PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2008, 12:00am

HK can learn from Taiwan's election

I refer to the letter by Peter Lok regarding Taiwan's presidential election ('Taiwan model not for HK', April 4).

I totally disagree with the argument put forward by Mr Lok, that Taiwan is not a suitable example to follow in Hong Kong and the claim that the indirect election of the chief executive - as enshrined in the Basic Law - is the set-up that Hong Kong wants.

I was in Taiwan during the presidential election last month and I witnessed how Taiwanese people exercised their rights to choose their leader, or voted for a dedicated issue through the referendum.

This is what democracy means to people.

Hong Kong people should stand away from the political argument between the blue camp (Kuomintang) and the green camp (Democratic Progressive Party) in Taiwan but look more in depth at how the people of Taiwan have fought for their rights to protect their nationality and their own political system.

This system is not controlled by the government in mainland China.

Why did the mainland government not express its views on Ma Ying-jeou's landslide victory in the presidential election?

I think the reason is that the government in Beijing is afraid of facing a rival who is supported by more than seven million people.

Compare this with Hu Jintao . How many people voted for him to be president?

How many delegates in the National People Congress (NPC) voted for Wen Jiabao to be premier of the mainland government?

We are only talking about a few thousand votes and it was an indirect election; the general population of China, including Hong Kong, do not get a vote to select NPC delegates.

Is that what the Hong Kong people want?

Hong Kong people are well educated and capable of voting for their leaders.

They are equally capable of voting them out if they perform badly. This is exactly what happened with the people of Taiwan, who voted out President Chen Shui-bian, because they were unimpressed by his track record during his eight years in power and inability to turn around the Taiwanese economy.

Taiwan, as an independent democratic political body, should be allowed to choose for itself, whether it wants unity with China, to keep the status quo, or even declare itself an independent nation.

Yeung Siu-chung, Tsuen Wan

Let down by government

Alex Woo, referring to the US lobby system ('Democrats must ask themselves some difficult political questions', April 9), asks what democrats in Hong Kong propose to counter big business getting a grip on government.

The answer is obvious.

Democrats would abolish functional constituencies, which operate much as the lobby system does, with similar negative effects.

He also asks whether democratic politicians will work for the community as a whole in matters of health. The current system plainly does not, with the government already favouring special interest groups and the better off.

In its proposals on health (moves towards generalised private insurance, though it produces much higher costs in the US); pollution (inability to rein in power companies or enforce higher standards on bus companies), and taxation (rebates to the richer amongst us, when the money would be better spent on education to raise the capacity of our economy to add value), the government is already guilty of the failure predicted by Mr Woo from the democrats.

If Mr Woo would simply look at the merits of policies for the community as a whole, rather than their source, he too would vote democrat, or at least criticise the government for its failure to heed community benefits in health, education and environmental issues.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels

Innocent lose out as usual

I booked four business class tickets to Vancouver with Oasis Airlines for a flight at the end of July. Oasis insisted I pay by March 31 which I did via American Express.

The Hong Kong government, even when it knew of the potential insolvency of the company, continued to allow it to collect payments in advance.

As soon as I heard Oasis was insolvent, I called American Express and asked it to stop payment. I was told that I need to wait for a refund or directions from Oasis.

What is the function of a credit card company? To protect its customers or the interests of a bankrupt company that will not be able to provide the services that they had guaranteed?

As usual it is the innocent customer who suffers.

Glenda Wee, Kwun Tong

Waive tax for airline ticket

My wife was booked to fly with Oasis Hong Kong Airlines in May. We appreciate that Oasis has defaulted with very little likelihood of obtaining compensation, but if we rebook with another airline why should we have to pay government tax a second time? As this amounts to a total of HK$919 it is not insignificant. The Hong Kong government should provide a waiver of all such charges to all passengers who have been affected by this airline's failure.

The government has a large revenue surplus and this provides it with the opportunity to do something meaningful with it.

Patrick Budden, Mid-Levels

Visa headaches

Some of your correspondents have complained about the mainland's visa requirement for foreign nationals. They may not realise that mainland Chinese face the same, if not more troublesome, visa requirements when they travel abroad.

Foreign countries distinguish between holders of Chinese passports and Hong Kong passports with regard to visa requirements. Would countries which grant Hong Kong passport holders free entry, also allow Chinese passport holders with permanent Hong Kong residency free entry? Foreign nationals who wish China's recognition of their permanent residency in Hong Kong as an entitlement for free entry into the mainland should lobby their own countries to allow holders of a mainland passport with Hong Kong residency, free entry into their countries.

China, like India, may presume a person's nationality on race or lineage grounds until renounced by that person, originally for the provision of refuge to displaced overseas nationals. A home visit permit is granted sometimes on discretion and always on lineage grounds.

By presenting the permit at the mainland border checkpoint, a person is requesting entry as a Chinese subject, thus renouncing any other nationality that person may have while inside the mainland. The question for those who have asked for free entry to the mainland is on what nationality status do they intend to enter?

Fiona Mak, Tseung Kwan O

Honourable man

I enjoyed Billy Adams' article on Japanese veteran Kokichi Nishimura ('Bringing the dead home', April 13).

However, Adams uses the word 'notoriety' in a positive manner when referring to Mr Nishimura's local fame.

The term notoriety is reserved for people who acquire fame through less than honourable means.

Mr Nishimura, who kept his vow to return the remains of his fallen comrades, is most certainly an honourable man.

John Schalhoub, Mid-Levels