Failure to rein in greed at corporations
I refer to the letter by K. Y. Leung ("Britain and America poor role models", November 19).
I agree that the US presidential and the UK Westminster parliamentary systems of democracy no longer fit the bill in expressing the will of the wider public, and that direct democracy by referendums offers truer representation, better decisions and more stability.
The American model is particularly beyond its sell-by-date. As an example, Washington has been totally impotent in reining in executive greed at corporations, where there is now a culture of entitlement and top executives reward themselves with ever higher pay packages.
The "average Joe" is askance that chief executive pay has escalated to be 250 times that of his own earnings.
America has a growing wealth gap and an entrenched poverty problem. However, these corporations fund and lobby politicians in elections, so who is willing to bite the hand that feeds them?
In stark contrast, Switzerland, which is renowned for its stability, general prosperity and high living standards, voted in a referendum yesterday, as part of its direct democratic system. The proposal was to limit the pay of company executives to just 12 times that of the lowest-paid employee at the same company ("Swiss take lead in campaign to cap executive pay ratios", November 18).
This should give food for thought when our authorities are designing Hong Kong's democratic future, as we also have a growing wealth gap and deep-rooted poverty.
It is certain that direct democracy is now technically possible and will ensure greater fairness and less manipulation by special and vested interests.
I also agree with Jake van der Kamp's opinion ("Rising wages pay off in the end for a world city", November 19).
J. F. Kay, Lai Chi Kok
Lack of mutual trust harms government
Since he took office in July last year, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and some of his top officials have had few peaceful days.
Harmony in a society can be achieved when citizens and the government show mutual respect.
The government has failed to make that possible.
The chief reason for this is that the administration is reluctant to promote and maintain a suitable degree of transparency.
This was highlighted by the refusal to give an adequate explanation for its rejection of the bid for a free-to-air TV licence by Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV).
Hong Kong citizens live in a society which is supposed to have greater democracy in the electoral process.
Therefore, they have every right to know why HKTV was deprived of its licence.
A refusal to give a full explanation is seen by people as disrespectful towards them.
If you show no respect towards someone, you cannot expect to have respect shown to you.
Another factor contributing to the lack of respect is the quality of some officials. The integrity of top officials is very important.
The problems the chief executive had with illegal structures, and other issues related to the development secretary, Paul Chan Mo-po, call that integrity into question.
When I look at all these issues, I have to conclude that until now, the government has failed to win the respect of Hong Kong citizens.
Unless it shows a determination to change, it seems to me that the only way out would be for a change at the top.
We need leaders who are more capable than the people in charge now and who have a better perception of the feelings of Hong Kong citizens.
Michael Chong, Yuen Long
Other rich citizens should follow suit
I was glad to read about property tycoon Lee Shau-kee donating land in Tuen Mun to Pok Oi Hospital ("Tycoon gives land for nursing home project", November 19).
This is a sign of true selflessness and unconditional love for Hong Kong's needy.
I would like to read about more tycoons donating selflessly to the city that has made them such icons.
The least tycoons can do is give their wealth for the betterment of society.
Their children, grandchildren and future generations of children have more than enough wealth.
I hope Mr Lee acquires more wealth so he can continue donating for good causes.
Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels
Help young, but don't neglect elderly
Our government will provide more subsidised housing units for young people.
I believe it must also do more for our elderly citizens as many of them face greater financial difficulties than people from younger generations.
Young people can generate more income by finding work. For many elderly, that is no longer an option.
If their grown-up children are failing to take responsibility and offer them some financial assistance, then they have to fall back on savings which gradually drain away.
If I was in their position I would hope that the government could ensure I had a place to live, such as a subsidised housing unit. We must ensure there are enough of these units available.
Jennifer Chiu Lok-yu, Sha Tin
Christians still suffering on mainland
Pastor Zhang Shaojie and more than 20 parishioners of his church were detained in Henan province ("Churchgoers in Henan land dispute detained", November 19).
Mr Zhang's church is part of the state-sanctioned three-self churches.
This shows that even churches allowed by the state are victims of the Chinese Communist Party's ruthless repression of religious freedom.
While in Hong Kong in the early 1960s, I visited an elderly British couple who had served as missionaries in China for decades before being forced to flee to Hong Kong following the 1949 revolution. They said they were no longer welcome on the mainland. Although more than a half century has passed since our conversation that evening, there is little evidence of any religious freedom in China, even today.
The case of Zhang Shaojie depicts the plight of Chinese Christians, who "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints". Their voices deserve to be heard.
Brian Stuckey, Denver, Colorado, US
Take care when using smartphones
Nowadays, people rely on electronic gadgets to do everything for them. If they have a problem, they often resort to the internet to find the solution via their iPhone.
It seems that some people cannot exist without their smartphones and this overdependence can be bad for society.
You see people with their eyes glued to their iPhones wherever you are, in the street, on public transport, even when you are eating your lunch in a restaurant. As they enter this virtual world, some lose all sense of their surroundings. This can be dangerous as it can lead to road traffic accidents.
An overdependence on the net can lead to users sometimes receiving information and accepting it to be true, without going through a filtering process and checking its authenticity. This can be a problem, for example, when researching academic material.
People need to be aware of the risks and avoid becoming addicted to these devices, including computer games. These iPhones and computers are an invaluable resource, especially for learning new things. Also, when you are away from home, you can keep in touch with family and friends.
However, they should be used in a meaningful way. If we have a problem we should first try and solve it ourselves.
Claudia Ng, Sha Tin
More online 'stings' can snare perverts
Earlier this month, a Dutch rights group identified over 1,000 paedophiles around the world by offering online sex with a computer-generated 10-year-old Filipino girl.
I welcome what this group did, even if the courts in different countries may have difficulty securing convictions, because it helps to raise people's awareness about this problem and the need to protect children's rights.
There are so many cases of child sex abuse and I am particularly worried about at-risk children in poverty-stricken areas of countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines. Impoverished children are vulnerable and may be used for such online activities. So often the abuse of these very young victims goes unreported.
More must be done to try and curb the activities of these predators, including the ones who go online for what is known as "webcam child sex tourism".
I would like to see more children's rights groups following the practice adopted by that organisation from the Netherlands in an effort to trap the abusers.
This could be done on as large a scale as possible, and the groups from different countries could co-ordinate their activities on the global social media.
Lam Ka-tung, Tung Chung