PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2007, 12:00am

Pan-democrats should show united front

It appears that the pan-democratic camp is still missing the point shoved in its face by the crisis it foresees in the Legislative Council's December by-election. The point is not about Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, nor is it about Anson Chan Fang On-sang. The point is not about who will be contending. It is not even about this one seat.

It is about the ebbing support the pan-democratic camp is receiving from the people of Hong Kong.

Much has been said about the divided views and power struggle within the Democratic Party. I think this is only normal and not so important. What is more important is whether the party can stand united in front of fundamentals and promote them effectively. This is exactly what the democrats have not been doing.

For instance, regarding the green paper on constitutional development, the democrats should come up with a solid proposal outlining why and how universal suffrage in 2012 for the chief executive and 2016 for the Legislative Council, are in accord with the Basic Law, why the sooner Hong Kong gets this the better and what we should do to lobby for it. It is a waste of time debating with Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung, or with the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, or any other parties. You might make a convincing argument, but you would never convert them. Instead, the pan-democrats should focus all their efforts on giving Hong Kong people a unified message and finding ways to get their understanding and support. This is the real campaign, a campaign that calls for the creative use of all media, that engages the people, and that is much more important than the one-seat by-election.

The pan-democrats also have to do more lobbying of Beijing. It will not be easy, but they should not give up.

In fact, they should escalate their efforts, after each failure and each closed door.

As long as they are seen to be making the effort, whether they succeed or fail, they will not disappoint their supporters.

People say the art of politics is compromise. But there are principles and ideals that cannot be compromised, as people like Lincoln, Gandhi and Martin Luther King showed us.

I believe we should have genuine universal suffrage in 2012.

J. Y. K. Cheng, Quarry Bay

Ink painting building plea

Recently there has been a lot of discussion about the West Kowloon Cultural District development.

As a lover of Chinese art and culture, I would like to call on the government to review its policy on visual culture and to give ink painting its own building.

A lot of attention has been paid to the preservation of our physical heritage, like, for example, the King Yin Lei mansion.

Sadly fewer people care about other aspects of our cultural heritage such as ink painting. It is an important and unique art form in China.

I feel that we are obliged to maintain this great tradition and give it a distinct identity of its own.

The recent exhibition of the famous Qingming riverside scroll proved to be extremely popular with the public.

Some visitors made a special trip to Hong Kong to see it, which showed that ink paintings are still cherished and loved by a great many people, Chinese and foreigners.

An independent ink painting museum would serve to demonstrate how this great tradition with 2,000 years of history, has evolved to become a unique visual art form.

A building to house modern ink paintings does not exist anywhere in the world.

Hong Kong would be the first one to have such a building, and this would help it to be considered as an important cultural hub.

K. Y. Ng, Sheung Wan

We need to strike a balance

People have been talking a lot about 'collective memory' in the debate over the preservation of monuments. I feel the sentiments of certain minority groups have been stirred up, seriously jeopardising the harmony of society.

What is 'collective memory'? Are we going to keep everything historical without reasonably contemplating the consequences of such a policy?

Do some people who talk about collective memory have a political agenda?

I believe in the preservation of monuments, but we must strike a balance.

We have to consider the economic development of Hong Kong.

Advocates for preservation, should also consider the overall interests of Hong Kong.

Boris Lam Hong-kam, Sha Tin

Property rights under threat

There is no legal definition of 'heritage'. This means property owners can lose any control over a property, if it is considered aesthetically important.

Would you not be outraged if someone stopped you from re-painting your vintage car, or re-mounting your grandmother's 'heritage' jewellery?

It is laudable to save monuments. But in the process we are trashing something else we treasure more - the inviolability of property ownership in a democratic society.

Peter Fung Yiu-fai, Central

Loss of heritage

In the 24 years I have been travelling to, and living in, Hong Kong, I have witnessed the destruction of one historically significant place after another, either by the government, or by rapacious developers with the government's approval or complete indifference.

This latest partial destruction of the King Yin Lei mansion is yet another travesty. Concerned Hong Kong people and media have been warning of it for months and yet the government did nothing.

Hong Kong is experiencing its own cultural revolution, led by the developers' demolition army and abetted by its government. This has resulted in the destruction of Hong Kong's heritage.

Is this the same government that has announced, and is promoting, a cultural development for West Kowloon? No informed citizen or visitor will take this seriously.

Wayne Murphy, architect, Hung Hom

Bad attitude

I refer to the letter from Michael Lavergne, 'Bridge route to Shenzhen a bad experience' (September 17).

I would hope that your correspondent could be more clear as to whether he is complaining about the new Shenzhen bridge or that the government has not provided him and his non-Chinese speaking family with more bilingual educational opportunities.

Honestly, I have to say that I am appalled by this insulting attitude towards Hong Kong and its people. If he were to work in France, Germany, Japan or countless other European and Asian countries, he and his family would not be so well catered for and nor would he feel so justified in voicing complaints that the society is not proficient enough in English for his family. Frankly speaking, your correspondent, as an expat and not an immigrant, has the choice to leave or stay.

If he decides to stay and make Hong Kong his permanent home, I hope he takes steps to adapt to local society and not expect local society to adapt to him.

Matthew Bond, Lantau