Letters to the Editor, March 24, 2018

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 March, 2018, 10:01am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 March, 2018, 10:00am

Pro-democrats wield a lot of power in Legco

I refer to the letter from Kingsley Kwong, commenting on the ­results of the recently held ­by-elections to the Hong Kong Legislative Council and its impact on future lawmaking (“Pro-democracy camp has its work cut out”, March 17).

Public reaction since the ­Legco by-election on March 11 indicates that there is much misunderstanding about the pro-democracy camp’s “veto power” – the importance of which has been over-emphasised.

Government bills, motions, public works expenditure items and staffing proposals require only a simple majority to pass, and, by virtue of its dominance in the functional constituencies, the pro-establishment camp has always enjoyed a majority.

Only bills and motions moved by legislators require a majority in both functional and geographical constituencies.

Motions require a two-thirds majority only in limited circumstances, such as in changing the method for electing the chief executive, or impeaching the chief executive.

Legislators from the pro-democracy camp have been very successful in exercising their power of obstruction by filibustering – exploiting loopholes in the Legco’s rules of procedure and by raising questions.

They are so good at asking questions that it now takes three to four times more time to pass a public works expenditure or a government staffing request, compared to 2012.

As a result, of the government’s budget for public works of HK$130 billion for 2017-18, as at the end of February, only HK$8.1 billion had been approved by the Finance Committee.

The pro-democracy camp still wields a lot of power.

Regina Ip, member, Legislative Council

Foreigner limit during NPC was a lot like racism

I am writing in response to Philip J. Cunningham’s article, commenting on Beijing police restricting the entry of foreigners in university district pizza bars and cafes during the annual session of the National People’s Congress (“Beijing’s ban on gatherings of foreigners in restaurants raises eyebrows”, March 19)

As a Chinese person in Hong Kong, I feel ashamed and angry about this policy carried out by the central government.

Business owners in the busy Wudaokou district were asked to comply or face ­immediate closure. One notice at a pizzeria said: “Until March 22, every Friday night and Saturday, as requested by local authorities, we can only allow a maximum of 10 foreigners in our store at a time.”

Wudaokou is near the Tsinghua and Peking universities, and so has a large number of international students, as well as a vibrant nightlife that draws foreigners.

Ostensibly, the mini crackdown aimed to ramp up security in the run-up to the “two sessions”. But why focus on foreigners in a restaurant? I don’t think heightened security measures for the political gathering can be presented as an excuse.

Moreover, how can we determine whether a customer is a foreigner or not? By checking their passports? Going by the colour of their skin? This sounds a lot like racism.

When most other countries welcome tourists from around the world, without caring about where they are from and what race they are, should we really be treating foreigners this way, taking away their freedom to dine or entertain where they want?

Jason Ng, Tseung Kwan O

Give the elderly coupons for common drugs

Most senior citizens in Hong Kong, including this letter writer, would appreciate the government giving out health care coupons to the elderly.

For those needing no medical treatment involving long waits, would the government consider the issuance of health care coupons to buy common over-the-counter drugs, such as cough syrup or cold pills?

This would be much more convenient for elderly Hongkongers who are otherwise in reasonably good health.

Peter Wei, Kwun Tong

Hongkongers trying harder with English

I am writing in response to the column by Luisa Tam on the English skills of people in Hong Kong, and why the city keeps lagging ­behind the likes of Beijing and Shanghai in English proficiency (“Why are Hongkongers so afraid to speak English?”, March 6).

Ms Tam found many Hongkongers mispronounced English words and made many mistakes with vowel sounds or final consonants, such as mixing up the words “food” and “foot”.

But I think that is changing. ­Although “Chinglish” is still popular in Hong Kong, many people are starting to use the right pronunciation, and mix-ups such as between “sit” and “seat” are less common. Listening to everyday conversations, people seem not to be so afraid of speaking English.

Daniel Tsang, Kowloon City

Extended rule for Xi is not a wise move

I agree with several of your letter writers that for Xi Jinping to ­become China’s president and chairman for life is both dangerous and unwise.

Checks and balances have been recognised by most civilised countries for the past 100 years and, most recently in China, they were recognised as important, if not vital, by the great visionary leader Deng Xiaoping. Deng’s decision came after mistakes costing millions of lives set back development by at least 30 years.

Anthony Kirk-Duncan, Kwai Fong