HKU should encourage bicycle use
I am writing to express my disappointment with my experience of riding a bicycle to the University of Hong Kong.
As a nearby resident on Robinson Road, and possessing a library card, I often go to HKU's libraries.
I prefer riding my bike since it is faster than walking or waiting for a bus.
Unfortunately, there is no officially designated cycle parking on the campus and I have to lock my bike against a lamp post.
I did this, as per usual, on Tuesday.
However, when I returned at the end of the day, I found a notice issued by the company responsible for parking at HKU regarding my unauthorised parking, telling me to use bicycle spaces instead, even though there are none.
I asked a member of staff in charge of parking and she could not give me a satisfactory answer. She directed me to parking spaces for motorbikes.
There is a lack of public awareness on bicycle use in Hong Kong.
Surely HKU should be taking a more active role in this regard and promoting cycling in the city. It can make a start by ensuring there is somewhere for people to put their bicycles on the campus.
This will encourage nearby residents and students going to the university to cycle there and it will improve relations between 'town and gown'. It will also contribute towards the fight against climate change.
I appreciate that HKU is built on a hill, but the inclines on nearby major roads are largely negotiable and I believe those who wish to use their bicycles when going to the campus should be free to do so.
Indeed, cycling on Hong Kong Island is becoming an increasingly popular means of transport and I note that the Legislative Council recently installed bike parking spaces for people who work there. I hope that HKU will show a greater commitment to encouraging this eco-friendly and inexpensive means of transport.
In a wider context, I would like to see Hong Kong become a more bicycle-friendly city, and hope that it can become accepted by everyone as a daily mode of transport.
Raphael Mak Yui-kan, Mid-Levels
Problem at playground can be solved
How depressing to read not one but two letters, from Jason R. Ali ('Fence in cattle or put them down', May 2) and T. Walther ('Cow mess at playground unacceptable', May 2), bemoaning the 'toilet activities' of the Mui Wo cow herd on Lantau around the children's playground.
Protection of Animals Lantau South (PALS) finds the suggestion of confinement of the cows, or, worse, their destruction, to be particularly offensive.
It shows an intolerable mindset which is certainly incompatible with social harmony.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department as well as the Leisure and Cultural Services Department are very much aware of this issue and, indeed, it is to them that the complainants should address their concerns.
In fact, the situation has been discussed at meetings with various parties and PALS was under the impression that plans were afoot to protect the playground.
Regrettably, it seems that collaboration between the different divisions of our government is not easily facilitated.
Therefore, PALS will arrange a site visit with leisure and cultural services officials in the near future.
Our aim will be to find a solution that satisfies the whole community so that the children can play happily without experiencing the cow dirt, and the cows can continue to roam freely to the delight of many.
Jacqui Green, PALS
Charge could reduce waste at source
I agree with Kellia Wan ('Glad to see incinerator snuffed out', May 5) that it is important to reduce rubbish at source. Building an incinerator is only a short-term measure.
The huge volume of municipal waste generated every day in Hong Kong is an immense problem. It cannot be solved simply by building an incinerator.
The government should regard the reduction of waste at source as its top priority. It should try to implement a charge scheme as soon as possible.
Officials tried to persuade Hong Kong citizens of the benefits that would be derived from having an incinerator.
They argued that such facilities were economically efficient and cited examples of their effectiveness in Japan and Korea. However, it has to be noted that people in those countries are more environmentally aware than we are.
Both countries had adopted comprehensive and long-term waste management strategies before they resorted to using incinerators.
To be honest, our environmental education is way behind other places.
It would be like putting the cart before the horse if an incinerator was built before we could cultivate green habits.
Besides, building an incinerator brings with it problems such as air pollution and how to handle heavy metal and dioxins.
To effectively reduce waste, our wasteful habits must change.
Leung Kit-yan, Diamond Hill
Mediator role right for watchdog
I believe the Independent Police Complaints Council should be involved in helping officers and protesters communicate during demonstrations. This can reduce potential conflicts.
Such confrontations have become commonplace in Hong Kong. They can sometimes result in assaults on officers and protesters being arrested.
This shows there is a communication gap between the two parties and something must be done to bridge it if we are to have a fair and harmonious society.
The council specialises in handling complaints made by the public against the police, so it is in a good position to act as a mediator. It can understand the grievances felt by some people. Its members are also familiar with police operations.
The council is in the best position to mediate between officers and activists in a demonstration and I hope the government accepts the suggestion made by the head of this watchdog.
Boris Lau, Sha Tin
Paternity leave will not ruin firms
The comments by Ho Sai-chu, employer representative on the Labour Advisory Board, on the question of paternity leave beggar belief ('Paternity leave? Hire domestic staff instead', May 4).
To allow a father five days of paternity leave would not, I believe, bankrupt any company. A government study that it would cost private employers 'just 0.02 per cent to 0.04 per cent of their total wage bill' puts it into perspective.
Maybe the owners of the business could take a reduction in their remuneration of 1 per cent to compensate.
My daughter-in-law in Britain, working for a large bank which also has a significant presence in Hong Kong, is allowed six months' paid maternity leave and a further six months' unpaid maternity leave.
The bank is not bankrupt because of that, but was nearly bankrupted by the senior managers gambling in financial products that they knew nothing about.
Mr Ho's comments that it is inexpensive to hire domestic help may be true for people such as himself, but for people on a minimum wage (about which the employers also protested) it would cost them 50 to 60 per cent of their income.
It is about time that Hong Kong employers entered the 21st century.
Michael Jenkins, Central
Minimum wage leads to unfairness
Labour Day on May 1 brought into focus once again the minimum wage law exactly a year after it came into force.
I do not agree with those who argue that it has brought more benefits than disadvantages. I believe it can lead to unfairness.
You now have some people doing different jobs on the same wage, for example, restaurant workers and security guards, but the former job involves much more work. Security guards will not be as busy, as they generally sit in the lobby and patrol the building where they work. This has led to a number of people switching to this line of work.
The inequality here comes from the equal income. People should receive less for less effort. Further raising the minimum wage will further reduce the income gap which is justified by seniority and nature of work.
The law has caused other problems. Employers are reluctant to take on inexperienced young people and may lay off low-skilled workers with low productivity.
It can also give firms an excuse to raise the prices of their products and this leads to a higher inflation rate.
Fok Ho-ying, Hung Hom