Letters to the Editor, July 4, 2014
White paper defence erodes confidence
I was disappointed by the groundless defence by Law Society president Ambrose Lam San-keung of Beijing's white paper on the practice of "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong.
The white paper stated that judges are administrators and as such have a basic political requirement to love the country.
Mr Lam, in defending the white paper, stretched the meaning of "administration" to include the executive branch, the legislature and the judiciary.
However, one has to look into the meaning of words in context. It is crystal clear that what Beijing wanted to express in the white paper is that judges in Hong Kong should work together with the executive branch and serve the political needs of the country. Anyone with a basic understanding of China's legal system will know that judges on the mainland decide cases by order of the ruling Communist Party, not by law.
The white paper is thus a blatant attempt to undermine judicial independence in Hong Kong, which is essential to the city's rule of law.
The Law Society is expected to be a custodian of the city's rule of law.
Its president, as the head of the society, is in particular tasked with the duty to safeguard the independence of the judiciary and uphold the integrity of the legal profession. In this respect, it is disappointing to see Mr Lam fail to actively defend our city's judicial independence.
No matter what his intention was, his remarks would be seen to please Beijing and affect citizens' confidence in the resolve of the society to protect judicial independence from erosion.
Michael Ko, Tsing Yi
Occupy referendum was biased
The Occupy Central referendum conducted by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme was gravely biased. There was no provision for registering votes against all of the options.
There were options only to vote for various proposals favouring civil nomination of candidates. One further option allowed participants to mark their submissions with an "abstention".
An abstention does not mean one is against all the proposals. It merely means one is neutral on the issue or does not wish to vote for a particular unspecified reason. Quite apart from the debate on whether this referendum has any legal basis, which it clearly does not have under our Basic Law, if a referendum is to have any merit at all as an indicator of public opinion, participants should have been given the option to vote against all of the options presented.
Those who were vehemently opposed to the suggestions of the Alliance for True Democracy, People Power or a joint one by Scholarism and the Hong Kong Federation of Students, were denied the opportunity to register their objections.
This referendum was, therefore, flawed and clearly biased in favour of those advocating civil nomination.
In my view, it was inappropriate that these staged political pantomimes by HKU should be funded from the public purse.
P. A. Crush, Sha Tin
Peaceful march a credit to Hong Kong
Once again hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens showed on Tuesday that they can demonstrate and march for a cause without rioting, looting, acts of vandalism or mayhem.
Bravo to Hong Kong.
Christine Wong, Mid-Levels
Abe showing nationalist ambitions
I am writing about the man who set himself ablaze in protest against steps to overturn Japan's anti-war constitution. ("Pacifist protester sets himself on fire in Tokyo", June 30).
Limited coverage of the incident by mainstream media in Japan seems to reflect the determination of the country's leadership to reset the balance of power in Asia.
There is a difference between an assertive internationalist and an ambitious nationalist.
Japan's prime minster, Shinzo Abe, is proving to be the latter, as he is moving to boost his country's military power and transform Japan into a regional pivot against China.
It is not difficult to portray China as a menace. And it is not the first time; it was evident in Western media following China's naval defeat in the first Sino-Japanese war 120 years ago. But to create a security dilemma and lay the seeds for a potential arms race makes Abe's peace pledges all the more unconvincing and questionable.
The veil of collective self-defence does not hide the offensive nature of military power.
Rex T. C. Wang, Tsim Sha Tsui
Third runway pros outweigh cost concerns
I refer to the report ("Third runway sparks cost concerns", June 24).
It is clear that Hong Kong International Airport cannot rely on nearby airports, for example, in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, to handle increased passenger demand.
They are already crowded and are not as efficient as Chek Lap Kok. Flights are sometimes delayed and this is a problem that is not being addressed.
People have expressed concern about the cost of building a third runway.
In the years before the handover, there were delays over the construction of Chek Lap Kok. Concerns were expressed about the cost of such a massive project, including from Beijing.
Again, people talked of the possibility of using nearby airports.
These delays raised the cost of the project, with inflation and other contributory factors.
Because bureaucracy and objections delayed the completion of the present airport, the last governor, Chris Patten, had to leave by boat.
Even today, all these years after it opened to the public, it is still one of the best airports in the world. It has won numerous awards and we should be proud of it.
Without it, the city would have lagged behind in the aviation sector. Sometimes, it is better to take on the critics, even mainland officials, and look at the bigger, long-term picture.
In the last two decades, China has seen rapid economic development and opened up to the world. In the future, passenger volumes from and to China will increase.
We have to recognise this and realise that as Asia's world city, we are heavily dependent on the tourist sector.
A. L. Nanik, Tsim Sha Tsui
Authority working to recruit nurses
I refer to the letter from Lawrence Choi ("Reopen schools to train more nurses", June 28).
The Hospital Authority has reactivated seven nursing schools since 2008 to provide registered nurse (RN) training programmes and enrolled nurse (EN) training programmes in order to increase the supply of nurses in Hong Kong.
The authority also conducts reviews on nursing manpower requirements annually to assess the student intake number.
In 2014/15, the authority will continue to provide such training programmes, with an intake of 300 and 100 students respectively, to cope with the service demand.
The authority has recruited additional nurses in the past five years.
The overall nursing manpower has increased from 19,866 to 22,759, representing a net growth of 2,893 in number and an increase of 14.6 per cent.
Also, this year (2014/15), the authority will recruit 1,680 nurses to make up for staff turnover and relieve the work pressure of frontline nurses.
Subject to market availability, the authority also plans to recruit another 300 nurses to address the winter surge in demand.
Jane Liu, chief manager (nursing), Hospital Authority
Bus companies should receive support
I am sure most Hong Kong commuters have experienced delays because of breakdowns on parts of the MTR network.
I think the reason that we are seeing more of these technical problems, and therefore more delays, is because the MTR Corporation is struggling to cope with the huge increase in the volume of passengers.
It is therefore important passengers continue to have viable alternatives to the MTR, in particular, regular and widespread bus routes provided by companies such as KMB.
These bus firms can help take some passengers from the MTR and make it easier to deal with crowding at stations and on trains. Serious overcrowding can put passengers at risk.
However, some bus companies have complained about financial problems; if necessary, the government should act to ensure bus firms like KMB remain in business.
If need be, the government should be willing to invest in bus companies as a shareholder. The other options would be a financial subsidy or a tax break.
Our administration should not always take a laissez-faire approach and sit on the sidelines.
Sometimes, it should be willing to help out a sector that is important for Hong Kong. This is certainly the case with buses and with other sectors, such as, for example, the recycling industry.
Sally Chung, Yau Yat Chuen