So much for Tsang's pledge to the people
I thought it was too good to be true, and now it is clear I was right. Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's opinion-page piece 'My pledge to connect with the people' (February 14) was campaign hot air. He has rejected an invite from disadvantaged groups to attend a forum ('Tsang snubs NGOs' invitation to third debate', January 23), and he has point-blank refused to allow public participation in his live televised debate with his election rival on March 1.
Furthermore, he refuses to explain why, as your story 'Leong defends role in forum' (February 22) reports. Asked why the chief executive did not want direct public debate, it says 'a spokeswoman declined to comment'.
As if all this is not proof enough of the hollowness of Mr Tsang's pledge, how about these statistics from another story on the same day, 'Unfair debate may still help challenger' (February 22). It reports that chief executive contender Alan Leong Kah-kit has held 55 street campaigns versus only 14 'district appearances' for Mr Tsang. The chief executive is doing better at closed-door encounters with vested interest groups, though. He's had 25 so far.
Mr Tsang, actions speak louder than words. It is obvious you have no intention at all of really paying attention to the people.
L.K. CHENG, Quarry Bay
Not in my concrete box
I have just been presented with a gift from Sun Hung Kai Properties in the foyer of their signature building in Wan Chai. The gift is a seed sealed inside a golden egg that is designed to dissolve, given time submerged in water. A beautiful flower should ensue. It clearly states that this seed will flourish if kept at a room temperature of 25 to 35 degrees Celsius.
This brings me to my point: it won't grow in my Sun Hung Kai Centre office, then. This building is so cold I have to wear a jumper even in summer. And yet, tucked inside the gift box is a letter crowing that SHKP has passed a Hong Kong Building Environment Assessment. Did the environmental assessment take into consideration the cold, concrete box in which I sit?
LEE FAN, Lamma
Betrayed by the process
The proposal to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on the Soko Islands now seems almost certain to obtain environmental approval from the government. When it does, the environmental impact assessment process will have again failed in protecting our heritage from unsustainable development.
This statutory process addresses none of the underlying justifications for the project because the actual need for an LNG terminal in Hong Kong is outside the remit of the approval process. Similarly, alternative options for meeting LNG requirements - should these needs be proved - are not addressed. The approval process also fails to consider the wisdom of allowing CLP Power and its foreign-owned partner, ExxonMobil, to increase their stranglehold on our power supply.
Where will these essential issues be debated, and where will the fate of our erstwhile Sokos marine park be decided? Behind closed doors in the Economic Development and Labour Bureau. What assurances do we have that a sweetheart deal has not already been struck with ExxonMobil and CLP Power, or that bold and effective governance will independently decide where our LNG will be sourced?
What indication is there that the government knows or cares that the delayed implementation of flue gas desulphurisation at CLP Power's plants is a leading cause of our bad air, and that this alone would enable the 2010 emission targets to be met?
Public input on these vital questions is almost totally barred. We are allowed to comment on implementation details for the LNG terminal, but the fundamental issues of need, sustainability, options and process are out of reach.
CLIVE NOFFKE, Green Lantau Association
Why adopt an embryo?
Without wishing to be unkind about the barren couples who have found happiness by having children through embryo adoption, I found your story 'Bundles of hope' (February 21) disturbing and saddening.
There are so many orphaned and unwanted babies worldwide in need of loving homes. Why would any woman who fancies she has what it takes to be a loving parent go to the lengths of having an embryo from two strangers implanted in her womb so that she can be a mother? It is not like she is fulfilling a natural urge to perpetuate her own genes, or those of her husband. Why doesn't she just adopt a child?
These women obviously want to bear children themselves. But surely successful motherhood lies not in nine months of pregnancy and giving birth - with the nausea, swollen body parts and pain of labour this usually entails - but in the years and years of patience and love that follow?
I have sympathy for the Indian mother in your story worn down by her nasty in-laws for being infertile. It cannot be easy living in a community so backward that your worth is valued by your fertility. But what excuse do the American couples have?
A New Delhi doctor in the story has had such business success transferring embryos into the wombs of wealthy western women, he's planning to 'open a clinic in Goa, so foreigners can have a holiday and get an embryo'. Perhaps he can throw in a half-price return trip for a tummy tuck nine months later. I'm sure it will go down well among women quite obviously more interested in themselves (even if it means lying about the real origins of a baby) than in giving a loving home to a child.
BRENDA ANDERSON, Stanley
Many reasons to say 'I do'
Sixty-year-old Tom Buckland ('Barred from the US', February 21) feels slighted by his unsuccessful attempts to visit the US with his young Filipina wife. Renata Lopez ('What men want, February 10) is convinced that many western men use their wealth and white skins to lure poor Asian brides. Jeffry Kuperus thinks that western men are disillusioned with a lack of femininity in western women (We want femininity', February 14).
I think I see a connection. Mr Buckland, you are a lucky old man with a young wife from an impoverished country. Surely you are being disingenuous if you cannot see the US immigration authorities' point of view? Ms Lopez can wave her sometimes valid accusation of exploitation from the highest hills but should accept that 'there but for the grace of God ...' Mr Kuperus is entitled to his opinion.
However, your letter writers seem to be missing the point: marriage has always been pursued for many reasons other than saccharine love - and rightly so. Security and safety have always been prime motivators for settling down. Furthermore, whether you like butch or feminine, curvy or cuddly, deference or equality, there is someone out there who will accept you on your terms. In fact, there are millions of them.
There is a degree of selfishness in every union; fortunately, for the most part, there is also a degree of compromise. So why is it anyone's business?
KEVIN McBARRON, Central
With regards to Anna Woods' letter 'Feminine wiles' (February 21), I did not state, and nor do I believe, that it is necessary to use fashion, cosmetics or breast implants to be feminine. I neither endorse nor condemn breast enhancement, but I would prefer to live in a world where natural beauty was appreciated and women did not feel under pressure to resort to cosmetic surgery.
In 'No need for beastliness' (February 17), I was merely using a deliberately extreme example of the lengths to which some women will go - in response to Jeffry Kuperus' bizarre statement that western women 'look and behave like men' ('We want femininity', February 14).
Strangely, I have not seen any western women who have developed huge biceps or facial hair. Maybe he is confusing the fact that they are relatively socially and financially independent with being masculine. Or is it the fact that we do not collect Louis Vuitton handbags or Hello Kitty phone charms? I'm not really sure ...
There are lots of ways of being feminine, and I do not want to get into the feminist debate with Ms Woods. In fact, I agree with her. I'd also like to reassure her that I and most of my friends are, like her, educated, independent, working women who have raised children while managing to remain feminine. I just wonder what the extra qualities women such as Mrs Kuperus possess.
MARY LEE, Tai Po