PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 December, 2011, 12:00am


Plug gaps to prevent any vote-rigging

Allegations have been made of possible vote-rigging at last month's district council elections.

In my view, it is definitely high time the government plugged the loopholes and perfected the voting registration system.

Vote-rigging of any kind is unacceptable.

The aim of the district council elections was to enable Hong Kong citizens to vote for a candidate they considered to be trustworthy, who would speak up for them and fight for their rights.

However, if the allegations are true, then there were people who took advantage of registration loopholes to influence the outcome of the elections. Vote- rigging is unfair to honest candidates and voters.

The government should modify the registration system. When they register, voters should be required to provide proof of residence.

This can be verified at the time by staff from the Registration and Electoral Office.

It is similar to students sitting the public exam in Hong Kong. They are identified by the photographs on their admission forms.

By having these checks, officials can prevent people using fake or outdated addresses when they register.

Random checks could also be carried out on households to ensure voters are living at the address where they are registered.

These checks can also serve as a deterrent against vote-rigging.

In the meantime, the government must spare no effort to investigate the allegations of dishonest practices.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has said the electoral system is fair and transparent ('Vote-rigging fears spark probe', November 22). But only by modifying the registration system can the government ensure this is the case.

Janet Wong, Ma On Shan

Give bakeries a break on plastic bags

Some green activists have said that any exemptions to the extended plastic bag levy will create a loophole for bakeries that will be open to abuse.

I do not see the requirements of these bakeries as being an abuse of the tax system.

When shopping at bakeries, customers need plastic bags. When they purchase a loaf of bread, they cannot just put it into their ordinary shopping bag as they would with other items in a supermarket. And they cannot be expected to always come prepared with their own boxes or hygienic bag.

Often, it will only occur to you that you need bread when you pass by a bakery.

Of course, we need to use fewer plastic bags, but this so-called loophole at bakeries is unavoidable.

I think instead we should focus on how to reduce the use of bags at retail outlets such as clothes shops.

Calvin Chung Ka-wing, Sha Tin

Villagers out of line in NT dispute

New Territories villagers were over the top and out of order by burning an effigy of Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, because she is determined to have unauthorised building structures constructed since June 28 this year dismantled immediately.

Mrs Lam deserves support for her steadfast stand to enforce building regulations that have been so flagrantly disregarded.

The Heung Yee Kuk rural affairs body apparently supports this kind of intimidating behaviour, and will attempt to use delaying tactics so that any enforcement actions will have to be taken by the next administration in 2012 ('Kuk plays hardball on housing', November 29).

Henry Tang Ying-yen should not be undermining the present administration by allowing the kuk to think that he will be more lenient and accommodating on housing matters in the New Territories.

It is regrettable that as a prospective chief executive, Mr Tang is seen as a 'soft touch', because history has shown that give the villagers (and the kuk) an inch, and they will take a yard.

K. Y. Leung, Shouson Hill

Helping men share the childcare

To encourage couples to equally share care of their newborn child, the chief executive announced a pilot scheme for civil servants where men can take five days of paid paternity leave.

There are successful models for such leave elsewhere. For example, in Norway and Sweden men can take several weeks of paternity leave at 80 or 100 per cent of their earnings, depending on the amount of time taken.

Hong Kong has a combination of Western and Chinese cultures.

Thanks to globalisation, more woman are playing important roles in society in addition to motherhood. However, they have tended, in spite of their careers, to take more responsibility for childcare once they become mothers.

I believe men should now share this childcare role, and a first step to making this possible is to ensure they can take some paternity leave. This can help remove gender stereotypes in our society.

A five-day period is feasible as it will not adversely affect the company the man works for.

Sharon Lo Suet-ting, Hung Hom

Keep things simple at the beach

I support the government's action to stop people turning kiosks into restaurants ('Sun goes down early on beach food kiosks', November 28) for commercial gain. These kiosks were set up for the convenience of ordinary beach-goers, not to serve as venues for exotic parties.

I am a frequent visitor to South Bay Beach. The food kiosk there does not supply ordinary beach items like sun tan lotion and beach mats. Instead, it operates like an expensive bar and restaurant.

Our government must continue its efforts to stop people from exploiting public assets and ensure that these public kiosks serve ordinary beach-goers.

C. C. Hai, Ap Lei Chau

Reducing attacks is Israel's aim

I. M. Wright makes allegations about stolen land and apartheid ('Israel intends to 'segregate' with policies', November 25).

When Israel was created in 1947 by UN resolution 181, Jews were in the majority in the region. They had not become so by driving Palestinians from their 'traditional homes', but by a combination of long-term residence and 19th century immigration.

The immigrants bought their land from landlords often resident in Syria - to the extent that the area was often referred to as 'Southern Syria'.

Moreover, the partition of the British Mandate gave the majority of land to today's Jordan, which could easily have taken more Palestinians fleeing a war initiated by surrounding Arab states, but did not do so for political reasons (to keep the heat on Israel).

To talk of Israel's 'apartheid' policies is to confuse intent with outcome. The intent of Israel's defensive tactics, including the wall, is to reduce attacks on its citizens, not to separate based on race and religion. That the outcome affects the 'race and religion' of Arab Muslims is because that's who is attacking Israel.

Surrounded by hostile states intent on its destruction, is Israel meant to take no defensive action? To suggest giving land for peace, without ironclad security guarantees, would be national suicide. Israel has offered peace in return for security, and repeatedly been rebuffed.

The conclusion is: if Palestinians lay down their arms there will be peace; if Israel lays down its arms it will be annihilated.

Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay

Mao Zedong airport is best option

While it is easy to say the name of an airport called after the city where it is located, it is a different matter with the tongue-twister 'Chek Lap Kok'.

Kai Tak was a marvellous comfort zone name.

It was chic to use, with the aura of having mastered the exotic. 'Heathrow', too, is a mouthful for some non-natives, but one can get by with 'London', just as 'Hong Kong' is a cinch. But 'Chek Lap Kok' cannot be avoided altogether, as it is used formally, spoken and written, abroad and here. So, I agree that we should change the name, but only one that fits the bill and is relevant to Hong Kong.

It should be Mao Zedong rather than Sun Yat-sen airport.

The recent history of Hong Kong and China as a whole has been shaped by Mao. It would be false modesty or hypocrisy to pretend otherwise.

Rob Dingwall, Benitses, Corfu, Greece