Donald Tsang
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Why Donald cannot duck Teddy's bear

Donald Tsang

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the US, has gone down in popular mythology for refusing to shoot an ageing bear tied to a tree by his eager-to-please subordinates for the sake of a kill after a failed hunting trip. I asked a nine-year-old girl what she thought the moral of this story was. Apart from cruelty to animals, she said without hesitation that Roosevelt had not earned the right to kill the bear, because shooting an animal in captivity was not really what she would call a fair fight.

Over here in Hong Kong, amid all the fanfare leading up to the chief executive election, we seem to have overlooked the tragic fact that Donald Tsang Yam-kuen might well earn the respect of the people and the right to be chief executive if he was allowed to slug it out with his challenger in a fair fight. Unfortunately, he never will earn that right- because the election is rigged.

With the backing of Beijing, Mr Tsang is inadvertently every thinking man's nightmare. I mean, why would anyone with any self-respect enter a fixed match with the results clearly in their favour? Even a child realises that success has to be earned. That is why cold beer tastes better after a hard day's work.

But then, we Chinese are a different breed. We adulate power and authority. The Americans can be chastised for their arrogance and even ignorance, but you cannot fault them for a lack of moral courage. Their heroes are always anti-establishment, always the underdog.

Poor Mr Tsang has to shoot the bear with the crowd cheering on, because he is Beijing's choice and we are the obedient crowd.

TIMOTHY WONG, Happy Valley


Missile right on target

Frank Ching's opinion piece 'The space race nobody wanted' (February 14) echoes the many opinions already voiced in the western media on China's space test last month. Sadly, instead of offering anything new or insightful, he merely repeats their mistake of missing the mark - unlike the Chinese missile.

All this fuss over transparency and the potential to start a new arms race neglects a key fact: today's unipolar world is much more dangerous and unstable than the previous bipolar world order.

Now for the game theory: for every action there is a reaction. The action, in this case, includes everything from America's unrestrained use of precision weapons of mass destruction everywhere from Yugoslavia to Iraq, to its refusal to consider a treaty banning weapons in space.


The Chinese missile test was the reaction. And a brilliant application of Sun Tzu's The Art of War it was, where the most ideal strategy is to deter others from fighting. The US is reminded of its Achilles heel, and that conducting a war (against China) would be harder than anticipated. This is the essence of deterrence.

To correct some other misconceptions I might also add that the ability to destroy a satellite from a land-based missile is not new, even for China. The capability to launch multiple missiles into orbit with a single launch vehicle, which China mastered in the early 1980s with the Dongfeng 5, can easily be switched to anti-satellite purposes. Thus the decision for the test is purely political.


As it turns out, China has remained true to its proclamation of peaceful intentions, as one important aspect of the US war machine can now effectively be neutralised.

Of course, those who are so ideologically inclined may not see this - or will try very hard to dismiss it.

T.Y. CHAN, North Point


Leading by resigning

Facing embezzlement charges, Kuomintang chairman Ma Ying-jeou plucked up the courage to resign - a highly responsible move compared with the denial of shameless Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian in facing a similar situation.

That's why Mr Ma's ratings surged rather than plunged in the wake of the court indictment. Many Chinese leaders lack this kind of courage to take responsibility for their wrongdoings. Most of them don't even apologise.


Mr Ma is a role model for our leaders because the most serious mistake is not to make a mistake but to deny it or cover it up.


Destined for the landfill

As we are urged this Lunar New Year to be more environmentally friendly, it is disappointing that PCCW has delivered its printed consumer Yellow Pages, unsolicited, to households throughout Hong Kong.

I calculate that this 404-page publication will in due course add more than 1,000 tonnes of paper and plastic wrapping to our landfills, not to mention the environmental costs of production and distribution.

All the information is available on the internet. The printed publication is virtually useless anyway, since it does not give area locations, only a street or building name. My copy is on its way to the landfill already.


Let government ape TV

I conditionally support reader Phil Glenwright's proposal for a pantomime starring 'King Arthur' in an ancient quest for academic freedom ('Holiday fare', February 9). I grant this support on the strict condition that we can get Harbour Fest antihero Mike Rowse to organise it on the cheap.

Seriously, while a panto is good for a laugh, it will not improve government behaviour. Far better, in my view, is TV.

In the US, politicians are imitated in such shows as The West Wing, putting their behaviour under the intense scrutiny of millions of viewers. Of course, they are shown to be witty, good-looking, principled, charismatic and decisive. In response, the genuine variety must either ape this behaviour or find attractive alternatives. In either case, the genuine practitioners must lift their games (along with their faces and bosoms) so as to comply with voter/viewer expectations.

Now, consider actors Brad Pitt or Chow Yun-fat cast as senior officials in the Hong Kong hit series Tamar Tales. Every evening at prime time, they wrestle with wicked dilemmas (and, yes, if you like, comely companions). The action is brisk and the dialogue cracking: 'Pollution? Bring it on! Mission accomplished. Next?' Would these heroes obfuscate and prevaricate? Never! Would they set up four-year consultations? Of course not!

Fantasy, you say. But rather a clever fantasy world than the dystopia presented by our official spin-doctors.


Not Asian but gweipor

With reference to his letter 'Either black or white' (February 16), William Hung Chi-kin obviously did not ask me, the child of mixed-race marriage, how I am generally perceived by society. His opinion that the answer would be either 'as black' or 'as Asian' is way off. Having grown up in Hong Kong, I have rarely been considered Asian, much as I would like to be. I am considered a gweipor. When I speak in Cantonese (fluently, may I add), I can guarantee that the initial reaction is jaw-dropping surprise or embarrassment - depending on whether comments have been muttered that the offending party thought I would not understand.

Mr Hung obviously did not ask my fellow Eurasian friends either who, like me, are proud to be of mixed heritage and would love to be recognised for it.


No need for beastliness

So western women dress like men and behave like men, if we are to believe Jeffry Kuperus ('We want femininity', February 14). Well, that's news to me and to most of the western women I know, who like to look good and feel feminine whether they are career women, housewives or whatever.

That business in women's fashion, cosmetics, perfume and jewellery is doing well both in Asia and the west disproves his theory - not to mention all the hair and nail salons, spas and beauty parlours, cosmetic surgeons and so on. If western women like to look masculine, how does he explain the rise in popularity of breast implants?

So Mr Kuperus' Asian wife is beautiful, intelligent, well-educated, financially independent and feminine? There are thousands of women like that in the west too. Maybe he just didn't appeal to them. I'm sure he would agree that everyone should be free to marry the partner of their choice without incurring racist comments from others.

While extolling his wife's merits, there is no need for him to denigrate western women.

MARY LEE, Fanling

Advice to the ladies

I wholeheartedly agree with Jeffry Kuperus' letter 'We want femininity' (February 14). In their pursuit of equality, many western women act more masculine than many men I know. They adopt an 'I don't need no man' Bridget Jones-style mantra, yet complain about a lack of attention from the opposite sex. As a heterosexual male who has lived in both the east and the west, my advice to these ladies is to take a good look at yourselves. Can you really blame the men who, given a choice, choose an Asian bride?