Letters to the editor, January 5, 2016

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 January, 2016, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 January, 2016, 9:21am

Disappearance of booksellers shakes trust

I would like to express my deep concern about the mysterious disappearance of five people connected to a bookstore in Causeway Bay. In the latest case, the majority shareholder of Causeway Bay Books was reportedly missing after collecting books from a warehouse in Chai Wan. Four other associates of the bookstore, including the owner of the publishing house that owns the bookstore, have been missing since October.

The bookstore specialises in publications that are critical of the Chinese Communist Party.

It is suspected that the missing bookseller had been taken to the mainland for “investigation”, although his home return permit has been left in Hong Kong. I am shocked by the allegation that his disappearance might involve illegal custody by mainland police.

The freedom of speech is a core value in Hong Kong society. Regardless of political views, people’s right to speak and write freely is respected and protected in the city.

If the allegation is true, it would be a blatant offence against free speech in Hong Kong. Then, how could we Hongkongers be convinced that the implementation of “one country, two systems” would not “get distorted”, as promised by President Xi Jinping (習近平)?

Ben L. P. Tsang, Yuen Long

Criticism of China is outdated

After reading Professor Jerome A. Cohen’s recent commentary (“China’s courts continue to silence critics of party policies”, December 29), I am concerned that he may be so hung up on an illustrious career of yesterday and unimaginative of the future that he is simply wrong in his analysis of China today. It seems that he has a Huntington-esque world view that is simply past its due date. In the face of continuing economic troubles and a changing intentional order, such a view is a bad principle to rely on when making policy decisions or pushing through reform agendas. Did not George Soros call out the end of interventionist neoconservatism? It only lasted as long as the dreadful Nazi regime.

China’s legal system is improving. If the good professor, whom I had admired, does not wish to see it, I fear he is only risking his own legacy.

If he wants to get on the ground extensively again, like he did in the 1960s, I would love to show him around to see how the brilliant people I am working with are doing a wonderful job to foster the rule of law in a gradual and realistic approach.

Indeed, all over China, President Xi Jinping and his esteemed colleagues in and outside the Communist Party are revitalising a sense of energy and purpose to achieve sustainable prosperity and legal integrity by fighting corruption and building for structural stability.

I wholeheartedly believe that the aim of this administration in Beijing is to build a fair and functional legal system based on the rule of law. In the process, it will help to improve stability of the international community.

To be excited by the Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强) trial even before all the facts were out and then to equate the lenient suspended sentence Pu received and his decision not to appeal as cruel and legalist distort facts. Professor Cohen is committing a regrettable error. Such targeting of the Chinese administration is almost distasteful – as if everything President Xi and China do is somehow faulty.

Of course, a better explanation may also exist: the professor may still be living the nightmare of the failed Chen Guangchen ( 陳光誠 ) saga, so much so that his current judgment on China does not reflect his brilliant former self. I urge the professor to return to his normal state of mind and review his current grandstanding, as I still wish to believe that I and others may still learn from his true wisdom, instead of the present misguided overtures.

Dong Lei, consultant, AB Highwood

Trump feeds on America’s problems

Donald Trump is a political predator feeding on the flotsam that litters Barack Obama’s America (“Presidential hopeful Trump blasts influential congressman for endorsing rival Marco Rubio”, December 28) – anaemic economic growth, porous borders, derision for the loyal opposition and the idea that America is any more exceptional than the next place, the absence of a strategic global vision while enemies attack the homeland and our allies abroad.

Mr Trump stirs this cauldron of dissatisfaction with easy answers to complicated questions, the kinds of explanations which cannot withstand close scrutiny but which rouse nativists nonetheless.

His appeal transcends party label and is stark testimony of the toll President Obama has wreaked on our body politic.

Mr Trump’s verbal depredations debase the public square, reducing serious discussion of issues and problems to a festival of insults, one-line zingers and lectern histrionics.

His continuing ascension is a walk on the wild side of false charges, dangerous assumptions and deceptive solutions. He is, in a word, disreputable.

Paul Bloustein, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Pro-Beijing youth must take a stand

As a pro-Beijing student, I want to affirm the importance of freedom of speech.

Opposing the central government seems to be the mainstream ideology among Hong Kong students, and all my friends are fans of pan-democrats. Many of them took to the streets to protest against the “fake” universal suffrage offered by the government.

There is a clear ethos among teenagers that the pan-democratic camp represents liberation and freedom, while the pro-establishment camp is linked to totalitarianism. I don’t agree with this, but I dare not express my view for fear of being treated as a freak.

I have joined several protests just to conform.

But one slogan at these protests has emboldened me: the call for freedom of speech. If we uphold this core value, there is no reason to hide my opinion. If the so-called liberal groups suppress other people’s ideas in the name of protecting free speech, that is a complete abuse of the principle.

I call on pro-Beijing teenagers to stand up for their views.

Zac Ko Wai-Lok, North Point

Give cyclists access to closed road

The government has made some effort to improve the experience of off-road cycling in Hong Kong. But let’s also spare a thought for the “road bike” population, which arguably is growing as much as that of mountain bikers.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and other government bodies still close perfectly good paved roads to cyclists. Government officials’ logic in this regard is hard to understand.

It would seem that they are happier to have road cyclists riding on public highways (risking life and limb) rather than on the relative safety of closed roads, which Hong Kong has in abundance.

A case in point is a closed road in Tai Lam Country Park in Yuen Long, which is actually a 10km circuit. The road is perfectly paved and well maintained – yet half of it is closed so it cannot be used as a true circuit.

This road, the Tai Shu Ha Road, is absolutely word-class and would become a top draw for road cyclist if the government were to open it up for their use.

Ironically, the government is trying to do more to attract world-class cycling events to the city and recently promoted a road race event in Tsim Sha Tsui, which was a good start but not the world-class event it aimed to be.

Tai Shu Ha Road would make a perfect road racing circuit and would attract many Hong Kong road bike riders, taking them away from the dangerous highways.

I don’t understand why this road is partially closed, other than, I assume, to stop car and motorcycle riders using it as an alternative to Route Twisk. The government should think a bit broader and let cyclists use the road. Where’s the harm?

I am a 29-year resident of Hong Kong and a keen road cyclist. I agree that the government is slowly waking up to the needs of cyclists but it’s not just mountain bikers that it needs to consider.

Dean Cowley, Yuen Long

Misuse of parking space for disabled

I am disabled and I have a disabled person’s parking permit. It is frustrating that, many times, our disabled parking spaces are occupied by a vehicle without a proper permit.

These cars are probably only going to be there for a short while, but it is wrong and it is inconsiderate. Traffic conditions are such that we, the rightful users of those spaces, have to move along and it may be another 20 minutes to get back to that space.

It would be nice if the police took this more seriously. I do not expect them to move the offending vehicle, but even the occasional ticket would be a nice deterrence.

Gordon Loch, Sai Kung