Party is stuck in universal suffrage rut
I refer to the report ("Democrats make Emily Lau leader", December 17).
Emily Lau Wai-hing correctly identifies that her Democratic Party needs to rejuvenate. However the problem runs much deeper than just image and its ability to refocus on the younger generation and women.
It has always been a one-dimensional party and the only issue for its members is universal suffrage. They need to get out of their offices more and into the real community, because for the general public universal suffrage is well down the list of priorities. Emily Lau has warned that any delay in the implementation of direct elections for the chief executive by 2017 and all lawmakers in 2020 should not be blamed on Legislative Council members. However, the way that the lawmakers have been (under)performing since Leung Chun-ying took over as chief executive is bound to give the mainland authorities misgivings about advancing our political system to universal suffrage.
The Democrats need to see the bigger picture, widen their current legalistic nit-picking views and present the community with some realistic and constructive vision.
In her "Back Page" article Ms Lau, as the new chairwoman of the Democratic Party, refers to Beijing's responsibilities regarding "one country, two systems" ("The ball is in Beijing's court", December 23). I disagree. Our political parties need to demonstrate that they have the maturity, capacity and ability to get to grips with the full spectrum of matters involved in governing our city.
Universal suffrage is not a magic wand that will make livelihood issues vanish into thin air - especially when our air is so polluted.
Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels
Proposal for elderly a realistic option
For most retirees in Hong Kong without the pensions and retirement or provident funds enjoyed only by civil servants, legislators' calls for retirement benefits across the board should have been welcomed.
Yet considering the current low taxation, especially profits tax for companies and rich businessmen, this won't be possible unless the tax system is fully reviewed by greatly raising rates for the rich and overprivileged. By proposing such a measure the chief executive would run into the sort of trouble US President Barack Obama has faced.
All things considered, it is naive for local politicians to protest against the government's pragmatic policy, which aims to deal with the urgent needs of a particular group of elderly citizens now. Drastic measures would do more harm than good to the city.
A universal pension and retirement scheme is utopian and, even if it was considered, would require long-term planning. In this policy area I urge legislators to devise constructive ideas.
Peter Wei, Kwun Tong
Body scanners at airport are not acceptable
I I was absolutely horrified to read that the Customs and Excise Department is planning to install intrusive millimetre-wave body scanners at the new Kai Tak cruise terminal and Chek Lap Kok Airport without any public consultation ("Intrusive body scanners on way", December 30).
I wholeheartedly agree with the Hong Kong Civil Liberties Union that these body scanners are a "virtual strip search". This is a direct violation of our right to privacy.
If a person is under arrest and there is suspicion that the arrested person may have something hidden under their clothing, can a strip search then be conducted by a police officer?
How can a government department require us to strip ourselves of our clothing (and dignity) in order to prove we are innocent and not carrying any contraband or explosives on our bodies?
How can these scanners stop a suicide bomber from blowing themselves up in a security line before stepping on to the scanner? What will the answer be for that? Scanners before entering the airport?
Current airport security is adequate and the threat of terrorism in Hong Kong ranges from extremely low to non-existent. Furthermore, there is also evidence that these millimetre-wave body scanners can unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication.
I protest the need for these body scanners and demand the Customs and Excise Department explains the need for such intrusive and potentially health-damaging security devices.
Harminder Singh, Lai Chi Kok
PCCW faces possible rude awakening
About three weeks ago my family receive an e-mail from PCCW, rebranded as HKT Premier.
It said that due to our broadband contract expiring, they would offer us the choice of signing on to the fibre optic service we had declined earlier for HK$338 on a 24-month contract or continuing without a contract at HK$358. If we did not take up the 100MBps option, we would be charged the same prices from February for continuing with the 8MBps option.
After many days and as many phone messages to PCCW not acknowledged, I finally received a call from a lady who could give us the reason for why our service was increasing by over 75 per cent. PCCW has invested heavily in putting fibre optic cables into buildings especially those located in "remote" locations like Pok Fu Lam. it astounds us that a building from which the Hong Kong GPO can be reached within eight minutes by taxi is considered "remote" but this is apparently how PCCW sees our 12-floor apartment block.
The lady explained that the cost of installation to these buildings is not averaged over Hong Kong or your district any more but now over the subscribers in the building.
PCCW bean counters may be unaware that subscribers, even in our building, have a choice. If, like us, others in buildings outside higher density areas of Hong Kong decide to drop PCCW and choose alternative internet service provider, they will be left with even fewer paying subscribers to recoup their outlay on putting fibre optics into buildings.
I am certain that these fewer remaining loyal customers are not likely to stay so in the face of increases of more than those already on the table.
Paul McMahon, Pok Fu Lam
Sound case in favour of euthanasia
I was saddened to read about the death of euthanasia advocate and quadriplegic Tang Siu-pun, better known as Ah Bun, last month.
It caused me to reflect on this issue.
Although he had a very difficult life following the accident in 1991 which left him paralysed, he faced his problems with courage and we can all learn from him.
In 2003, he asked then chief executive Tung Chee-hwa for euthanasia to be legalised so he could end his life, but his request was rejected.
I agree with the stand he took and believe that if some patients are going through unbearable suffering they should be entitled to end their lives.
Some argue it would be unethical to make euthanasia legal, but we should respect the rights of these patients.
Raymond Chan Kwun-hin, Tseung Kwan O
Level playing field for poor in education
I have read press reports about the children of many migrants who are living in poverty in Hong Kong.
Children from poor families are entitled to equal opportunities in education. They have a better chance of escaping poverty with good schooling.
Also, with more skills they can make a positive contribution to Hong Kong's economy if they decide to stay in the city and join the workforce.
With regard to the issue of migrants on low incomes, the government must impose tighter controls on the number of migrants allowed to settle in Hong Kong. With a lack of available land we have a housing shortage and it is important not to exacerbate this problem.
David Lam Hiu-fung, Tsuen Wan
Canadians find royal family link costly
The British royal family is for the most part admirable, but some people behave towards them as if they were demigods, forgetting they are just as human as everyone else.
Some British traditions and institutions remain in Commonwealth countries like Canada and make no sense, such as the way the legal profession dresses up in our courtrooms.
And with regard to the royal family, there is no legitimate reason for a British institution being imposed on Canadians, and all the expense that goes with that, when a majority of the country's citizens have no interest in it whatsoever.
Frank G. Sterle, Jr, White Rock, British Columbia, Canada