Letters to the Editor, September 29, 2015
Japan's new security stance bad for region
Since the end of the second world war, Japan has been a peaceful country.
With the passage of the security laws in the lower house earlier this month, amid massive public protests and serious criticisms, this situation is likely to change. The new laws allow Japan to deploy its Self Defence Force (de-facto military) outside its national boundaries. The implications of these laws can be far reaching.
Firstly, the laws violate Article 9 of the Japanese constitution in which Japan renounced war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. The enactment of the security laws is also criticised by constitutional scholars as unconstitutional. The actual enforcement of the laws that have been passed under such public opposition is also uncertain.
Secondly, the US, number one ally of Japan, can and will drag Japan into a warring situation when it gets involved in international conflicts. During the Iraq war, Japan only had a passive role. If a similar situation occurs in the future in some part of the world, Japan will be dragged into it and take an active role against the wishes of its people and will abandon the hitherto peaceful non-combatant role.
Thirdly, Japan's neighbours, especially China and Korea, are now more suspicious of its apparent hegemonic ambitions. With possible counteractions by China, the region may turn out to be an explosive keg. It sends the wrong message to its neighbours.
One of the conditions under which the new security laws will be enforced is when Japan's survival is under threat. This is a very loose definition since survival can be interpreted in many ways. One can use economic survival as one interpretation to justify the enforcement of the security laws.
It is not surprising to note that the US is supporting this move. From its point of view, it is a welcome move as the security laws permit sharing of the burden of maintaining an assertive role in the Asian region.
However, it is surprising to note the statement made by the UK foreign secretary who is reported to have said that he looked forward to Japan "taking an increasingly active part in peacekeeping operations". It is difficult to understand how a hitherto peaceful country enacting laws to allow its troops to fight overseas could be considered as an act of peaceful operations.
A. W. Jayawardena, Kennedy Town
Parade wrong way to honour the dead
I refer to the letter by Benny Wong ("Backing Xi's call for peace at parade", September 16).
I think China was right to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender at the end of the second world war, but the parade in Beijing on September 3 was a way for the country to show off its power.
This display of military might will have put off other countries.
I agree with your correspondent that President Xi Jinping emphasised the importance of peace. But how we act can be more important than what we say. He talked of peace, but displayed China's military power.
I understand why the leaders of Western nations who were invited to attend the parade chose not to do so, because they clearly felt that the parade promoted war rather than peace.
There are no real winners in wars, because even for the victorious nation there are millions of deaths. However, I do think it is important to remember the sacrifices that people made.
John Hung, Tseung Kwan O
MTR should be fair to all passengers
A schoolgirl was stopped getting on the MTR because she was carrying a guzheng.
I understand the MTR Corporation was entitled to do this, but that does not make it right.
It is wrong that this girl was not allowed to board the train and yet no action is taken to stop parallel goods traders from bringing large amounts of stuff into stations and on to trains. It seems to me that the MTR Corp is adopting double standards and I do not think that is right.
The MTR Corp has a monopoly of train services in Hong Kong. Most people do not have a choice and must travel on the MTR. So it has a responsibility to cater to the needs of different kinds of passengers.
There have been other problems connected with the MTR, such as breakdowns which led to interruptions in service.
It is a large and important company and it should be thinking more carefully about its image and what it should be doing in order to improve that image so that passengers can regain their confidence in the service that is provided.
There is nothing wrong with having regulations relating to the size of luggage allowed on trains. However, the MTR Corp has be realistic, and fair.
It has to come up with ways to deal with the problem which are fair to all passengers.
Helen Lau Hei-lam, Kowloon Tong
Taking a closer look at interpretation
In his article ("Separation anxieties", September 18), Cliff Buddle refers to the 1999 request by the then chief executive to the National People's Standing Committee for an interpretation of the Basic Law "to overturn a court judgment".
In the context of separation of powers it is important to distinguish between the judgment so far as it affected the actual litigants and the court's interpretation of the relevant provisions, which was overturned.
As the last paragraph of the Standing Committee's interpretation makes clear, it "does not affect the right of abode ... which has been acquired under the judgment of the Court of Final Appeal on the relevant cases dated 29 January 1999 by the parties concerned in the relevant legal proceedings". The litigants themselves, and over 3,500 other claimants for whom they were test cases, acquired right of abode under the judgment and were not affected by the Interpretation.
In the article ("Transcending our colonial legacy?" September 22) reference is made to the 2006 Court of First Instance ruling that "it was unconstitutional of the government to issue 'executive orders' to officers in the police and ICAC [Independent Commission Against Corruption], to carry out covert surveillance".
In fact the court did not declare that the "executive orders" were unconstitutional. It held that it was an administrative order and, as such, lawfully made, but that it did not constitute legal procedures for the purposes of Article 30 of the Basic Law.
Ian Wingfield, solicitor general of the Hong Kong SAR (2007-2010)
We should all back initiative by citizens
I refer to your editorial ("The shadow of Occupy still there", September 26) and a "silver lining" that was not mentioned: the beneficial effect on traffic in Central.
As the obnoxious and ubiquitous air pollution and congestion vanished, people began arriving at work with smiles on their faces.
It was indeed a pleasure to walk through Central. Now a well-supported petition has been sent to the secretary for transport and housing calling for a pedestrian and tram-only zone along Des Voeux Road in Central.
A worthy rezoning plan is also at the Town Planning Board aiming to rezone Des Voeux Road between Pedder Street and Morrison Street to a "pedestrian area and environmentally friendly public transport system".
This citizens' initiative deserves full community support and there is no viable reason for the government or Central and Western District Council to oppose such a vibrant proposal.
Our Transport Department officials must get up to speed because inner cities can no longer give priority to private cars over people.
It is frustrating to see our transport authorities stuck in first gear when it comes to revitalising our old established districts.
Frank Lee, Wan Chai
Problem of obesity could hurt society
I am deeply concerned about the problem of obesity in Hong Kong and the apparent lack of public concern.
Obesity can lead to a lot of serious health problems such as diabetes. People who are obese are at greater risk of death than those who have a healthy weight.
In Hong Kong it is a particular problem with children. Many parents place too much emphasis on doing well academically and do not encourage their children to exercise.
Having regular exercise gives youngsters a balance to their lives, which they lack without it.
Today's teenagers will be the backbone of society in the future and we need young adults who are mentally and physically in good condition. If a lot of them grow up obese this will lead to them developing major health problems. The government needs to recognise there is a problem.
It should encourage all schools in the city to arrange to have more PE lessons so students can get more exercise and burn off fat.
Also, the government should ensure that students have regular body checks.
The government should also offer subsidies to low income families so they have healthy, balanced diets.
Manson Ng, Tai Po