Letters to the Editor, January 19, 2013
Opportunist Leung critics must move on
Over the past few months, there has been a torrent of criticism against the chief executive over unauthorised structures at his home.
The critics questioned his integrity and demanded his apology. The pan-democrats tried to drive him from office and, when that failed, made an attempt to impeach him.
Is such criticism and action against Leung Chun-ying justified? He has publicly apologised and taken steps to rectify the situation with the structures.
To err is human and he is no exception.
The actions of the pan-democrats are politically motivated. Their only concern is universal suffrage. They believe that, if they succeed in ousting Leung, the central government will be forced to give the green light for universal suffrage and they would take centre stage. Therefore, they tried to block his initiatives by filibusters and getting supporters to take to the streets.
Their actions run against the wishes of voters. Why these pan-democrats got elected is a mystery.
Leung has been properly elected under the existing voting system. He is the right man for the job and his integrity has never been in doubt. I would urge him to focus on the pressing social issues which he inherited from former governments.
The issue of unauthorised structures should be put to rest.
Sam Wong, Sha Tin
Welcome step to world-class harbourfront
The Society for Protection of the Harbour was delighted to learn from the chief executive's policy address that he supports the Harbourfront Commission's proposal for setting up a dedicated statutory harbourfront authority, to provide "a harbour for the people, a harbour of vitality".
Our society fully supports the government's proposal. Through this authority, the harbourfront can be developed in a holistic manner for the benefit of Hong Kong people. We shall collaborate with the government and the commission and hope this new authority can be established as soon as possible.
In the proposed public consultation, we look forward to the strong support of the Hong Kong public and legislative councillors for this statutory authority so that the required legislation can be passed without an inordinate delay.
This body is urgently needed because vital waterfront areas at West Kowloon, Kai Tak and Wan Chai need urgent planning.
The opportunity to give Hong Kong a world-class harbourfront should not be missed.
Dennis K.W. Li, deputy chairman, Society for Protection of the Harbour
Qing decline not due to despotic rule
I refer to the letter written by Professors Ivan Png and Zhigang Tao ("Why China declined under Qing dynasty", January 13), in reply to Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee's column ("Reinvent HK's economic role", January 6).
They attempted to explain the Qing dynasty's economic decline from the point of view of organisation and management.
Other scholars have put forward alternative theories, of which the one mentioned by Ip - the abundance of labour removing the incentive to automate - is but one. I disagree with your correspondents' view that China was a unitary centralised state governed by a huge bureaucratic system and regional government officials who sought to please the emperor instead of building the local economy.
Their argument is vulnerable because of its exaggerated emphasis on the emperor's use of power.
Many scholars, including S.N. Eisenstadt in The Political Systems of Empires, provided ample evidence showing the dependent relationships among the emperor, regional officials and local societies.
Another challenge to the thesis of the despotic character of the political system and the strong centralised state is that of the renowned Chinese scholar Ch'ien Mu, who saw important limitations on the power of the emperor and the central government, at least through the middle of the Tang dynasty and to some extent until the Qing.
Hoover Institution scholar Thomas A. Metzger also argued that there were limitations to the central government. Respect for rule by law existed in the Qing dynasty.
In a government staffed largely by intellectuals, with complex values and ambivalent attitudes, a conclusive theory about the economic decline of the Qing cannot be advanced without studying the intellectual history of that particular period.
Moreover, it is important for us to read and analyse the laws dealing with administrative discipline in the Qing dynasty, which determined the nature of norms basic to the actualities of administrative life, and related the working norms to leading issues and ideas in the Confucian tradition.
Francis Li Chung-hung, programme director, Savantas Liberal Arts Academy
Smoking gun owner Aquino no role model
Philippine President Benigno Aquino is known to own an extensive gun collection which he uses for target practice, so it's easy to see why he has come out in support of gun owners ("Aquino backs civilian gun ownership," January 10).
If he honestly wants "to look for means to really solve the issue", as he claims, he should show that he isn't as hidebound as the National Rifle Association in the US.
He may have scored some points with his anti-corruption drive and birth control legislation, but he has not set a good example for his people by rejecting health experts' advice to give up smoking.
As in China, the mass of Filipino men indulge in the deadly weed, tobacco, giving scant thought to the pollution they generate.
Frankly, for the leader of a developing country to display the same sort of spinelessness denotes a lack of discipline and mental acuity.
Vandana Marino, Lantau
Best medicine more than just pharmacies
Elderly people living in care homes are at risk from unskilled staff. However, I am not convinced by the argument that the solution to this problem is to open more community pharmacies in Hong Kong.
As people get older, they are more vulnerable as their immune systems are weak. We must ensure a hygienic environment in care homes to reduce the risk of disease. Also, the homes must be staffed by well-trained health workers.
Some may say it is helpful to have more pharmacies and therefore easier access to medicine. But it's not a perfect long-term solution.
Yeung Chin-yung, Tai Wai
Forbidden walk down path to excess
At the entrance to the access road leading to the water storage area on Park Island, there is a sign saying that pedestrian access is not allowed.
For almost five years I have walked by this sign and often wondered why pedestrians were not supposed to enter the area. What possible damage could mere walkers do?
Over the past month or so, I have noticed numerous local residents entering and leaving this so-called no-go area, so on Tuesday I decided to follow in their footsteps, to break the no-entry regulation, to walk in an area that I, as a taxpayer and Park Island resident, had paid for and will continue to pay for, for years to come.
The access road is truly amazing. It is about 310 metres long, which is of course absolutely essential so that the water storage area can be located on the highest point of Ma Wan. What is amazing is the fact that this road is about 4.8 metres wide.
Also, despite the sign banning pedestrians, it has a footpath on the left-hand side two metres wide and, on the right-hand side, there is for part of the length a decorative style of concrete paving.
But what makes this bureaucratic nonsense even more bizarre is that, on both sides of the road, there is a steel barrier.
This is madness. Why did an access road - which is seldom used - have to be 4.8 metres wide; why was it deemed necessary to have a footpath; and why on earth were these steel barriers required?
Bob Beadman, Ma Wan
Taxed out and not leaving on a jet plane
I am wondering if any of your readers are becoming, like me, completely fed up with the taxes and fees that we are being asked to pay when booking flights?
As an example may I give details of flying to London on Qatar Airways on July 5.
Booking on the Zuji website, one can find the very reasonable flight price of HK$3,660 - then comes the rub. The extra taxes and fees are quoted as HK$4,965. One is expected to pay 136 per cent of the flight price in taxes and fees.
Okay, an extreme example. Let's instead go by British Airways - obviously a higher flight price.
Since it's non-stop, the taxes and fees come to "only" HK$3,603, a whacking 45 per cent of the flight price.
Surely these extras are becoming counter-productive, that is, people are going to refuse to pay them and hence not opt for flights which would ordinarily have been booked up.
This is certainly likely to happen in my case.
Would like-minded travellers please express their misgivings?
Chris Stubbs, Discovery Bay