Letters to the Editor, July 16, 2014
HK seems to have colonial relationship
Jean-Pierre Lehmann ("Chequered record", July 14) admits to being "incandescent" at the "sanctimonious hypocritical smugness" of the West in preaching democracy.
He highlights that, in a century and a half of colonial rule, Britain never granted Hong Kong democracy. Governors were appointed. Much as our chief executive is today, I might add, who is also an appointee and may be removed at any time.
We also know that Britain ruled Hong Kong as a colony, and that it did not grant the people of this city the kind of democratic political reform being demanded today.
However, this does not mean Hong Kong today will accept a colonial relationship with Beijing, which is, in fact, what we seem to have.
It was not until the late 1980s, when this city began to settle from the effects of those great upheavals across the border that brought millions of people here as poverty-stricken refugees, that a voice for democratic reform began to grow.
As last governor Chris Patten made clear when in public dispute with his own government, Britain was not closed to the demand so much as tied to Beijing's wishes to ensure a smooth transition in 1997.
Nations in the West were not always champions of the democratic ideal, but why did Chinese nationalism find a haven in Hong Kong a century ago? Perhaps it was because, given the standards of the times, Hong Kong was a city that offered comparative freedom to voices of dissent.
The West practices today what it preaches. British nationals can all vote. It may not be the best system, but it is a system that is democratic in so far as British people not only vote for their government, but perhaps more crucially may also vote for a change. China, on the other hand, preaches "one country, two systems".
One need only look back at the history of the Chinese Communist Party to raise a few questions. Is it any wonder that some Hong Kong people are also "incandescent" at the "sanctimonious hypocritical smugness" they see?
Evan Fowler, Fo Tan
Standing up for what they believe in
Youngsters are doing what the middle-aged failed to complete, that is, achieving fair political rights for all of us. Some people complained about what they saw as the chaotic occupation of Chater Road on July 2.
But activists were protesting over the fact that Hongkongers have been deprived of their natural right to vote in a free and fair election.
They see that as unfair and have the courage to stand up and fight against it.
Hong Kong people should appreciate what they are saying. They sat in Central all night while most of us slept in our beds.
If these youngsters were not willing to stand up for their beliefs in our society, what would we be left with - self-claimed patriots or a prevailing sense of hopelessness?
Jimmy Chan, Tuen Mun
Radicals' tactics are childish
I am appalled by the actions of some radical legislators and by other radicals proposing Occupy Central.
The tactics they have chosen are purportedly designed to force China into granting Hong Kong universal suffrage in 2017.
Assuming that the central government would be influenced by this movement, if Hong Kong is granted universal suffrage in any of the forms desired by these lawmakers, have we got the talent that is needed to lead this city?
Some legislators at the chief executive's question-and-answer session in the Legco chamber earlier this month behaved like spoiled children.
Objects were thrown in the chamber and lawmakers walked out. This kind of immaturity does more harm than good in Hong Kong.
The leader we need to elect must be able to deal swiftly with the most serious problems that Hong Kong is facing, namely, housing, inflation and social injustice.
Leung Chun-ying may not be perfect, but he has tried to address these issues despite the vested interests that are ranged against him.
Peter Wei, Kwun Tong
Priority of army is to protect party
In many ways, I agree with the sentiments of Susanna Chung Miu-shan ("We are lucky to be living in free SAR", July 8). However, I must question her view that "as part of China we have the protection of its armed forces".
Has it escaped Ms Chung's notice that, in recent debates regarding Occupy Central, the more vociferous opponents of democracy have mentioned the possibility of the PLA being unleashed on Hong Kong to help oppress the democracy movement.
I think Ms Chung will find that China does not have any armed forces; however, the Chinese Communist Party does have a praetorian guard to protect its interests.
Mark Ranson, Sai Kung
English and Putonghua both important
Studying a second language has many benefits, including helping you to increase your understanding of another culture.
Where pupils are using Cantonese as the medium of instruction, the question is often asked which should be the second language they learn. Which would be more desirable - English or Putonghua?
English is the lingua franca globally, with an estimated 375 million native English speakers and 300 million who use it as a second language.
It is commonly used in science, technology, banking, and in the business world in general.
Given that Hong Kong was a British colony, many people here speak English fluently. Having people with a good command of the language is important for the city's economy, especially in the tourism and business sectors. This ensures Hong Kong remains an international finance centre.
However, as China's economy develops, Putonghua's influence is growing and the number of people learning it as a second language throughout the world is rapidly expanding. People recognise the advantage it can give them as China's influence on the global economy grows and will continue to do so in the future.
It is important for Hong Kong citizens to learn the language, because it can help to build bridges.
There have been confrontations between some mainland visitors and Hongkongers and they have been getting worse.
With better communication between the two groups, tensions can be defused and we can have a more harmonious society.
I would not put one language above the other in terms of its importance to Hong Kong. English and Putonghua offer different benefits and they should both be promoted in the city.
Nadia Lam, Yau Yat Chuen
Promote language in low-key way
At the beginning of the year, an article on the Education Bureau's website claiming that Cantonese was not an official language was removed.
People took offence because it is our mother tongue and is used by many teachers in the classroom.
I am not against Putonghua and think the government should promote it so that the Putonghua-speaking skills of Hongkongers improve.
There is some resistance from teenagers, because of the various scandals on the mainland and the tensions between Hong Kong citizens and mainland visitors.
The article was not helpful. But if the government, in a low-key way, encouraged young people to learn Putonghua as a second or third language, then more of them would do so.
Jenny Chan, Kowloon City