Elsie Tu


PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 October, 2007, 12:00am

Selling arms to regime is interference

The bloody suppression of human rights in Myanmar has brought out the usual stale formula from those nations supporting the junta's style of government.

Spokesmen in Beijing, Bangkok and Delhi are happy to announce that their governments 'do not interfere in the activities of a neighbouring sovereign state'.

This outworn formula masks a dark reality, namely that such governments tacitly approve of the brutality and are unwilling to defend basic human rights by strong words of disapproval.

Even worse, most of the governments involved have long had military ties with the repressive regime and continue to sell arms to the generals.

Please notice the hypocrisy.

They are saying: 'We don't interfere in their activities; we only sell weapons.' (To the oppressors, obviously.)

We heard that shibboleth not too long ago when apartheid South Africa was killing its black citizens.

Now history repeats itself, but the speakers are Asian, not European.

If the leadership in Beijing hopes to avoid angering and alienating Buddhist followers and international visitors to the 2008 Olympics, it must move swiftly to end military supplies to the junta.

It must encourage dialogue with political activists and assist sufferers of the recent crack-


History will soon judge whether China's leadership is ready for a responsible role on the world's diplomatic stage.

J. Garner, Sham Shui Po

Clarifying role in Myanmar

I would like to clarify one point raised in two articles ('Myanmar's monks had US training', and 'Monks make most of non-violent tactics', October 21).

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) did not prepare monks and activists in Myanmar for the 'Saffron Revolution'.

The Saffron Revolution was entirely an initiative of the people of Myanmar.

The NED's mission is to support people throughout the world who are engaged in non-violent efforts to defend human rights, expand political space, and strengthen democratic institutions and processes.

Such support is now an established feature of the international system.

In the case of Myanmar it has strong bipartisan backing in the United States as well as widespread support in Europe and Asia.

The NED provides such support in the spirit of solidarity with those fighting for democracy, fully respecting their autonomy and their right to set their own agenda and determine their own destiny.

The brave monks of Myanmar did not need, and did not receive, endowment encouragement or support to stage the Saffron Revolution.

Carl Gershman, president, National Endowment for Democracy, Washington DC

Why we feared Article 23 move

I refer to Elsie Tu's letter ('Writing the only option at age 94', October 18) and Carmen Law's 'Homage to a civic pioneer' (October 19), in response to my letter ('Are by-election winds blowing against Anson Chan's bid?' October 12).

I accept that Mrs Tu was a civic pioneer in Hong Kong.

In an earlier letter ('Don't condemn Anson Chan without reason', September 21), I focused on the need for a faster pace towards universal suffrage, but I did not endorse Anson Chan Fang On-sang in the Hong Kong Island by-election.

Mrs Tu supports Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee in the by-election and she has said Article 23 of the Basic Law should be implemented, because every country has a security law designed to protect itself. I agree, however, the almost successful introduction of Article 23 of the Basic Law created fears that Hong Kong people would be deprived of the freedoms they now enjoy.

That was why 500,000 people marched on the streets in 2003 to voice their concerns.

Mrs Tu admires Mrs Ip for the job she did at the time, as secretary for security, but at the end of the day, she had to be accountable for the way she presented herself as the principal government official of a department.

I agree with Carmen Law that Mrs Tu has done a lot for the people of Hong Kong, but that does not mean I cannot comment on her opinions.

The precious thing about Hong Kong is that in terms of our freedom of speech, there have been no great changes since the handover in 1997.

Regarding the December by-election, if none of the candidates are considered good enough, people have the right not to vote for them.

Alpha Keung, Sai Wan Ho

Map meant

for festival

I wish to respond to Fiona Ng's letter on the apparent omission of Algeria on the map printed in the publicity brochure of the Mediterranean Arts Festival ('Why did Algeria fall off the map?' October 19).

Of the some 20 countries with coastal access to the Mediterranean, the map we included in the festival's printed publicity material highlighted the countries with performing arts groups participating in this festival. The map supports the text inviting our audience to journey through the events we are presenting and is not meant to be a full geographical representation of the Mediterranean region.

As Hassan Boussou and his musicians come from Morocco, that is our reason for showing Morocco on the map.

In the text, we do acknowledge that the music originates from the Gnawa brotherhoods in Morocco and Algeria and is influenced by Islamic regions around the Sahara.

I am grateful to Ms Ng for her interest in the Mediterranean Arts Festival. In future, when preparing our programme publicity we will take her point of view into account.

Elaine Yeung, senior manager (services), for director of leisure and cultural services

Air-con queries

In Peter Lok's letter ('Who's idling?' October 22), where he refers to air conditioners being 'presumably' left on when a classroom is temporarily unoccupied, one is left feeling he is suggesting two things:

That he considers that wasting energy and its short and long term, direct and indirect costs, are a good thing; and

That our schools are incorrectly and inefficiently designed and managed from the energy efficiency point of view.

I hope he is mistaken, for the health of his children and grandchildren.

Perhaps he could respond to item one and the Architectural Services Department and Education Bureau could respond to the second item.

P. Jeremy Newton, Happy Valley

Half-fare plea

It is high time half-fare concessions were given to people with a disability, as they have to spend too much on daily transport costs.

The scheme should benefit anyone with a disability, whether or not they receive allowances.

This would mean holders of a registration card for people with disabilities issued by the Central Registry for Rehabilitation, but who are not on allowances, would also enjoy the half-fare benefit, as they also have to bear high transport costs when travelling to and from the workplace.

They are making a contribution to society regardless of their disabilities.

Kwok Tat-see, Sham Shui Po