PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 January, 2009, 12:00am

There is a long-term future for functional constituencies

I am sure it was only out of altruism that functional constituency legislator Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee moved at the January 7 Legislative Council meeting that the government should clarify whether the functional constituencies would be scrapped in 2012.

However, it is an unnecessary question.

Nobody in Beijing or the Hong Kong government has suggested that these constituencies might be scrapped.

Quite the contrary, Qiao Xiaoyang - a senior official on the National People's Congress Standing Committee - in giving the 2017 and 2020 timetable for universal suffrage, has said functional constituencies would be retained.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's views have not cast any doubts on the position of politicians who say they want functional seats retained, but reconstituted, to meet the criteria of universal suffrage.

Universal suffrage and functional constituencies are not mutually exclusive.

To be equal as well, universal suffrage does not have to be 'one man one vote', which was only a jingle perfunctorily coined but which unfortunately has stuck. 'The same number of votes to be cast by every man or woman' would be nearer the mark of 'equal and universal suffrage'.

The phrase 'universal suffrage' does not convey the meaning of 'equal'.

That is why the relevant international convention uses the term 'equal and universal suffrage'.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Terror attacks exposed India's weaknesses

I was born and raised in Hong Kong and now live in the US. Like the rest of the world, I watched the terrible events in Mumbai unfold in November.

I sat in front of my television feeling dismay, shock and horror at how these terrorists could come into a city and attempt to destroy the very essence of what it stands for. It was even more horrific to see the aftermath of the attack.

It is clear that change is required in India. We have too many corrupt and uneducated politicians trying to run a country that is considered a future superpower. It makes no sense that we have an open coastline that is unprotected by any real force, especially since Mumbai is the financial hub of India.

Once the ordeal was over, the dead counted, the terrorists killed and caught, answers were required. It was then that some government ministers decided they did not want to take the heat, and quit one by one. Yet they should be answerable for the mistakes that were made and take responsibility. Quitting and dodging pertinent questions is just taking the easy way out.

The government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced new anti-terrorism measures following the Mumbai attacks. They talk of more spies, modern gadgets and a new national investigation agency. Why did it take so long and such a catastrophic incident to occur before Dr Singh's administration realised that these steps were required? In the recent past, Mumbai has been hit by train blasts. If Dr Singh really believes in these changes then they should take immediate effect.

The Indian government is making the country look ridiculous, because it has officials who have shown themselves to be inadequate. The people of India depend upon the central government to take the necessary action swiftly.

I would add that terrorists targeting India must realise one thing, that it is not possible to break the spirit of the people of India.

Roshni Mulchandani, Fremont, California

Is hillside excavation bothering the animals?

I refer to the report ('Third sturgeon dies at Ocean Park', January 4).

This, together with other sturgeon deaths, the attack on a keeper by a giant panda and an attack by a sea lion makes me wonder what is going on. I have my own theory as to why these creatures are behaving strangely.

Could it have anything to do with the excavation of hillsides and associated construction works causing a large amount of ground vibration?

This must greatly disturb the habitat of all the creatures housed at Ocean Park.

Consider how we humans feel when an adjacent apartment is being renovated.

The ceiling feels like it's coming down, walls vibrate and ornaments fall off shelves, not to mention the noise from jack hammers and pneumatic drills that we have to put up with.

Our habitat is threatened and we are not happy.

Animals and fish no doubt also feel threatened when their day-to-day environment is disturbed by constant vibration and excessive noise that is unfamiliar to them. In my opinion, this disruption could be causing them to behave unpredictably.

N. P. Black, Pokfulam

University tutorials have too many students

Some of your correspondents seem to think that Hong Kong's university students are defective, or at least undeveloped, in terms of their creativity.

However, it may be more accurate to suggest that their creativity has too few avenues of expression, at least in some aspects of our university system.

I am sure that our Hong Kong youngsters are just as naturally creative as those of any other city. But is enough done at university to inculcate the development of creative thinking and critical analysis?

The key problem is that most local university (so-called) tutorials in fact have far too many undergraduates in any one tutorial group.

A 'tutorial' group of 20 is by no means uncommon, with some having upwards of 40 students in them.

If the tutorial group meets once a week, for say 50 minutes, that leaves just over four minutes each per month for each individual to be challenged to think creatively and to express himself.

As a result, that professor-student two-way discussion, with just a handful of students present - which is still a common tutorial situation elsewhere - is an experience unknown to many graduating students here in Hong Kong.

Furthermore, the lack of such closer contact, in smaller groups, too often means that when a student graduates, there is no university academic who knows him well enough to give him a letter of reference.

The solution is in the hands of the universities. They simply need to schedule more tutorials, and in very much smaller groups.

The benefits, in terms of the enhanced development of creative thinking skills, would very soon become apparent.

Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels

Important message we all should learn

I refer to the article by Dr Feng Chi-shun about the incident in which a man collapsed near Caritas Medical Centre and later died of a heart attack ('Guidelines won't change indifference to strangers', January 7).

It made me think about a volunteer programme I joined at the United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong.

All volunteers attended an assembly at its associated nursing school.

The school's principal addressed us and said that while we would be assigned to different wards and different duties, we had to remember one thing - that whatever we did, there would always be at least one human life relying on us.

I was so overwhelmed by this; it was such an important point.

This is something we should bear in mind wherever we work, whether it is in a hospital, a hotel, a restaurant, a supermarket or in a chosen profession, such as engineering.

Angela Ho, North Point



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