PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 June, 2010, 12:00am

Democratic reform package must be passed

With 40 of the 70 Legislative Council seats backed by a popular mandate, the revised package of political reforms is a key advancement in democratic development. It will shift the balance of the legislature away from special interests and towards popular opinion.

Most importantly, the system will make it more possible for pro-democracy parties to gain majority control of the chamber.

I agree with those who think that even the revised package falls far short of genuine democracy. It fails to address, for example, guarantees of a low nomination threshold in the 2017 chief executive election and the abolition of functional constituencies.

However, knowing that those sorts of assurances are not possible, do we want to settle for the same electoral system of 2004, or do we want to take a step forward? By accepting the Democratic Party's package, we can make an irreversible step towards universal suffrage under the 'gradual and orderly progress' principle in the Basic Law.

With the revised package, popularly elected lawmakers will outnumber the conventional functional lawmakers, making it possible for the directly elected lawmakers to block government legislation. This has never before been the case.

The five new functional seats will be fundamentally different from traditional functional constituencies. The new ones will have an electoral base of over 3 million voters, and those lawmakers will be accountable to those 3 million who elected them - not the normal handful of corporate elites.

No one has given up on the fight for a clear roadmap towards genuine universal suffrage. What we are faced with today is a reform package that will make the functional constituencies more democratic. This package should be passed.

Simon Lee, Mid-Levels

These measures are regressive

Your editorial ('Only one sensible option left over vote', June 21) is both flawed and naive.

Creating more functional constituency seats can only be a step backward. You admit that 'it will make it harder to scrap them in the future'. How many examples do we have in our community of institutions and programmes that are well past their sell-by date, yet they continue to survive and thrive? The Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation is a prime example; there are countless others.

There is no way that second- tier politicians - who would never win a geographical seat - will ever vote themselves out of a fast-track Legislative Council seat. The five, shoo-in functional constituency seats will corrupt and cobble our already lacklustre district councils if this proposal goes through.

The councillors elected late next year will enter office on January 1, 2012. But instead of getting to grips with their mandated duties, the first six months of their term will be spent on the wheeling and dealing necessary to produce a list of 'approved' candidates for the 2012 Legco election. Then those aligned with the 'winners' will be out on the campaign trail while genuine district representatives will be left twiddling their thumbs.

The schisms created through the election charade will reverberate and negatively affect district operations. Jealousy of the 'chosen few' and their six-figure incomes will ensure that district affairs will be left to languish and positive plans thwarted.

The common sense that you refer to is being displayed not by the short-sighted supporters of the proposal but by those in the community with the vision to calculate its cause and effect. We already know that this so-called democratic election will be decided for us - more seats for the DAB and probably a couple as a consolation prize for the Democratic Party.

The electorate does not want two votes. We just want 'one person, one vote', in fair and open elections in which any qualified Hongkonger can stand as a candidate and take his chances. We want an end to functional constituencies. Any increase in their number is a seal of approval, and no amount of rhetoric can justify this regressive move.

Candy Tam, Wan Chai

Soccer a farce without video

Will Fifa, the governing body of the World Cup of soccer, now recognise that by failing to permit the use of video replays it has brought the game into disrepute? After all, it is 24 years since the infamous Maradona 'hand of God' episode, which went unrecognised - except by millions around the world - and unpunished.

Now we have a farcical situation whereby all a player has to do to get an opponent red-carded is to fall down on the pitch clutching his face; and where referees must ask a player if he handled the ball while scoring!

And will England's Football Association also admit that, by spending an obscene amount of money - GBP6 million (HK$69.2 million) a year - on a coach with only the most rudimentary command of the English language (when underdogs are doing better than England at the World Cup), they have also brought the game into disrepute?

Dr Andrew Norman, Poole, England

Blatant bashing of BP on oil spill

I refer to Roland Guettler's letter ('BP payout vs debt to Vietnam', June 22) contrasting BP's recent trials and tribulations to a proposal for US compensation to Vietnam over agent orange contamination - US dirty laundry.

Perhaps we should remember Union Carbide in Bhopal, too, at a time when US President Barack Obama's administration is cocking a snook at every supposed gaffe by BP managers. So what if BP chief Tony Hayward went sailing with his son - on his first day off since April 20? A little tactless, yes, but so what? Steering attention away from one's own lack of popularity is hardly novel, but never more blatant than this 'We'll bash BP'.

When the dust settles, perhaps we'll see what roles were played by the rig's American owner (Transocean) and its South Korean builder (Hyundai Heavy Industries).

Jonathan Rostron, Mid-Levels

Inside or out for circuit breakers

I refer to the letter ('Locate circuit breakers inside', June 4) by Peter Robertson.

According to the code of practice for the Electricity (Wiring) Regulations published by this department, as well as CLP Power's supply rules, electrical installations supplied from overhead line systems (that is, those for village houses) should be protected against earth leakage by residual current devices (RCD) such as residual current circuit breakers (RCCB).

Their purpose is to protect people from electric shock in case of an electricity leakage.

However, there is no restriction on the location of RCDs. They can be installed outdoors or inside a house or flat; that should be determined, case by case, by the designer.

If an RCD is installed outdoors, the following two points should be observed to avoid nuisance tripping: the device should be enclosed in a suitable enclosure to protect against weather; and an RCD of suitable sensitivity should be used.

We thank Mr Robertson for his concern about electrical safety. If he has further queries or needs any assistance, he is welcome to approach our engineer, Steve Wong, on 2808-3105.

Richard Chan, for the director, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department

Make domestic violence a crime

According to the Social Welfare Department, domestic violence is becoming more and more common in Hong Kong.

The problem needs to be eradicated promptly, yet the government refuses to tackle it. Our legal system has still not defined domestic violence as a crime.

I strongly urge our legal system to treat domestic violence the same as other violent acts. More measures should be implemented to prevent such violence from occurring.

Vivian Leung Cheuk-yan, Tsuen Wan

Spend money to fight pollution

Air pollution in Hong Kong threatens people's health. Doubts are being raised about the effectiveness and adequacy of the government's measures to tackle the problem.

Thus, there is a pressing need for the government to spend funds to deal with the environmental issue seriously.

With the extra money, the government can devise a better and clearer policy to control greenhouse gas emissions - such as promoting energy efficiency and conservation, cleaner fuels and renewable energy.

More could be spent on prosecuting offenders. Stricter measures could be implemented to prohibit illegal discharges of industrial pollutants, and to deal with domestic sewage treatment.

Environmental education is needed, to give residents a rudimentary awareness of environmental protection, and facilities and services to foster public participation.

In this way, the idea of sustainable development can be promoted so that all of us are accountable not only for today, but accountable to future generations.

Chan Pui-shan, Kwai Chung

Foxconn shame

After reading Richard Jones' excellent expos? of Foxconn's operations in Shenzhen ('Factory flaws', June 20), I wonder how many more people will keep buying iPads and iPhones.

Knowing about the dehumanising conditions in that particular Chinese factory, I have only two questions for the mainland, Taiwanese and American tycoons behind this sorry trade: have you no shame? How can you possibly live with yourselves?

Renata Lopez, Wan Chai