Letters to the Editor, September 7, 2013

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 September, 2013, 3:20am

Why has size of park been reduced?

I refer to the letter from Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po ("Government still has goal for world-class harbourfront", August 27).

It seems that the West Kowloon Cultural District infrastructure project is suffering from what I would call "too many chefs spoil the broth" syndrome.

As the only citizen advocacy group for a cultural green park for the West Kowloon arts hub for more than 10 years, we at Hong Kong Alternatives find it confusing that Mr Chan is now addressing the issue of the cultural district. Our ongoing communications with the government have been handled by Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing.

We wish to ask Mr Chan, Mr Tsang, or Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to clarify how the area of the reclaimed land designated for a cultural green park at the West Kowloon site can be shrunk by 50 per cent. We suspect that the standard response will be that land has to be sold to defray the high cost of developing cultural and arts facilities. This argument does not hold water.

We are appealing for a rational and robust public consultation about whether the area originally set aside for the park should be shrunk to accommodate high-rise residential towers.

We have pleaded with the chief executive for creative fundraising by appointing prominent Hongkongers to spearhead a funding drive.

The public has never been fully consulted about whether so huge a chunk of the most valuable real estate bordering Victoria Harbour should be used for speculative development.

In our recent communication with the secretary for home affairs we appealed to his office to kick-start a city-wide drive to adopt and plant the 5,000 trees envisaged and mandated in the latest concept of design architects Foster + Partners.

The government must set up a committee of experts to get on with developing Lord Foster's park concept.

K. N. Wai, on behalf of the Hong Kong Alternatives


Mainland justice on trial in Bo case

Hong Kong people were interested in the trial of former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai , which has now ended. We are now waiting for the verdict.

I think many Hongkongers paid attention to this case because they are hoping that, following it, we will see changes for the better in the trial process on the mainland. After all, this is our country and people wonder if justice is fair at present.

The case also mattered because Bo was accused of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. Abuse of power is a serious problem in China.

I hope Bo is treated fairly and that we will see improvements in the rule of law.

Renee Leung, Tsing Yi


Manila protest may prove a tipping point

I refer to the report ("100,000 protest political fraud", August 27).

I applaud these "Million People March" protesters in Manila, who are angry at government corruption and the misappropriation of Philippine state funds. This spontaneous anti-establishment march reminded me of Hong Kong's "Article 23 march" on July 1, 2003, when huge numbers of ordinary citizens from all walks of life protested against officials who had lost the plot.

It is good that Filipinos are standing up against widespread, endemic corruption. It was not so long ago that the Philippines was in the vanguard of Asia's tiger economies, but political corruption and cronyism have hampered economic progress and damaged people's living standards. Politics has been dominated by elite clans and celebrity personalities, who then govern for family, favours, and friends.

The unusual circumstances of the surrender at the presidential palace of the businesswoman whose actions did much to ignite this protest march appear to confirm the existence of a privileged elite ("Fugitive surrenders in the palace", August 30).

It is said the elite stash their wealth into overseas assets and tax havens, while the vast army of overseas contract workers toil, often in appalling conditions. This protest took place on National Heroes' Day. If, as a result of it, there is increased transparency and accountability in government, then many of these protesters can be considered national heroes.

It must also be hoped the march will prompt the Catholic Church, under the rejuvenated leadership of Pope Francis, to use its strong influence to introduce more fairness and responsibility into the system.

An increase in the autonomy of the average citizen may bring about fundamental change. Filipinos are a compassionate people and deserve better from their political leaders. They deserve to have jobs at home so they can stay with their loved ones.

Christian Rogers, Wan Chai


UK Syria vote sends message to Washington

As a UK citizen, my faith in our democratic process was greatly restored by the vote in the British Parliament against intervention in Syria and also by the grace with which Prime Minister David Cameron accepted it, without looking to work his way around the decision.

However, on the other side of the Atlantic, the plan for military action moves forward. Senator John McCain, in his own version of "fiddling while Rome burns", plays games on his iPhone while managing to upgrade the level of action proposed by a US Senate panel. President Barack Obama, in a desperate bid for legitimacy, makes sophist comments about "weapons that could threaten the USA" and military intervention looms closer.

The UN inspectors cannot apparently apportion blame, but the US has "proof" that President Bashar al-Assad launched to all intents and purposes a suicidal chemical weapons attack. Mr McCain wants a resolution to, as he sees it, balance the forces in the civil war. That is an even more open-ended invitation to massive intervention than the flawed UN resolution on Libya, which saw immediate attacks on government forces to "protect civilians" hundreds of miles away.

There must be a solution to this civil war, but can anyone believe US intervention will lead to anything other than regime change, sectarian strife and a failed state?

Taking the longer view, does anyone now believe that Iran, despite its new president's overtures, will not be next to suffer "unavoidable and self- protecting" aggression?

I hope the US Congress votes, like the UK Parliament, to remove the last chance of legitimacy for the imminent murder of more human beings.

John Bruce, Happy Valley


Selective view is prejudice by another name

Every time new numbers are published on HIV/Aids in Hong Kong, they're jumped upon by critics of gay people.

This time Peter Shek writes that "homosexual behaviour has serious consequences for health" ("Critics of gays should be free to speak out", September 4).

I do not know what "homosexual behaviour" is, but he probably means that unprotected sex can have serious health consequences. Nobody will deny this and it applies equally to heterosexuals. Unprotected sex belongs in the same category as drug abuse, heavy drinking, overeating, dangerous driving and smoking, practised by all and sundry.

Therefore we have to conclude that "human behaviour has serious consequences for health".

The sad thing is that people like Mr Shek use the risky behaviour of some in a group as a stick to beat the whole group with, simply because they (or their religions) don't like them.

Josephine Bersee, Happy Valley


Steep learning curve part of the lesson

I cannot agree with Yolanda Cheung's points about Hong Kong's education system ("Diploma too demanding of students", August 30).

There is no doubt that the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education puts students under a great deal of pressure, but learning how to deal with that pressure is part of the education process. Learning to cope will help young people to deal with the problems they will face in the future.

Your correspondent calls for a review of the education system but the Education Bureau does review curriculums every year and makes changes that it deems appropriate.

Mandy Yau, Tseung Kwan O


Responsibility and rights go hand in hand

Many citizens are expressing open opposition to the government. We have witnessed demonstrations that have turned violent and others where foul language was used.

There have been complaints that the police are abusing their powers and prevented some protesters from freely expressing their opinions.

It is important for the government to respond swiftly to people's grievances to prove that it is listening, and the best way to do this is by communicating with different groups.

But the protesters also have responsibilities and there is no excuse for anti-social behaviour.

Jeffery Tse, Kwun Tong