Letters to the Editor, August 14, 2014
Leniency not right if protests turn violent
In his article (“On the front line”, August 11) former director of public prosecutions Grenville Cross states that it would not be desirable for the Department of Justice to prosecute thousands of Occupy Central activists.
At this stage it is impossible to say how a large-scale protest will turn out.
It could be entirely peaceful. In which case, I agree with Mr Cross that no good would be served by prosecuting large numbers of protesters for relatively trivial public order offences. But if events get out of hand, it would be foolish for anyone committing a more serious offence to believe that there is safety in numbers.
The experience in England after the riots in August 2011 is instructive.
Those riots followed a peaceful protest march to a police station against a fatal shooting by police officers.
According to statistics given by the Ministry of Justice, 5,175 disorder-related offences were recorded, mostly burglary and criminal damage.
By August 2012, more than 3,000 people had been prosecuted.
Of those, 1,292 had been given custodial sentences, averaging 16.8 months each.
Occupy Central says that its protest will not be violent. I hope that it is right.
Ian Wingfield, The Peak
Rule of law must always be respected
Grenville Cross SC has said that prosecuting all Occupy Central protesters, instead of focusing on the “ringleaders”, might be against the public interest (“Don’t charge Occupy ‘small fry’”, August 2). I am afraid I have to disagree with him.
Prosecuting the ringleaders and releasing everyone else might lead to other Hong Kong citizens underestimating the legal consequences of civil disobedience. This could encourage more people to get involved in efforts to paralyse the central business district, which could have a catastrophic effect on the city’s economy. It would damage Hong Kong’s reputation as an international financial centre and put some tourists off coming here.
Therefore, I would support public prosecutors working to strict guidelines to curb the irrational act of challenging Hong Kong’s legal system.
We must ensure Hong Kong retains an ideal business environment for overseas enterprises.
I think all those who break the law should face the consequences. While the mission of Occupy Central is to achieve genuine universal suffrage, its actions could damage the livelihoods of the majority of Hong Kong residents.
This is why so many citizens and sectors of society, such as the five leading business chambers (“Business chambers liken Occupy to Thai protests”, July 29) have voiced their opposition to the Occupy Central movement.
It is only through punishing protesters who cause social disorder and doing so according to the laws of Hong Kong that the interests of the majority and our core values can be adequately protected.
Those opposed to widespread prosecutions will argue the activists are fighting for social justice through non-violent civil disobedience.
However, although the Basic Law ensures Hong Kong residents the right of assembly, demonstration and freedom of speech, it should be made clear that civil disobedience which is illegitimate, such as harming private property and violating the freedom of citizens, cannot be tolerated.
Of course, only cases where prosecutors are sure they have sufficient evidence should go to court.
Thomas Tsoi, Ma On Shan
Campaign struck a chord with citizens
Robert Chow Yung, the leader of the Alliance for Peace and Democracy, believes that the Occupy Central campaign could damage the city’s economy and its reputation.
He has set a good example through his petition (against Occupy Central) for citizens to follow. Given the number of signatures he has got, clearly there are still many Hongkongers who support the government. And the city has not been abandoned by the central government even though it wants to establish Shanghai as an international financial centre by 2020.
Although Mr Chow’s patriotic campaign has been successful, Law Society president Ambrose Lam San-keung has not been so lucky, even though I believe he was trying to do the same as Mr Chow.
I can sympathise with Mr Lam for his rather hasty defence of Beijing’s white paper on Hong Kong and the point it made about judges in the SAR being patriotic.
We all need to continue to think critically about the differing views being aired by some politicians and seek to understand their real motivation.
Kimbal Ip Fung-ho, Tai Tam
Police ignore illegal racing on highway
At 8am on the morning of July 27, like every Sunday for the past 10 months or so, about 30 luxury sports cars were racing on the North Lantau Highway through Tung Chung towards the airport.
The routine is always the same. The drivers slow down, then accelerate quickly to hear the roar of their engines which evidently gives them immense pleasure. The fact that this noise is a nuisance to Tung Chung residents and that exceeding the speed limit is illegal is of no concern to these “boys with toys”. About two hours later, the spectacle repeats itself, only this time the group races back from the airport towards Hong Kong.
My friends and I, neighbours and anyone with a view over the highway are asking why the only people not aware of this recurring “mini Formula One” event are police officers on Lantau. Are wealthy car owners exempt from traffic laws, or is it simply too early on a Sunday morning for them to be bothered to check the traffic on a major highway?
Ticketing speeding drivers may not be the most glamorous job in the Hong Kong Police Force, but upholding the law must be applied equally to those who own luxury cars or rusty bicycles. The force’s website says that “the primary aim of traffic enforcement is to enhance road safety through the prevention of traffic accidents”.
Why, then, do they not enforce traffic laws more rigorously? Speeding is dangerous and kills or maims people. Do we need to have a serious accident before any action is taken?
Another common purpose of the police is to “maintain public confidence in the force”. When it comes to traffic enforcement, though, the only confidence that many Tung Chung residents have these days is that the Lantau police force is soundly asleep at the wheel.
Tom Henderson, Tung Chung
Open space replaced by unsightly arch
I echo what Juanita Pitt said in her letter (“Scenic walk spoiled by ‘jail’ railings”, August 2) about the desecration of Hong Kong’s natural assets and beauty.
My case in point is the newly installed enclosure near the roundabout opposite Pacific Palisades on Tin Hau Temple Road.
Tin Hau Temple Road is one of the more scenic routes on Hong Kong Island, with unobtrusive railing all along one side to provide safety.
Now, for this rest and recreation space, instead of the open space before, there is a chunky and unsightly arch that has a storeroom built into the support of the arch which blocks the view.
If a storage space is needed, it can be built separately to one side or towards the back, not into the arch at the entrance.
Instead of using the same railing used along the rest of Tin Hau Temple Road, which allows the greenery of the hillside to show through, the fence that has been installed to enclose the space is almost solid in brown and grey, blocking the view of the space, and the greenery beyond, rendering it totally uninviting and unattractive, destroying what was once a part of nature, something that is precious in our city.
I wish the government knew that sometimes, less is more, not to mention saving the public’s money.
Belinda Kwan, North Point
It should not be easy for foreign medics
I refer to the report (“Pressure for more foreign doctors”, August 7).
I do not believe there should be any further relaxation of licensing requirements to allow in more overseas doctors to work in our public hospitals.
If there was easing of these licensing rules I am concerned that it could prove difficult to prove the quality of all overseas doctors admitted to work in our public hospitals.
At present they have to pass the licentiate exam to practise here and I believe the standard it sets is reasonable. Standards for such a job should be high, as even a minor mistake can have tragic consequences.
The crux of the shortage is not a lack of doctors but mismanagement by the Hospital Authority. The authority ought to focus on stopping the staff exodus to private practice.
It should review working hours of medics and see how the promotion system can be improved. It should also gradually increase collaboration between public hospitals and the private sector. It is important to increase the number of places at our medical colleges. Overseas doctors should only be welcomed if they do not adversely affect the quality of health care provided in our public hospitals.
Celia Ho, Sha Tin