Beijing is meant to interfere
The recent 'campaign' for the '(s)election' of the chief executive witnessed a lot of interference by Beijing. Virtually everyone who commented on this saw it as being destructive of the principle of 'one country, two systems', assuming that it is somehow a bulwark against intrusion on Hong Kong's 'core values'.
This view is mistaken.
One country, two systems is a formula to diminish autonomy, not augment it.
Under the formula, Beijing is supposed to interfere. One country, two systems facilitates that interference. The surprise would be the absence of interference.
Deng Xiaoping called the Basic Law his 'creative masterpiece' and said that one country, two systems was attributed to the Marxist-Leninist dogma of 'dialectical and historical materialism'.
Within the dialectic, the political liaison between Hong Kong and Beijing is dynamic but not equal. The centre manipulates the 'actual situation' of the periphery in perpetual tension.
Some writers refer to this as 'connecting doors'. Some of these are back doors. Few of them are as visible as electoral meddling. They are nevertheless real.
This model of one country, two systems predicts that the centre's influence will intensify as time goes on until ultimately Hong Kong will assimilate to the image of Beijing.
The Basic Law is a socialist document. Hong Kong's supposed 'high degree of autonomy', as well as promises of universal suffrage by 'gradual and orderly progress', democratisation, judicial independence, freedom of expression, academic freedom and a host of other concerns, must always be understood in this context.
As history speeds towards the summer of 2047, and as rights and freedoms, like Hong Kong's autonomy, continue to wither away, the inevitability of this predictive model will be determined.
Robert Morris, Tseung Kwan O
Stand firm, uphold one law for all
I am much dismayed at the New Territories leaders' recent threatening responses to Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's pragmatic approach to tackling widespread unauthorised structures on village houses.
It is disheartening to hear that 27 rural committees have set up a 'home protection action group' asking villagers not to register their unauthorised structures ('Kuk seeks more concessions on illegal homes', April 12).
The head of the Heung Yee Kuk has even warned the government not to draw 'first blood'.
Submitting to the unlawful and unreasonable demand for amnesty on unauthorised structures will seriously undermine the rule of law, which is one of the core values of Hong Kong treasured by most of us.
It is of paramount importance that the government have the courage and determination to uphold that there is only one law for all of Hong Kong.
The government should proceed with the crackdown on houses that exceed the three-storey limit, instead of leaving it to the next administration to deal with.
C.W. Tso, Tai Po
Housing issues need attention
I think Secretary of Development Carrie Lam is failing in her job of making policy by not addressing Hong Kong's housing issues rather than just trying to reinforce an outdated building ordinance.
She should instead work with the government as a whole to review the overall land and housing issues.
The crackdown on the so-called illegal structures in the New Territories will displace many residents, add pressure on housing and actually help the developers as demand increases.
Lam has ignored the safety of cage homes and old buildings such as those in Ma Tau Wai because she has no solution.
But they pose a much bigger threat to public safety and health than village houses in the New Territories. That's a wrong set of priorities.
She and the government have allowed gross floor area to be used to mislead homebuyers for years, resulting in much greater fortunes for some developers - not those who built illegal structures in the New Territories.
New rules that cap the size of amenities and green features to no more than 10 per cent of a development's gross floor area are still unfair, given that rural village houses get no such concessions. The new rules also do not address previous breaches.
Jimmy Wong, Tuen Mun
Force planes to switch to cleaner fuel
Hong Kong's air quality is the third-worst among Asian cities, an international study says.
In the euro zone, any plane flying into a city is required to switch to cleaner fuel before it enters the city's airspace. When is Hong Kong going to follow suit?
What is the government's rationale for not doing this when, technically, all planes are capable of carrying two types of fuel, cleaner and not-so-clean fuel?
Sam Chow Tung-shan, Admiralty
Birthing hospitals are a solution
Given Hong Kong's entrepreneurial spirit, low birth rate and the high quality of its medical services, I have a question: why doesn't the government encourage the opening of birthing hospitals?
This would seem to be the ideal solution.
The qualifications for a visa could be structured to only allow in those capable of paying for this service, ensuring that the birthing hospitals made a profit.
The increased capacity would ensure that local mothers are not inconvenienced, the potential future citizens born here would probably be upward bound and good citizens, and the economy would benefit generally, as the mothers would no doubt go shopping before and/or after giving birth.
Anthony Ferguson, Sahuarita, Arizona
Lip service paid to low birth rate
I believe the report, 'HK's one child problem' (April 10), should sound an alarm for the future Hong Kong government.
Despite the incumbent chief executive's repeated call for more local babies, our birth rate continues to be stunningly low. The government pays mere lip service to the issue, without implementing certain measures.
I think most people would think twice about giving birth when they find out that maternity beds are so scarce.
Even if they are lucky enough to secure obstetric services, they then have the understandable worries about educating their child.
Child rearing is expensive, and not everybody can afford it.
Alas, the government has neither considered improving the quality of schools by introducing smaller classes nor encouraged a creative learning method to cater to changing needs.
James Au Kin-pong, Lai Chi Kok
Only abusers of rights have to be afraid
In his letter ('Concerned about threat to core values', April 11), Michael Ko says we should take the pledge by chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying to protect Hong Kong's core values with a pinch of salt. Your correspondent's sage words also have to be taken with a pinch of salt.
I have no doubt C. Y. Leung will only be clamping down on those who have been abusing the rights that exist in Hong Kong - violating law and order and falsely accusing the government of failing in this and that - while claiming to be exercising these rights. These same people would deny the government the right to respond and air its grievances.
Surely such freedom should apply to all.
Those who have not been abusing these rights need not be afraid.
Peter Lok, Chai Wan
Homeowners highly taxed
Suki Tong Shuk-wun suggests that people on higher incomes should pay higher tax rates.
I am one of those higher earners, and I already pay exorbitant taxes - not as an income tax but an indirect tax in the ridiculous prices to rent or buy our homes - one of the main indirect income sources of our government.
Everyone not living in government housing or a home bought a long time ago, when it was still 'affordable', is paying one of the highest taxes in the world.
Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay