Is this a case of democratic posturing?
Pro-democracy professionals have formed an alliance to 'help shape public policies' and some members are already eyeing seats in Legislative Council functional constituencies ('Professionals launch pro-democracy team', June 6).
Strangely, PCCW chairman Richard Li Tzar-kai, a chief architect of the alliance, is not one of them.
It is interesting to note that 'the group was keen to change the public impression that functional constituencies focused only on their interests' and that 'they are concerned about the well-being of society as a whole'.
The group has five areas of focus - universal suffrage, press freedom, academic freedom, small and medium-sized enterprises, and development and community participation.
It is difficult to see how some of these focus areas can help change the public perception of functional constituencies focusing on their own interests. The issue of academic freedom concerns their members in academia while small and medium-sized enterprises are concerned with legal practices, consultancies and so on. These two areas of focus are vested interests.
On the other hand, their other three areas of focus on universal suffrage, press freedom, and development and community participation, all have a more political undertone.
National People's Congress Standing Committee chairman Wu Bangguo just expressed the central government's view on political development and universal suffrage in Hong Kong. Therefore, it is difficult to see what more the professional group can do on suffrage, if they do not take an opposition stance. At this moment in time, press freedom seems a non-issue, if what the press and the community can express in these pages, and other newspapers and magazines, can be used as a guide.
If the pro-democracy professional group claims it is 'concerned about the well-being of society as a whole', it is hard to see how it can accomplish its mission with the current five major areas of focus as discussed.
If the group wants to put forward some members for the Legco election next year, it should have relevant areas of focus that can truly serve Hong Kong society in a holistic way.
But if power and influence are what these people are after, why be hypocritical about that? Are these not clearly spelled out already in their five areas of focus?
Alex Hung, Mong Kok
Smoking ban a healthy option
The Hong Kong government has offered a host of entertainment programmes to both the young and the old in community centres and other places.
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department, in particular, deserves credit for offering music, dancing, singing, kung fu, yoga and swimming to members of the public. Many of these activities are free for senior citizens or cost very little. The elderly have a number of parks and country parks to choose from where they can play chess and be involved in other wholesome activities.
The accusation by Cynthia Hendersen ('Smoking ban bullies the poor and elderly', June 1), is, therefore, utterly unfounded. What's wrong with protecting the health of the public?
Peter Wei, Kwun Tong
Noisy heliport not welcome
I refer to the letter from R. J. F. Brothers, chairman of the Hong Kong Regional Heliport Working Group ('Heliport plan a flight of fancy', June 1).
I challenge his statement that '80 per cent of the public support the provision of adequate heliport facilities' on the Wan Chai waterfront.
Can he provide the profile of correspondents and the methodology used to back up his statement? While this degree of enthusiasm may be true of members of the aviation industry, it is certainly not representative of the 'aspirations of the community'.
The rank and file does not want these noisy polluting machines landing at sites designated for recreational use and tourism.
Residents and tourists alike flock to the harbourfront for a respite from the clamour on the streets. Passengers on the Star Ferry relish those 10 minutes of tranquillity that their trip across the harbour provides.
The use of helicopters in a crowded city like Hong Kong should be confined to the emergency services. If it takes businessmen a few hours longer to get from A to B then so be it.
The secretary for economic development and labour must resist pressure from vested interests to further schemes that will have a negative impact on the community in general.
Candy Tam, Wan Chai
No evidence of June 4 massacre
Andrew Tay wrote about the Tiananmen tragedy of 1989 ('China's repressive leaders have not learned from massacre', June 14).
The situation created by the Tiananmen students in 1989 was one from which no regime could back down, as Henry Kissinger put it. The nationwide breakdown of public order had to be stopped. In the process people inevitably got killed, the more so because the PLA had no anti-riot gear, such as rubber bullets and water cannons.
What Ma Lik did, rightly in my view, was to question the basis on which Szeto Wah's supporters make such serious accusations about the scale of the killing.
Proof in the form of video recordings is necessary. Still photos and eyewitness accounts will not do, not for such serious accusations.
It defies logic that no one has been able to come forward with a video showing the so-called massacre.
Peter Luk, Heng Fa Chuen
One-child rule crucial to China
Your correspondent Paul Flynn is seriously misguided in calling for Beijing to abandon its one-child policy ('Get rid of one-child rule', June 5).
The root cause of the Earth's degradation during the past century is overpopulation by the human race. Without a one-child policy, the mainland would by now face feeding more than 2 billion people. It should be the responsibility of all governments worldwide to introduce similar policies. Religious leaders should also support this. The Catholic Church's obstinacy, for instance, in continuing to frown upon all available methods of birth control is, in my view, environmentally criminal. Stop criticising the mainland on this important issue, which is for the benefit of all mankind. Theirs is the only government that has the courage to implement this very necessary policy.
P. A. Crush, Sha Tin
Mistreatment of toads is wrong
I refer to the report about the alleged mistreatment of a breed of toad in the Australian city of Townsville ('SPCA outrage over 'cane toad golf' ', June 8).
These toads may be notorious pests, but to beat them to death is cruel and inhumane treatment. Toads are living, breathing creatures and feel pain. It is sending a terrible message to children. They will think it is okay to abuse animals and kill them. Why not catch them with bait and traps and sell them for pets?
That would send a positive message and it would be a learning experience for a child to care for the animal.
Michele Kalish, South Bay