Letters to the Editor, June 23, 2014
Time to get tough with bad behaviour
My wife and I used to laugh at the outrageous antics in the Taiwanese parliament but Thursday's farce in the Legislative Council was no laughing matter.
Nobody in their right mind could possibly vote for any of the pro-establishment legislators who demonstrated their ignorance of Legco procedure and turned the debate into a farce and made Hong Kong a laughing stock in the eyes of the world.
That said, the president showed himself to be an honourable man who was not prepared to compromise the rules of the council to suit inflated political egos.
However, I hope that all the legislators who have turned the council chamber into a circus during the past decade will now cease their juvenile behaviour.
The president must in future ensure that no banners, umbrellas or placards be brought in, that screaming and shouting and abusive language is censured and that the throwers of any objects are arrested for assault.
If legislators believe that they cannot make their point without props, then they have no business being legislators.
The taxpayers who pay legislators' salaries demand that from now on, all legislators fulfil their oath to "serve the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region conscientiously, dutifully, in full accordance with the law, honestly and with integrity".
Guy Shirra, Sai Kung
Singapore election could work in HK
Such was the heat of debate, that if at any time over the last six months a middle-way, compromise chief executive election solution had been put forward, it would instantly have been rejected by both sides.
Now, after the vote, is a time for cool reflection and openness to new ideas. Both sides should look closely at the legislation that underpins the elected presidency in Singapore. It allows for both civic nomination and scrutiny to make sure only suitably qualified candidates get to stand.
Appropriately adapted, it could form the basis for progress in Hong Kong.
Colin Blackwell, Singapore
Independent thinking or actions absent
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the political reform package, the hilarious Legco debacle, where the pro-Beijing troopers failed to register more than eight votes, spoke volumes about their inherently anti-democratic mindset.
Clearly they failed to understand the democratic voting procedures. But, far more importantly, they displayed a complete inability to exercise any independence of thought or action (by actually voting) without the comforting presence of their main man, the much revered rural kingpin Lau Wong-fat.
Moreover, this deference, vaguely reminiscent of emperor worship, is evidently not just restricted to pro-Beijing Legco members - it is perfectly replicated among the faithful, seemingly sheep-like members of the Heung Yee Kuk's voting block where Lau is "highly efficient at organising villagers to split slates in Legco elections, a crucial skill thanks to the quirks of the city's proportional representation system" ("A very long five minutes", June 19).
This suggests that Lau simply directs groups of pliant villagers to vote as he commands in the most undemocratic, feudal fashion. He obviously has no concept of the fundamental democratic principle that each individual should attempt to study the issues and form his/her own personal, independent view.
The rot on the establishment side goes right through the system from top to bottom.
Phil Glenwright, Gravesend, UK
Lawmakers showed herd mentality
I was amused by what happened in Legco during the voting for the chief executive election reforms, where the walkout of pro-establishment lawmakers resulted in the proposal being defeated.
Several apologies have been offered by the members of the pro-establishment camp, with some lawmakers even resorting to crying in public.
However, the fact remains that the majority of the pro-establishment lawmakers failed to think and act logically at that moment. They simply followed what their colleagues were doing without asking any questions. Maybe they thought the walkout was an order from Beijing?
Such irrational action is popularly referred to as "herd mentality", where individuals are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviour. This is quite common among animals.
In contrast, we expect Hong Kong lawmakers to be able to think for themselves and make wise decisions that would benefit the general public that they are supposed to represent (especially if you are one of the chief executive aspirants). Weeping in public is not an excuse for failing to make logical decisions.
Nalaka Jayaratne, Farmington, Connecticut, US
Gender discrimination still a problem
Recently, I've been reading quite a lot of news reports about sex discrimination in the workplace on the mainland.
Despite the fact that some people's attitudes are changing, and this will improve with time, there is still a lot of discrimination on the mainland. Discrimination can have a profound impact on individuals.
Women are the main victims of sex discrimination. Some people still hold to traditional beliefs that women should be housewives and cannot do a good job in the workplace. This can make it difficult for a women who has career ambitions get promotion in a company, even if she shows ability.
If a woman is a victim of sex discrimination, this can lead to a lack of confidence. In the case of a man and a woman doing the same kind of job, they may often find they are treated slightly differently.
For example, the woman may get a lower salary even if she has proved she is capable of doing a good job.
This can leave the female employee questioning her ability and wondering if she is paid less then her male counterpart because she is not as good. This may leave her with feelings of low self-esteem.
Gender stereotyping can put women under a lot of stress.
The most common form of stereotyping is, as I said, the belief that women should take care of the children at home.
Employers should try and ensure there is no sexual discrimination in their office. China should aim to be a society where gender equality exists in all walks of life.
Cheung Nga-ying, Kowloon Tong
Important to make art more accessible
Having events like Art Basel in Hong Kong shows that more Hongkongers are becoming interested in the arts. But some of these exhibitions can be exclusive, with quite expensive entry tickets that are beyond the budgets of some citizens.
The Hong Kong government is determined to establish the city as Asia's cultural hub. Yet, it seems that only the rich can appreciate art.
I am sure ordinary people would like the chance to see artworks, but clearly they have fewer opportunities.
Too often, artworks of a very high quality remain hidden in museums, galleries or exhibitions.
Also, nowadays in Hong Kong, most people are so busy at work and have so much on their minds that they have no time or opportunity to appreciate and understand art.
It would be good if more people could be exposed to art with artworks that belong to everyone.
It is important to have art that is part of our public environment.
It would be great, for example, if there were artworks by local artists that people could see on their way to work.
This would mean that the creations of these artists would integrate with people's lives.
However, as many people have pointed out, Hong Kong artists have few opportunities to show their work to their fellow citizens.
I want eventually to see examples of home-grown art all over Hong Kong.
We will then come to have a better appreciation of our home-grown talent.
Christine Chan, Tseung Kwan O
Teens need wide range of career options
I agree with those who say that the establishment of the Navigation Scheme for Young Persons in Care Services will benefit teenagers and elderly citizens.
It will offer a new career path to those school leavers who want to be caregivers of the elderly.
Nowadays, it can be hard for some young people to find a good job, so this is another career avenue that these teenagers can now explore.
The government needs to pay more attention to providing more career opportunities to teenagers.
It should be looking at different lines of work, not just caregivers, and introducing more initiatives enabling teenagers to enjoy some meaningful and productive career development.
If more of these initiatives were launched, then more teenagers who perhaps have not done too well academically could have greater opportunities to enjoy rewarding careers. At present, they will probably struggle to find a decent job.
Yuen Tsz-wai, Tseung Kwan O