PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 February, 2011, 12:00am

Ip's vague views on democracy leave more questions than answers

I refer to Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee's column ('Defining a democracy that works for all', February 6).

As is often the case with Mrs Ip, the article was vague and unclear.

Is she supporting democratic reform or is she against it? Where does she really stand? I cannot tell.

Is this vagueness intentional? If so, I find this to be highly sinister.

If not, then I wonder at the clarity of the thinking behind the writing. It is unfortunate in either case, given Mrs Ip's recent hinting at her desire to be chief executive.

Secondly, the reference to Singapore as 'our old nemesis' is I believe absurd and wrong- headed.

There is no reason why Hong Kong and Singapore cannot both thrive in their own way.

Many economists would say that her zero-sum thinking on so-called rival cities is outdated, and incorrect in economic terms. Co-operation and playing to strength is the way forward, not fear and reaction.

This is not in any way the sort of political and economic level of thinking I would want in a chief executive.

Finally, judging from the way the Article 23 brief was mishandled by her, and given her implied criticism of democracy by referring to Adolf Hitler's so-called election, which, as all educated people know, was not fair or free.

I pale at the thought of Mrs Ip being appointed to any position of real power in Hong Kong by Beijing.

Jeffrey Gagnon, Central

Concerns over police ID card checks

I believe that the spot identity- card checks undertaken by the police in Hong Kong are a somewhat arbitrary and overly authoritarian exercise.

It is a practice that is possibly a very humiliating experience for many of those who are stopped.

I write this from the standpoint of an expatriate, one who has never been asked for their ID. However, I do have Chinese friends who have been stopped and I have witnessed many such checks.

I simply do not like seeing officers use this form of police inquiry. What are the police checking IDs for?

I imagine it is for fake IDs and illegal residents. But is it really necessary to corner people in a middle of a busy street or at an MTR station and subject them to such scrutiny? Where are the statistics? How many people have been caught with fake IDs and/or are illegal residents? Do the number of guilty suspects warrant such a police tactic?

Furthermore, what criteria do the police use to select suspects? Is it random or based on profiling?

I usually see young men having their ID cards checked, rarely young women.

I have never seen a middle- aged, wealthy looking man or woman being stopped. And, as mentioned, I have never been stopped and I have lived here a number of years. The people who I have seen stopped all seem very compliant. However, some of my Chinese friends find the practice invasive and are highly irritated by the procedure.

I would argue an overbearing police force creates a division between the police and the people they are meant to serve.

A review and/or a public education campaign regarding ID card searches is warranted to ensure the practice is legitimate and controlled.

David Peatfield, Sheung Wan

Welcome challenge of mainland students

There have been complaints about the number of mainland undergraduates coming to Hong Kong universities.

As a Form Six pupil, I am deeply aware of the pressure imposed on students by the highly competitive environment in Hong Kong, whether you are trying to get a place at a university or find a job. But, after all, this kind of pressure is not necessarily a bad thing.

Young mainlanders who show talent have already faced an intensely competitive environment here.

Controlling the influx of such people could make Hong Kong less competitive.

Surely, Hong Kong students can learn from the mainlanders and how they achieved academic success.

They have excelled by being conscientiousness, diligent and by persevering.

They have set an example we can follow. Instead of whiling away our time on Facebook and YouTube, Hong Kong students should be equipping themselves with the knowledge and skills needed to prepare for a better future.

Rachel Yiu, Tsing Yi

Self-study rooms shut during holidays

As A-level exams are drawing near, all candidates are working hard.

Self-study rooms in libraries are the best place for them to do their preparation work.

They are quiet and this enables them to concentrate on their studies.

What really surprises me is that these areas in the public libraries were closed during the Lunar New Year holiday period. This school break is the perfect time for teenagers to read and revise.

I hope officials will consider this matter and adjust opening hours in the self-study areas so that they can be fully utilised. Candidates need to have a tranquil place where they can study hard.

Annie Cheung, Hung Hom

Beijing must deal with food shortages

As the amount of arable land on the mainland shrinks people experience food shortages.

The central government has to address this issue.

First, it must enhance its trading arrangements with other countries. It must remove any red tape. This is the greatest impediment to successful bilateral trade.

Second, when extreme weather leads to shortages it must look for more food suppliers.

There are some land-locked countries in Africa that have still not established trading links with China. It may turn to them for food.

It is also important to reduce food waste in the country. This waste problem is severe in wealthier eastern regions.

If a large amount of food is left over after a banquet this enhances the status of the host. If nothing is left he considered stingy.

Education is needed to change this attitude.

These policies are important, because if the central government does not act it could have serious consequences - with people running out of food.

Isaac Ho, Yuen Long

Impose strict quotas on fishing fleets

There should be a strict quota on the quantities of fish that can be taken from the sea and regulations about what species can be caught.

Even Hong Kong citizens must be made to adhere to rules regarding fishing.

I believe that fishing practices here can be very destructive. Dynamite fishing kills fish and destroys fragile coral.

Nearly 50 per cent of fish species in Hong Kong are now extinct and it is probably a case of too little, too late, when you talk about sustainable fishing.

The kind of mindless practices that persist must stop soon. If more species become extinct then the food chain could be threatened.

Katya Yan, The Peak