Letters to the Editor, December 5, 2012

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2012, 3:10am

Legco needs to focus on election reform

As a former legislative councillor, I find it difficult nowadays to explain to visiting friends that the legislature is becoming unbalanced because many lawmakers seem excessively tied down by two issues.

Firstly, there is the immoderate filibustering on an increased allowance of HK$2,200 for the elderly.

Secondly, they have been asking the chief executive to appear before the legislature to question his veracity, integrity or negligence on statements he made verbally or in writing regarding unauthorised structures at his home on The Peak.

If Hong Kong is to maintain its reputation as a progressive international city, it would be good for both sides to come to an early resolution of differences concerning these unauthorised structures.

The chief executive and the legislature can then proceed to focus on other vital issues, such as rising transport costs, air pollution, better working hours and so on.

I am particularly concerned that, if the present political climate continues to stagnate, there will not be sufficient time to weigh the local and national constitutional procedures on meaningful electoral reform for the 2016 Legislative Council election and the 2017 chief executive election, presumably conducted by universal suffrage.

The Hong Kong government has a responsibility to provide the public at an early date with adequate information on the time required for the extensive constitutional procedures, especially the public consultation periods.

By doing so, the community will be able to better understand what is happening and participate more actively in the whole process of Hong Kong's democratic development in the not so distant future.

Hilton Cheong-leen, To Kwa Wan


Pass old-age allowance, then modify it

It is regrettable that the implementation of the Old Age Living Allowance is getting delayed because of a lack of consensus among the members of the Legislative Council finance committee.

The requirement of a limit on assets and income to qualify for this scheme has needlessly become controversial. The intention of the government to stipulate this condition is to make sure that resources are channelled to benefit only the neediest section of the elderly population. This matter has been discussed by the concerned members time and again and some amendments have been proposed.

So as not to delay its implementation indefinitely, I suggest that the scheme in its present form, after incorporating the amendments acceptable to the government, be finalised and approved as soon as possible. It can always be extended or modified later, when necessary, depending on the availability of resources.

Don't let Hong Kong's senior citizens wait any longer to enjoy the benefit of this payment; make their lives more comfortable.

B.K. Avasthi, Discovery Bay


Needless delay to the elderly's safety nets

Can we put a stop to all this nonsense? The elderly poor are suffering while the legislators argue.

I urge those delaying the old-age living allowance to agree to it, with its means test, as an interim measure and for the government to schedule a full, early public examination of what is really needed: a comprehensive retirement pension scheme and how best to fund it.

And, while we are at it, can the law be enforced in the Legislative Council chamber or can members of the public now legally throw bananas at politicians too?

Guy Shirra, Sai Kung


No skirting around sexual violence issue

This is a short response to the editorial ("SlutWalk protests need to consider common sense", November 29).

The views expressed in the editorial are overly simplistic, and despite statements to the contrary, the message comes across as victim-blaming.

There is the assumption that the problem is just a criminal one, that of "bad people", while victims should just remember not to remain silent and inform the police.

I would just like to clarify a few points here.

Perpetrators of sexual violence are usually known to the victims as family or acquaintances, not some stereotypically sex-starved strangers.

The legal system does not favour victims of sexual violence, and they are often told not to pursue the cases and/or suffer second victimisation.

Women have been victimised wearing pyjamas, tracksuits, hijabs and all sorts of clothing; it is silly to suggest that sexual violence can be prevented by women having "more common sense" and dressing in a more socially acceptable fashion. The suggestion means that victims have somehow invited perpetrators to assault them. Rape is about power, not sex or clothing.

Victims do not deserve to be assaulted, even if they act or dress differently to others. Common sense should be that rape myths are ridiculous and sexual violence is never OK, not that we should all live in fear.

It is inappropriate to compare the theft of property to sexual violence; unlike property, women and our bodies are not objects. Your editorial illustrates why we need the SlutWalk movement.

Angie Ng, SlutWalk Hong Kong


Defending Mrs Leung's advocacy role

Bravo, Alice Wu! That eminently sensible columnist ("Bad taste", November 26) has put new lawmaker Dr Kenneth Chan Ka-lok in his place for criticising the project of the chief executive's wife, Regina Leung Tong Ching-yee.

Why should Mrs Leung not take up a good cause and lead the drive to compel wealthy Hong Kong not to waste its surplus food, but use it to feed the needy? Does Dr Chan want her to be strictly domesticated, perhaps going out to cut the occasional inaugural ribbon?

There is no nepotism or politics involved in first ladies around the world taking up worthwhile causes to make their citizens aware of problems that need to be tackled. Not just the admirable Michelle Obama, but countless first ladies and celebrities lend their names to pressing issues like the environment, world hunger, United Nations issues and the like.

The pillorying of the chief executive, which Ms Wu calls "Leung for Lunch", has turned so petty that targeting his wife shows the small-mindedness and stupidity of people like Dr Chan.

Renata Lopez, Wan Chai


Restrictions to curb hospitals' misuse of land

Some private hospitals in Hong Kong build luxury homes on land granted for hospital development, the Director of Audit has found.

In my opinion, land-use restrictions are needed on areas granted by the government.

The administration allocated land to private hospitals for the development of better medical services.

However, the private hospitals took advantage of this by giving space to the developer on which to build luxury properties.

Although it is legal, as the hospitals have the government's permission, the land could have been used to build other public facilities if the hospital had not applied for that plot. They are literally taking advantage of our trust.

Medical services are a fundamental public need and should not be a tool for profiteering.

Trevor Yeung, Jordan