Letters to the Editor, August 30, 2017

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 August, 2017, 5:13pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 August, 2017, 5:13pm

Judges upheld the law when jailing activists

The imprisonment of Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang, leading activists in the “umbrella movement”, has proved controversial.

Some 22,000 demonstrators marched to protest against the sentences, using phrases such as “political prisoners”. However, accusations that the judgment reflected a suppression of the fundamental right of expression are groundless and must be ­addressed.

There was much speculation when Secretary for Security Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung brought the cases under review, which resulted in the Court of Appeal imposing custodial ­sentences on the trio, replacing community service orders and suspended imprisonment.

This is standard procedure: not only was Mr Yuen entitled to review sentences that he felt may be dubious, but similar ­reviews have been undertaken 16 times in the past year.

Our judiciary enjoys absolute independence. It upholds the law that both the activists and the government must obey.

We should have faith in the professionalism of our judges and assess certain behaviour with an impartial stance, free from any political agenda, just as the judges endeavour to do.

The judgment recognised the respondents’ freedom of ­expression. It also adequately ­explained that the privilege, however, ­cannot legitimise criminal behaviour.

The need for these prison sentences was substantiated, as the judges reconsidered the nature of the crime and the need for a deterrent.

The three activists evidently acquired prior knowledge that “Civic Square”, outside the government headquarters, was closed. And, more importantly, they anticipated some sort of clash would occur between demonstrators and security guards.

Given that hundreds of ­people were involved in the incident, it was reasonable to speculate there would be violence and casualties.

The court expressed ­sympathy towards the trio’s commitment to their pro-democracy cause, and the ­sentences were discounted. Like it or not, these were not show trials. The three activists were convicted according to the ­well-established laws of the land. Personal beliefs that a ­particular law is unjust and that what they were doing was ­morally correct are not sufficient reasons to breach the law.

The rule of law guarantees the rights of all citizens and is a proud feature of Hong Kong.

Faith in it must be restored, for without it there is little to be ­certain about.

Charles Ng, Sha Tin

HK has same overwork crisis as Japan

When people are forced to work long hours, it can cause mental stress and fatigue, as well as ­affect their physical health. Rather than making them efficient employees, this can lead to their becoming less productive.

To mitigate the effects of overwork and improve work-life balance, the concept of “Premium Friday” was introduced in Japan (“Premium Friday yet to ­produce results”, August 2).

However, Japanese employees are not alone in experiencing these problems, as they are shared also by many Hongkongers who have to work long hours.

They cannot get enough rest and this can make them more prone to sickness. If they work until late at night, they have less time to spend with their families.

If employees are given sufficient time off work, they can ­recharge their batteries. Therefore, I hope the government of Hong Kong will also come up some labour-related initiatives to improve the ­work-life balance of employees here.

Low staff morale leads to ­dissatisfaction in the workplace. Companies should be aiming to shorten working hours in the city. If need be, they should ­recruit more staff. And, at least once a month, they should allow employees to leave work early so that they can have more free time with friends and family.

Melody Ho, Tseung Kwan O

Abe was right to denounce Pyongyang

North Korea has conducted a flurry of missile tests, but its decision to fire a ballistic missile over Japan was described by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as an “unprecedented ­serious and important threat”.

The Japanese military ­decided not to shoot down the missile, but it did issue a safety warning to residents in the area of northern Japan over which the missile flew.

Pyongyang must surely understand how serious an incident this was. It has complained about joint South Korean-US military exercises, but it cannot do such things and there should be no repeat of this incident.

What would have been the consequences if something had gone wrong, and an armed ­missile exploded on land in Japan instead of the sea?

I can understand why Abe considered what happened to be a serious threat, and why he had a phone call with US President Donald Trump.

Yan Ko, Po Lam

Sections of Chinese exam still important

I refer to the report on modifying the Chinese language test for the Diploma of Secondary Education (“Exam authority chief suggests trimming Chinese ‘paper of death’ to ­reduce student stress”, August 11).

Tong Chong-sze, the outgoing chief of the Hong Kong ­Examinations and Assessment Authority, has recommended that the oral and listening ­components of the DSE Chinese ­language papers be scrapped, to ease the pressure on students.

While this might seem like a good idea, I do not agree with Tong.

I believe that the listening and oral sections of the Chinese language exam are very useful. They can act as a yardstick for students to check if their level of Chinese is good enough.

Chinese is our mother tongue and so hopefully many students will not find that these sections of the exam put too much pressure on them.

Those youngsters who are stressed because they are struggling with the oral and listening sections clearly have a problem that they need to address.

Eugene Wong, Kwai Chung