Bernard Lee's letter ("Hong Kong should focus on addressing social issues rather than democracy", July 20) has reminded me of the policy address delivered by then governor Chris Patten in the Legislative Council in 1996. He said, "My anxiety is this: not that this community's autonomy would be usurped by Peking, but that it could be given away bit by bit by some people in Hong Kong."
Mr Lee's contention that "Hong Kong will always be part of China and will have as much power as China allows" may be in line with the white paper recently issued by the State Council but is blatantly inconsistent with the Basic Law.
The mini constitution has already clearly delineated the scope of the central government's power with respect to our city.
Under the Basic Law, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy and executive, legislative and independent judicial power whereas the central government is responsible for the foreign affairs and defence of the special administrative region.
Forming our own government and electing the leader of the city comes within the scope of Hong Kong's own autonomy. I fail to see any legitimate ground for Beijing interfering with our internal affairs.
Your correspondent said he supports universal suffrage, "but this cannot be more important than the pressing livelihood issues affecting Hong Kong". Indeed, the very reason for full democracy is to have an accountable government which listens to citizens, acts in the best interests of Hong Kong, and enhances living standards.
Over the past 17 years since the handover, houses have become unaffordable, air pollution has got worse and education standards have fallen. The incompetence of the three chief executives handpicked by Beijing is conclusive evidence of the central government's failure to pick a leader who can effectively make our city a better place.
The root of our social problems is the undemocratic political system under which the chief executive only safeguards Beijing's interests instead of Hong Kong's.
No doubt, democracy is not a panacea for all problems.
However, in a genuinely democratic society - where every citizen has the equal right to elect and be elected - the elected leader has to honour his election pledges under the pressure of re-election, and is liable to impeachment if he does something wrong or fails to do anything right.
For our next generation, we should be united to fight for full democracy.
Michael Ko, Tsing Yi