Letters to the Editor, February 14, 2013
Too much privacy breeds corruption
Government proposals to implement the new Companies Ordinance and reinforce the privacy company directors already enjoy have aroused a lot of opposition from the media.
There are fears that such a change to the rules could breed corruption and compromise citizens' right to know.
There have been a number of complaints over the past few years from the media about government policies or actions that threaten freedom of the press. I would be opposed to the proposed subsidiary legislation [where home addresses and full identity card numbers of company directors would be inaccessible through the Companies Registry].
I agree with the Hong Kong Journalists Association that freedom "of the press and free flow of information is a cornerstone of Hong Kong's success" ("'Privacy law will breed corruption'", January 28). Hong Kong must strike the right balance between freedom and privacy.
A culture of privacy that leads to corruption has been prevalent in China from ancient times to the present day.
The information of company directors should continue to be publicised. Companies are more likely to adhere to corporate social responsibility if their directors know they are subject to public and media scrutiny.
Timothy Gan, Tuen Mun
ICAC never serves as political tool
I would like to respond to the article in Michael Chugani's Public Eye column ("How graft-buster morphed into political tool", February 6). Under Section 12 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Ordinance, the ICAC commissioner has a statutory duty to investigate complaints alleging corrupt practices where it is practicable to do so.
The commissioner is also obliged by law to investigate offences specified in the ICAC Ordinance (ICACO), the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO) and the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance (ECICO).
Under the law, if a complaint alleging corruption contains sufficient information to warrant an investigation, the ICAC must conduct an investigation. Our duty is to conduct a fact-finding exercise in collecting evidence so as to establish whether or not the allegation is substantiated.
In recognising that corruption is often intermingled with other criminal offences, the legislature has, upon the establishment of the ICAC in 1974, provided the ICAC with the power to investigate also:
- Other offences which are disclosed during the course of investigation into a suspected offence under the POBO or the ECICO where commission of those offences were connected with or facilitated by the offence under investigation; and
- Those other offences which are specified under Section 10(5) of the ICACO.
All ICAC investigations are subject to the scrutiny of the independent Operations Review Committee. Over the years, we have terminated an investigation only with the committee's endorsement.
Depending on the strength of evidence, advice will be sought from the secretary for justice who has the prerogative to decide on prosecution or otherwise.
We must stress that the ICAC always conducts its investigations impartially and independently in accordance with the law, irrespective of the background, position and status of those involved.
The commission earns a high degree of public trust and never serves as a political tool.
Valentina Chan, principal press information officer, Independent Commission Against Corruption
Pope a humble champion of the poor
I am deeply saddened that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning.
He has been an inspiration and a model witness to the life of Christ; a shepherd of truth constantly guarding his flock.
A champion of the poor and ardent exponent of Christian unity, the German pontiff was, in many capacities, a beacon of light. He was a man of profound humility and had immense love for both God and man.
Consequently, he has always been a source of strength, encouragement, confidence, optimism and enlightenment not only to Catholics but to all men of good will.
He was the world's most influential and uncompromising defender of the dignity of human life.
Paul Kokoski, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
We can all save on energy use at home
Our pollution problems are daunting. They affect our daily lives in many ways, but we seem no nearer to solving these problems.
We should not just look to the government to provide solutions. We can all play our part at home. We should switch off lights, air conditioners and fans when they aren't needed and keep the temperature of air-cons at 25.5 degrees Celsius in the summer.
When buying a new electrical appliance, look for one that carries an energy-efficient label.
We can all reuse plastic bags, use both sides of a sheet of paper, and ensure that all our plastic bottles are put in recycling bins. Also, we should all, wherever possible, use public transport.
If all Hongkongers did these things, then we could help to clean up the environment.
Molly Ip, Yau Ma Tei
Special day when nobody had to work
Every year I have this same thought as I see thousands of people working on Lunar New Year's Day in Hong Kong. It is the hope that the time will come when all shops and businesses will close on this day.
I also hope that everyone will put aside this one day for the family each year. It is appropriate that it should be Chinese New Year's Day as most residents are Chinese (and we are in China).
I still recall when, as a young boy, more than 50 years ago, there were no shops open and you could buy only firecrackers, and nothing else. Also, if I remember correctly, these fireworks could only be purchased in the afternoon, after everyone had lunch.
With political discussions on standard working hours hovering on the government's agenda, maybe it can include another significant piece of social legislation to ensure Lunar New Year's Day is free of commercial activities and everyone is forbidden to work.
Or maybe at least the government could ensure those who are required to work are paid a triple rate.
Nigel Lam, Kowloon Tong
Cool heads can stop dispute escalating
There is not much point, nor is there time, to engage in the sort of philosophical debate by the scholars, which Alex Lo cited in his column ("Rational leaders can still resort to war", February 7), because we don't have rational players.
If we don't get the two sides [in the dispute over the Diaoyus] to face up to reality soon, we are going to find ourselves [to quote US general Omar Bradley in 1951] in the "wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy", as the rational Americans reasoned at one stage of the Korean war.
As has been pointed out before in these columns, the reality is that the Japanese have been doing the right thing, guarding the Diaoyus/Senkakus, but based on the wrong premise that these islands are their sovereign territory.
If there was sufficient justification for arguing that they are Japanese territory, the Americans would not have put down the marker, when handing over the administration of these islands to Japan in 1972, and they took no position on the ultimate sovereignty of these island. The rest is just history.
I have reason to believe that behind the scenes, there is a reasoned approach taking place, involving both the Chinese and Japanese sides, so this mini cold war will not escalate into a hot war.
Peter Lok, Chai Wan
Milk powder efforts are commendable
The crisis over shortages of baby milk formula in Hong Kong have caused concern for many local parents.
The problems have been exacerbated by parallel traders snapping up large quantities of formula for resale on the grey market across the border.
I appreciate that the government has acted and attempted to deal with the issues faced by Hong Kong mothers.
I believe the change "imposed under a legislative amendment" to limit people departing the SAR to two cans of formula will curb grey goods trading as these traders will be subjected to checks ("Two-can limit to stop trade in milk powder", February 2). It can act as a deterrent since those people who are found guilty of "breaking the new rule could be fined up to HK$2 million or face seven years in jail".
The administration has also set up a hotline to help Hong Kong parents buy baby milk formula. Local parents can place orders for seven leading brands of infant formula.
Although I recognise that this is just a temporary measure, it will be of assistance of parents in Hong Kong.
Obviously, Hong Kong people remain concerned about the growing demand on the mainland for goods from the city.
Agnes Lee Po-yan, Kwai Chung