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Letters

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 March, 2011, 12:00am

Government is stuck in idle mode as usual

I could not agree more with what Mike Rowse says in his article ('The futility of trying to please everyone', March 21).

As Mr Rowse points out eloquently, governments, whether elected by democratic process or not, have a duty to govern and make decisions on behalf of their constituents.

When society is deeply polarised on issues, and commercial interests are involved, this necessity emerges even more.

Mr Rowse lists a couple of incidents, including the idling engine bill and the marathon, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Too often in Hong Kong we emerge with watered-down, and frankly poor, legislation that has taken years to get from inception to implementation.

Public consultation is necessary and welcome; however, once this process is complete, the issue at hand needs to progress.

Air pollution is another glaring example that immediately springs to mind as crying out for more action, not prevarication.

There is a box on many desks in the corporate sector marked 'too hard'.

Good managers and leaders are adept at moving the contents of this box forward, using compromise, vision and persuasive techniques.

Sadly our government does not appear to have either the will or the ability to do so for the good of Hong Kong.

Andy Robinson, Wan Chai

Hold Tsang accountable

It has been confirmed that the Central Policy Unit, the government's advisory body, asked Chinese University's Centre for Communication Research to conduct a survey in response to the crisis of governance and gauge public opinion on whether Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah needed to resign over his unpopular budget ('Should John Tsang resign, government survey asks', March 17).

If our chief executive, all his politically appointed principal officials and his think tank are still unable to find out what the public is thinking during this political crisis triggered by the financial secretary's unpopular budget proposal, this is really a tragedy for Hong Kong.

They are all too far removed from the people of Hong Kong.

John Tsang is one of the principal government officials who was appointed by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.

This might be the time for the government to show the public that the 'accountability system' for principal officials really works.

I do not know why he made such a mess of the budget. But our politically appointed officials ought to learn some lessons from it.

As Hong Kong moves towards direct elections for our chief executive and our legislative body, everything should be seen as political, and any issue can escalate into a political crisis.

Jane Tse, Sha Tin

Tax rich, don't rely on charity

Pang Chi-ming is misinformed in his objections to a rise in profits tax ('Large firms can lend a hand', March 22)

Firstly, all types of progressive taxes (profits tax being one) will contribute to redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor.

Adding money to the treasury is in itself an act of redistribution. Where does the money the government uses to implement its policies come from?

While citizens may not directly own the tax collected, ultimately all revenues of the Hong Kong SAR are used exclusively (directly or indirectly) for the benefit of Hong Kong citizens. Taxing the rich more will mean that their contribution to government expenditure on welfare services will be proportionately larger, in effect transferring their wealth to those in need.

Secondly, reliance on the corporate world to 'offer help' is dangerous. All the talk about corporate social responsibility is alluring but deceptive - businesses are set up mainly to earn profits, not to practise charity. Companies are solely accountable to their shareholders. The responsibility to tackle social issues rests overwhelmingly with the government.

In the light of the current social and economic climate and the disquieting inflation rate, there is a good case for raising the profits tax in Hong Kong.

Martin Ho, Tai Kok Tsui

Immortal Liz will be missed

The passing of Liz Taylor brings back memories of her impact as a movie star, so unforgettable since my salad days.

The little 'Miss Sunshine' in the Lassie films and National Velvet, maturing into the beauty of the 1950s. Who can help staring spellbound at her epoch-making close-up in Ivanhoe as Rebecca, standing trial for sorcery? Then the variety of equally charming portrayals as a rich lady in Giant, call girl in Butterfield 8 and demented wife in Raintree County. She and Richard Burton were Cleopatra and Antony reincarnate - in the physical sense, as opposed to the stage duo Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, who immortalised the intellectual presentation of the Shakespearean drama. And Taylor and Burton went on to parts that seemed tailor-made for them in Taming of the Shrew and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Now they are both gone. I look forward to another memorial series of her classics on TCM.

Rupert Chan, Mid-Levels

Reward healthy leisure pursuits

More children are spending long periods playing computer games. This is a cause of great concern for schools and parents.

Prompt action is required. Schools must get the message across to pupils that they must not spend too long at a computer, as it can cause health problems such as short-sightedness and glaucoma. There could even be a scheme whereby students who spent their leisure time in more meaningful pursuits such as reading novels and working out would receive rewards.

Parents need to spend more time with their children and try to get the family more involved in outdoor activities at the weekend.

Li Pui-tong, Tsuen Wan

Switch to better, greener lifestyle

I read with interest the report ('People urged to think beyond 60 minutes', March 21).

WWF is calling on people around the world to switch off their lights tonight from 8.30pm to 9.30pm to show their commitment to making the earth a better place.

This is the third year that Hong Kong will have participated in Earth Hour.

Some critics may think it is a ridiculous event and does nothing to help protect our environment. They see it as being simply an inconvenience, but I really appreciate it.

I think it can help raise public awareness about how precious the earth is and what individuals can do to protect our environment.

People can make a huge difference in their own homes if they switch off their electrical appliances instead of leaving them on standby mode.

Even left on standby, these appliances still consume electricity.

The theme of this year's Earth Hour is 'Go Beyond the Hour'.

It forces people to think about the need to develop a sustainable lifestyle by using the earth's resources properly.

I hope Hongkongers will support this meaningful event tonight and ask their friends to join them.

Lee Sze-wing, Tsuen Wan

Accidents will always happen

Professor Benjamin Sovacool remarked in his article ('Record of accidents belies safety claims', March 18) that fatal nuclear power plant accidents killed more people than have died in commercial US airline accidents since 1982.

This poignant remark begs the question of just how few and infrequent fatal accidents must become in both these industries that mankind cannot now do without in order for either to be deemed acceptably safe, given that the accident rate will never fall to zero, hard as we fallible beings might try.

I believe there is no answer to this question.

It therefore remains for us all to work towards replacement nuclear fission designs that are meltdown-proof (I believe they are not far away) and eventually affordable nuclear fusion designs that produce no radioactivity.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Beijing should take own advice

It is gratifying that China has urged Japan to provide timely and precise details about its nuclear crisis ('Beijing presses for crisis updates', March 18).

It would be most heartening if China, too, could be more forthcoming next time there is a Sars-like crisis, or be at least as open as Vietnam was in 2003.

It may be recalled that Beijing kept a lid on the real magnitude of the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome for at least two months before finally reporting it to the World Health Organisation.

It was forced to do so because retired military surgeon Jiang Yangyong revealed the extent of the problem.

And China would do well to give timely and precise updates the next time a crisis such as the melamine-laced milk product scandal breaks out and tens of thousands of babies are affected, as happened in 2008.

Chinese authorities also owe it to their own people to desist from harassing activists such as the renowned artist Ai Weiwei, schoolteacher Liu Shaokun and journalist Tan Zuoren.

They have been punished merely for gathering information on poorly constructed school buildings that led to the deaths of children in the Sichuan earthquake of 2008.

Beijing needs to be as forthcoming with information on crises at home as it now expects Tokyo to be.

N. Jayaram, Kennedy Town

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