Letters to the Editor, August 29, 2012

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2012, 2:26am


'Super seats' the antithesis of democracy

Kerry Kwan generously misses the whole damning point about "super seats" in the Legco election ("Publicity drive can help voters grasp new 'super seats' system", August 26).

As with large, multi-member constituencies, these seats are the antithesis of democracy. They serve to obscure the dangerous reality that democratic representatives cannot really know and represent a million people.

This is dangerous because it guarantees a divide between the electorate and its representatives.

The whole point of democracy is to allow people's real thoughts and feelings to gain access to the political system. That, in turn, defuses political stress.

We have the opposite arrangement. We make it more difficult for members of Legco to understand and represent their electorate.

The result is a divide between government and the legislature, unnecessary friction and mistrust, and mutual discontent. A publicity drive may disguise this state of affairs, but it will not solve it.

Far from publicising "super seats", we should remove them, and reduce geographical seats to the 50,000 to 70,000 elector scale that is the effective and practical norm in the longest-established democracies.

An MP or representative needs to know enough of his constituents and their needs on a human scale to represent them properly and hear them genuinely.

No one representing a million people can honestly claim any such thing.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels


Help voters understand their options

For the first time, 3.2 million voters will be given two votes in next month's Legislative Council election - one in a geographical constituency and one in what are known as the "super seats".

However, a University of Hong Kong poll revealed that only a third of Hongkongers know that they can vote in a district council functional constituency (super seat).

The government needs to launch a publicity campaign in advance of the elections to explain voting procedures.

This can ensure that the election result accurately reflects the wishes of the voters. With so many people being unaware they have a vote in a super seat, the voting rate may be low. The government presumably wants the election process to go ahead smoothly so it must ensure voters fully understand the new arrangements.

Finally, I think a publicity campaign would encourage people to vote. Hongkongers have sometimes been accused of being politically apathetic.

By launching a publicity drive, the government can provide an incentive for people to cast their votes and get a more enthusiastic response from the public so that the successful candidates in the super seats truly represent the opinions of the voters.

As we approach the election, the government should step up its promotional work to get its message across to the community in advance of September 9.

Lam Hoi-yi, Ma On Shan


Retraining can help plight of society's poor

Despite Hong Kong's affluence, there are still too many people living below the breadline. It is sad to see such a wide gap between rich and poor.

Poverty in Hong Kong is caused by a combination of factors. These include an older, low-skilled population unable to adapt to the new knowledge-based economy, an increasing number of ageing people, single parents who are unable to work and the influx of migrants from the mainland.

Many people are compelled to work part-time and have to accept salary cuts. Workers are often locked in a vicious circle and unable to get back into the labour market for various reasons such as age, gender and discrimination.

An increasing number of young people sleep on the streets.

The government must organise retraining programmes so that people who are unemployed can acquire skills that can help them work again. These courses need to offer practical training so these individuals can find long-term solutions to their problems.

Joey Yuen Lok-yi, Tseung Kwan O


Mediation should win over jingoism

Simon Tay's article ("Losing argument", August 23) and the return [from the Diaoyu Islands] of the Kai Fung No 2 expedition highlights an important issue for Hong Kong.

What is the SAR's position on this heated issue from a regional and international perspective?

Hong Kong has had long and positive relations with the different parties involved in the [Diaoyus] dispute. People from these nations live here, so Hong Kong's position does matter.

The city does not need the Kai Fung No 2 circus. We need reasonable discussion to avoid any regional conflict.

I can understand the blinkered view of those who blindly follow China with regard to who has rightful ownership of disputed territory around the region.

Over the past 60 years, China's legal system has been influenced by nationalist bias. Over the same period, Korea and Japan have adhered to internationally agreed laws. This includes respecting legal precedents.

SAR citizens must ask themselves if they want Hong Kong to be regarded as a genuinely international city. Should it be seen as a lapdog kowtowing to China's excessive nationalism or a mature and confident city with a high degree of autonomy which has a positive relationship with all parties and respects the rule of law?

Hong Kong should be seen as a trusted mediator and could be the location for a Northeast Asian forum to resolve the issue; better that than to be regarded as a city where jingoistic hype is dominant.

Stephen Anderson, Macau


Diplomacy will not solve islands dispute

I disagree with your editorial ("Diplomacy, not nationalism is way forward in island disputes", August 16).

China and Japan claim sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands. I see no end to this conflict through diplomacy as the issue will just drag on.

In recent years, Japan has acted tough. I can't see how it will stand down after such posturing without a similar tough stance from China.

A Chinese national has every right to erect a national flag on the islands over which China claims sovereignty. So does a Japanese national because Japan has made a similar claim. Both can erect their national flags at the same time.

This is not provocation. However, the Japanese arrested Chinese nationals on a territory China claims as its own, which is confrontational.

If diplomacy drags on for another 50 years, what is likely to change the perspective of the international community regarding the rightful owner, given that it sees Japan as "controlling" the islands?

Diplomacy does not work when your own land is taken.

Tony Yuen, Mid-Levels


Facility for blind people destroyed

Can an official from the relevant government department explain the resurfacing of the footbridge across the Aberdeen Praya Road next to Ocean Court?

A few months ago, workmen dug up parts of the old concrete surface and installed tactile paving stones at the top and bottom of the steps and slopes.

Currently, workmen are digging up the surface, including the tactile paving stones, and laying smooth paving stones.

Why is a facility for blind people being destroyed?

And why were two resurfacing works scheduled so close together?

Allan Dyer, Wong Chuk Hang