Letters to the Editor, April 9, 2013
Strong reasons for screening of candidates
I refer to the report ("Expert accused of twisting facts on voting rights", April 1).
Maria Tam Wai-chu may have had a momentary slip of the mind when she said that Article 25(b) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights did not cover the right to stand for election.
But she did say that it was the Basic Law, and not the covenant, that governed what must be done at the 2017 election of the chief executive by universal suffrage, because Article 25(b) does not yet apply to Hong Kong.
The Basic Law says there shall be a nomination of the candidates by a nomination committee before voting by universal suffrage takes place. And the NPC Law Committee chairman, Qiao Xiaoyang , did indicate that the nomination committee must not be done away with.
The reason is that it is necessary to exclude secessionist candidates - of which at least three are lurking in the wings - from standing for election and there are enough voters to vote for them.
It may have been said, according to Emily Lau Wai-hing, that when there is a direct election, Article 25 (b) should become applicable to Hong Kong. But direct elections through universal suffrage will not be used in the 2017 poll, due to the nomination "pre-election" that will not be done away with.
That is, unless the covenant has an interpretation clause to make "suffrage" also mean the right to stand for election. The dictionary meaning should then prevail, which is that "suffrage equals franchise equals the right to vote".
Peter Lok, Chai Wan
Let colonial flag wavers move to UK
Yu Zhengsheng, a senior member of the Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee, criticised the display of the old Hong Kong flag at local protests ("State official slams colonial flag's display", March 17).
Some citizens may harbour a grudge about not having their say on the future of the city. Over the years, more and more people have come to accept this as their destiny, while others live in a world of nostalgia.
Although the flag wavers and other, less vocal pro-British residents have no impact on Chinese rule, they remain thorns in the side of Beijing.
These protesters wouldn't be scared off if military drills were held in the city. And every citizen expects Beijing to honour its promise to uphold freedom of speech and not to crush dissent, as this would hurt the city's economic well-being and China's standing on the international stage.
Instead, it would be wiser for Beijing to renegotiate with London to allow B(NO) passport holders to gain right of abode in Britain on condition they relinquished Chinese citizenship and right of abode in Hong Kong. That would mean their choice of allegiance to Britain would not just be lip service, but come at the real cost of not being a Chinese citizen or a Hong Kong resident.
Beijing would no longer have doubts over the loyalty of Hongkongers. Then the debate could focus on the real issues of electoral reform.
Leung Ka-kit, Yau Tsim Mong
Buffets best place to cut food waste
A few years ago in Manila, I was struck by a sign at a restaurant buffet noting that diners leaving uneaten food would be charged by the plate.
I have never seen any similar signs in Hong Kong suggesting that diners should eat responsibly at buffets. There seems to be a lack of acknowledgement that Hong Kong has a major problem - one that is getting worse - with food waste from the catering sector.
According to government data, the amount of daily food waste from restaurants, hotels and other caterers rocketed from 400 tonnes in 2002 to 1,056 tonnes in 2011.
Of course hotel buffets are far from the only source of food waste, but they are one of the most conspicuous. And reducing food waste should increase caterers' bottom line, so there are obvious advantages for all.
Many hotels have acted commendably in recent years on shark fin and sustainable seafood. I'm sure many people would like to see the Hong Kong Hotels Association build on that leadership.
Perhaps association members could introduce signs at their buffet counters with messages such as, "We hope you enjoy your meal. Please only take what you can eat to avoid contributing to Hong Kong's landfill problems."
Such a message would not only show meaningful support for renewed government efforts to tackle food and other waste in Hong Kong, but also help educate Hongkongers and visitors that change for the better need not hurt profitability.
Andy Cornish, Sheung Wan
'Ignorant' TVB shouldn't have Sevens rights
I refer to Peter Olsen's letter ("TVB's history of amazing blunders", April 3) as well as the many others who have rightly underlined TVB's disregard towards its viewers.
Given that TVB Pearl's Rugby Sevens graphic shown at each commercial break depicted an American football, and not a rugby ball, I would suggest that their disregard towards its audiences is rooted in ignorance.
Perhaps the International Rugby Board could see fit not to award Pearl the Hong Kong Sevens broadcast rights in future.
Phillip Weber, Lantau
Intrepid maids unsung heroes back home
The report that one of the migrant domestic helpers petitioning for permanent residency went home to the Philippines before the High Court ruled against her is interesting and typical ("Domestic helper 'happier back home'",March 28).
It said Evangeline Vallejos, who'd worked in the city since 1986, now lives in "a large house with a big plot of land" and is supported by her seven children, some of whom obtained university degrees in medicine and architecture, obviously thanks to her efforts.
Ms Vallejos' story is replicated by countless other Filipinas who have to seek work abroad because their government is traditionally mismanaged.
These intrepid women struggle to support the families they leave behind, and toil abroad to be able to build their houses and start small businesses when they return home.
Many leave feckless husbands who stray, are serial adulterers or plain layabouts waiting for their wives' monthly remittances to arrive.
As someone quipped not long ago, the best men in the Philippines are its women.
M. C. Basquejo, Causeway Bay
Dock dispute might start to affect others
The industrial dispute on the Kwai Chung waterfront highlights the situation with workers and employers in Hong Kong.
I would like to set aside the problem of who is right or wrong. This case is not about non-payment or deferred payment of wages, but a call for better benefits.
It is understandable that the dockers are striking for better pay in these times where the cost of nearly everything has risen, but not their wages. Like most Hongkongers, their purchasing power has eroded.
Yet it also shows that the dockers don't have much bargaining power in an industry that is highly monopolised.
Worse, their jobs are being made redundant overseas by mechanisation. It is of course the nature of business to maximise profit. Outsourcing work saves companies the expenses of administration, welfare payments, leave and so on. From the business and legal points of view, Hongkong International Terminals is acting according to the contract.
But large corporations, when taking into account their own social responsibilities, should also consider their sub-contractors.
Corporations should treat every employee, either their own or the subcontractors', as their own stakeholders.
It may also be the case that the dispute will only accelerate HIT's pace of automation at its port operations in the coming years - though this is unlikely this year for fear of stirring up further trouble.
The irony is that people in the logistics and trading sectors may be taken hostage by this stand-off if the delivery of goods were delayed or affected.
Chan Chi-ho, Hung Hom
Much of city's night lighting unnecessary
While tourists enjoy the neon-lit view across Victoria Harbour, many of the city's residents draw their curtains every night to avoid suffering from sleep deprivation.
Electric lighting originally brought brightness and convenience to the world. But today it is becoming one of the arch-villains of pollution.
Modern society focuses too much on economic development while forgetting the importance of protecting our environment. I understand that lighting cannot be avoided on streets and in shopping malls, but how essential is it for advertising billboards or just as decoration? And are these essential at 10pm or midnight?
As for the harbour laser show, although it is so popular with thousands of tourists, is it really necessary to hold it every night?
Even if we reduced mass-scale lighting by two hours a night, we could conserve a lot of energy and the resources used to produce it.
Jennifer Chiu Lok-yu, Sha Tin