Universal suffrage in Hong Kong


PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2008, 12:00am

Attempting to browbeat Beijing will fail

Martin Lee Chu-ming claimed on ATV's Your Turn to Speak on January 3 that it had been promised that universal suffrage would be introduced in 2007 but Beijing rejected it in 2004 without giving any reason.

But Annex II of the Basic Law says: 'If there is a need to amend the method for selecting the chief executives for the terms subsequent to the year 2007 . . . '. The 'gradual and orderly progress' towards universal suffrage described in Article 45 is, therefore, meant to be a process spread over at least two terms starting from 2007 at the earliest. Therefore, there could not be instant universal suffrage in 2007.

If ever there is a reason to be given, it may be that there are still potential 'Hong Kong Chen Shui-bians' lurking in the wings, who are on record as having sought 'government's acknowledgement of the propriety of pushing for secession' - 'self-determination by the Hong Kong nation', 'leasing Hong Kong to Britain for a further 100 years' and 'independence for Hong Kong'.

The above also answers questions raised the same day in the printed press by legislator Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, about why universal suffrage has to be in the indirect-election mode - there are just too many such dubious candidates to be filtered out. Furthermore, while nobody has said anything about 'universal and equal suffrage', there is no reason why indirect election of the functional constituency seats of the Legislative Council should not be equal.

Currently a functional constituency voter casts two votes - one for the functional constituency candidate and one for the geographical constituency candidate. In the indirect election of the functional constituency seats, if introduced, all voters can similarly cast two votes each.

It will be both universal and equal suffrage, as well as being broadly representative.

Finally, if they think they can browbeat Beijing into submission, think again.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

We have too many graduates

Your report ('1m who graduated last year still jobless: study', January 4), pointed out that 25 per cent of last year's university graduates on the mainland are still unemployed.

That figure of about 1 million bitterly disappointed young people, would be greatly expanded if those graduates taking just any, though unsuitable, jobs were included.

Of course the time spent at university should be about more than just preparing someone for a better-paid job.

It should also prepare them for life. But these days it seems that there are more new graduates coming along each year than there are graduate-level jobs available for them. It was reported that many mainland graduates are seen as not having the skills needed in the workplace.

The reason given for that is because nowadays far too many students are involved in higher education, stretching teaching resources. If almost everyone becomes a graduate, the value of a degree in the employment marketplace goes down. But on the other hand, should youngsters of middling intellectual ability automatically expect to get a degree?

The danger is that to accommodate armies of additional degree students each year, the level of a degree sinks to the lowest common denominator. And that devalues a degree, as employers well know.

There is no easy solution to these problems thrown up by the great expansion of university places in recent decades.

These same issues are faced in many other parts of the world.

Here in Hong Kong standards have dropped so that tertiary institutions can earn more dollars from academically weak students. Many of these students later go on to get a degree.

If we continue to offer more and more degree courses here in Hong Kong, it won't be long before we, too, have a glut of underqualified and unskilled graduates who can't find a job.

Mary Pang, Kwai Chung

Unpleasant flight to UK

Further to Peter Cordingley's letter ('Cathay putting trendiness before comfort', January 5). I, too, suffered with Cathay on a flight to the UK recently.

Despite having a confirmed business class upgrade, this was denied upon checking in. I was given an economy seat which slowly reclined as the mechanism was faulty. The TV was not working. The catch on the toilet jammed, locking a passenger inside.

The response of the cabin crew, who knew of all these issues, was zero, until 30 minutes before landing, after a 12-hour flight, when they asked me to relocate to the front of the aircraft for my comfort and safety.

My ethos is look after the customers and revenues and profits will look after themselves. Cathay are losing my respect.

Rob Naylor, Tai Tam

Toxic cocktail for bar staff

Your report pointed to the toll of heart disease in our ageing and expanding population and the possible dangers of over indulgence during the festive season ('It may be Christmas, but don't party too hearty', December 25).

Individuals can protect heart health by maintaining a lifestyle which avoids active and passive smoking and maintains a nutritious diet and physical fitness. However, we are defenceless against the most ubiquitous hazard for heart problems, Hong Kong's air pollution, which on a daily basis damages blood vessels.

The risks of Christmas pale by comparison with the cumulative annual burden of heart attacks and strokes which would be prevented with clean air in our city.

We should spare a thought for the hapless bar workers who, throughout 2008, will work in a toxic chemical cocktail several hundred per cent higher than outdoor pollution levels.

In their case we knowingly enacted legislation (on smoking in public places) which will increase their future risks of heart disease.

Anthony Hedley, School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong

Asian union

With the recent thaw in Chinese-Japanese relations, it is time these two nations and the Koreans, formed an Asian union.

In racial terms we are similar, as we have the same skin colour.

For many years we quarrelled, but this was the same in Europe for centuries, and now they have peace and the European Union. The Koreans and Japanese use some Chinese characters.

All three countries have more or less the same Confucian culture, and geographically, they are close to each other.

All citizens in this union would have free movement in all three nations and would learn the international language, English, along with their own mother tongues.

Wilfred S. Y. Chan, Central

Requests denied

I refer to Annelise Connell's letter ('Egg nog blues', December 22).

The dairy production business of Dairy Farm was sold to Nestle in 1997. Since then Nestle has produced milk and other products, including egg nog, for the Hong Kong market.

Despite repeated requests from Dairy Farm, Nestle decided not to produce egg nog for the Hong Kong market in 2007 because the quantities ordered in previous years were not economically viable.

Subsequently, Oliver's the Delicatessen sourced egg nog from overseas, and imported the products in time for Christmas for our customers' festive enjoyment.

Jacqueline Ng, marketing manager, Oliver's the Delicatessen