Letters to the Editor, May 3, 2014
Universal suffrage is basic right
The debate on the chief executive election for 2017 and universal suffrage is proving controversial in Hong Kong.
I am sure that the aspiration of most SAR citizens is to have universal suffrage and I am no exception.
Yet there are many citizens who say that we must obey the wishes of the central government, which has a very narrow view of the nominating committee.
I can understand their argument that, as we are part of China, we should accept the views of the nation's government and that demanding full universal suffrage will lead to disputes.
But a nominating committee with a narrow representation will not lead to a satisfactory outcome in the 2017 election.
If Beijing can effectively screen out candidates it does not like in advance, then voters will have a very limited choice and the person who becomes chief executive will not represent the electorate.
Genuine universal suffrage is a basic human right. China talks about its civilisation and the advances it has made, for example, in education. However, its citizens are still deprived of basic human rights.
In Hong Kong, the central government trots out the same old excuses in defence of how it sees the nominating committee, saying it wants to ensure Hong Kong's prosperity and the nation's security, but I think this is preposterous.
I believe that, under the Basic Law, we are entitled to democracy, and universal suffrage is the first step towards achieving that.
It is essential this is achieved for future generations and for Hong Kong's future development.
Arthur Lo Chun-hei, Sha Tin
Passengers left with no information
On Monday morning there was yet another disruption to the East Rail Line. An eight-minute delay was announced; however, it was more like 18 minutes by the time a train arrived and finally left the station.
I have two main gripes with the MTR. Firstly, the lack of information. No explanation was given at Fanling station for the delay, at least not in English.
Secondly, inaccurate information was given, which prevented commuters from making informed decisions, for example, whether to take other methods of transport. A standard, "We are sorry for any inconvenience caused", and an unrealistic eight-minute delay message is really inadequate.
The MTR has a lot to do to improve its performance and customer service.
Cecilia Li, Fanling
MTR needs backup system to avoid delays
Regarding the explanation given by the MTR for the signalling disruption last weekend, I am truly amazed by its analysis of the root cause.
To say that it has had a failure in a "router" which is 11 years old is unbelievable. As a "quality" professional (responsible for ensuring product compliance and reliability) this answer shows that the MTR is lacking in knowledge of reliability and failure mode effect analysis.
Signalling is paramount for the positional location of all trains at any given time. To say that these signals pass through an 11-year-old piece of electronic equipment shows a lack of understanding of electronics and the life expectancy of such equipment. Additionally, there must be many more such routers in use and if they are all of a similar age then it is a given that they also will fail, sooner rather than later.
This equipment is critical to the functioning of the MTR's system, yet it has no backup (or dual) system in place to cover for such failures (otherwise it would not have had this outage). Perhaps the MTR could explain why there is no such security in place and why it is using such old equipment.
Bruce Abbott, Tsim Sha Tsui
Basketball chief made right decision
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has moved from rookie to legend with his ban of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling "over his racist comments" ("Sterling's life ban roundly applauded", May 1).
How many times has one dreamed of hitting the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer of the championship basketball game?
Well, in effect, Adam Silver did that for all of us that like to dream of being the person not to choke when everything is on the line.
Silver, the NBA commissioner since only February of this year, had to deal with the biggest scandal the NBA might ever face with Sterling being caught on tape talking about his true feelings for coloured people. Sterling, already an outsider before this, has become possibly the loneliest person on the planet over the past few days.
Then the commissioner stepped up to the podium, succinct but emphatic, leaving little room for doubt. "We stand together in condemning Sterling's views," Silver said. "They simply have no place in the NBA."
With that, Silver fined Sterling US$2.5 million, and three months into the job, the commissioner, with the confidence of a man who had been in power for decades, said he had the full support of other owners of NBA teams to ban Sterling for life.
He is also going to do everything in his and the owners' power to force him to sell his team.
Silver did what we all wish we could do when faced with such a moment of truth.
He has restored my faith in sports in the way that he has handled this matter.
As one NBA official said: "It could have been ugly." The official pointed out that the players would not have accepted anything less and nor would the fans.
A fight with Sterling is probably coming, but Silver definitely did the right thing when everything was on the line.
David McIntyre, Pok Fu Lam
Government must mediate disputes
I am writing about the controversy over the mainland toddler who was allowed by his mother to relieve himself in a busy street in Mong Kok.
I think the reaction of some Hongkongers was insensitive. When a child needs the toilet it becomes a fairly urgent situation. The best thing to do is direct the mother to the nearest washroom rather than taking photographs. Taking a photo was impolite and showed a lack of respect.
One of our core values in Hong Kong is to be inclusive, but that value was absent in this case. This shows that with our citizens, there is still room for improvement.
However, as I said, the mother was also at fault because she should have tried to find a toilet.
Differences between mainland visitors and Hong Kong citizens have become more frequent.
The government seems to be ignoring this problem or hoping it will just go away.
Where there are serious differences between the two sides, the government should be trying to act as a mediator.
Sally Chung, Kowloon Tong
Education key to tourist behaviour
There has been a great deal of discussion about the picture that was widely circulated of a toddler being allowed to relieve himself in a street in Mong Kok.
Such behaviour is not considered to be acceptable in Hong Kong, but it is common on the mainland, especially in rural and developing areas with few public toilets. I am not saying that the central government is doing nothing about this. The fundamental problem is that civic education is not universal.
However, it is wrong to tar everyone with the same brush. For example, when I travelled on the Shenzhen Metro, people lined up in orderly queues waiting to board and offered seats to needy passengers. Some might only have graduated from junior school, but clearly they are well educated in citizenship.
In rural areas, children might not get this kind of education even though they are supposed to be entitled to nine years of free schooling.
Also, many middle-aged mainland citizens did not benefit from a free education.
Therefore, some mainland visitors are very well behaved and some are not. It really all comes down to the education they received.
I think that, as civic education becomes more widespread on the mainland, we will see the behaviour of these tourists improve.
Winnie Lai, Kwai Chung
Food labelling guidelines being ignored
In March, a joint study by the Consumer Council and Centre for Food Safety found that 51 nutritional labels out of 100 surveyed had a print size that was so small they were difficult to read.
It makes you wonder if the government wasted its time bringing in legislation to make nutritional labelling on packaged food mandatory.
Under the law, all packets must now carry the food's calorific value and the levels of seven core nutrients.
Consumers are entitled to know the contents of the food they are eating.
The government needs to do more to ensure that guidelines on legible labels are adhered to.
Labels that are easy to read are especially important for consumers who have special dietary requirements, such as people with diabetes or those who have an allergy, for example, to nuts or dairy products.
Many shoppers may need to know the sugar or cholesterol content of a product before they decide whether to buy it or not. Some people may be at risk if they buy something without knowing the contents.
The government needs to make sure that companies follow these guidelines, so that all nutritional labels can be read by consumers.
Chim Shuk-yee, Tsuen Wan