Letters to the Editor, November 14, 2016

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 November, 2016, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 14 November, 2016, 5:00pm

NPC Standing Committee was out of order

I refer to the report, “Lawyers in silent protest over Beijing oaths ruling” (November 9).

We pride ourselves on our legal system, which ensures the separation of powers. However, this has been undermined by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.

After the oath-taking incident, the Standing Committee ruled on its interpretation of ­Article 104 of the Basic Law. I would not agree with a ruling that the lawmakers were not being serious when they gave the oath, that they should not be given a second chance and that they should be disqualified.

Although I disagree with the behaviour of Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching when they were ­taking the oath and insulting their Chinese identity, I do not think the intervention of the NPC was the right solution.

I agree with former lawmaker and barrister Martin Lee Chu-ming, who said the involvement of the NPC Standing Committee and its ruling were “like a tank crashing into Hong Kong’s legal system”. It raises doubts about whether it will be possible for the judiciary to ­remain independent and whether the Basic Law can be protected.

In fact, the rule of law is the most important core value for Hong Kong. It is what enables this city to remain prosperous and competitive with its other rivals in the region.

There is no doubt that we should respect our country, but the rule of law and separation of powers should be respected, if Hong Kong is to remain competitive in the future.

Avis Lee, Ma On Shan

Against the PLA’s military exercise

The recent widely viewed military drill by the PLA in firing zones in the New Territories is quite disturbing.

For one thing, it shows that many politicians still worship the belief that “political power grows from the barrel of a gun”.

Secondly, it demonstrates that our SAR leadership is kowtowing to military bosses, because the military most probably asked for consent for such a highly controversial ­exercise when Hong Kong is ­experiencing civic tension.

If they went ahead without any consultation or advice from our local security officers, it is even worse, for it means the “one country, two systems” ­concept is now a joke.

Of course, any student of history, especially Chinese ­history, knows that military men are governed not by reason, ­logic or the common good, but by inflicting harm.

It is the very reason for their existence and why politicians rely on them and are so willing to subsidise them.

But the world has to move on – from subsidising state-sponsored ­aggression and violence, to ­mutual respect, shared ideas and cooperation.

Must we human beings live in fear the rest of our lives?

I believe the vast majority of decent-minded people hate ­aggression, intimidation and militarism. Women, especially, should be opposed to militarism since it delights in destruction and death, rather than life.

Unfortunately, some of Hong Kong’s most prominent political women are too ­supportive of mainland ideo­logies to condemn local military ­advances.

Have any Hong Kong women called for the release of unused garrison areas for ­needed housing, parks, schools, hospitals and other civic ­amenities?

The land of the New ­Territories should be made available to the needy populace of Hong Kong, not ravaged by stupid and unnecessary gunfire.

Why can’t the authorities wait until 2047, as the Basic Law envisaged, before making Hong Kong a garrison state and ­subjecting Hong Kong people to PLA showmanship?

Jason Kuylein, Stanley

Women need greater representation

Hillary Clinton in her concession speech said that US President-elect Donald Trump must be given the chance to lead.

I believe that many women across the globe would feel ­upset that Clinton, an enthusiastic advocate for ­women’s rights, lost in the US presidential election, while Trump, who repeatedly made offensive and disrespectful comments about women, won instead.

It is disheartening that in the long history of the United States, there has never been a woman president.

Women are under-represented in politics due to gender stereotypes in society. Female politicians are believed by the public to be less competent and possess fewer leadership skills.

Women in power are often labelled as bossy, while their male counterparts are seen as strong and decisive.

A line from the film The Devil Wears Prada illustrates this point, “OK, she’s tough, but if Miranda were a man ... no one would notice anything about her, except how great she is at her job.”

It is high time that we addressed the problem of ­gender imbalance in politics.

Here in Hong Kong, women only account for 17.1 per cent of the total membership of the ­Legislative Council.

Female representation is vital as research indicates that women lawmakers pay more attention to education, welfare and health issues.

Also, as women make up half of the population, it is of the utmost importance that the voices of women are heard and that ­policies ­which are favourable to women are introduced by the government.

Although Hillary Clinton has lost in the election, she nevertheless shows us that women are just as (if not more) capable as men. She will continue to be a role model and inspiration for girls worldwide.

Jenny Fok, Fanling

Parents must stay vigilant over phone use

Over 1.8 billion people, including children, own smartphones which they use every day.

This widespread use of technology trickles down to the youngest members of our ­society.

Unfortunately, in some cases, it is adversely affecting the ­sleeping habits of children.

Sleep is an often undervalued but important part of a child’s development. The light from mobile devices can make it tough for a child to get a good night’s sleep.

The latest research into smartphones and sleep, ­which includes reviews of 20 studies from Australasia, Europe and North America, discovered the use of smartphones and ­other portable devices with screens affects the quantity and quality of sleep in children, ­particularly if they use these ­devices shortly before going to sleep.

I have found this to be the case from personal experience of using smartphones.

Parents need to be aware of this and control the time their children can spend on smartphones, personal computers and iPads, so their children can get a good night’s sleep.

Niki Cheung, Yau Yat Chuen

Government should try to save species

I am concerned about the threat posed to some rare species in Hong Kong.

The city has a rich diversity of species. However, rare species such as the paradise fish, the short-legged toad and the Hong Kong newt are threatened by shrinking habitats. As a Hongkonger, I firmly believe that we must ­protect our ecology.

This large variety of species is a great asset to Hong Kong. The government should be doing more to protect and preserve the environment. It has undertaken a lot of development projects, which are necessary to ensure the city remains prosperous. While infrastructure projects do matter, the government must also ensure ecological systems are protected.

If more species become ­extinct, this will damage the food chain and so the government has to act.

Chan Yin-pui, Kowloon Tong