Letters to the Editor, May 30, 2015
Unhealthy obsession with democracy
I refer to Allan Woodley's letter ("Public nomination is still possible in chief executive election", May 18).
Your correspondent believes some Hong Kong pan-democrats would be acceptable to the central government as chief executive candidates elected by universal suffrage.
However, it has to be pointed out that democracy is only one way of governing a country and it has its advantages and disadvantages.
In an advanced society like Hong Kong, people seem to only want democracy even if what is offered appears seriously flawed.
The argument seems to be that we must embrace one system in its entirety or reject it. Surely, we can look at the benefits of other systems, take the best of them and work towards a kind of blend, ensuring we have the kind of government that takes into account the needs of all stakeholders.
For example, we could still allow the central government to choose the candidates who could go forward to the election for chief executive and then we could vote, choosing between them. And we could also have the right to vote on senior officials who performed badly.
Rather than just focusing on the election of the chief executive, we should be trying to find a system which ensures that we can monitor the efficiency of all our government officials.
Vanessa Chan Yui-hei,Sham Shui Po
Compromise has to be a two-way street
If we look back to the famous negotiations of the past , such as the reconciliation between Israel and Egypt in the Camp David talks, we see that success occurred because of the willingness of both sides to compromise.
If we look objectively at the situation in Hong Kong, we see that, on August 31, Beijing announced its decision [on the election of the chief executive in 2017] and, at that moment, the die was cast.
Since that moment, it has been very clear that there was no room for any compromise from the Communist Party, despite some moderate government supporters suggesting potentially palatable concessions.
The net result is that, with a few weeks to go, "consensus" only means one thing - "caving in" by the pan-democratic camp.
Why does this newspaper insist on calling this "consensus?"
Tim Woodward, Kwai Chung
Government despises all opposition
In his letter ("Opponents of harmony halt city's progress", May 22), Peter Wei says that the "political impasse will remain until they [radical parties] stop acting like nagging wives".
I do not think he is right to attribute a "nagging" tendency to radical parties alone.
We, the people, are continually nagged by government to "be realistic" on electoral reform, and "accept what is on offer", "don't argue with China", "don't make trouble", and so on.
That the government refuses even the smallest change now, or any promise of change in the future, even to the functional constituencies - riddled by conflict of interest and hated by the people - makes this nagging all the more irritating, and counterproductive.
The government, too, can feel unloved. I agree with Kristiaan Helsen ("Vote out rude legislators for sake of civility", May 22) that someone should control Leung Kwok-hung's antics at the Legislative Council. I don't think voters will, as they are so regularly insulted by the government, they will re-elect him.
Despite that, throwing things in the chamber should get him suspended. In the UK's Parliament, or the US Senate, physical aggression is unacceptable, is despised by MPs and senators, and if offenders do not apologise and persist, they will be banned by the speaker.
Overall, our politics would operate with more harmony if government didn't set a bad leadership example, nagging, lecturing, ignoring and generally showing it despises all opposition, while ignoring disruption in Legco.
I maintain friendships with political opponents from my student days, founded on mutual respect, despite deep but genuine differences of opinion. All our leaders, pro- and anti-democracy, should embrace mutual respect as a fundamental value, following the example of Ronny Tong Ka-wah and Jasper Tsang Yok-sing.
Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels
Tap the rich potential of green tourism
I refer to Tse Yan-ue's letter ("Ecotourism has so much potential", May 27) and am glad to hear that some of us actually care about the city's nature reserves.
So often, you hear from tourists that they came here for the food and shopping, and go to Macau just for the gambling.
It is only recently that some people have started talking about ecotourism.
Because most of us live in urban areas, we tend to forget the other side of Hong Kong, that is, its natural beauty.
It deserves to be known for more than good food and shopping bargains.
Within an hour from the city centre, you can be in rural areas and they have a great deal of ecotourism potential.
With a sharp drop in the number of people visiting from the mainland, it is clear that significant changes are required in the tourism sector. Instead of shopping tours, the government should be shifting the focus to high-quality tourism and this should be seen as a long-term strategy.
One day people might talk of Hong Kong as an ecotourism rather than a shopping paradise. However, ecotourism is still at an early, immature stage. For example, there are not enough suitably qualified guides. And great care would have to be taken in earmarking areas for its development.
Some habitats are very sensitive and could be damaged beyond repair if there was an influx of visitors.
As always, the government would have to ensure it got the balance right between development and environmental protection.
Sheena Chung, Tsuen Wan
Colleges' attitude very un-American
I refer to the report, "Top Asian students not Ivy material" (May 26).
It says most Ivy League universities claim their "admissions process is multifaceted taking into account… whether the applicant is the child or grandchild of a previous graduate".
It is surprising to me schools are admitting this. It about sums up what is wrong with these elitist attitudes: judging someone on their fortunate family history as apposed to the individual's achievements as a criterion for inclusion.
It is so very sad and un-American.
Sean Murphy, Mid-Levels
Think about studying overseas
Many of the students who sat the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) exam and hoped for a place at a local university will not get it.
If that happens, they should think about the possibility of studying on the mainland or in Taiwan.
This is an option I have considered, because if you get a good degree from an internationally recognised university in Taiwan, you can further your studies in the US.
I started to think seriously about my future once I was in Form Five.
I realised that to get a place on a physical therapy programme at a university in Hong Kong I would need to get very high scores in the HKDSE and felt this was unlikely.
I almost gave up my dream until I read about universities in Taiwan. I am now confident I will get into the National Taiwan University.
I would urge other students to take the same approach if the exam results are not what they had hoped. They should consider the possibility of going to a college overseas where they can find the course they want to study.
Liu Yi, Sheung Shui
Plane was in controlled descent
Your headline, "Singapore Airlines plane plunges 4km after both engines fail" (May 28), was sensationalist and misleading.
The plane did not plunge, it was in a "controlled descent" in full control of the pilots, who took the action they were trained to do.
No one was in any danger, as only one engine was inoperative at the time, the other was restarted by the pilots before the controlled descent was initiated.
The reference to a Cathay Pacific flight that made an emergency landing five years ago was irrelevant and unconnected to the story of how these pilots put their training to the test and succeeded. That should have been the story.
R. Newburn, Siu Sai Wan
ICAC must always reach out to public
Recent incidents have cast doubt over Hong Kong's ability to successfully fight graft.
Despite these doubts, this city's has a much better track record against corruption than other societies, such as mainland China, Taiwan and India.
However, more could be done. The Independent Commission Against Corruption must try harder to get its message across to the public about the need for them to report cases of graft.
Rain Tsui, Kowloon Tong