Letters to the Editor, March 18, 2013
We now face lower form of democracy
After studying how the topic has been discussed over the last 20 plus years, I realise that, like what the experts say about grief over a lost loved one, there are five stages Hongkongers have experienced in their thinking on universal suffrage, although some have occurred simultaneously and not necessarily always in the following order.
Firstly, denial. Some held out the hope that "real" universal suffrage would arrive on Hong Kong's doorstep in around 10 years after the city became a SAR. The idealism of those in political parties that arose in the early 1990s has continued somewhat, with them believing that they can persuade the elites to tolerate the uncertainty of elections.
Second, anger. Being told that they were "immature" angered many Hongkongers who considered themselves educated, cultivated and "citizens of the world"; anger at not truly being "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong" and anger at not having a deadline for when political change would occur.
Third, bargaining. The mentioning of "elections" in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law were a sop to those who thought that having the possibility of democracy in these documents would instil confidence of Hong Kong maintaining its independence from the mainland. Remember that the last draft of the Basic Law was doing the rounds while the June 4 Tiananmen protests were going on in 1989. The Democratic Party did try some bargaining in 2009, but it didn't seem to have achieved much.
Fourthly, depression. There was a period, notably between 2004-2007, when we were told that Hongkongers were "not ready" for universal suffrage and needed to be educated in the "spirit" beyond the words of the Basic Law and that this would be done "gradually and [in an] orderly" way.
Fifthly, acceptance. Many commentators have now resigned themselves to the fact that we are not getting a "true" universal suffrage system with equality of standing and voting and that we should just accept a lower form of democracy.
Jennifer Eagleton, Tai Po
Loud whistle worse than pepper spray?
Whistling, using your fingers, near a policeman's ear is assault meriting six weeks' prison ("Whistler gets six weeks for assault", March 13).
Using a megaphone near a policeman's ear is an assault meriting two months' prison. Use of pepper spray by the police in someone's face is lawful and an approved first line of "defence" by said police. Consistent? No comment.
N. Millar, Tsim Sha Tsui
Rich-poor gap problem unresolved
Hong Kong is well known for being a prosperous city, but there is a darker side to this economic success story. The rich appear to be accumulating more wealth. By contrast many citizens are struggling to get buy and living below the poverty line.
Many of them are desperate because with a rising rate of inflation they do not have enough to meet their daily needs. Some might argue that all they need to do is work harder, but many do not have the skills or education to get a better-paid job.
It is clear that the rich-poor gap in our society is getting wider. While I accept the government has introduced some policies to address this problem, so far they have not been effective. Instead of becoming better off, the problems for people on low incomes just seem to be getting worse.
Those of us who are financially secure should be grateful and we should urge the administration to do more for those mired in poverty.
Fatin Shahira, Yau Yat Chuen
Test fireworks to ensure they are all safe
I am concerned about the injuries sustained by people on the mainland from fireworks during the annual Lunar New Year celebrations.
Casualties from fireworks raise questions about the safety of those made on the mainland and whether the central government should continue to allow citizens to purchase them.
Of course fireworks are a long-standing tradition during this festival, but this is the most important family holiday for the Chinese and concerns must be raised if people are lighting fireworks that may pose a threat to onlookers.
Apart from the safety issue they also exacerbate air pollution and the authorities are already cracking down on them in Beijing.
It might be argued that sales should be banned nationwide. But, they are part of the new year celebrations and help bring families together.
It would seem that the best solution is for the government to ensure that stores can only sell fireworks to the public that have been properly tested and cleared as being safe to use. Also the authorities need to supervise safety tests.
Joey Wong, Tsuen Wan
Try harder with anti-drug drive publicity
A lot of juvenile crime is linked to drug abuse and it gets worse during the long school break during summer.
Some teenagers resort to drugs during this break after months of stress in the classroom.
They see them as a welcome escape to a fantasy world and fail to realise this is not a harmless release from reality and that there will be very undesirable side effects.
Most drug abusers will become addicts.
Their need for the drug increases with greater frequency of use and this poses a serious threat to their health and often ends in death.
Young people resort to crime to feed their costly habit. They get involved in robberies, shoplifting and selling pirated CDs.
The problem affects the whole of society, because our young people are future pillars of society.
Some teenagers who start taking drugs are often ignorant of the destructive consequences and by the time they are it is often too late.
The government needs to recognise how serious the problem is and try to deal with it. It must step up its anti-drug publicity campaign which is aimed at younger people.
I think education is the key to ensuring that more young people are fully aware of the dangers involved and do not destroy their lives through drug addiction.
Teenagers also have to take responsibility for their actions. They have to realise the damage they will do to themselves by taking drugs.
Winnie Kwan, Yau Ma Tei
Your citizens must not lose their humanity
Earlier this month in Taipei, I dropped my wallet, which contained cash and credit cards, in a department store.
A young man came running up and handed it to me. "I saw it fall out of your jacket," he said. Not a cent had been removed.
Two days earlier, I sat next to a young man in a McDonald's in Queen's Road, Hong Kong. The battery in my cell had died.
I explained my situation to him, gave him the number of my travel agent in Kowloon and asked if I could make a call on his cell. He told me brusquely that he was writing a message. I said, "I understand." After a few minutes he rose and left the place, leaving a hapless tourist stranded.
As a lover of the Far East, may I humbly request Hongkongers to not lose their humanity even as material prosperity becomes their birthright?
Mark Richardson, Taipei, Taiwan
Flying colonial flag a sign of discontent
People only look for the past when things are getting worse.
Hong Kong people welcome mainland tourists, but not the excess baggage.
The parallel trading of milk powder and the lengthy hold-up caused by these traders are not just an annoyance.
Life in crowded Hong Kong is already difficult enough without these callous mainlanders who make life even more difficult for the city's residents and the majority of mainland tourists who just want a holiday here. The key surely is better governance in China especially at the border.
Perhaps mainland officials should clean up their own backyards before complaining about colonial flags in someone else's.
Anthony Lee, Brisbane, Australia
PM right not to give back Koh-i-Noor
During his visit to India last month, British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised for the atrocities committed by British troops in the Amritsar massacre of 1919.
However, he said he would not accede to a request made by some Indians to return the giant Koh-i-Noor diamond on display in the Tower of London as part of the crown jewels.
I think Mr Cameron's remarks were sensible.
Unless the Indian government gives back the billions of pounds in foreign aid it has received over the years, it makes no sense to give back the diamond which is part of a crown that was worn by the late Queen Mother.
K. M. Nasir, Mid-Levels