Letters to the Editor, August 7, 2014
Beijing has legitimate say in 2017 election
Michael Ko argued that Beijing should have no say in the chief executive election since it falls entirely within the scope of this city's autonomy ("Beijing should not interfere in Hong Kong's internal affairs", July 30). This view, while shared by a considerable number of people in Hong Kong, is grossly mistaken.
Electing the leader of this city is not merely an internal affair. The Basic Law stipulates that the chief executive shall be appointed by the central government and shall be accountable to that government and the special administrative region.
The central government has legitimate grounds for taking measures to ensure the chief executive will not betray national interests, especially in the realms of foreign affairs and defence. When we talk about "one country, two systems", we should respect the premise of one country no less than that of two systems.
Mr Ko attributed unaffordable housing, pollution and falling education standards to incompetent chief executives handpicked by Beijing. Again, this widely-held belief has oversimplified the issue.
Our social problems have multiple causes. Attempts to solve these problems are often forestalled by political bickering, executive-legislative conflict, and people's unwillingness to give up their own narrow interests.
While the introduction of universal suffrage may enhance the government's legitimacy, these social and political problems will not simply go away. Democratic countries around the world are still facing similar challenges.
Hong Kong people should squarely face the legitimate authority of Beijing and the limitations of democracy. Otherwise, we will just end up wallowing in endless disappointment in pursuit of democracy and social progress.
Anne Lau, Taikoo Shing
Focus should be on universal suffrage
The goal for the civil disobedience protest organised by the Occupy Central movement is to urge the central government to allow genuine universal suffrage in the 2017 chief executive election. This means no unreasonable political screening during the process of selecting candidates.
Occupy Central itself is only the means, not the end.
Instead of just criticising the movement, we should focus on whether its end is right or necessary and whether there is a better way to achieve the goal.
The organisers of the movement have stated many times they do not want to occupy Central and they will stay in existence only as long as it takes to achieve their aims.
There is not much time left before the consultation period on electoral reforms for the 2017 poll comes to an end. We should seize the opportunity and have a real and focused discussion on the topic.
And the topic right now is universal suffrage in Hong Kong, not Occupy Central.
Leung Chu-kai, Ap Lei Chau
Police officers are entitled to speak out
I refer to the report ("Top officer defends police right to free expression", August 3), regarding the comments of Cheung Tak-keung, an assistant commissioner of police.
The police play a crucial role when there are demonstrations in Hong Kong. Some protesters might feel the officers are not acting in the public interest and are undermining freedom; however, they are simply following orders. They have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all citizens when there is a demonstration, especially if it turns violent.
Officers should certainly not be allowed to express their views when on duty. But when they are off duty and out of uniform they have a right to freedom of expression. I would not agree with those who argue that they should not sign the anti-Occupy Central campaign or express support for Occupy Central.
They should have the same rights as fellow Hong Kong permanent residents. When they get off work they should be allowed to join a political movement.
Regarding the Occupy Central movement, claims that it is illegal are without justification. Up till now it has received permission in advance for its demonstrations and has not broken any laws.
Before any decision is made to occupy the central business district, the movement's organisers must think very carefully about the impact such protests will have, from different perspectives, the risks involved and their own responsibilities.
The leaders of Occupy Central will ultimately have to decide if they are to follow a route that remains legal or that breaks the law.
They must think very carefully about their next step, because of the implications it could have for the whole of society.
Whatever happens, all citizens have the right to express their opinions about Occupy Central.
Peter Yeung Kwun-chung, Tseung Kwan O
Install public toilets in all MTR stations
Jay Walder leaves his post as CEO of the MTR Corporation next week. I have a wish list of improvements to the network that I hope he can hand over to his successor.
All MTR stations should have toilets. Most of us were surprised when the system opened in 1979 to find no public toilets in any of the stations. Promises have been made over the past 30 years, but not honoured and it's not good enough.
I am also concerned about noise pollution. I am not talking about the excessive noise in carriages from screeching wheels and media broadcasts - these have attracted hundreds of complaints over the years.
I am referring to the MTR announcements in their trains and stations, including on platforms, which continually bombard passengers' eardrums at an excessively high decibel level. When travelling my wife and I wear earplugs.
Many olders stations are now being refurbished, but why does this work take so long? For example, it takes about two months to replace escalators.
These are single escalators with a difference in level of about four metres. Any self-respecting shopping mall could carry out this type of work in less than a week.
Also, replacing lifts in these older stations can take more than six months.
Once again, these lifts only move up and down four to six metres, and the time taken to complete the work compares very badly with say, the much bigger task in an office block, where the lift has to go between a dozen floors or more, and the job is carried out in about a month. These delays adversely affect passengers who are wheelchair users or people with prams.
I think the MTR Corp needs better contractors.
Gordon Andreassend, Tai Kok Tsui
Actions of Hamas started Gaza conflict
I refer to Debasish Roy Chowdhury's My Take column ("Balance and blame in asymmetric war" July 31).
Chowdhury criticises ABC News for correcting a photo caption showing injured Israeli civilians incorrectly identified as Palestinians as evidence of corporate media interests keeping on the side of Israel owing to pressure from "Jewish moneybags". Besides the despicable use of the term "Jewish moneybags", which in an historical context Jewish people would find grossly offensive, and his claim that it controls the media, what is Chowdury's point here? That the media should not correct its mistakes? I doubt this to be the South China Morning Post's own journalistic policy.
At the end of his column, Chowdhury states: "We all know who started this war, who is being massacred and who can end it", implying fault by Israel.
Hamas, whose covenant (Article 7) calls for the death of all Jews (not just Israeli Jews) and states that armed jihad is the only way to eliminate Israel (Article 13), started this war by an incessant launch of rockets on Israeli civilians all over Israel. Israel waited three days for Hamas to stop before defending itself. Five ceasefires which it accepted were rejected by Hamas.
As for so-called massacres, it is now well established that Hamas intentionally fights from mosques, schools, hospitals and apartment buildings and uses its own population as human shields to create Palestinian civilian casualties and engender world sympathy.
The Israel Defence Forces go to great lengths to warn targets and avoid firing in this largely urban war in order to minimise the loss of Palestinian lives.
Robert L. Meyer, Mid-Levels
Failing badly on public relations front
In PR terms, the scandal of outdated meat from the mainland, was dealt with badly by McDonald's and this has tarnished the fast-food chain's reputation ("McDonald's sorry for lack of clarity, but won't clarify", July 28).
It was wrong for the company to initially deny selling "potentially tainted food" from the plant at the centre of the scandal, Shanghai Husi, and then issue its "first apology for 'confusion'". This hardly seems consistent with observing corporate social responsiblity.
The government must tighten control over sources of food, with tougher regulations and heavy punishment for those firms which break these laws. Firms must always recognise the importance of ensuring the health of consumers is protected. They must act with a conscience and ensure Hong Kong maintains its reputation as a food paradise.
Hauhong Chan, Diamond Hill