Letters to the Editor, November 9, 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 5:02pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 5:02pm

NPC ruling has disturbing implications

The National People’s ­Congress has decided national unity ­demands that actual or potential supporters of localism be ­excluded from standing for or being admitted to the legislature. This creates another layer of problems.

How can you tell? How can you tell the sincerity of a declaration or an oath? How can you distinguish thought, expression and debate in pursuit of reform from illegal forms of action?

The problem with ­attempting to control people for their thoughts and beliefs, as ­opposed to actions and objective characteristics, is that it ­cannot work, except unjustly.

Superficially, this problem is pushed onto the oath administrator, a mid-level Legislative Council staffer.

He must judge the “sincere belief” of the oath-taker. The ­interpretation says nothing but implies much about whether we can debate changes to the Basic Law. But the interpretation ­insists on “upholding the Basic Law”.

It also declares that after the oath, conduct in breach of it shall be penalised. The Chinese Communist Party asserts discussion is tantamount to action, so talk becomes forbidden. This is a stand reinforced by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s statement on Article 23. But if we ban one reform from debate, why not another? It is a heavy burden to place on an administrator.

Giving the authorities in Hong Kong or China power to deny certain people (“the opposition”), ex ante, access to the political process is the essence of dictatorship. And the interpretation affects other laws. Allegiance – sincere allegiance – is now one of the “preconditions for standing for election”. And the oath is not just to Hong Kong, but to the “People’s ­Republic of China”. This is a massive constitutional change.

In a dictatorship, the temptation to stretch definitions and inaccurately characterise ­people’s views, in order to ­exclude them politically, is too great for the power hungry who dominate political society to ­resist.

For them all opponents represent an enemy to be crushed, not a difference of perspective to be respected for the good of society as a whole.

Apparently, the NPC cast its decision in narrow and precisely defined terms. In reality it has opened the door to control of all unwelcome political thought.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels

Lawmakers never hid their intransigence

What happened to Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching was perfectly predictable; a self-fulfilling ­prophecy if there ever was one.

People who voted for them and now say they don’t agree with their actions but still cry foul about Beijing’s “gross ­interference” are insincere.

The two never tried to hide their stubborn intransigence. Voting for them meant inviting trouble. And one can hardly blame Beijing for not wanting to leave it to the Hong Kong judiciary, after the lenient sentences over the storming of government headquarters ahead of the Occupy protest for three activists – Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kan.

The argument offered by the magistrate was that the “trio were young pro-democracy student leaders who had expressed their demands based on their genuinely held political ideals or concern for society and a deterrent sentence would not be fair” (“Prosecuters seek review of ­student leaders’ case”, August 30). This must have set alarm bells ringing.

Josephine Bersee, Mid-Levels

Potential problems with taking of oaths

I think Beijing may face a dilemma when it comes to disqualifying any lawmakers and government officials (“Hong Kong localist lawmakers remain defiant over Beijing Basic Law ruling,” November 8).

According to the decision made by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, lawmakers must take the oath “sincerely and solemnly”, and must “accurately, completely and solemnly” read it out as ­prescribed. Failure to do so and ­failure to show sincerity will lead to disqualification. This decision may lead to disqualification of some lawmakers, including Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching.

If they are disqualified, this will lead to another problem. ­According to Article 104 of the Basic Law, the chief executive must read the oath completely. However, some press reports say the present chief executive did not read the oath completely in 2012. Should he be ­disqualified?

Failure to read the oath may not only result from a particular political idea, but also from ­personal mistakes.

I think the central government should not only focus on independence, but also whether the law, as the Standing Committee ­interpreted it, can be ­implemented.

Felix Mak Hoi-kuoh, Kowloon Bay

Independence is not practical option for city

I refer to the report, “Hong Kong will move on controversial ­security law, CY Leung says, as ­Beijing bars independence ­activists from Legco” ­(November 7).

Although Hong Kong is a prosperous international city, many citizens are not satisfied, troubled by problems like air pollution and overcrowding.

I loved this city, because it was stable and peaceful, but I have changed my mind. We are experiencing a turbulent period, with social harmony gradually disappearing. We are now ­seeing lots of marches and even confrontations between police and protesters.

I was shocked and saddened by what happened on Sunday night outside the central government’s liaison office in ­Western.

I do not appreciate what Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang did in the Legislative Council or the demonstrations supporting

independence for Hong Kong.

This is a dream that can never be realised and I do not think it is the best way to turn Hong Kong into a really ­democratic city.

Hong Kong is part of China. The central government would not allow anything to happen in the city that could affect national security. And I think that would apply to the government of any nation, not just one that is ­communist.

We are very fortunate in that we already have “one country, two systems”.

As a concept, independence is impractical. Hong Kong relies on the mainland for its daily needs. We simply could not do without the meat, vegetables and water supplied to us every day.

The only other option would be to import them from abroad, which would be prohibitively expensive.

Various groups have wildly divergent views on many ­topics, including housing.

However, despite these ­differences, I hope Hong Kong will have a more peaceful future, with greater unity.

Christine Lee Tsz-ching, Lai Chi Kok

Ensure teens know truth about alcohol

Teenage drinking is a matter of great concern in Hong Kong. Statistics reveal that the number of teens who consume alcohol, habitually or occasionally, is on the rise.

Other than media influences and poor parenting, peer pressure is another contributing ­factor. It is essential that young people understand the adverse effects alcohol has on their ­academic, physical and mental well-being.

In my school, information is freely available to remind ­students of the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and of how alcohol may affect their ­later lives. All schools should provide this kind of information. We should not assume young adults know what is good or not good for them.

Parents should warn their children about the effects of drinking.

Anina Law, Tai Po