Letters to the Editor, September 14, 2013
Universal vote desirable but no panacea
Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee says that universal suffrage, though necessary, is no cure-all ("Governance in the time of chaos", September 1).
I think she may be right in that.
We recently had a family discussion on that very issue. Our son - born and brought up in Hong Kong and now studying in the UK - said that Hong Kong already has so many positives: free media, freedom of speech, clean government and judiciary, law and order with low crime rate and so on. He claims these areas are at least as good as and in some cases better (for example, lower crime rates) than in Britain. He asked in what way would any of these be improved by universal suffrage.
My answer was that it ought to be a universal right and would lessen the need for people to take to the streets over every grievance. But still, my son's point stuck in my mind: what, precisely, would be improved in today's Hong Kong by having universal suffrage? Just a "feel-good" factor and having fewer protests?
I'm no less a supporter of the need for China to stick by promises of universal suffrage for the CE by 2017, but still. It got me thinking that Mrs Ip may well be correct about universal suffrage, that "it would be foolish to pretend that it would be a cure-all for our problems".
Those problems, by the way, ought to be kept in perspective. Compared with the Middle East, our "problems" are of an order that many would love to have.
Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay
Occupy plan an expression of HK spirit
There is no doubt that the Occupy Central campaign has caused some chaos in society.
Groups have been formed to oppose the movement and they have criticised its aims. However, I do not think their arguments justify the cancellation of the movement's planned protests.
Hongkongers have held fast to the dream of universal suffrage and yet it is postponed again and again. If we do nothing, can we be sure that we will really have universal suffrage for the election of the chief executive in 2017?
Occupy Central is essential because it allows Hong Kong citizens to express their true feelings. I can understand some people are reluctant to see change, but they have to consider the needs of the next generation. We all have to be willing to accept new things, including, in Hong Kong, the introduction of democracy.
We need to join together and embrace the "Hong Kong spirit".
Cheung Chung-wai, Tsuen Wan
CY must stand firm despite unpopularity
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was criticised for his speech last month at Tin Shui Wai, which was seen as being divisive.
I agree that C. Y. could be more tactful when talking in public, but he must be allowed to talk freely at these public forums.
Also last month, his popularity rating reached a record low of 43.7 marks out of 100, according to a poll.
It illustrates that Hong Kong has a political leader with a credibility crisis. However, despite the problems that he faces, C. Y. should confront the social problems we all face and seek the views of the public, as public opinion matters.
I hope that C. Y. will not be discouraged by his low popularity rating following the speech.
Serene Wong, Tuen Mun
Bo trial can herald new era of openness
Although the trial of former Politburo member and Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai and the drama surrounding it has ended, it highlighted that corruption and abuse of power, no matter what the verdict, will continue in China, as they do in developing countries. In such nations, it takes decades of determination, continual reforms and real consistency to eventually have a fair and transparent judiciary.
In the case of Bo, has justice been served? His wife, who is in prison and was given a suspended death sentence, testified against him, which cannot be seen as fair.
There can be no doubt she was under duress and would say whatever was necessary to gain favour with the authorities.
Bo is likely to sink into obscurity after he is jailed, but he will leave a controversial legacy and the fallout will continue from the nation's worst political scandal in decades.
He forgot the saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. He probably would have been okay if he had kept a low profile.
China is still governed solely by the Communist Party and many political observers believe his downfall was due to his rapid rise through the ranks, which led to political rivalry.
This was a very open trial by China's standards. Therefore, Beijing should grasp this opportunity and continue in this spirit of openness.
Its leaders should choose to embrace social media rather than cracking down on people expressing their views over the internet.
The attack on online "rumours" is a step backwards when what is needed is transparency and political reform.
I think the courage that Bo showed during his trial and the way he defended himself has shaken the leadership of the party. Perhaps at some point in the future he will enjoy political rehabilitation.
A. L. Nanik, Tsim Sha Tsui
Time to make city 'danger crossing' safe
I am concerned about the area where pedestrians have to cross outside my office, at the Tai Yau Building, 181 Johnston Road, Wan Chai.
It is very stressful trying to cross here, given that there is no pedestrian crossing with traffic lights.
There are cars coming from different directions - from Fleming Road, Wan Chai Road and the east side of Johnston Road to get onto the main traffic stream of Johnston Road leading towards Admiralty. Cars and buses often block the intersection, ignoring the yellow boxes, which creates an additional hazard for pedestrians attempting to cross as they have no clear line of sight.
Recently, there was a fatal road traffic accident where an elderly woman died not far from this intersection. There is a large elderly population in this area and, if much younger people such as myself find crossing risky, imagine how much worse it is for an elderly citizen.
The government needs to act now and make this a pedestrian-friendly area. I would suggest a pedestrian crossing with lights.
Steven Koh, Wan Chai
Anyone for tennis if golf club goes?
The Hong Kong Golf Club apparently has a world-class golf course and, as Michael Andrew suggests in his letter ("Golf club benefits city's economy", September 11), is probably a good place to hash over details of billion-dollar business deals.
I wouldn't know for certain, however, because like the vast majority of Hong Kong citizens, I don't have the money to play golf, much less the influence to get invited to such an exclusive club.
If the worst happens for the golfers and the Hong Kong government decides that the country parks, which can be used by everyone, should be saved ahead of a country club which can be used by a few, perhaps Mr Andrew could suggest to his clients a game of squash or tennis instead?
Manny Hatfield, Mid-Levels
Stop recycled plastic being sent to dump
Although some policies have been introduced in an effort to recycle plastic, little headway has been made.
As a responsible citizen, I always recycle plastic products. However, I often see plastic waste mixed up with ordinary domestic waste and all that will end up in landfill.
The problem is the price that recycling firms can get for plastic has gone down. Also, the mainland is tightening restrictions when it comes to what plastic it will allow in. This means the recycling firms have to either store material until prices go up or throw it into a landfill.
Some of these firms may eventually shut down.
The government must have in place an effective recycling network and it must provide subsidies to recycling firms.
Will Law, Ngau Tau Kok
Put polluting vessels back out to sea
On Monday, September 2, I took a picture from my apartment in Pok Fu Lam of a cargo ship discharging putrid black smoke. I watched this vessel polluting the air for a number of hours.
Why on earth is the captain of this ship (and a few other vessels I was able to see in the background) allowed to spew such filthy smoke right in front of a residential area, a sports facility, a school for young children and the Cyberport parks?
What contribution to society is he bringing that we have to endure this contamination?
There is so much the government of Hong Kong can do to ease pollution. These ships should not be allowed to come near our shores.
Valerio Romano, Pok Fu Lam