Lawmakers quit in defence of democracy
I refer to the letter by Elsie Tu ('By-election a call to overturn 'one country, two systems'', February 18).
Mrs Tu believes that the by-elections prompted by the resignation of five pan-democrat lawmakers are 'targeting their mother country and not just Hong Kong'.
I believe that what these former legislators are attempting to do is reflect the genuine desire of Hongkongers for universal suffrage.
They want democratic Legco elections and no functional constituencies.
They are not trying to overturn 'one country, two systems', as Mrs Tu claims. It is a concrete attempt to prove Hongkongers' desire and readiness for universal suffrage.
She says the pan-democrats imagine that 'democracy means universal suffrage as the first step'.
As Mrs Tu has pointed out, democracy means freedom of speech, the right of everyone to have their voice heard. Therefore, I cannot understand why she would object to universal suffrage.
I do not agree with your correspondent that the five lawmakers resigned from Legco because they 'want everything their own way' and that their views are 'set in stone'. We are all entitled to express our views.
When it comes to people wanting everything their own way we should look to the pro-establishment camp. Its supporters have tried to thwart the progress of the by-election campaign by not letting the legislators deliver their resignation speeches before they left the Legco chamber.
These supporters did want their own way and it was they who were not willing to listen to opposing views.
Surely concrete action that leads to a call for universal suffrage is a clear demonstration of what democracy means.
Mrs Tu referred to some countries in the region, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, that have acquired universal suffrage.
She said it was bestowed 'by the US, with the help of rich local leaders in exchange for free trade'.
Why should we assume the same thing will happen in Hong Kong?
Celeste Cheng, Kowloon City
Exco chief should be proud
I refer to the letter by David Akers-Jones ('Observers posed no threat', February 11).
When the Hong Kong Observers were active [in the late 1970s and early 1980s] the government had a list of what it regarded as subversive organisations.
As I recall, even the green group Friends of the Earth was on it.
However silly this may now seem, these organisations were created by people with a vision about what they wanted to see Hong Kong become and the courage to stand up and say it.
If Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying was a member of the Observers during those days, it can only be a big mark in his favour.
S.P. Li, Lantau
Taxis not on littering list
Your correspondent Marcus Shaw advises us to make use of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department's 'Littering from Vehicles Report Form' if we see taxi drivers dumping refuse out of their vehicle windows ('How to report littering drivers', February 22).
Unfortunately the instructions on the form state clearly that it is to be used only for certain classes of vehicles and taxis are not included.
Additionally, what evidence do we have that the HK$1,500 fixed penalty is actually being applied to reported drivers?
Mr Shaw assures us that the forms really 'do work', but how can we be sure that we are not just wasting our time reporting errant drivers?
The form advises us that prosecutions will only result if a case is considered 'actionable'.
Would the department please state how many cases reported to them on these forms have actually resulted in drivers being fined?
Perhaps the department might also be willing to explain why taxis and buses (especially tourist coach and minibus drivers, who are frequent offenders) are excluded on this form.
P.A. Crush, Sha Tin
Verbal abuse law pointless
I could not agree less with Jessica Cheung ('Verbal abuse of police should be an offence', February 12) and Grace Pow ('Treat police with respect', February 22).
I cannot see the logic behind the argument that the police should be treated with more respect than normal folk, when they are already symbols of authority and power.
Would it not make more sense that it should be an offence for police officers to hurl abuse at the general public?
J.Y.K. Cheng, Quarry Bay
Focus should be on reputation
Some schools face closure because they cannot get enough students to enrol.
I do not think offering young people gifts such as computers is the right policy for schools to adopt.
If youngsters get free computers they will waste their time playing computer games and may not focus on their school work.
Offering gifts will not help the school solve its problems.
A school should look to its strengths and highlight those strong points in an effort to attract the attention of parents of prospective pupils.
It should work towards building up a good reputation and focus on that when trying to persuade parents to choose that school for their children.
Students and their parents should choose the school that they think will be best for them, rather than thinking about other factors like gifts.
Siuyee Chui, Kwai Chung
Anti-pollution policy flawed
Let us hope that the failure of the Environmental Protection Department's latest voluntary scheme to get smoky old trucks and buses off the road will finally force it to regulate roadside air pollution properly ('Green scheme for old trucks stalls', February 16).
The transport industry's response to the 'green truck' scheme was predictable. Companies that were planning to replace their old trucks anyway grabbed the government money. Companies whose vehicles had a few more years of life left in them preferred to wait and see what their competitors would do, putting pressure on the government to offer even more money as roadside air quality continues to degrade.
Throwing money at polluters and hoping for the best is not a responsible environmental policy.
The government should use its regulatory powers to impose engine emission standards on existing vehicles, not just new vehicles as at present, or put a price on pollution by increasing vehicle registration charges for vehicles with less efficient engines.
As the plastic bag levy demonstrated, even a small tax can be enough to persuade people to change their behaviour if it applies to everyone.
David Renton, Central
'Che' Guevara hated liberty
I refer to the letter by Daniel Sanders ('Simplistic view of 'Che' Guevara', February 18) in reply to my letter ('A symbol of tyranny', February 8).
Despite what Mr Sanders says, I did not discuss the Batista regime, nor did I make any point of the fact that the Cuban revolution was violent. Your correspondent's defence of Guevara addressed historical and socio-political issues that have nothing to do with Guevara, his murderous record or the appropriateness of his image as a representation for democratic reforms, which was the point of my letter.
Reading through Guevara's own speeches and writings is very instructive. With their constant refrain of glorious martyrdom, they bear a remarkable similarity to the taped bleatings of a certain well-known terrorist hiding in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Mr Sanders' attempt to conflate the American war for independence with the revolution in Cuba that installed the regime under discussion is particularly misplaced, as well as ironic.
Guevara hated the US and everything (liberty) for which it stands: 'Let us sum up our hopes for victory: total destruction of imperialism by eliminating its firmest bulwark, the oppression exercised by the United States of America.'
Violence instituted for the purpose of installing liberty and violence instituted for the purpose of swapping one tyrant for another really cannot be discussed together, irrespective of Mr Sanders' view of the value of government-provided universal health care.
Loretta Damron, Malvern, Pennsylvania, US
I could not help but be amused by the article ('Atom bomb claims in best-seller denounced', February 22).
There is apparently a furore over the exact identity of one of the crew on an observation plane accompanying the Enola Gay on its atomic bomb mission as described in a new book.
To be honest, after the film U-571 depicted the capture of the critical Enigma code machine by the US Navy rather than (as actually happened) the Royal Navy, I am content that a US war historian managed to have the correct air force dropping the bomb on the correct country.
To expect accuracy beyond that would, I feel, be nit-picking.
Dallas Reid, Mid-Levels