Letters to the Editor, July 8, 2013
Officials must own up to cross-leasing
I am outraged at the audacious request by the Federation of Civil Service Unions for an amnesty for those in public service who engaged in cross-leasing of flats ("Call for amnesty over flat leasing", June 25). The reason given for the amnesty request was to allay the worries of those who earlier engaged in cheating on their housing allowance and are now at senior government level.
Let me get this straight: the union wants to protect the scheming, cheating civil servants, who may suffer the anxiety of not knowing if they may be next to be asked to answer for their sins.
Let's remember that people who were given the housing allowance earned above-average salaries and housing was meant to be a bonus, a sweetener, that was specifically given with a restriction of no personal gain.
That was not enough for those who cross-leased. They devised a way to personally gain beyond just accepting rent-free flats. Greed got the better of those civil servants and they should be held responsible.
As we now know, it was a widely used scheme and many now worry about their future - and so they should.
One way to allay their anxiety is to come clean; otherwise their punishment will be sleepless nights, which is natural justice.
I know of people who did not play the system, and there must have been many more who behaved above board and followed the rules - who did the right thing.
It would be wrong to give an amnesty to those who chose to conceal their identities in order to pocket the allowance.
Marian Schneps, Wan Chai
Surveillance that is all for a good cause
Eric Sommer in Beijing is naive when he excoriates the US for its spying activities ("US spy agency should face charges", July 4).
The Americans' agencies will do what they were set up to do.
As any moron knows, it is not just the CIA, but MI5 which uses surveillance around the planet to police everything from terrorists to money launderers to human traffickers.
Why do so few people acknowledge this? It's like the way they forget that people like Steve Jobs made it possible for every "Tom, Dong and Mei Li" to access any information they want.
So if that giant vacuum cleaner in the sky (as some wag has labelled it) should get into people's personal bank accounts and silly Facebook chit-chat, there's no need to descend into paranoia.
It's all for a good cause, I say, so grin and bear it. Most importantly, grow up.
Beatriz Taylor, Cheung Chau
Colonial rule did bring some benefits
Peter Wei asked why people did not gripe against colonial rule ("Hongkongers should be more positive", July 2).
People can recall the good old days under colonial rule. A university graduate was able to save up for a down payment on a flat in about three years. Today it is an impossible dream.
Why would people criticise the lack of freedom under colonial rule? What do they expect? Hong Kong was a colony. It was ruled by foreigners. If I were to live under oppression I would rather it was foreign. It hurts more to be oppressed by my own race.
We were lucky because this colonial rule your correspondent appears to dislike shielded us from the oppressive regime across the border and the catastrophes of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Thousands lost their lives fleeing to the colony. Why?
It is hypocritical of politicians to say hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit of its people made Hong Kong an economic miracle without crediting the political umbrella the British provided. Ironically, some of their parents fled to the colony in 1949 to preserve their affluence.
Now we have "one country, two systems". Of course it is unique; no other country has it. I would ask why mainlanders still want to move to this former colony, that is, the other part of the "two systems".
I never found John F. Kennedy's famous words ("ask what you can do for your country") inspiring, not as a Chinese person anyway. During their nation's short history, Americans have been well fed. So JFK could inspire with those words. During the 4,000 years of Chinese history we have seen turmoil and catastrophe.
Which Chinese emperor could justifiably say what JFK said? What was there to inspire his subjects?
Patriotism is a conceptual belief; hunger is real. A political system, dictatorship or democracy, which feeds its people well is the system people will embrace.
Ever wonder why tens of millions of Chinese live overseas? Hongkongers have reasons to fear rule under China.
Unless you are connected to the privileged and the authorities, you won't have a level playing field to reap the economic benefits in society.
When all three chief executives have turned a deaf ear to the people's voices, citizens take to the streets so Beijing can hear them. It is the positive thing to do.
Tony Yuen, Mid-Levels
Citizens put livelihood issues first
I would like to ask the leader of the Occupy Central movement, Benny Tai Yiu-ting, if he sees universal suffrage as the only thing that matters in Hong Kong.
I am just an ordinary citizen and I see the top priority as being people's livelihood issues. It is not easy to live in Hong Kong nowadays. Like other Hongkongers, I have to work to earn my keep.
As a Christian, I read a verse in Micah 6:8 "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?"
I do not think Occupy Central is good for Hongkongers.
Lai Yau, Fanling
Slap in the face for auxiliary police officers
As a retiring auxiliary police officer, I really feel disheartened, disgruntled and humiliated to learn that not even one auxiliary was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal for the disciplined services in this year's honours list.
Perhaps it is true that auxiliary police are no longer valued following reforms in 1999.
If that is the case, I suggest the Hong Kong Auxiliary Police be disbanded as soon as possible so that the auxiliaries can at least keep some honour for their contributions in the past.
Lawrence Choi, Tuen Mun
Bad driving makes road dangerous
I read with dismay but without surprise the report ("Bus driver killed, 37 injured in Lantau crash", July 2) on the three-vehicle crash on the North Lantau Highway on July 1 with the resulting death and injuries.
As a resident of South Lantau, I often drive along that stretch of road and am constantly appalled by the driving standards of many of the motorists. The main offenders are those who sit in the middle or fast lanes even when not overtaking.
This also prompts other motorists to overtake on the inside, which is extremely dangerous, as the driver of the car being "undertaken" may not realise it and cause a collision when he or she moves into the left-hand lane.
Many of the vehicles are travelling far in excess of the 110km/h speed limit but I have never seen any of the speed cameras flash when passed by speeding vehicles.
Britain recently introduced a system whereby fixed penalty notices can be issued by the police to "tailgaters", and those that hog the middle or fast lanes, without having to take them to court.
I suggest a similar system be imposed in Hong Kong, together with more rigorous enforcement of speeding offences by the police, before more lives are lost.
Rosamund Barker, Lantau
Starvation and poverty cannot be ignored
The film currently showing in Hong Kong, World War Z, which has an apocalyptic theme of a zombie pandemic, may seem to be very much the stuff of fiction.
However, I think there are some countries in the world, which, because of the way some of their citizens are suffering, face severe social dislocation. There have even been reports of cannibalism where populations are suffering severe starvation.
North Korea is an example. Under Kim Jong-il's reign, many ordinary citizens were gripped by periods of famine.
The government ensured its army was fed while the rest of the population starved. Reports of starvation continue to leak out with the country now run by Kim's son, Kim Jong-un. The people of North Korea have suffered a great deal in the name of communism. There have been claims, in newspapers in the West and by newswire agencies, of instances of cannibalism. While those are just claims, the fact of the matter is that in some countries in Asia and Africa, millions of people are living in grinding poverty.
If the huge disparity between rich and poor is ignored in these nations, then sooner or later the poor will rise up in a revolt that could be like a volcanic eruption.
Conan Lee Chung-man, Tai Kok Tsui