critics ignore own faults I refer to the article 'Critics push harder for a formal inquiry' (South China Morning Post, May 24) in which legislator Lee Cheuk-yan was reported to be pushing for an independent investigation into how the government handled the Sars outbreak. I would like to remind Mr Lee and many of his Legislative Council colleagues that although one of the Legco's main functions is to question the work of the government, it should be done so with the public's interests as the foremost objective. At this time, the main objective of any investigation should be to learn how to avoid a similar crisis in the future and how the government's crisis management can be improved. However, Mr Lee and others from the so-called democratic camp seem to be more interested in a witch-hunt than in finding ways to ensure a more effective and efficient government. According to the Legco website, 'to debate any issue concerning public interests' is one of the duties of the legislature, and certainly that does not mean only laying blame after something goes wrong. Unfortunately, some legislators would rather spend countless hours debating the wordings of a vote of thanks for Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's policy address or pushing for punishment of Financial Secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung after his car purchase debacle. If there are people to blame then we should look at those Legco members who always put destructive personal persecution before constructive consultation and discussion. It is their duty to identify any flaws in the government system that could hamper an effective response to incidents such as the Sars outbreak. Instead, they spend their time criticising the government during Legco sessions or stage walkouts whenever a vote is not in their favour - thereby refusing to represent those who elected them. As we move closer to a full representative democracy, it is worrying that our legislators continually fail to reflect on their own shortcomings and instead concentrate their efforts on criticising the government on issues pertaining to their democratic ideals. What the public needs are legislators who diligently research, analyse and debate the operative and administrative policies of the government to ensure the well-being of Hong Kong. Hong Kong needs contributors more than we need critics. Maybe there should be another category of members in Legco titled 'Legislative Critics'. Mr Lee and his like-minded colleagues would definitely get my vote for this new post. JOSEPH WONG Lecturer, City University of Hong Kong tourism board fit for the job The Hong Kong Tourism Board, as the government's de facto advertising agency, is the best-equipped public body to manage the $1 billion campaign to restore international confidence in the city. My message to the government is that to attempt to put a post-Sars advertising campaign together under the direction of anyone else in the public sector would fail miserably. Efficiency is all about employing the best team for each job. The tourism board has, over the years, spent billions of dollars on advertising and marketing Hong Kong, and with good results. Remember to make full use of the 'Asia's world city' branding in the campaign. PAUL ZIMMERMAN Mid-Levels civet link to sars is unsound I refer to the identification by University of Hong Kong microbiology professor Yuen Kwok-yung of the civet cat as the likely animal source of the Sars virus ('Scientists link civet cats to Sars outbreak', South China Morning Post, May 24). Finding the virus in civets does not mean that civets are the source of the virus. The civets could quite easily have contracted the virus from humans, especially considering the unhygienic conditions in which these animals are kept in markets in Guangdong. In fact, it is quite likely that animals that are known to have coronaviruses of their own would likely be infected by Sars. Whether the animals develop a clinical disease is another matter altogether. Humans can harbour foot and mouth disease in their respiratory tracts for many days. Does this mean that the foot and mouth outbreak in Britain was derived from humans? Clearly not. The university should not promulgate false claims without the slightest ounce of epidemiological evidence. NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED solution for old buildings I read with some interest Leung Chun-ying's article, 'The perils of throw-away buildings' (South China Morning Post, May 21). His contention that a complete change of mindset is required of our building owners is correct. However, I believe that this is not the only solution. One fundamental change to the way our ownership of buildings is structured and that, if corrected, would help enormously in ensuring buildings were both built and cared for over the longer term is to ensure that potential buyers can borrow funds to buy flats or houses irrespective of the properties' age. In other countries, a quick and low-cost survey is carried out to assess the property and thus determine its value for mortgage purposes. This process, if adopted, would have a double benefit: it would promote better long-term design initially and improve the security of those living in secondary market accommodation. With good maintenance, there is no potential limit to a building's useful life. Let us see the problem holistically and we will all benefit. JEREMY NEWTON Happy Valley cartoon is not blasphemous Fredrick Voigtmann ('Cartoon offended', May 22) objects to a cartoon titled 'The war on terrorism' in which US President George W. Bush is shown using the word 'godammit' (South China Morning Post, May 15). He insists that Mr Bush, 'a Christian, would not use such an expression'. This brings to mind another Christian president, Richard Nixon, a Quaker, who promised to return good taste in language to the White House after the term of his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, who was notorious for his foul language. The only thing funnier than reading the endless strings of obscenities that punctuated Nixon's Oval Office conversations was the fact that he recorded them himself. Mr Bush's handlers would never permit such an egregious error. Barring an insider disclosure, Mr Voigtmann's claim must remain neither refuted nor verified, but it may help the sensitive gentleman to know that, technically, 'godammit' is not blasphemous. The biblical injunction is to avoid improper use of 'the Lord's name', which is not 'god', a neutral term for any deity introduced into scripture for the express purpose of avoiding the use of the holy name itself. Consequently, neither Mr Bush's Christian credentials nor the reputation of the Post is jeopardised by the cartoon, and Mr Voigtmann can rest easy. REX MOSER Beijing bush is the real worry As a Christian, I am grateful that Fredrick Voigtmann found time to clear up once and for all how God must feel about language that takes his name in vain. Apart from the well-known blanket ban on blasphemy, the good book is pretty much silent on this vexed issue. Perhaps Mr Voigtmann might be able to clarify another presidential grey area. How do we Christians reconcile President Bush's very Christian word choices with his willingness to drop thousands of tonnes of bombs and bomblets on cities, towns and villages in Afghanistan and Iraq? Unfortunately, my copy of the good book doesn't advise whom God would bomb and, plainly, I must be reading a different copy from that being read by the president. And this is where I am hopeful of more direction from Mr Voigtmann. STEPHEN FOLEY New Territories steer clear of mainland roads I read your editorial headlined 'Harmonise driving rules for HK and mainland' (May 19) with a wry smile. It was not until I became a regular traveller on the roads of the mainland that I discovered leisure parks do not have a monopoly on 'terror' rides. Common heart-stoppers include: encountering rickety blue trucks heading towards you at speed on your side of an expressway; driving at night without lights; failure to use windscreen wipers in rain - or better still, failure to have windscreen wipers; and failure to drive between lane markings. The introduction of expressways has not, unfortunately, been accompanied by an improvement in road repair practice. Potholes the size of open graves encourage drivers to steer erratically in an effort to avoid punctures and/or spinal injury. When these are eventually filled in, the road gang usually undertakes this task without any early indication to motorists of the upcoming hazard. I might add, that we not should consider ourselves exemplary drivers in Hong Kong, with our persistent disregard for the dangers of tailgating and the irrational desire to always use the right-hand lane of any dual carriageway. I believe the secondary aspect of the leader, concerning your suggestion that we Hongkongers switch to driving on the right, is already a 'work in progress'. Motoring culture may, as you say, have arrived on the mainland. I am not sure that our fine men and women on police traffic duties are psychologically prepared for unrestricted 'diplomatic exchanges' yet. ANDRE JONES Clear Water Bay correction The article 'How Hong Kong ignored weeks of signals that Sars was coming' (Insight, South China Morning Post, May 23) erroneously described the first Sars patient at the Prince of Wales Hospital as Hong Kong's index patient, referring to his admission on February 22. In fact, Hong Kong's index patient was a Guangdong doctor who was admitted to the Kwong Wah Hospital on that date. The Post regrets the error.