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Letters

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 February, 2008, 12:00am

Opponents of widening jury pool are wrong

The Law Reform Commission has proposed a widening of the jury pool to increase the number of people eligible for jury selection ('Law panel calls for wider jury pool', January 29).

If this proposal is accepted, some of the previously exempted professions will find themselves serving on juries during trials, among them, doctors, judges' spouses and pilots. Jury service is an important element of the common law system. Its intention is to ensure that the accused can be assessed by a group of people with similar backgrounds or educational standards.

The jury decides the fate of the accused and its role, therefore, is very important. The smaller the jury pool, the more difficult it is to select the right people for some trials.

I have never been convinced by the traditional justification for exempting those who the commission now wants made available for selection. The Medical Association argues that doctors should still be exempt, because there is a shortage of physicians. This is a narrow-minded view. Doctors are ordinary citizens and should be willing to do their civic duty.

Serving on a jury is a unique experience. It can widen a person's perspectives and this might actually help doctors in their workplace.

Doctors should not be deprived of this opportunity just because of a resources shortage problem.

Everyone should enjoy equal civic rights in a civilised and orderly society.

H. C. Bee, Ho Man Tin

Indirect election a valid system

I refer to the letter by Graham Warburton ('Trying to stop weasel words', January 31) in reply to my letter ('Suffrage can be unequal', January 24).

Why are people like Mr Warburton trying to 'weasel' their way into equating 'universal suffrage' with 'direct elections', thereby 'outlawing' the proposed indirect election of the functional constituency seats, and in turn the indirect election of the chief executive (the latter already enshrined in the Basic Law).

Mr Warburton argues that indirect elections cannot be equal and do not amount to universal suffrage which, he argues, has to be equal. Universal suffrage can be in the form of direct or indirect elections.

The Basic Law is therefore quite specific: when it means universal suffrage, it says 'universal suffrage'. This is the case in Article 45, the indirect election of the chief executive (upon nomination of the candidates by the nomination committee) and when it means direct elections it says 'direct elections', as in Annex II, referring to the election of the geographical constituency seats.

If indirect elections constitute universal suffrage in the selection of the chief executive, they constitute universal suffrage in the indirect election of the functional constituency seats. And indirect elections can and will be made equal. When I referred to the unequal suffrage practised in Britain, I meant not just women not being entitled to vote at one time, but also some privileged-class voters being entitled to several votes each.

Also what about the present House of Lords seats, filled without going through suffrage?

Finally, I stand by my argument that if 'universal suffrage' already means 'universal and equal suffrage', the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights would not have said 'universal and equal suffrage'.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Unequal voting political reality

I refer to the letter by Paul Serfaty ('Universal suffrage means voting rights for people, not 'functions' ', January 28).

Mr Serfaty refers to letting 'only people vote, not companies'. What he calls 'functions' are not deserving of 'a voting privilege'.

The oddity of unequal voting power is a living truth in the democratic process.

In the US, the House of Representatives is proportionally elected. However, the Senate is not, which allows voters from smaller states more voting power. The House represents public opinion with Congress representing the governments of the individual states, and it would not be influenced as much by changes in mass sentiment.

In Britain, there is the House of Lords, once an aristocratic chamber with hereditary peers, now reformed with a mix, which includes appointed members.

It has the power to review legislation and acts as the final court of appeal on civil cases.

In practice, only a small subsection of the House of Lords, known as the Law Lords, hears judicial cases. Is this, to use Mr Serfaty's term, a 'function'? How can 'keeping special interests away from directly electing lawmakers' be done?

Joseph Ko, Sha Tin

Film destined to become a classic

Whatever Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee aspires to be, she is no film critic ('Lust's labour's lost', January 28).

If she or anybody else wants to understand in a little more depth Ang Lee's interpretation of Eileen Chang's short story, I would urge them to read the November issue of Muse magazine. Leo Lee On-Fan writes at length about both the original and the adaptation.

As a lover of the cinema, I can say without reservation that Regina misses the mark by several miles. Lust, Caution reminds me of the classic Michelangelo Antonioni films , L'Awentura, LaNotte and L'Eclisse, all of which have the same languorous pace as Lust, Caution, which in due course will also come to be regarded as a classic.

Norman de Brackinghe, Pok Fu Lam

Interesting for the voyeurs

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee ('Lust's labour's lost', January 28), wrote exactly what I felt about Ang Lee's locally over-hyped film Lust, Caution. Unlike his excellent Brokeback Mountain, which showed homosexual love so subtly, his depiction of heterosexual lust was overwrought and obviously only interesting for the voyeurs. Apparently Hong Kong men and boys now have much to drool about, the way British boys did when Lady Chatterly's Lover first appeared in the past century.

What could have been a fine historical movie was, for me, mainly irritating because of the gratuitous sex scenes, which also made me laugh.

Renata Lopez, Wan Chai

Doctors' adverts help patients

I believe that doctors have the right to advertise ('Doctors free to advertise, with limits', January 27).

Without advertising it is more difficult for patients to make a choice.

With advertising, there is greater transparency of medical services. Patients can make comparisons and look at various factors, including price.

Hopefully, this will encourage hospitals to improve technology. From the patient's point of view, this is a win-win situation.

Information of all kinds is now more freely available through broadcasting on TV and radio, newspapers and the internet. Why should doctors not be allowed to use these outlets?

The Medical Council should establish regulations, so that this advertising is properly supervised and we can ensure that people are not misled by any inaccurate information.

Many countries such as the US, Germany and Singapore have already allowed doctors to advertise, so it is time for Hong Kong to follow this trend.

Vicky Choi, Tseung Kwan O

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