Why Regina Ip's thesis deserves a D

Were I to have marked the Stanford University master's thesis of former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, I would have awarded her a D - for disingenuity. It begs the question of how excerpts of it came to be published in this newspaper as evidence of her born-again democratic tendencies.

First, her paper repeats, virtually verbatim, the indefensible reasons presented by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa for delaying universal suffrage: 1) development in the light of the actual situation, and 2) gradual and orderly progress (Communist Party code for 'major delay').

Second, the thesis repeatedly suggests that greater democracy will come from the increased participation of elites, defined by Mrs Ip as 'the captains of industry and commerce, the self-made entrepreneurs and respected professionals'. Aren't these people already involved behind closed doors in continuing their privileged status by, among other activities, constituting the closed-circle, Beijing-anointed election committee responsible for such blunders as Mr Tung and Donald Tsang Yam-kuen?

Mrs Ip's thesis, and the drivel it contains, are nothing more than a surprisingly articulate (for her) blueprint for the continued delay of full democracy. She should again hang her head in shame. Once again, the people of Hong Kong are not so easily fooled. Her mentors and advisers should do a quick rethink on this one. She has no future political career in Hong Kong. Perhaps she should go and peddle her version of democracy north of the border.

SEAN LEONARD, Asian Institute of International Financial Law, University of Hong Kong

Slaves to the economy

Having read your recent leaders and columns, including 'The tension that won't go away' (July 3) by Chris Yeung, I would like to praise the South China Morning Post for its impartiality. You have presented both sides of the divide on democracy while putting forth your own opinions.

I must say, though, that I am galled by the government's rhetoric. Why are we constantly badgered to 'focus on economic development' and compromise on everything else? The recent speeches of Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and state leader Jia Qinglin seem to imply we must co-operate unconditionally with Beijing for the sake of our economy. Are we living, breathing human beings or economic puppets slaving away in the service of the economy? Is Hong Kong only 'an economic city', as Mr Jia labelled it, and nothing more?

While I agree we must seek a consensus, economy-centric tunnel vision and neglecting our differences are unsuitable means to an acceptable end.

ADLER MA, Tseung Kwan O

Timing ripe

More than two years ago, in an opinion piece on these pages headlined 'No time to lose', Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping wrote that heritage conservation 'is about the sustainable development of our city in cultural terms' (February 23, 2004). Dragon Garden now offers a unique opportunity for some action.

The photographs in the South China Morning Post do not do justice to this garden, which has a wonderful setting into a steep dell with magnificent views to Lantau. The landscaping has a rare integrity, and it is certain that it could never be replicated. The remit of the Antiquities and Monuments Office is far too narrow. Hong Kong needs a foundation akin to Britain's National Trust, which does a great job in keeping heritage sites 'living'.


Darkness enlightening

I am surprised that letter writer Simon Patkin believes the proposal for three minutes of darkness in Hong Kong carries an 'anti-development' message ('Let there be light', July 4).

In this age of dwindling resources, it is necessary to raise people's awareness of energy conservation. The lights-out proposal stands out because it encourages real action - doing something instead of sitting there with the aircon on at 15 degrees Celsius thinking that it would be a good idea to conserve energy.

The consequences of overconsumption are clear. For example, unless the mainland increases its efforts to conserve energy, it will be totally dependent on imported fossil fuels in a few decades.

While we do celebrate the achievements of people like Thomas Edison, those three minutes of darkness can act as a reminder that we cannot use development as an excuse to disregard the environment. Unless we act now, it will be too late (if it isn't already), and then we will really see what it's like to have no development.


Middle East solution I

I refer to Jim Jones' letter 'Middle East poison' (July 3). His choice of words like 'infect' and 'poisoning' reminds one of the rhetoric used by past dictators to justify genocide. It is easy to sit half a world away from a conflict and criticise. If one is really 'sick' of the ongoing 'childish squabble' in the Middle East, it might be better to suggest a practical solution than to resort to insulting and ridiculous metaphors.

A. SOROKA, Pokfulam

Middle East solution II

I agree with Jim Jones' view of the Israel-Palestine conflict ('Middle East poison', July 3). His 'petulant child' analogy hits the nail on the head and the sanctions idea is good. As an addendum, I propose a total blackout on news until we have had at least five years of peace. Remove the oxygen of publicity. After a few months of the world ignoring them, both sides might start acting in a manner befitting the 21st century.

JASON ALI, Sheung Wan