Letters to the Editor, August 15, 2012
Raw deal for absent voters in election
In a city with 3.47 million registered voters, it is inevitable that a number of them might be travelling on the day of any given election.
You would have assumed that some provision would have been written into the electoral procedure for them.
However, this is not the case. As I have to be away for a business trip on the day of the Legco election on September 9, I wrote to the Electoral Affairs Commission regarding an absentee ballot. It replied saying there was "no provision" for such a vote.
Why should I be deprived of my vote because I need to travel for work? Is it so difficult to provide some mechanism for absentee ballots? Other jurisdictions - less worldly than ours - can manage this.
I am willing to present myself at a designated commission office to present my credentials, have them verify I am a registered voter, and receive a ballot paper. I would vote there and return the ballot in a sealed envelope, to be counted along with other votes on election day.
Is that so difficult for those voters who are willing to take the trouble to do this, in order to be able to exercise their right to vote?
The commission and the Legislative Council clearly don't care very much about the right to vote, which is - and should be - taken as sacred in real democracies.
Celina Lin, Clear Water Bay
Officials took 10 years to get it right
The Transport Department recently moved the crossing point of the pedestrian crossing at the junction of Robinson Road and Castle Road.
I contacted the department and spoke to the engineer who was responsible for the decision to move it.
He didn't realise that the move meant the crossing had returned to its original location of 10 years ago. But I fully agree with his observation that the reopened original crossing point is ideal because it provides a good sight line for motorists and pedestrians.
Also, as it passes through a traffic island, pedestrians can cross one lane at a time.
For the past 10 years because of the crossing's inexplicable relocation by the department, pedestrians faced the unnecessary hazard of having to cross two lanes at a blind spot where eastbound traffic rushed down a crest and westbound traffic accelerated up the slope after emerging from a sharp V-shaped curve.
In reply to my complaints in these columns then about the relocation, the department alleged in letters I received in 2002 that the relocated crossing point was "much safer" and suggested the possibility of a second crossing. It simply refused to consider returning the crossing to its original location.
I tried to solicit support from a district councillor, but she convinced me it was impossible for her to turn the bureaucracy around once it had made a decision, however stupid it might be, and showed me a host of issues she had been trying to bring to the department's attention.
In the absence of any change in topography and traffic arrangement, the return of the crossing to its original location irrefutably reproves the erroneous relocation.
The department must explain why it has taken 10 years to rectify such an obvious, uncomplicated but potentially fatal mistake.
Pierce Lam, Central
Fencing off playground best solution
While I applaud Tony Henderson's novel approach to the cattle dung problem on Lantau ("Mui Wo cattle dung could be sold", August 12), I fear it is impractical.
Any resident in the countryside can, at present, simply collect the dung from pathways or fields.
Further, he appears to overlook that the majority of Hong Kong's population lives in flats in the urban area.
There simply isn't a market for the dung to be sold by the bucketful. Surely a better solution would be to fence off areas where we don't want the cattle to roam.
As a parent of a toddler, resident in Mui Wo, I would like to see the playground fenced off, in part to stop the cattle from dirtying the area, but equally importantly to provide a safer playing area for children, where they cannot run out in the path of vehicles (bicycles, motorised tricycles or the ever-more-present cars and vans parking nearby).
Matthew Bond, Lantau
Lax gun laws put lives at risk in US
Bloody tragedies caused by firearms keep happening in the United States.
Americans are caught in the horns of a dilemma. They want to protect personal freedom but also ensure personal safety and the safety of society.
The right of Americans to buy and keep guns is enshrined in the US Constitution. Also, individual states have different laws which further guarantee citizens' civil rights. The principle of respect for freedom is of paramount importance to Americans, but allowing people to buy armaments without there being strict supervision and identity checks means that this principle is being abused.
President Barack Obama and the main political parties seldom talk about gun control issues even when expressing their condolences following another gun attack.
They have the power to regulate arms purchase conditions, but any initiative would be seen as a formal challenge to the anti-gun-control National Rifle Association.
It can exert a great deal of influence [through finance and lobbying] on politicians and parties.
In the forthcoming presidential election campaign, you are unlikely to see Mr Obama or his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, talk much about the gun control issue, because they have to be careful not to alienate voters. However, this problem will not go away.
Citizens are entitled to be able to live in a secure society and to be properly protected by their government.
Americans will have to make some tough decisions about their gun laws if they want to ensure that kind of security.
Vincent Tang Tsz-Chung, Tsuen Wan
HK must learn about meritocracy
I'm a big fan of Kelly Yang, and her latest piece about the need for ethics in Hong Kong is first rate ("Real value", August 8).
She has highlighted the good things about the US as well as its failings, and rightly points out that Hong Kong needs to learn the principles of meritocracy which can lead to a more solid democracy.
Indeed, the skewed view about property and money and the best schools for one's children is too pervasive in this small place.
I like her saying that "the underdog is celebrated" in America, because in this town, it certainly is not.
More power to Ms Yang.
Vandana Marino, Discovery Bay