PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 January, 2011, 12:00am

Report on law reform was lost in black hole

The recent focus on the dismal record of the administration in taking forward the reports of the Law Reform Commission is welcome and may provide some comfort to those who have contributed to the commission's work.

In 1988, I was invited to sit on the commission's sub-committee on arrest, chaired by the late Mr Justice Ross Penlington, and comprising lawyers, academics, police officers and laymen.

For almost four years, the sub-committee met regularly and studied in detail the reform of police powers of arrest and detention, with reference to systems elsewhere, particularly England and Wales.

The members displayed great diligence, notwithstanding the size and complexity of the project, naively believing that they were about to influence an issue of immense importance to our community. In the event, the production of the report proved to be a test of endurance, but everyone, including the laymen, persevered, undaunted by the scale of the task.

Through sound chairmanship and sheer willpower, the sub-committee, after sometimes bitter debate over each proposal, sentence and even semi-colon, finally submitted its report to the commission. The report contained valuable recommendations for reform in an area where there was felt to be much scope for improvement, and represented a useful road map for the future of local policing.

The members were duly thanked for their efforts, but, after publication, the report disappeared into a black hole, and little has been heard of it over the past 18 years, although there were occasional sightings.

Rumour has it that the report is still being considered, although if this is true much of its contents will by now have become outdated, and the whole exercise may need to begin afresh.

This is by no means an isolated instance, and if confidence is to be restored in the system of law reform, a radical overhaul of current procedures is obviously required, perhaps involving the appointment of full-time law reform commissioners, as in England.

In the interim, arrangements must be made for reports to be assessed within specific time-frames, and for decisions on the way forward to be taken by government within months rather than years.

The present state of affairs not only undermines the efficacy of the law reform process itself, but deters people who have much to contribute from assisting the commission in its work, which is a great pity.

I. Grenville Cross SC, Kowloon Tong

HK still has a long way to go

I went to Metroplaza in Kwai Fong on December 24 to collect documents from a shipping agent. I needed to use the washroom and was told by the receptionist to use the toilet for the disabled, but it was occupied. I asked to use the other toilet on the same floor, but the receptionist said it was not for outsiders.

However a gentlemen who worked at the mall was kind enough to open the locked toilet.

I do not know who imposes this policy of not allowing outsiders to use the toilet of this commercial building. However, I was not an outsider but a customer. I had my goods sent through this shipping agent and was therefore a client.

Hong Kong has many five-star commercial buildings with talented management personnel. But some building managers do not consider human factors. My experience is a very good example of this latter style of management.

Hong Kong has a long way to go before it can call itself a caring and civilised city.

N. S. Lim, North Point

Confucius for primary pupils

Last month, Fukien Secondary School and its affiliate organised a traditional Chinese calligraphy class to try to set a Guinness world record. More than 600 students and parents wrote 24 Chinese characters to promote traditional Chinese values at school.

With nearly 4,000 years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest civilisations. The core values suggested by Confucius are so inspiring that they attract people from all over the world. Principles such as harmony in diversity, learn from others' virtues, and reflect on your own weak points, are thought-provoking.

This specially designed class will have given students an unforgettable lesson and reminded them of the importance of leading a positive life.

The school initiative will have raised public awareness about the need to learn about traditional Chinese thinking. In my generation, we did not cover this subject until our Form Six Chinese language and culture lessons.

The study of Chinese culture or Confucianism should be included in Chinese language lessons in primary schools to instil a stronger sense of national identity in the younger generations.

Chan Pui-shan, Kwai Chung

Teens far too materialistic

I think that today's teenagers have a very casual attitude towards material possessions.

From the time they are born, they get what they want, even things that are not necessary. And yet they keep demanding more from their parents. It makes no sense to buy things without thinking about the price.

What's more, youngsters are easily affected by their peers.

If their friends have something new and trendy, they will also want to have it. But they do not consider whether they really need it.

Parents should not buy their children too many items that they do not really need. And they should teach them to treasure what they have. They have to set a good example.

Young people need to learn to exercise self-control. It is up to them to make decisions in their lives, not rely on others to do so.

They should appreciate what they have and not look down on a penny they own, given that their parents worked hard to earn it.

Yuki Lam Ka-wai, Kwun Tong

City's buildings unimaginative

I was recently in Seoul for a long weekend.

I was surprised by the dearth of historical sites but more so by the challenging architecture incorporated into anything built in the past 20 years.

Shopping experiences both underground and above ground in Sinsa-dong and Myeong-dong were new compared to what I see outside in Causeway Bay and Mong Kok and inside places like Pacific Place or New Town Plaza in Sha Tin.

The Seoul experience must be what is meant by 'The soul of Asia' since 'Asia's world city' is so 1960s.

Can someone explain why our architecture is so dated and banal and why the last interesting building to be constructed in Hong Kong was the HSBC headquarters? We need some creative and exciting ideas.

I really cannot believe the past 10 years have been so unimaginative on almost every front including indecisiveness.

Shane Kelly, Mid-Levels

Raise levels of awareness

When World Aids Day is held on December 1 each year, I feel glad that there is increasing awareness about the disease.

Many organisations hold activities to help raise levels of public awareness even higher.

However, the fact is that many Hong Kong people still do not know much about HIV and Aids and this leads to patients suffering from discrimination.

The problem can be alleviated with better education.

People can learn more about the disease and this can lead to a change of attitude. Also, through education, individuals can learn how to protect themselves.

The government should hold exhibitions and fund-raising activities so that Hong Kong citizens are given the right information about Aids.

Erica Lau, Kwun Tong

Fine thoughtless dog owners

Some of your correspondents have complained about the irresponsible behaviour of selfish dog owners.

The sea-view promenade from Repulse Bay to Deep Water Bay is a black spot when it comes to dog excrement.

A minority of irresponsible owners walking their dogs will continue to ignore all the signs in English and Chinese, along the promenade, unless they are hit hard in their pockets.

People using this promenade have to take extreme care to avoid stepping in this mess.

In the summer, there are hygiene problems with a lot of flies.

I hope that the relevant authorities will address these concerns and impose a fine for littering on owners who refuse to pick up after their dogs.

Marie Chung, Repulse Bay

Study room plea

As many students will be taking exams when they return from holiday, they are spending their time on leave working hard.

I am a Form Seven student who is sitting the A-level exam, and I find that the study rooms are the best place for me to concentrate. They provide a quiet environment.

However, there are not enough of them. They are always full and you have to wait for a vacant seat.

We need more of these study rooms or at least additional seats in the existing ones.

Hong Kong is a knowledge-based society and students are working hard for their future. The government has a responsibility to provide a good environment for young people to study.

I know that not all libraries provide these study rooms. If more of them made this provision, we would have less waiting time.

Kiki So, Lok Fu