PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 December, 2007, 12:00am

Speech on pace of democracy so disappointing

For those of us who support the introduction of universal suffrage in 2012 the speech by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was disappointing ('2017 acceptable, Tsang tells Beijing', December 13).

Following the three-month consultation period, it was revealed that more than 50 per cent of respondents backed universal suffrage. This is the ultimate goal, as is clearly stated in the Basic Law. In spite of this, the government has ignored public opinion and there is still no clear timetable or road map for universal suffrage.

There is formidable opposition from pro-establishment forces to Hong Kong's democratic development and this is slowing down the process. Such people are very selective. They listen to some opinions but ignore the views of the majority. Therefore, fewer than half of our legislators want to see direct elections in five years. I am concerned that the introduction of universal suffrage may be postponed indefinitely.

The pro-Beijing lobby is in the majority in the Legislative Council. This enables the government to get through policies, regardless of the views of the public.

I will be eligible to vote in next year's Legislative Council elections, as I will be 18. I will definitely vote for the candidate who pledges to preserve Hong Kong's core values, which of course include democracy.

I believe voters are wise enough to cast their votes for those candidates who care about Hong Kong citizens' wider interests, and who, if elected, will take a checks and balances approach in Legco.

David Yung Tik-chun, Lai Chi Kok

Basic Law lays out timetable

To demand 'double universal suffrage by 2012' is to renege on the Basic Law.

Democrats like Martin Lee Chu-ming participated in the drafting of this law.

If they want to go on flogging such a dead horse, represented by 'conscience' Anson Chan Fang On-sang no less, they will have only themselves to blame for the eventual disappointments.

If one reads the Basic Law without a predisposed 'I'm hard done-by' mindset, one will find that the clock starts from 2007 for the 'gradual and orderly process' towards universal suffrage. (In the case of the selection of the chief executive, only the indirect-election mode of universal suffrage is provided for in Article 45.)

Since the pan-democrats threw out the 2005 electoral reform package for 2007-08, that process will have to start from 2012 ('2012 election plan to revive 2005 proposal', December 6).

There is nothing unconscionable about it.

If Mrs Chan ignores this factual position and continues to indulge in 'wordsmithing' with arguable and warlike verbiages such as 'democracy and livelihood issues and a just, fair society are inextricably linked', how can she hope to be the bridge between the central government and the people of Hong Kong that she has offered to be? Wake up.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

More lame excuses

Oh dear, yet another fluffy statement about voting for a chief executive ('2017 acceptable, Tsang tells Beijing', December 13).

They should just say: 'Beijing doesn't want it because it may alight unwelcome aspirations in the rest of China's population.' Hong Kong people know this is the case, but nobody in government dares to say it. Please, Mr Tsang, stop treating us like children.

If you tell us we can't have suffrage because the Chinese Communist Party doesn't want it, we can accept that. Just stop coming up with more lame excuses about why 2017 should (might) be acceptable.

Peter Mallen, Pok Fu Lam

No entry to Santa's grotto

The world of credit cards and late payment penalties has reached even Christmas. Santa Claus was under the exclusive control of American Express in Pacific Place until December 11.

I assume that Santa must have been late in paying his monthly bill.

If you phoned Pacific Place and inquired as to the availability of Santa to see your child, in the hope that some of the delights of Christmas and what it stands for may be imparted, you were told that unless you had an invitation from American Express, your child's enjoyment of Christmas would be delayed until December 11, when the rest of the world would be allowed to see him.

Not only has Pacific Place done away with any store that was worth visiting, it has now outsourced Santa.

Malcolm Kemp, Central

Rates waiver is for tenants

There is a possibility the government will waive property rates for perhaps the first three quarters of next year.

This is a good thing, but it is important that the person who benefits is the person who is renting the flat.

It is very common in Hong Kong that residential units are let on an inclusive-of-rates basis.

Under this arrangement, the landlord collects the rent and government rates directly from the tenant and normally in advance.

Government rates are in fact 'an occupier's rates', which are required to be paid by occupiers of the property.

It is therefore only correct that such rates, if they are waived by the government, should only benefit the occupier.

When rates have been waived in the past, occupier-tenants have seldom benefited.

Rarely would landlords be prepared to voluntarily pay back such waived rates to their tenants.

The government should make it clear to the public that 'the waiving of government rates', being an occupier's rates, should be returned to the one actually paying these rates.

If the money has already been collected by the landlord from the tenant, in advance, it should not be pocketed by the landlord, because it is not rent.

It should be returned to the tenant.

If it made the necessary clarification before waiving rates, the government could avoid a lot of unnecessary misunderstandings and conflicts between the landlord and the tenant.

Ng Sai-hee, Central

Ignorance can lead to tragedy

A number of recent reports have highlighted the lack of knowledge teenagers in Hong Kong have of sex, and I find this alarming.

It is important for parents to communicate on a regular basis with their children, so that if the teenager is confused about sexual matters, he or she can feel they can talk openly on the subject with their parents.

This is especially important given the number of teen pregnancies, especially since these pregnancies can lead to tragedy.

In some cases, the parents do not even appear to know their child is pregnant.

Proper sex education is important given the number of teenage pregnancies in Hong Kong.

Students can, of course, receive some sex education during biology lessons, but this is insufficient. Sex education in schools must go beyond biology classes and simple scientific explanations.

It is important to foster an appropriate attitude towards sex so young people do not develop a distorted meaning of love and sex.

Celeste Cheng Hiu-yan, Kowloon City