VIGOROUS DEBATE IN HONG KONG IS NO SIGN OF DECLINE

VIGOROUS DEBATE IN HONG KONG IS NO SIGN OF DECLINE

You published an opinion article by Holger Jensen on Oct. 26 headlined ''A subtle tightening of the screws in Hong Kong'' (Page 6) with which I must take issue.

It focused on press freedom and rule of law in Hong Kong. Rightly so. Both are essential to the Hong Kong way of life. Both are guaranteed in Hong Kong's constitution, the Basic Law. And both are jealously guarded by the people of Hong Kong who are quick to criticize anything that might possibly infringe on either one.That vigilance is one of Hong Kong's greatest assets. But it does produce some rather alarmist press coverage. Holger Jensen's piece referred to a particularly good example, namely the posting of the head of Radio Television Hong Kong to head up our office in Tokyo.

This was interpreted by some as a punishment because Miss Cheung was so independent. The facts are the reverse. The posting was a promotion; Miss Cheung had requested an overseas posting; and RTHK's editorial independence is enshrined in a charter of editorial independence.

The article also discussed a recent immigration case before our courts, which was referred to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in Beijing. This was described as ''purposely surrendering the independence of the judiciary.'' Not so.

Reference to the Standing Committee is provided for in our constitution and was resorted to in the very exceptional circumstances summarized in the article. The full panoply of the common law system developed in Hong Kong over many years remains firmly intact and we hold it very dear.

It is because we hold it so dear that every step in the development of the new relationship between Hong Kong's common law system, the constitution which came into effect on July 1, 1997, and the new sovereign power is bound to be debated vigorously. So much the better. Do not interpret that debate as a sign of decline. It is just the reverse.

JACQUELINE WILLIS

Hong Kong Commissioner, USA

Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office

Washington

JOC SHOULD

KEEP HIGHER

STANDARDS

Re: the Rothco cartoon of Sept. 23 (Page 9).

I have looked at this cartoon a dozen times now and still cannot believe you allowed it to be printed in your newspaper.

In a world of declining civility, I would expect an otherwise respectable paper such as The Journal of Commerce to keep to higher standards.

The use of the world ''goddam'' is not only completely unnecessary, it is offensive to those who take seriously the words of Exodus 20:7. This passage is found in something called the Bible, a book not seen in newsrooms. (Before becoming a manufacturers' representative for international trade, I worked as a writer in both print and broadcast media, so I know whereof I speak).

If it was your intention to lower the standard of journalistic discourse, I congratulate you.

Our company has been involved in international trade for many years and The Journal of Commerce has been a vital part of our company's flow of information. I regret to say that we will have to find a way to do without your publication in the future.

MATT JUDGE

Vice President,

International Sales Judge Marketing Inc.

Indianapolis

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