Letters to the Editor, May 22, 2015
Time to put aside petty differences
I would like to respond to the letter by Ruby Ng ("Hong Kong's political system is imperfect but effective", May 18).
The address that I gave to the Foreign Correspondents' Club on May 13 used the story of Sleeping Beauty to try and reflect some of Hong Kong's current problems in a catchy and somewhat lighthearted way.
I used the analogy of the godmothers clustering round the baby's cradle not to make a point about Britain and China but to make a point about the strengths that help Hong Kong (free press, rule of law, pragmatic and well-educated population, efficient and corruption-free police and civil service) and the great weakness that hampers it (an unwieldy and unworkable political system).
I did not set out to ascribe blame for this sad accident of history, although there is no doubt that British politicians and civil servants both here and in the UK made mistakes and misjudgments along the way.
I wonder, however, how productive it would be at this juncture to spend too much time on such inquests.
I am rather reluctant to indulge in any more bedtime metaphors, considering the trouble they have already caused me, but it does seem that our community is living in something of a dream. It is insufficiently aware of the constraints that the government is facing in taking necessary action to solve problems, introduce legislation or even, as at present, to get the annual budget passed.
It surely behoves us, whether we are "indigenous Hongkongers", as Ms Ng describes herself, or people like me who have spent the greater part of our lives here and have an ongoing stake in its well-being, to put aside any petty differences.
Should we not all work together to ensure the breakthrough in political development that is so desperately needed to provide a more prosperous and stable future for us all?
Rachel Cartland, Mid-Levels
Don't write off CY Leung for 2017 election
In his column ("Down, and out?" May 17) Michael Chugani posed as an infallible political forecaster claiming that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying would be unelectable in 2017 without Beijing engineering, whatever that means, a universal suffrage victory for him.
Without describing how universal suffrage could be thus manipulated, Chugani is in the happy position of potentially labelling a Leung victory, however achieved, as the result of Beijing interference.
A comfortable position for Chugani but hardly an honourable one.
It is a custom generally observed in democracies to at least identify candidates, their policies and affiliations before making judgments about potential victors.
In Hong Kong, where there will be no established political party nominations, the identity of the candidates will be of critical importance to electors before deciding how they will cast their votes. In these circumstances, it would be both reasonable and wise to consider from what talent pools candidates may be drawn.
There have been suggestions that a figure from the pan-democrats may be nominated. Given the extraordinary antics of this now-splintering group, it is difficult to see how they could combine to support a candidate from whatever section of the group he or she might be nominated.
Indeed, if an anti-democratic mastermind were to devise a campaign to undermine democratic development in Hong Kong, they could hardly do a better job than the pan-democrats themselves.
Failing a pan-democrat, other candidates are likely to be establishment figures, who will struggle to claim the administrative achievements of the current chief executive, while no doubt their past sins, such as they may be, will be discussed with relish by the likes of Chugani. I think it is too early to write off the prospects of Leung Chun-ying.
David Hall, Mid-Levels
Keep Legco in session over the summer
No doubt like a lot people in Hong Kong, I am reading the daily papers and watching the evening news with increasing concern at the dysfunctional workings at the Legislative Council.
Government departments running out money, possible interruption to water supplies, universities needing to use cash reserves, important projects not being approved, employees' salaries going unpaid. For goodness' sake, what is going on here?
This is simply not acceptable in 2014.
Who could blame the central government for thinking - well, this SAR arrangement is not working, we had better come in and take it over. I would like to see the filibustering lawmakers' faces if that happened.
I would suggest that the summer break for all lawmakers should be postponed, as they should work on until the matters at hand in Legco are completed.
They are, after all, being well paid by the people of Hong Kong to properly run our city.
K. Bucknor, Mid-Levels
Meals scheme a good way to help the needy
Buying "suspended meals" is a new and practical way to share with others less fortunate.
In a restaurant, you pay for an extra meal and someone in need can get that meal for free later on. This meals arrangement sends an important message. It promotes the importance of sharing and nurturing an attitude of helping in our society.
Some may argue that having such a scheme will lead to an over-reliance on these free meals. People receiving this "free lunch" will have less incentive to find work. However, I disagree.
There are many citizens on low incomes. They may work long hours every day, but still struggle to have enough for a decent meal. Getting a free meal means a lot to them. It leaves them with a bit more for other necessities, such as transport and rent.
If they are able eventually to get work with a better wage, they may remember how they were helped when they were struggling and might buy a suspended meal for someone.
Buying a suspended meal might seem like a small step, but it can make a big difference to those in need.
The suspended meal programme is not as widespread here as it is in other cities.
I hope more people can support it so that it can become an integral part of the community.
Miki Hui Nga-sze, To Kwa Wan
Smartphones can become addictive
With rapid advances in technology, smartphones are becoming more sophisticated and affordable.
More people now have one, including primary schoolchildren who are given one by their parents. Sometimes you see people with more than one mobile phone.
I appreciate that they are very useful with so many functions. You no longer need a separate camera, computer, or CD player. It is all integrated into one device.
There are also apps and functions which are free, which makes it inexpensive to keep in touch with friends. However, there is a downside. Some people can become addicted to them. This can be a real problem for teenagers who have their phone with them wherever they are and whatever they are doing.
These devices are fine with limited use, but if youngsters spend all their time staring at the screens, this could damage their eyesight. Excessive overuse can also cause neck and shoulder pain and it would be serious if this became a chronic condition at such a young age.
Young people need to grow up comfortable with face-to-face communication. If they become obsessed with their smartphones, they will not learn how to communicate with others and this will affect them in their adult lives.
It is important that teenagers learn that communication must go beyond the social network. They must learn to use their smartphones wisely.
Susanna Chung Miu-shan, Kowloon Tong
Strong case for opening vet school in city
Earlier this year, an application by City University for permission to establish a veterinarian school was turned down by the University Grants Committee (UGC).
From press reports I have read, I do not believe there are enough vets in Hong Kong, with a pets-to-vet ratio of about 1,200:1.
If what I am saying is correct, then presumably vets in Hong Kong are overworked. And if a shortage of vets is a problem, then there is clearly a need for a vet school.
I also keep hearing stories about cruelty to animals. This kind of abuse appears to be on the rise in Hong Kong.
I feel that it might be easier to curb this trend if we had more vets.
We have to recognise that while humans have rights, so do animals, and they should be protected in an international city like Hong Kong.
Finally, fees to see a vet are quite high and if there were more vets practising in the city, they might come down.
I hope the UGC will reconsider its decision to refuse funds for a vet school.
Carlson Cheng Kai-sang, Po Lam