black even if their mothers are white ('In black and white', February 14), Isabel Escoda fails to understand that - when it comes to race - things are indeed either black or white. Ask any child of mixed-race parents how they are perceived by society in general and the reply will be 'as black', or 'as Asian'. White racism has little compassion for its own, and as soon as Caucasian genes mingle with African, Indian or Asian genes, they become 'impure' and are cast out.
It's not only the film world that regards actress Halle Berry as black - she does so herself. When asked once why she considered herself black when she was 50 per cent white, she said it was because she had always been treated as black in the white US she grew up in. Ms Escoda's use of the politically incorrect word 'negro' only serves to confirm that she has little understanding of the subject.
WILLIAM HUNG CHI-KIN, Tai Po
Spurred by paranoia
With all due respect to Isabel Escoda ('In black and white', February 14), it is not the guilt of white Americans at their past treatment of blacks that has made for political correctness in the US. It is organisations like the American Civil Liberties Union (along with its high-paid lawyers) and the Black Panthers with its threats of violence that have created a racially tense atmosphere of political correctness.
I would call it more political paranoia than correctness. While at university, a friend of mine asked a black woman handing out flyers for Black Awareness week: 'When is white awareness week?' He nearly started a riot. Yet it was a good question. We should all be proud of who we are, without judging anyone of another race or culture to be lesser.
CRAIG GIBSON, Sha Tin