Letters to the Editor, July 18, 2014
Rate retailers to protect local businesses
There are many public housing plazas managed by The Link Real Estate Investment Trust (Reit) that are being renovated and re-tendered for tenants.
Very often, newly renovated properties are taken over by large chain stores that can easily afford the higher rents charged.
The original tenants are pushed out and, in most circumstances, they are local businesses run by local people and are part of Hong Kong's traditional retail culture.
The Link's Tai Yuen Commercial Centre, Tai Po, is currently undergoing this renovation process.
One of the many advantages provided by the local tenants is that they sell products that offer good value for money.
They have been there for many years, and their long-term presence has created a comfortable, friendly atmosphere that members of the local community and visiting tourists appreciate.
Although I agree that the free market concept should not be trampled on, Tai Po district councillors want a level playing field to be established, allowing the co-existence of local tenants and chain stores.
There should be a point system put in place, allocating credits and points for shops and restaurants that have already served the community for many years.
In other words, competing parties will be valued and given credit points in three areas: the amount of money they are willing to pay for rent, operational experience in years and social sustainability.
From this, different competing parties will be given a score and whoever wins will get the shop.
This type of system would allow the management to take social responsibility in local areas, benefiting local tenants and creating a place that reflects the substance, lifestyle and atmosphere of the area.
Dr Yau Wing-kwong, member, Tai Po District Council
Jesus was critical of hypocrisy
I am confused by the recent statements concerning biblical and Christian ideology via the Archbishop of the Hong Kong Anglican Church, the Most Reverend Dr Paul Kwong, and that Jesus' entire mode of action was "quiet".
Dr Kwong implies that Jesus strictly followed the letter of the law ("legal" under the Roman and Judaic systems of law).
First of all, Jesus did not exactly suffer quietly when being crucified, but at one point yelled out, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" a well-known and highly debated element in the Christian narrative.
Besides that specific point, if one generally investigates the New Testament itself, along with the extensive scholarship related to the "historical Jesus" (such as the work of John Dominic Crossan), it is clear Jesus did not suffer quietly at every moment of his ministry, but was constantly pointing out the hypocrisy of the elite and aligning himself with the poor and downtrodden.
And what about casting out the money changers from the temple?
It would appear that Jesus' unrelenting pursuit (and vocalisation) of social justice and spiritual healing is what got him into trouble with the Jewish hierarchy and its Roman overlords.
Finally, in the backtracking the Hong Kong Anglican Church has done over Dr Kwong's controversial statements, the Reverend Peter Koon was quoted as saying that the sermon was "not entirely a public event" but for church members ("Archbishop's sermon 'taken out of context'", July 10).
It is my understanding that Christianity is indeed a proselytising religion. Its mission is to go out into the world and spread the word of God.
Thus it would seem obvious, by extension, that when one stands in the pulpit, the audience is not limited to the confines of a congregation and the sermon is addressed to the wider world.
If this is not the case, then it would appear that it is Dr Kwong himself who requires the proviso to suffer quietly.
Andrew Guthrie, Fo Tan
Political views of religious leaders inapt
I am a former legislator and found your editorial ("A fine line for religious leaders", July 14) to be balanced and thoughtful.
There is a fine line between freedom of speech and whether or not a religious leader should or should not be too vocal on politics.
In a civilised society, I believe we should all respect each other's opinions rather than trying to force one's ideology on others who may have a different set of circumstances to deal with at a given stage of development.
The Catholic Church, for example, as a sovereign state, has its own model of governance, with the pope appointing the cardinals and the cardinals [a maximum of 120 in the conclave] in turn electing the pope whenever there is a need for succession.
It is indeed a small-circle election for a constituency of one billion plus Catholics around the world. People in general respect this tradition and do not question its legitimacy.
The retired cardinal, Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, has once again been extremely outspoken of late, so I thought I would remind him of the saying "those who live in glass houses should not throw stones".
Enough is enough. We the silent majority are getting fed up.
Hong Kong is one of the best places in the world in which to live. It is efficient and safe, thanks to our highly trained disciplinary forces.
We also have the rule of law, freedom of speech and movement, and a wonderful career environment for people willing to work hard.
Please do not throw it all away for selfish short-term reasons. The next generation depends on us making the right choices and decisions.
Paul Cheng, Central
Most citizens favour public nomination
I think there should be one person, one vote for the election of chief executive in 2017.
It comes down to an issue of equality. Regardless of individual backgrounds, all citizens have the right to nominate a candidate and then vote in the election.
We also need to eliminate elitism in the Legislative Council, which exists thanks to the functional constituencies. They have too much influence on the government.
I believe there is a majority in favour of public nomination of chief executive candidates.
The government should respect this public consensus if it wants to ensure cohesion in society.
The administration should be listening to our voices on the issue of the 2017 election and not just heeding the views of Beijing.
If it just follows the central government, then we are being reduced to the status of second-class citizens.
Anne Kan Sze-wai, Yau Tong
Hopes for democracy misplaced
A number of people have suggested that the unofficial referendum conducted by Occupy Central with Love and Peace has reduced the chances of compromise between Beijing and the pan-democrats.
I do not agree with this position as I think Beijing has not shown any signs of allowing true democracy.
If it had been serious about allowing Hongkongers a democratic choice, it would have offered an alternative that would allow for democratic elections without any screening by undemocratic elements.
At most, the nomination committee would have to be popularly elected by all Hongkongers.
Any kind of functional groups within the committee or in other parts of the process, privileged small groups, need to be abolished if Hong Kong is to become truly democratic.
The argument that an undemocratic nomination committee is needed to filter out candidates that are not patriotic is also nonsense.
Any elected official in Hong Kong must swear to abide by the Basic Law and the Chinese constitution. There could be legal procedures to deal with a case where a chief executive violated these rules.
The fact is that Beijing does not want democracy in Hong Kong.
If the chief executive were to be elected by true universal suffrage, he or she would have the popular support of the people.
This would mean he would become the most powerful local official in China.
The Chinese Communist Party, however, does not tolerate any competition to its power and so any real democracy is not in its interests. Therefore, any hopes for a compromise that would give Hong Kong a truly legitimate government are misplaced.
Stephan Ortmann, Sha Tin
There is more to life than exam results
There will have been students who were disappointed by their Diploma of Secondary Education exam results on Monday.
I appreciate it is a very important exam, especially for those teenagers seeking to get an undergraduate place at a university, but I wish to emphasise that it is not the be-all and end-all.
There is life beyond the exam and academic results, even though so much importance is attached to such results in Hong Kong.
Young people should realise that they still have a long way to go in their lives.
I would encourage those candidates who performed poorly to try and be upbeat about the future. How things turn out for them will ultimately depend on them taking a positive approach.
Chung Ching-yee, Kwun Tong