will raise awareness
I refer to the report 'Banned mainland books on shortlist for HK prize', (May 16).
The fact that these books are shortlisted for the fourth annual Hong Kong Book Prize has proved controversial.
I think this shows that Hong Kong's unique spirit of protecting intellectual freedom has been preserved. I think it can also lead to a better flow of ideas between the mainland and Hong Kong.
Having these books considered for the prize in this city will help to raise Hongkongers' awareness of current mainland issues - for example, the spread of Aids and the political scene. It can help us to have a deeper understanding of issues over the border.
Freedom of the press and of other means of communication are important. They help our city to prosper and aid its continued development.
However, I do accept that having these banned books considered by the judges will not be welcomed by the central government.
Jennifer Lee, Wong Tai Sin
Why people need the right to vote
Lau Nai-keung offers an interesting take on the relationship between American foreign policy and Chinese domestic issues ('We all have the right to run our own lives', May 13).
First, I would like to congratulate Mr Lau on having his article published with his reference to the June 4 Tiananmen Square 'incident' intact.
As someone holding official positions in the central government, he surely knows that, were he to attempt to publish the same article in a mainland newspaper, the results would have been different.
As an American completely unaffiliated with the US government and living in Hong Kong, I find that Mr Lau offers a few cogent critiques of American foreign policy.
However, I find his interpretation of American involvement in Hong Kong and China curious.
It seems the real problem Mr Lau finds with the 2003 attempt to strip Hongkongers of civil liberties and the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square was not that in both cases the central government acted against free expression, but that those pesky little people had the gall to stand up for themselves and speak out. Mr Lau contends that we should just 'leave people alone to decide what is best for themselves'.
I wholeheartedly concur with that sentiment but I am interested to hear how they can do that without the ability to legally decide for themselves, that is, vote.
In the end I think we can say for Mr Lau what we can for all politicians of every stripe and from every country (including my own): that it is an insecure man who needs to find external causes for internal events.
Benjamin Moser, Tai Kok Tsui
Delays over 'light' brands unacceptable
After procrastinating for more than five years on the issue, it is outrageous that the Intellectual Property Department ruling on the trademark recognition for Marlboro Lights cigarettes should take another six months ('Landmark case to rid HK of 'light' cigarettes', May 13).
In the meantime, Hong Kong has seen the introduction of the strict food labelling law under which all misleading or deceptive food nutrition labels and claims are banned. Yet the sale of cigarettes with deceptive and misleading names continues.
It is an open secret that 'light' and 'mild' cigarettes are concepts designed to appeal to the female market by giving the impression that they are less harmful and addictive than other cigarettes. However, studies show that smokers of 'light' cigarettes tend to smoke a higher number of these cigarettes because they crave the same amount of nicotine they would get from regular cigarettes. The Intellectual Property Department should have been taken to task years ago for failing to implement the terms of the Smoking and Public Health Ordinance.
Instead, we have the ridiculous situation whereby a packet of biscuits has most of the information on it inked out or covered in labels while cigarettes with misleading names are on sale on every street corner.
This is certainly another example of an urgent need for a ruling to delay no more on the very valid objection lodged by Annelise Connell in 2006.
Candy Tam, Wan Chai
Some staff worse off with new law
There have been claims that some workers are worse off than they were before the minimum wage law came into force on May 1.
Some firms facing increased costs as a result of the legislation have cut employees' hours and will not pay for lunch breaks and rest days. They argue that the only alternative would be to increase the price of their products and services.
It is unfair for employers to take such action and there is clearly a need for the government to fine-tune the law and curb such exploitation.
The necessary changes should be made as soon as possible.
Fiona Lui, Kwun Tong
Unskilled workers may be laid off
I am concerned that the minimum wage legislation could lead to some unskilled workers losing their jobs because they will find it more difficult to compete with those who have qualifications.
Employers faced with paying the same minimum wage would rather have a more skilled person.
Handicapped people might also find themselves at a disadvantage.
Some employers might also refuse to pay for meal breaks and reduce some workers' hours. This will mean they could be earning less than they were making before the law came into force.
The government should look again at this legislation and find ways to improve it.
Michelle Chan, Fanling
Tsang should admit fund has failed
Since the Community Care Fund was announced in Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's October 2010 policy address, nothing has happened to dispel the impression that this was a government-sponsored public relations initiative.
It was an attempt to improve the battered image of the tycoons who had backed Mr Tsang's 2008 chief executive election campaign and who had come under intense public criticism for unethical and domineering business practices. And, secondly, it was intended to raise Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen's profile in advance of the 2012 election. Both men felt confident the government's HK$5 billion could be matched by the business community, but the latter's contributions have fallen short of the target by a wide margin.
Yet Mr Tang expects the community to continue to fund the government portion. If this is a foretaste of how Mr Tang intends to run Hong Kong, heaven help us. This ad hoc fund was cobbled together in haste.
The fund remains a poor substitute for a proper anti-poverty policy, and the lack of response has shown that the tycoons don't really care about their public image. They prefer to control their own charity donations and will (correctly) resist having their arms twisted by the administration. There is little doubt that a genuine public consultation would show that this fund was ill-conceived and should be abandoned.
Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels
Cyclists get raw deal on our roads
The Transport Department is rightly proud of the lowest road death figures for 56 years - 117 road fatalities in 2010. It claims to have achieved this success through carefully targeted publicity to make drivers aware of the consequences of their actions.
But for many years the number of cyclist fatalities and serious injuries has remained constant or risen - another 10 deaths last year. There has been almost no government effort to make drivers aware of the estimated one million bicycles in Hong Kong.
Cyclists demand a public information programme to raise awareness that they have equal rights on the road, and to show what driving behaviour is legal and reasonable. In the past 10 days, two more cyclists have died in road traffic accidents.
This evening, cyclists will join the annual Ride of Silence in memory of them and others killed and injured on our roads, meeting at Tsim Sha Tsui clock tower, at 7.30pm.
Martin Turner, Hong Kong Cycling Alliance