Letters to the Editor, June 30, 2015
Why Beijing has final say on top post
Professor Michael Davis in his article ("Shoddy defence of Hong Kong autonomy", June 27) ignores one important constitutional fact: the autonomy that Hong Kong exercises is not complete autonomy; it is a high degree of autonomy as prescribed by the Basic Law. Hong Kong did not become, like other former colonies, a separate sovereign state.
When it comes to the selection of the chief executive, the main point of the professor's article, the central government has the right to appoint, and not to appoint, the elected chief executive candidate. It has the power to appoint and not to appoint principal officials nominated by the chief executive. Further, any proposal to change the method of selecting the chief executive, the National People's Congress Standing Committee has the power to approve, or not to approve.
The reason for the central authorities to reserve such powers, which are not part of Hong Kong's autonomy, is simple. The chief executive and the government of the Hong Kong SAR enjoy much more powers than local governments in other jurisdictions, Western democracies included. These additional powers are not derived from mandates of the local electorate. They are vested in Hong Kong under the Basic Law by the central authorities in Beijing.
The assumption that matters concerning election of the chief executive is entirely a matter for the people and the government of Hong Kong is misleading. Of course Professor Davis is not alone. We are where we are because the pan-democrats are not prepared to recognise the constitutional reality and painted themselves into a tight corner.
Andrew Fung, information coordinator, Chief Executive's Office
Recycling can help goal of zero waste
I share the views of correspondents who would like to see zero waste as a goal in Hong Kong.
As they have pointed out, increasing quantities of refuse are ending up in the sea and on the beaches in Hong Kong, and this is a problem we must tackle.
There are regular beach clean-up initiatives and every day an army of cleaners take to our streets to keep them tidy. But this is not getting to the root of the problem.
I think that zero waste is a good principle to apply to Hong Kong. It is possible through a comprehensive recycling and reuse programme.
Globally we are faced with limited resources and greater environmental problems. If we do not start now to try and protect our environment, we face a grim future, in Hong Kong and the rest of the world.
All Hongkongers should be trying to use recycling bins as much as possible. We need to aim for zero waste for the sake of future generations. And I hope it will become a global trend.
T. Hung, Lai Chi Kok
App could solve language problems
I refer to the letter by Kathy Lo("Appalled by behaviour of rude expats", June 24).
While I agree that it is uncivilised and childish to kick a taxi because the driver doesn't understand English street names, the frustration which gave rise to it is understandable.
Why does not every taxi-driver have a bilingual street guide on hand? Why does a driver not use one of the usually four smartphones stuck to his dashboard to consult an app which can translate for him? Or why can't he check the address using his radio?
Unfortunately, this is matter of mindset in Asia's world city.
Josephine Bersee, Happy Valley
Paper towels more hygienic than dryers
The current awareness of Middle East respiratory syndrome gives pause to think on whether the gradual replacement of paper towels with air dryers is hygienic.
There is evidence air dryers actually increase rather than reduce germs on hands, although no doubt manufacturers would dispute that.
It is observable, however, that because of the time taken to use an air dryer and the small number of them installed relative to toilet size, often people walk out without drying their hands rather waiting for an air dryer.
Towels seem to be much better at helping maintain appropriate standards of public hygiene.
Christopher Ruane, Sheung Wan
Students do not need mobile in class
Most teenagers you see nowadays have their own smartphones.
Students spend a lot of time using them and bring them with them to school.
There has been some debate about whether or not they should be allowed to bring their smartphones to school. I think certainly at secondary level they should, primarily for safety reasons. After school teenagers like to go shopping or to a restaurant or just relax with friends in some other way and they need to let their parents know what they are doing.
Also, if while they are out and they feel threatened, if need be they can call the police using their smartphones.
However, I do not think primary school pupils should be allowed to take their phones to school, because there is no reason for them to have one. Their parents will drop them off and pick them up at school. They will not be going out on their own after school ends. Students do not need to use their smartphones during lessons. They will have access to traditional dictionaries and it is better if they use them.
Also, students can always ask the teacher for help.
There is always a risk if smartphone use is allowed in the classroom that it will become a distraction, because of all the applications that are available.
Suki Lee, Hang Hau
Hoping for more blue skies in city
With the rapid development of the industrial sector on the mainland there has been an increase in air pollution, which has directly affected Hong Kong.
Our priority should be to create a green city and the authorities on both sides of the border should spare no effort to do what they can to reduce pollution levels and clean up the bad air in the region. Hong Kong citizens must also see themselves as personally responsible and try to reduce their carbon footprints.
I hope that eventually we will see more blue skies above our city.
Edwin Tong, Tseung Kwan O
We must make much healthier diet choices
The link between unhealthy lifestyle and cancer is a cause for concern.
Lung cancer has become the most common cancer in Hong Kong.
I believe this is linked in many cases to citizens who are smoking.
Fewer people are now smoking in Hong Kong. However, many still do and we have to be aware of the health risks associated with this habit.
The people need to realise that when they light up they are putting themselves at risk.
The government should launch a scheme whereby residents can get regular body checks.
We need to be better educated about our bodies so that we can make the right decisions about having healthier lifestyles.
For example, colorectal cancer, the second most common form of cancer in Hong Kong, has been linked to unbalanced diets. Often because people are so busy at work they do not have time to eat lunch and opt for fast food.
Too often individuals do not think about food and don't check ingredients. A lot of food has too much salt and sugar. At the very least people should eat more vegetables.
There is also a link between cancer and lack of exercise. Again, people find they do not have the spare time to exercise.
The government has an important role to play, educating people about the benefits of exercise through TV adverts and posters.
We all need to stay alert and recognise the risks involved and try to lead healthier lifestyles.
Ruby Ng, Lok Fu
Local students have attitude problem
Some correspondents have said that language learning can be enhanced by reading and advise students, for example, to read newspapers and magazines.
I think students actually have quite a few options when it comes to learning a language. However, some teenagers are afraid that their English is not good enough and so steer clear of English-language newspapers.
They need to recognise their weak points in a language like English and work out how best to make the necessary improvements. They should certainly be trying hard to speak the language and to do so as often as possible.
However, many Hong Kong students will not do this and I think it comes down to an attitude problem.
They need to be eager to learn. And they need to overcome their fear of, for example, English and seek different methods to improve their efficiency. If they are willing to keep trying, they will eventually get better.
Karenne Law, Tai Po