- The Washington Times - Monday, February 25, 2008


Fighting corruption in Hong Kong

With regard to Hong Kong’s status under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, I dispute the assertions made by Therese Shaheen in the Feb. 17 Commentary “Wobble over Taiwan.”

As enshrined in our constitution, the Basic Law, universal suffrage is the ultimate aim. Since 1997, Hong Kong has made steady progress in enhancing the representativeness of elections. The number of directly-elected seats in our 60-seat Legislative Council (LegCo) has increased to 30 from 20, while the remaining seats are returned by those representing the diverse interests of social, economic and professional constituencies.

The people of Hong Kong have keen expectations for attaining universal suffrage and the government is committed to meeting them.

On the basis of public consultations, the course has been set for further development as the elections of the chief executive in 2017 and all members of LegCo in 2020 may be by universal suffrage.

The Hong Kong government is tasked with amending the electoral methods for the next set of chief executive and LegCo elections in 2012 to enhance democratic participation and lay the foundation for universal suffrage.

At every stage, the government has consulted the community through a variety of channels to gauge views on the city’s political evolution.

Hong Kong’s civic-minded people, who roundly enjoy and exercise freedoms of expression and assembly, have been actively involved. The government welcomes and encourages their participatory role in the process.

Separately, Hong Kong possesses a clean and corruption-free government. Our Independent Commission Against Corruption is widely regarded as one of the world’s most effective anti-corruption agencies.

Transparency International’s 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Hong Kong 14th — ahead of the United States — out of 180 countries and territories — indicating a low level of perceived corruption.

In addition, the Heritage Foundation’s 2008 Index of Economic Freedom ranked Hong Kong the world’s freest economy for the 14th consecutive year based on various factors, including freedom from corruption.

Buttressed by the rule of law, our anti-corruption efforts contribute to the city’s international reputation as a fair and transparent business environment.

We value our American counterparts’ interest in Hong Kong, but believe any views should reflect the situation on the ground.



Hong Kong Economic and Trade



Columnist fails the reality test

Ben Wattenberg’s Tuesday Commentary column, “Looking to Lieberman,” was about a subject that one knew would show up sooner or later in the mainstream media, that being John McCain possibly selecting Joe Lieberman as his running mate. The column was just getting interesting when Mr. Wattenberg, who is cited at the end of the piece as a “veteran Washington columnist, television show host and author” and in the piece as a “registered Democrat,” hit a land mine and lost all credibility with me.

Mr. Wattenberg stated that “in the Nutmeg state, as in the rest of the country, very-liberal Democrats are not held in high regard.” Really? Didn’t I just read in The Washington Times that the senator who is ranked as the most liberal Democrat in the U.S. Senate (“Obama top liberal,” Nation, Feb. 1) is the leading candidate running for president of the United States?


Marine Corps (retired)

Stafford, Va.

Ingratitude in Japan

I am outraged about the violation of our military and civilian government personnel’s civil rights in Japan (“U.S. military probes 2nd sex assault in Okinawa,” Page 1, Friday).

When was mass punishment (virtual lockdown) without due process a good thing?

How many rapes did New York City or the District have last month? Are there any plans to impose a curfew on all of their residents until this problem is resolved? If such a plan were ever put in place, all their residents would be in lockdown forever. Rapes will always occur.

There are 45,000 American personnel and their dependents in Okinawa. Considering that many military personnel are men under the age of 40, that would be comparable to a city of about 100,000 or more.

How do our overseas troops’ rape rates stack up against those of the United States, Okinawa and Japan? We have the best-behaved military in the world. We have never had rape incidents like Japan had in Nanking, China, or the Soviet Union had in Berlin.

To placate the Japanese media, we should bar all personnel in Japan, not just Okinawa, from spending a single dollar/yen off base and ship all materials in from the United States so we have as little cultural impact in Japan as possible.

All base employees will be Americans or will be brought in from other countries. We should build enough housing and recreational facilities so no American ever has leave the base. There would be only one exception, to defend Japan if it is ever attacked.


Navy Judge Advocate General

Corp. (retired)


Kosovo’s troubling example

The creation of Kosovo (“Kosovo throngs celebrate secession,” Foreign, Feb. 17) has raised many disturbing questions for the international community and has highlighted the divide between — and indeed, further divided — member states of the United Nations and the European Union. An independent Kosovo has been created in violation of international law. There is no U.N. mandate. Its creation is thus illegal.

The creation of Kosovo was not and is not supported by Serbia, its immediate neighbor, or by Russia, arguably its closest powerful nation. Thus, this fledgling nation finds itself in a very precarious position. Many nations decried the shameful, catastrophic and illegal invasion of Iraq, undertaken in violation of international law and without U.N. sanction, which has had tragic consequences for Iraq in particular and for international law and human rights in general. Where is that indignant outcry now? How can we expect Serbia to respect international law when we do not? Indeed, if Serbia decided to invade Kosovo tomorrow, how could we possibly fault it?

This action by members of the international community, namely the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France, also has validated the creation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It has given incentive to any other potential “breakaway provinces,” including those areas occupied by the Kurds, the Basques and many other minority groups that claim oppression and a desire for their own homeland. Paradoxically, while very active in supporting the fledgling state of Kosovo, the international community has demonstrated feeble support for a truly independent state of Palestine. When will we see the same disdainful attitude that is directed at Serbia directed at Israel?

The actions of the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France have weakened the very idea of international law, have weakened the authority of the United Nations and have seeded further discord between member states of both the United Nations and the European Union — three big mistakes. The Balkans are, and indeed always have been, a worrying flashpoint in the region. The last thing this region needed was yet another excuse for its nations to go to war with one another. They have been provided with exactly that.


Giessen, Germany

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