Letters to the Editor, May 13, 2014
Popular vote confers a mandate
I refer to the comments by Adeline Wong Ching-man, chief executive of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association, in the report, "Democracy 'would help governance'" (May 7).
Ms Wong was of the view that "a democratically elected chief executive would enjoy a stronger mandate than his predecessors".
However, the proposal that her association has put forward offers nothing but a thinly disguised status quo. The narrow commercial vested interests that the association represents want to maintain their hold on the political affairs and development of Hong Kong.
If there is no meaningful choice of candidates, universal suffrage is meaningless.
The association wants "clone candidates" and will then trumpet the victor as having popular support from the wide community.
Hongkongers are not naive; such an election will be a sham.
In reality, the mandate will still be weak, as before. If Wong is in favour of a stronger mandate, would she support a suggestion made previously to these columns that voters be given the choice on the ballot paper to vote either "for" or "against" the candidate?
This democratically sound system of positive or negative voting clearly identifies popular mandate, and withdraws the camouflage that the pro-establishment camp appears intent in placing over the 2017 chief executive election.
The textile manufacturing industry has departed from Hong Kong long ago, so the Chinese Manufacturers' Association should not attempt to pull the wool over voters' eyes.
P. C. Law, Quarry Bay
Students have need of lockers in schools
I am writing to share my views on the advantages and disadvantages of offering secondary school students lockers in their classrooms.
Here are two advantages of having lockers in the classroom.
First, they could reduce the burden of students' schoolbags. Given that secondary school students have to study a lot of subjects, their bags inevitably get very heavy with all the textbooks required.
Second, having a locker would mean students could store their books in school when they do not need them. Without a locker, a student might forget to bring in the books they need.
Moreover, lockers could help keep safe belongings such as mobile phones and wallets, ensuring no one would steal them when the students were not paying attention.
However, there are also disadvantages in giving secondary school students a locker, particularly if they do not make proper use of them.
For example, they may leave behind in the locker the books they need for homework.
Also, if students fail to lock them properly, it may invite theft.
But these are not really major issues.
I believe that if students could learn to make good use of lockers, then schools should offer them the use of one in the classroom.
Flora Wong, Yau Ma Tei
Bars should be made to keep streets clean
I agree with David Brian ("Local drinkers left unsightly mess on streets", May 7), who describes the filth that awaits us every morning along the pavement on Lockhart Road.
Broken beer bottles, cigarette butts, discarded food - it's appalling.
I walk three blocks along Lockhart Road every morning to my office, and it is shocking what I see.
Tourists in the nearby hotels must also wade their way through the garbage - what kind of image will they take away from Hong Kong?
There is a children's preschool in the lower floors of my building.
I see tiny children every morning, walking hand in hand with their parents, through this maze of garbage.
This is just not right and I hope the government takes quick and decisive action to address this.
I do not blame the city; on the contrary, the street cleaners will be out in the late morning to clean up, so Hong Kong is doing its part.
To me, the responsibility is squarely on the patrons, and the bar owners.
It would be difficult to go after the patrons, but there should be no problem to identify the bar owners who profit handsomely from this situation, and force them to clean up, and/or pay for the clean-up.
This should not be paid for by the general Hong Kong population.
Rob Chipman, Wan Chai
Still no answer to puzzle over jury duty
I am grateful to Florence Wong, information officer for the judiciary ("Clarifying jury duty procedures", May 8) for replying to my letter ("Seeking some answers on jury duty", April 15), quoting various chapters from the Jury Ordinance.
However, no amount of quotes from the ordinance answers the question, "How is a person who works out of Hong Kong for 90 per cent of the year repeatedly selected for jury duty?" This happened even after explaining his geographical circumstances each time.
I don't know the size of the jury list, but find it hard to believe that the computer "randomly" picked the same name three times in four years including, as I mentioned previously, twice this year.
May I suggest a simple solution to this dilemma, which is to delete this particular person's name?
Sandra MacDonald, Lantau
Palestinians must first meet conditions
I refer to your editorial, "Israel must seize chance for peace" (May 5).
I think a more logical headline would have been: "Palestinians must meet preconditions."
You say, "Israel is letting a golden chance to make peace with Palestinians slip by with its refusal to negotiate with a unified government".
But later you said this "unified Palestinian government has to first meet three conditions set eight years ago: recognition of Israel; a renunciation of violence; and acceptance of previous deals struck between the [Palestine Liberation Organisation] and Israel. If the PLO and Hamas can alter their positions, there is no reason why [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu should not also be forward-looking". Indeed. But that is a very big "if".
And these preconditions are surely more fundamental than Israel's failure to release Palestinian prisoners.
Hamas has now become part of that unified government in Palestine. Article 7 of the Hamas Charter urges Muslims to fight the Jews.
How can Israel "seize the chance" with those who openly wish to murder them?
Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay
Let Greg So learn lesson of tolerance
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung has received three parcels containing suspected excrement ("'Human faeces' sent to commerce secretary", May 8).
The parcels, from anonymous senders, are believed to have been sent in retaliation to So's call for tolerance following a row that started when two Hongkongers tried to take photographs of a mainland toddler urinating in a street in Mong Kok. The incensed parents grabbed the camera and hit one of the residents.
Greg So deserves it, since tolerance is not appropriate for every incident.
He said he hoped people would express their views in a more civilised manner. However, when the mainlanders behaved in an uncivilised way, it is a test for people to keep their civility.
One source of conflict between mainland China and Hong Kong has been the individual visit scheme that has brought many more mainland visitors to Hong Kong. The scheme brings pros and cons, but the latter are outweighing the former. The news about the mainland toddler urinating in the street is one of the side effects of the scheme.
Mainlanders' uncivilised behaviour is unacceptable to many Hong Kong people. Local people cannot stand this anymore and they hope the government can put a stop to this.
Unfortunately, So has called for tolerance instead, an idiotic thing in many Hongkongers' eyes. Therefore, So deserves to learn the lesson of tolerance himself.
Timothy Wong, Sham Tseng
Retain local shopping culture
Tourism in Hong Kong is fuelled by the frenzied appetite of mainland visitors for luxury goods as well as basic necessities. There have been many cases of small, local shops going out of business and entire rows of pharmacies and jewellery shops lining the streets.
The entire composition and shopping landscape has changed because of the visitors, and the unique cultural attributes that are special to Hong Kong are diminishing due to rising rent and redirection of customers.
The city has become one that attends to the needs of tourists rather than to those of local residents.
We believe that the number of mainland tourists that visit Hong Kong should be regulated in order to reduce the magnitude of this new shopping culture. This means Hong Kong's shops might be able to attract local and international business from people who want to support and appreciate local culture, reducing the amount of gentrification within the city.
Deanna Yiu and Rachel Lee, North Point