Threat of jail can curb the vote cheats
I agree with the sentiments expressed by James Middleton regarding the vote-rigging of the district council election ('How to crack down on vote-rigging', December 14).
However, the main problem is not identity theft, but the migration of voters into wards and districts where the voter is not resident by the use of fraudulent address registration. Enhanced identity checks do not counter this malpractice.
The response from the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, is bureaucratic and administratively clumsy ('Race is on to crack down on vote fraud', December 14).
Your editorial ('Election integrity must be upheld', December 17) is correct . Random checks on voters' addresses are imperative. However, the requirements to provide address proof and to report a change of address are unnecessarily cumbersome.
This fraud could be better handled by using the 'self- inflicted big stick' approach. Procedurally, all registered voters receive an official letter mailed to their registered address giving details of the candidates and the location of their voting centre. I would suggest that this letter must be submitted with the identity card to the polling station officials in order to get a ballot paper.
The letter should incorporate a bold statement saying something like, 'In submitting this letter to election officials, I state and swear that the postal address shown is my current abode. If my statement is not the truth, I accept that I am liable for a fixed penalty of a) HK$1 million OR b) six months in jail.'
Any bona fide voter who has not received an official letter prior to the election would have to apply to the electoral office, as it is acknowledged that thousands of these election letters did not reach the registered voter and were 'returned to sender'.
Roger Emmerton, Wan Chai
No excuse for drinking and driving
As the holidays approach and many will be out celebrating with a few drinks, the Forum for Responsible Drinking is again using a red bandaged car to remind Hong Kong that 'If you drink, don't drive' during the festive season.
Our city enjoys a diverse transport system that makes it easy to get home from a night out without a car, so there is simply no excuse for putting oneself and others at risk by getting behind the wheel after drinking.
Over the past few years, Hong Kong has seen a rapid decline in the number of drink-driving cases (a 68 per cent drop from 2008 to 2010, currently 1.1 per cent of all traffic accidents prosecuted), but still more can be done.
The forum has already seen a fantastic response and inspiring pledges following the recent launch of our 'Together, Our Voices Can Stop Drink Driving' campaign. We would like to further encourage Hongkongers to speak out over the holidays and remind friends and family that 'If you drink, don't drive'.
Please join us in keeping the holidays safe and joyous by standing against drink driving.
Jenny To, chairperson, the Hong Kong Forum for Responsible Drinking
Time to end deal with power firms
Top officials are appealing to the city's two power firms to stem their intended large increase in charges.
However, these same officials agreed to recently renew the scheme of control, which has allowed these private companies a preset percentage return on assets of close to 10 per cent, and now they are crying when these companies implement their agreement.
Officials have permitted the playing field to be skewed towards these monopoly interests and away from their consumers, and Hong Kong generally.
This control method had passed its sell-by date, and is inflationary in nature when commercial banking interest rates are so low.
This was clearly pointed out by your columnists, such as Philip Bowring and Jake van der Kamp, at the time of the scheme renegotiation.
This again indicates the poor governmental standards of the Tsang administration, which is perceived as being too close to the interests that control these power companies.
Penny Stock, Central
Citizens and companies will suffer
CLP Power plans to raise tariffs. While it plans to make its charging system more progressive, Hong Kong people may still suffer hardship.
We cannot live without electricity, whether it is the appliances in our home or lamp posts which light up our streets.
CLP is scheduled to raise tariffs by an average of 9.2 per cent next year.
It aims to revamp its regressive charging mechanism for business users, which means the more power they use, the less they pay.
The maximum basic tariff would be HK$1.33 per kilowatt-hour; the lowest rate will be 76.2 cents per kWh.
Many citizens may feel they are being robbed by the power firms. I do not believe there is any need for us to pay more.
Raising tariffs will cause problems for ordinary citizens and companies.
Firms experienced large increases in rents and wages last year.
The new charges would further erode their profit margins.
A restaurant owner said he would have to increase prices for customers as his monthly electricity bills would probably be above HK$200,000 ('Homes with high power use face 20pc bigger bills', December 15).
I think many small businesses may experience similar problems.
I agree with William Chung Siu-wai, of City University, that CLP Power's tariff structure for bulk users is still not progressive enough, although they consume more energy than domestic households.
Our energy companies should give careful consideration to the impact their actions have on the public.
Stella Chan, Tsuen Wan
Argument on fins all about sustainability
Ricky Leung ('You can have shark fin and eat it too', December 12) seems confused.
He rationalises shark's fin soup consumption via a diverse and increasingly desperate set of criteria including: Hong Kong's culinary history; the cruelty involved in the production of food; a misrepresentation of data re sustainability, and finally his signature argument that shark conservation is part of a Western agenda against Chinese culture.
To reiterate, Silvy Pun of WWF ('Development of sustainable fisheries too slow to conserve shark population', December 14), one small sustainable shark fishery cannot produce sufficient fins to satisfy the demand for shark's fin soup.
The only ethical choice for consumers is to elect not to eat it. There are currently no sustainable shark products available in Hong Kong (if any vendor tries to claim otherwise, then consumers should ask to see the Marine Stewardship Council Chain of Custody proof which confirms that the shark product can be traced back to a sustainable source).
The primary argument for not consuming shark products - in Hong Kong or elsewhere - remains one of environmental sustainability.
This is a global issue that affects all of us, regardless of race, culture or cuisine.
Bertha Lo, programme director, Claire Garner, director, HK Shark Foundation
Subdivided flat tenants need help
Most Hong Kong citizens are able to enjoy a decent standard of living.
They have jobs and comfortable homes. But there are also many Hongkongers who have to endure poverty, including those individuals who are forced to live in subdivided flats in industrial buildings. They need help from society.
They have to live in this kind of accommodation because they cannot afford anything else, due to high rents. They are allocated a very small space, and this may house a family of three or four.
All they want is to be given the chance to have a public housing flat. It may seem such a simple request, but it would mean the world to them.
They are seeking a better living environment where their children can have a suitable place to study.
The government must do more to help those industrial building tenants.
It could either offer financial help or revise its public housing policies so that people have an opportunity to own their home in a much shorter period.
Joey Wong, Tsuen Wan