G20 leaders must deliver on their promises
On April 2, the leaders of 20 of the world's biggest economies 'pledged to do whatever is necessary to . . . build an inclusive, green, and sustainable recovery'.
Oxfam sees the G20 summit as a vital opportunity to make decisions that shape economic recovery, reduce the gap between rich and poor and address the issue of climate change, which is already hitting the poorest people hardest.
On paper, the leaders' statement is commendable. They reaffirmed their pledges for debt relief, overseas aid and the Millennium Development Goals. They voiced support for corporate social responsibility and agreed action was needed on climate change.
Yet, we have learned from previous summits that when world leaders return home, local concerns begin to crowd their priorities. The visionary promises they made on the world stage are often delayed, watered down and even overturned by narrower national interests.
The summit boosted the funds available to the International Monetary Fund and made it one of the key players in solving the economic crisis. Reform of the IMF is essential to remove some of the cruder free-market prescriptions it has imposed on developing countries in the past.
Without early reform, including more representative governance, neither the IMF nor the World Bank are suited to assisting inclusive and sustainable economic recovery in developing countries. If the price of a bailout is to close health clinics and schools then the financial medicine offered by the G20 will make the patient worse, not better.
Despite acknowledgement of the problem of climate change, Oxfam is disappointed by the lack of concrete action plans from the G20 summit. It is essential that world leaders demonstrate the same sense of urgency about climate change that they have on the economy. If difficult decisions are put off until the December Copenhagen climate meeting, there is a terrible danger that we will emerge at the end of the year without a global climate deal.
It is the responsibility of every one of us who cares about today's two most important issues, global poverty and climate change, to encourage and pressure our political leaders, insisting they live up to their promise of the 'inclusive, green and sustainable recovery' that the world so urgently needs.
John Sayer, director general, Oxfam Hong Kong
Backing civil justice reforms
The long-awaited civil justice reforms have come into effect.
They will bring about fundamental changes in the way disputes are resolved.
However, as Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang said, the civil justice landscape will be reformed but not revolutionised ('Courts to get tough on costly tactics', March 30). This is true because our reform has followed the approach as proposed by Lord Woolf and adopted in Britain.
Two important aspects will be strengthened in order to provide more people access to justice. Trial judges will be burdened with the task of active case management. They will have the power to decide on the merits and particulars of the case even before it goes to trial.
This means that less important cases or cases without merit will not go to court to create a backlog of court cases.
Clearly, therefore, we will need more judges and, most importantly, more judges of quality.
Second, mediation and dispute resolution techniques will be widely encouraged.
Solicitors will encourage clients to consider such mediation. This might transform the litigation landscape and we might see the emergence of talented dispute advisers.
Ultimately, the reforms will make justice more accessible. I have a lot of confidence in the reformed system and I hope Hongkongers will make the effort to learn more about it.
The government must organise a campaign so that more people are made aware of the reforms.
H. C. Bee, Kowloon Tong
Simple way to stop pirates
The way in which containers are placed on container ships, makes full access to the perimeter of the deck difficult for the crew.
This means that these vessels are sitting ducks for pirates, even when they are moving.
A redesign of container ships with overhanging spearheaded bars around the perimeter of the deck would prevent pirates from boarding.
Better still, let us be more prudent when it comes to using ships to transport material around the globe.
It will help to save energy, there will be less pollution and fewer hijacks.
John Yuan, Beijing
McCain spoke to the converted
On the same day that US Senator John McCain said in Hong Kong that 'he was fascinated to see Hong Kong's system working despite the functional constituencies and an unelected chief executive' ('McCain concerned over obstacles to HK reform,' April 7), entrepreneur George Soros predicted that the mainland would lead the world in recovering from the financial crisis.
I wonder how Senator McCain will respond when that prediction is realised.
Senator Lindsey Graham said that 'Washington would be watching to ensure Beijing honoured its commitments to universal suffrage'.
I resent the insinuation that the central government would not honour its commitments and that Washington would then admonish Beijing.
This is a cynical and arrogant attitude.
He selected the people he would meet in Hong Kong, because he knew these champions of democracy would say what he wanted to hear. And then he could claim to be representing the wishes of the people of Hong Kong.
Peter Lok, Chai Wan
Plea for Rooney
The Mega Events Fund has HK$100 million to subsidise art, cultural and sports events in Hong Kong.
I would like to see some of the money being used for exhibitions promoting books, paintings, calligraphy, music and food. These exhibitions would give people an opportunity to learn more about culture and the arts. And visitors would be willing to spend money which would help the exhibitors.
I think some of the money should also be used to get some top sportsmen. High-calibre athletes will also attract a lot of people.
For example, whenever some of Europe's top soccer clubs come to play here, such as Real Madrid and Liverpool, they get big crowds. Therefore, we should try and get some more of the best clubs to play here. I would certainly go to see the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, no matter how much the ticket cost.
A match with big names would help with the development of sport in Hong Kong.
Yim Yau-wun, Sha Tin
Public and private hospitals that conduct free medical seminars regularly could serve the community better by having them recorded and broadcast on the internet. This would benefit a far wider audience than people who are able to attend.
There are few videos of medical seminars in Cantonese compared with English-language tapes available overseas.
Albert Tong, Quarry Bay