PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 June, 2010, 12:00am

Road map will need moderate safeguards

Within a decade, Hong Kong will experience a high degree of democracy.

For instance, in 2017 there will almost certainly be a pan-democratic candidate running for chief executive, and selection will be by one person, one vote. The composition of the Legislative Council will become progressively more democratic.

To fulfil their part in shaping the future, pan-democrat leaders need to weather a difficult transition: from demanding the purest and most absolute form of democracy, to likely having to accept some compromise in the eventual blueprint. The question is: should our future democracy be free of all restrictions, or can one accept 'reasonable restrictions' under Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights like those in most democracies around the world?

The restrictions currently imposed by the Basic Law take the form of an over-representation of the business and professionals sectors in the functional constituencies. The rationale is that these are the sectors best guided by their own interests and knowledge to support policies that foster 'prosperity and stability', which the Basic Law deems paramount for Hong Kong's continuing success.

What is not unique to Hong Kong is that restrictions, or constitutional safeguards, help prevent democracy becoming a tool for harm, such as in Chen Shui-bian's Taiwan and Thaksin Shinawatra's Thailand.

Hong Kong people are probably among the world's most astute. That is why they may well vote wisely even without those safeguards. However, they would probably prefer to have some moderate safeguards.

To arrive at the eventual blueprint for democracy, the least strife-ridden way is to hold an election based on one person. one vote. Citizens could choose from different proposals to determine the future composition of Legco.

This would establish where the majority mandate lies. It would avoid fruitless stand-offs, as well as endless allegations that the eventual blueprint was affected either by the over-representation of pro-establishment sectors in the final vote, or by pan-democrat leaders betraying ideals.

For instance, a political party might present two proposals, or two variations of the same proposal: one moderate, one radical. This would reduce inter-party strife.

Overall, focus would be on offering designs that are more middle-of-the-road and thus acceptable to more voters.

James Lee, Kowloon Tong

Best not to fan the flames

I am sure legislator Leung Kwok-hung is well able to defend himself on the subject of his remark about Szeto Wah. But it would have been more even-handed if your editorial in calling upon Leung to apologise to Mr Szeto ('Lawmaker should say sorry for tasteless barb', June 25)had mentioned Mr Szeto publicly aired criticism of those who do not support the Democratic Party's proposal that they did not use their brains properly.

Personally directed abuse does not advance any argument but sadly is a common feature of politics everywhere. Your editorial only serves to fan the flames.

The better course is surely to follow that old-fashioned saying, 'Least said, soonest mended'.

Gladys Li, Central

Erect Deng and Mao statues

I refer to the report ('University pushed over Sun statue', June 27). I propose we also put in a statue of Deng Xiaoping .

After all, without his 50-year plan for Hong Kong, we would still be languishing under colonialism. There would be none of this democracy circus, no demonstrations and no demanding a statue at Chinese University. We should also have a Mao Zedong statue, because without him there would have been no Deng.

Moreover, to name the so-called 'democracy statue' a goddess is inappropriate. A goddess is worshipped. Many in Hong Kong would feel uneasy being asked to revere a statue when they have their own religious beliefs.

Walter Tseng Kin-wah, North Point

Cup underdogs show the way

Before the World Cup began, no one expected the two teams from the final in 2006, France and Italy, to be eliminated in the group stages.

However, this happened, thanks to poor leadership skills, ageing players and a lack of co-operation. The mutiny by French players made them a laughing stock.

We saw underdogs, such as Slovakia and Mexico, showing strong team spirit and determination, march into the knockout stage.

I appreciate their efforts. They showed that fame and money cannot guarantee success. Hongkongers, especially young people, should learn from these players.

Although young people are inexperienced and face fierce competition in today's society, they can still do well if they have the passion and determination to strive for success.

Michael Leung Chung-hong, Sham Shui Po

Street ban would be unfair

I refer to the letter by Y. L. Chan ('Extend smoking ban to streets', June 9).

I am also a non-smoker and appreciate the harm that tobacco does to people. I am also pleased that we have a smoke-free environment in Hong Kong. But I would not support such a proposal. Smoking was banned in indoor public places and then extended to public transport terminals.

Although most Hongkongers do not smoke, we have to show some consideration for smokers who can no longer light up in bars and restaurants. Some people smoke to relieve stress. We have to leave some places in the city where they can still do this.

We need to strike the right balance and take into account the feelings of smokers.

Jack Tam, Sham Tseng

Get tough on ferry smokers

As a Cheung Chau resident I support the government subsidy for outlying island ferries.

However, I believe the ferry companies could be more innovative when it comes to generating extra income from their passengers.

On the slow ferries between Central and Cheung Chau and in the other direction you see many passengers smoking on the lower deck and in the first-class outside area. The whole of the ferry is a designated no-smoking area. They freely smoke in full view of the crew even though it says on the notice board you are supposed to inform crew members if you see someone smoking. I tried it once and the crew member went to the smoker and than pointed at me indicating I was the one complaining. If action was taken and smokers were fined the maximum penalty, a huge amount of money could be collected and put towards the subsidies.

Another way to generate money and accommodate smokers is to build a section similar to the ones at our airport, where they can indulge safely in their deadly habit away from non- smokers and pay for the privilege using their Octopus cards.

The ferry firms could adopt a number of measures to generate income for which passengers would pay extra.

Passengers could go on the spacious bridge of the slow ferries with the captain, offering photo opportunities. Designated comfortable sitting areas could be rented by individuals or groups with food and beverages on offer.

There could be VIP cabins similar to the ones that are offered on the Macau ferries.

Finally, the outside areas of the ferries could carry advertising.

All the extra income would have to be declared to the government, which would then determine how large a subsidy the companies needed.

Hans Wergin, Cheung Chau

Take shark's fin off the menu

Congratulations to the Observatory for being the only government department with a policy banning shark's fin soup at official banquets.

It is incredible that agencies such as the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the Environmental Protection Department, charged with the preservation of the environment, have no policy on the subject. The elimination of shark's fin dishes from banquets should be a government-wide policy if our leaders are to have any credibility when they talk about preserving the environment.

As it is, there are no effective controls on the shark fin industry. For instance, the government has refused to carry out DNA testing of fins to ensure that, under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Appendix 1, sharks are not traded in Hong Kong.

Once again, the government is seen to be paying lip service to environmental matters while pandering to powerful vested interests.

The truth is that members of our government just do not care about the decimation of shark populations worldwide because the shark fin trade is a powerful industry.

David Newbery, Sai Kung

Make internet cafes toe the line

Can the members of the Legislative Council's home affairs panel explain why internet cafes should have their own regulations?

The users in internet cafes have the same needs as the rest of the population for fire safety, ventilation, food hygiene, electrical safety and protection from obscenity.

Surely such establishments should follow the same rules as any other cafe, shop or entertainment venue?

Allan Dyer, Wong Chuk Hang