PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 October, 2011, 12:00am


Public has right to air its opinions

Your editorial ('Allow maids case to take its course', October 1) is right to describe as 'extraordinary' the recent call to the public by the secretary for justice to refrain from making comments on the foreign domestic helper abode case that might prejudice or affect the judge's adjudication.

Since Mr Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon was deciding the case by himself, there was never the slightest chance of his being affected by public comment, as the judgment makes clear.

Although attention has naturally focused on the abode issue, the judgment also considers the public discussion of the case and its possible impact.

The judge explains that it is his duty to apply the law without regard to extraneous matters, and that none of the views expressed by the public 'seek to influence the court in the judicial process'.

The judge observes that 'I have no intention of stopping people from having discussion on the topic based on their own perspectives', and it is to be hoped that this has been clearly heard by the secretary for justice and any others who wish to stifle legitimate public comment on issues of general concern.

Instead of making pronouncements that might cause alarm or misunderstanding, the secretary for justice should in future reassure the public that our judges are fully capable of adjudicating impartially upon cases, uninfluenced by extra- judicial comment.

I. Grenville Cross SC, Ho Man Tin

Maids not 'ordinarily' resident

As a former member of the Basic Law drafting committee, I would like to comment on the right of abode for foreign domestic helpers.

The Basic Law says the power of interpretation is vested with the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

We will not compromise our judicial independence if we ask the Standing Committee to interpret provisions in the Basic Law the legislative intent of which have not been accurately interpreted by our courts when adjudicating cases.

No foreign domestic helpers can be considered as having 'ordinarily resided' in Hong Kong as their families cannot join them here; they stay in their countries of origin. The employment contract lasts two years, after which helpers are required to leave. Therefore, they cannot have stayed here 'continuously' for seven years or above, a condition for eligibility for permanent residency.

In view of the unique conditions of their residency in Hong Kong, the issues of violation of human rights and discrimination do not exist.

Sanford Yung, Mid-Levels

Honesty still a politician's best policy

Henry Tang Ying-yen's admission of adultery was a brave move and leaves him open to the accusation that he timed his statement purely in pursuit of his desire to be chief executive, which is, of course, true (''Unfaithful' Tang comes clean', October 5).

Yet, he has demonstrated strength of courage, and the remorse and guilt he feels towards his wife, Kwok Yu-chin, is real. He has shown an ability to be humble and to connect with the people of Hong Kong.

Honesty, no matter how contrite, remains a politician's best policy.

Mark Peaker, The Peak

England players let down side

As an Englishman who travels abroad a lot and currently lives in Hong Kong, I am aware that my behaviour reflects not only on me but also my country.

I was therefore deeply disappointed and ashamed to learn that some members of the England rugby squad in New Zealand for the World Cup had let down the side by their off-pitch behaviour. Chris Ashton, Dylan Hartley and James Haskell are clearly young men who still have a lot of growing up to do.

However, manager Martin Johnson's reported remark that their humiliation of a Queenstown hotel worker was intended as humour suggests that the England management needs to get a better grip on reality and acknowledge that such treatment of a lone woman by three men was completely unacceptable. One can only hope that the behind-the-scenes reprimand doled out to Ashton, Hartley and Haskell was more robust.

As for Mike Tindall's 'inaccurate recollection' of his nocturnal activities, full marks to you for calling these the 'lies' that they so clearly were ('Tindall apologises after lying over blonde in bar', October 3).

Once again, the reported response of the England management appears unduly anodyne.

Of course, Tindall will have to answer to a higher authority when he gets home, and I am quite sure his wife and mother-in-law will leave him in no doubt of the consequences of any repeat performance.

Eric Blyth, Pok Fu Lam

Set up food banks in poorer areas

An Oxfam report has revealed that low-income families in the city cannot afford even half the price of a meal needed for a balanced diet ('Too poor for one square meal a day', October 3).

I find it disheartening to read about the plight of these people in such a wealthy place.

Everyone should be entitled to a balanced daily diet. The government has a responsibility to help these low-income families and ensure they are being properly fed.

It should establish more food banks in areas of Hong Kong where poverty is a serious problem, such as Sham Shui Po, Kwun Tong and Yuen Long.

These food banks would have supplies of tinned produce, providing staple foods such as rice and baby formula.

Our administration must pay more attention to those citizens living below the poverty line.

Coco Tsang Tsz-yan, Sha Tin

Don't give up the fight for human rights

Last month, mainland legal activist Guo Feixiong was released from Meizhou Prison.

He was arrested in September 2006 for illegally publishing books about a political scandal in Shenyang .

After his release, Guo said the treatment to which he was subjected in prison was 'beyond human imagination' ('Freed activist aims to recover health', September 15).

Over the past few years, many activists on the mainland have been arrested, for various reasons. Some of them are guilty of nothing. The central government simply wants to stop them from doing their work defending human rights.

I do not think this is right, as a country and its government can only move forward if subjected to criticism. It is the duty of government leaders to listen to the views of citizens and try to meet their needs.

As Guo has pointed out, a democratic China will only be achieved through gradual reform. Compared with many developed nations, China still has a long way to go with regard to the observance of human rights.

There are still examples of citizens' cases being handled by officials in a very inhumane manner. The methods of interrogation to which they are subjected would not be tolerated in a democratic country.

However, people with the same goals as Guo should not compromise their principles or give up, despite the pressure they are under.

It takes courage to follow this path, but like Guo, who never gave up, they are doing the right thing.

I hope more people will join the struggle for greater freedom and protection of human rights on the mainland.

Mok Wing-sum, Kwai Chung

Board must rethink firing of trustees

I refer to the report 'Parents hit at mass sackings by school board' (October 3).

My two sons, Ian and Andrew, spent seven wonderful years, from Reception to Primary 6, at the Chinese International School.

The founders and trustees are the school's most valuable assets. They have shown commitment, have connections and have made valuable contributions, in money and in kind, at all the critical stages of the school's development. Other schools would love to have similar connections.

The board of governors should review its decision and restore the historical ties and valuable social connections for one of the city's greatest schools.

Chow Tung-shan, Central


You may also like