Press freedom in Hong Kong

Letters to the Editor, February 20, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 September, 2015, 4:52pm

'Sue me also' campaign about freedoms

I refer to Alex Lo's column ("Leung is stupid but so are his critics", February 13), where Mr Lo implies that the chief executive was being stupid in sending a solicitor's letter alleging libel over Joseph Lian's article published in the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

Mr Lo criticised me and the Civic Party for "jumping on the bandwagon" in uploading Lian's article on Facebook and inviting the chief executive to sue me for libel if indeed he had a case for libel.

Mr Lo asks whether I think Lian's article is "fair and accurate". Being a columnist, Mr Lo knows very well that the test for libel is not whether the article is "fair and accurate", and public figures often face criticism which are neither fair nor accurate.

In the leading British case, Derbyshire County Council vs Times Newspapers Ltd, it was held that "it would be contrary to public interest for institutions of central or local government to have any right at common law to maintain an action for damages for defamation".

And in the local case of Albert Cheng vs Paul Tse, the Court of Final Appeal laid down a generous approach so that the right of fair comment on matters of public interest would be maintained in its full vigour.

Joseph Lian's article clearly falls within the realm of fair comment and analysis of the recent reports on triad-linked activities and he did draw on allegations made by Lew Mon-hung, who claims to have first-hand information relating to C. Y. Leung's campaign.

It is interesting to note that rather than complain about Lew's original allegations, the chief executive chooses to threaten someone who publishes a commentary relating to Lew's allegations. The "sue me also campaign" launched by me is intended to defend press freedom and free speech, which I believe are core values shared by Mr Lo.

Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, chairwoman, Civic Party


MTR line or ferry can ease Sai Kung jams

What is the government doing about the traffic in Sai Kung?

The government prides itself on its strategic future planning but seems hopeless in the face of traffic congestion in Sai Kung. The problem continues to get worse.

As a long-term resident, I will not go to Sai Kung town on weekends, as the traffic is terrible and parking is impossible. In the meantime, the Hiram's Highway extension is stalled (not that it was a good idea or really thought through in the first place).

We do not need more roads; we want better infrastructure. The best way would be to build an MTR line to Sai Kung with a tunnel through the mountains to link the Sai Kung area with the Choi Hung or Hang Hau stations.

In other countries, many rural or semi-rural areas have train stations and rail connections. If this were done, it would take traffic off the road. An alternative should be a ferry service to Central and Kowloon (at least on weekends).

The population of the Sai Kung area is projected to increase by some 60,000 residents in the next five to 10 years - and many of these people will have cars.

Can the government get its act together?

Tim Hallworth, Sai Kung


Trucks hog pavements, yet police don't act

I totally agree with Peter Bentley's assertion that the Ombudsman may need to look into inconsistent behaviour by the police ("No action taken against tycoons", January 22).

[The police have responded to letters on illegal parking in Wan Chai, saying they would take appropriate action.]

In crowded Sai Kung one weekend, I saw police officers (not traffic police) enthusiastically ticketing cars parked on a street behind the old town where there are no yellow lines.

Just a few hundred metres away, in Hong Tsuen Road, concrete mixers, container lorries and tankers park on the pavement, forcing pedestrians to walk in the road - and no police action is taken.

In fact, on a weekday I saw a police van in a lay-by behind the fire station. At first, I assumed the occupants were ticketing the illegally parked trucks but, in fact, they appeared to be having a nap. I thought this was a tad blatant; I have previously seen officers taking discreet naps way up Po Lo Che Road, near the barrier and junction to Wong Chuk Yeung.

Within Sai Kung town centre, it is common to see valet parking thugs delivering customers' cars at horrifying speeds down Man Nin Street towards the seafront restaurants, where they often dominate the parking spaces on behalf of the restaurant owners.

One cannot blame the public for asking why the police appear to do nothing about this. Are they scared of the thugs or do they have an "arrangement" with the restaurant owners? Who are these owners and why do they and their "associates" appear to be above the law?

I am normally a great supporter of our disciplined services, but it is not difficult to see how they may come to be despised by the population when demonstrating double standards and/or doing nothing to prosecute behaviour that is both grossly antisocial and blatantly illegal.

Mark Ranson, Sai Kung


Leung must first solve issue of cubicle flats

In the policy address by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, some policies on increasing the supply of subsidised housing in the short to medium term are mentioned.

There will be a total supply of public rental housing of at least 100,000 units over the five years starting from 2018, and 2,100 new Home Ownership Scheme flats will be offered for pre-sale next year.

Although these will increase the supply of subsidised houses, there is still a huge problem that has not yet been solved - cubicle apartments.

The problem is very serious. It is an unauthorised change of the structure of buildings, and therefore it is dangerous for the tenants who are living in these apartments.

As the waiting time for public housing is so long, some citizens need to live in such poor conditions because the rent is relatively cheap.

And because there are always some citizens who need to live in these small flats, cubicle apartments cannot be totally eliminated.

I think the government should not only focus on increasing land supply but should also consider making cubicle apartments more suitable and safe to live in.

Housing is a huge problem to tackle. If a solution can be found, then Hong Kong will become a modern, safe, convenient and liveable metropolis.

Leung Wing Hong, Ma On Shan


Fuss over cake packaging is half-baked

Helen Heron is picking bones from eggs by criticising a shop in Sai Kung for wrapping her birthday cake in too much protective packaging ("Wasteful shop packaging is not needed", February 15).

Why didn't she bring her own plate and basket, and ride her bicycle to collect the cake - in a "save the forests" campaign of which she is suddenly the ambassador?

Perhaps the shop - and others like it - had received complaints from customers about their packaging being too weak and unsuitable for long-distance delivery.

The super-protective packaging probably got Ms Heron's cake home in good shape.

Instead of saying thank you, she fired off some words promoting her double standards.

She asked shops and her "fellow men" to act on her vague environmental concept - yet that concept doesn't seem sufficient to teach her to bake her own cake.

Pang Chi-ming, Fanling