PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 September, 2010, 12:00am

Privatise police in Philippines to curb corruption

Watching the recent slaughter in Manila was indeed heart-wrenching, and one can certainly empathise with the outrage felt by those who witnessed the botched response by police played out on television.

Many people in Hong Kong are demanding an investigation.

Sadly, I suspect that deep down most already know the root cause of this problem: corruption in the police and in the government.

This is an opportunity for Filipinos to demand a clean-up of their government and security forces. Few disagree that a strong message needs to be sent.

The people of the Philippines must be ashamed of the way their police disregard their duty to keep the peace on a regular basis. The real question then becomes, how to clean it up? Relying on the same corrupt politicians and bureaucrats would not be wise.

How can they put the right incentives in place that reward good performance and hold leaders accountable? One answer that deserves serious consideration is privatisation. In 2009, The Irish Times reported that Ireland's police force, the Garda Siochana, threatened a strike in response to public pay cuts.

Such responses to pay cuts by public employees are also common in the United States, particularly among teachers.

Yet, no matter where these incidents have occurred, governments seem unable to deal with the public employees, and usually give in to their demands. So long as the police hold a monopoly on power, they will always be able to hold the legislatures and the public hostage.

How, then, can they be expected to address outright corruption?

When there are simply no alternative security and law enforcement services available, there will always be incentives for wage collusion and corruption.

The reality is that no government or free people can properly negotiate on an even footing with a police force, as long as no real alternative exists.

Could private security provide the answer? Certainly, it could supplement law enforcement, maintain accountability, promote competition amongst service providers, and ensure that society cannot be blackmailed by public workers threatening chaos.

There exist numerous examples of successful private forces worldwide.

The city of Oakland in California recently made moves to supplement its police forces.

The savings could be immense for the city, which suffers from a massive budget deficit.

Across the bay from Oakland, San Francisco has been served by a private patrol force for years.

Their website advertises that they provide police patrol services to individual businesses, private homeowners and associations. If the people of the Philippines, and Filipinos living in Hong Kong, are truly serious in their demands then they need to demand greater privatisation, including privatising security and police services.

Andrew Strain, North Point

There was no need for march

I admired Hongkongers when they marched in such large numbers in 1989 to protest against the Tiananmen Square massacre.

I also admired them when they marched in 2003 to protest against the implementation of Article 23, the proposed national security legislation.

But their protest march on August 29 over the deaths of eight Hongkongers in Manila was incomprehensible to me ('Thousands demand Manila siege justice', August 30).

Did the marchers not feel their own government was perfectly capable of expressing their anger to the Philippine government over the botched rescue attempt?

Why were the protesters targeting ordinary Filipinos, who come from a country with a history of mismanagement and corruption?

Did they feel threatened by the poor people of that unfortunate country, thousands of whom slave away for them in this city?

It would have been so much more admirable if the Hong Kong citizens who marched on August 29 had asked their servants to join them in the protest instead of having the Filipinos hold their own separate services to express their grief and condolences for those who were killed in Manila. But the fact that this did not happen really proves that the class system is alive and well in this Asian world city.

Vandana Marino, Lantau

Let down by orchestra

I was really excited to hear that the Duke Ellington Orchestra was coming to Hong Kong [on September 3]. I was fortunate to meet the great man on his 70th birthday tour in the 1970s.

What put me off going was that they had a local vocalist performing with the band.

Don't get me wrong, Elaine Liu is a good vocalist, but you can catch her at various venues around the city.

Did the organisers feel that the orchestra on its own would not pull enough people?

Alternatively, I would have thought that the orchestra should have had its own vocalist.

If I was going to pay for a good ticket for this concert by this international orchestra, this is exactly what I would have wanted to see.

Ken Stanton, Pok Fu Lam

Rat problem is getting worse

The high rate of rat infestation is threatening the health of Hong Kong citizens.

The government and community must work together to deal with the problem.

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department should increase the number of pest-control workers.

It also needs to allocate more resources for the training of these front-line workers and give them better equipment. I think this can help alleviate the rat problem.

As citizens, we can all do our bit, such as taking care when disposing of food.

Refuse should be disposed of promptly and not allowed to accumulate, which could attract rats.

We cannot just rely on the cleaning services provided by the government.

Kiki Hui, Kwun Tong

Taxpayers' money misused

I was surprised to discover that, as a tax-paying permanent resident of Hong Kong, my money is going towards helping Ocean Park in its expansion plans ('Ocean Park under fire over whale exhibit', September 6). A total of 55 new species of birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates - including, apparently, beluga whales and walruses - will be imported and placed on display.

I would like to register a formal objection about my hard-earned tax dollars being used to fund this project.

I am genuinely appalled at park chairman Allan Zeman. At the end of the day, of course, he is a businessman and it all comes down to money, and that cuts both ways. Thus, I would like my portion of that HK$160 million awarded to Ocean Park to be returned to me or invested in a project which isn't morally, ethically or ecologically unsound.

I have a few suggestions and recommendations; Mr Zeman is free to contact me to further discuss these, if he wishes.

Suzanne Miao, Kennedy Town

Awareness of risks lacking

I agree with the views expressed by Erin Chan ('Teens disclose too much', September 2).

Some young people refused to join the voluntary drug test in schools.

They felt there were important privacy issues and they were concerned about personal information being made public. And yet teenagers are happy to disclose their personal data to strangers every day online.

Social networks like Facebook, Xanga and Twitter are popular with young people who use them to make friends and share their photos and diaries. They are disclosing details of their private lives online.

However, they can put themselves at risk and will have to be more cautious.

It is clear that more education is needed so that teenagers are fully aware of all privacy issues.

It is not good enough just to teach them about their rights with regard to privacy.

They must also be aware of how they should protect themselves when they are using these online networks.

Kanis Lam Tsz-kan, Ho Man Tin

Stop car horn noise pollution

I think it is generally agreed that noise pollution is off the scale.

Particularly galling are drivers who lean on their horns for 30 seconds or longer when traffic is not moving.

This is actually painful for pedestrians to hear, especially in narrow streets.

The traffic laws should be amended to ban the use of the vehicle horn for anything other than emergencies.

Randall van der Woning, Tai Po

Focus on real gender issues

I refer to the letter by Sandy Siu Wing-sum ('Female-only panel is wrong', September 1).

It would be absurd to expect any gender equality in the composition of the Mr Hong Kong contest's judging panel, as the event itself is by nature sexist - like any gender-specific beauty or talent event in the world.

Gender inequality is indeed an issue in Hong Kong that needs to be tackled. But what we need to focus on are real issues like access to education and the salary gap, not something as daft and mundane as who gets to judge the Mr Hong Kong contest.

Whoever gets to be judges in these contests will have absolutely no bearing on the real issues. Anyone who truly cares about gender equality should not endorse something like the Mr Hong Kong contest, by wasting their time watching it, in the first place.

Chung Chin-wai, Sai Wan Ho